Updated: Jul 14, 2020
There comes a time in the life of most old-school horror fans when they’ve seen all there is to see, they’ve heard all the screams there were to hear and they’ve seen enough Nightmare on Elm Street movies to know that Freddy has worn that same green and red striped sweater so many damn times that a sequel called A Nightmare on Elm Street 10: Freddy’s Body Odor can’t be out of the realm of possibilities. It is at this time, and this time only, that one may find themselves exploring a sacred corner of the horror community referred to as ‘b-movie slashers’, or as I like to call them, ‘Bashers’. Discovering this sub-genre of cheaply made, grainy, often gory and (often) poorly written slasher movies is a rite of passage for horror fans and slasher fans alike. However, once your passion for Bashers has been fully realized, there is no going back. And luckily for you, there are no shortage of Bashers.
Now that I’ve thoroughly explained the Basher genre to you, I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 Bashers. Call it a Basher starter pack if you will.
The criteria for this list:
1) Must have a decent amount of blood shed
2) Must have the most basic horror movie plot (if any at all) that one could imagine
Without further ado; THE BASHER STARTER PACK
#5 – The Stepfather (1987)
While some might consider The Stepfather to be a mainstream horror movie due to its nearly $2.5 million budget, I can assure you that any slasher movie made after 1981 falls into the Basher category. The reason for this being that the horror movie industry became oversaturated with independent slasher productions that were trying to make a quick buck off of the popular genre at the time. After a couple of years of slashing and bashing, the subgenre faded into a repetitious, low-budget formula that often got lazier and lazier as time went on. However, there are always special gems here and there that pop up from time to time and The Stepfather is definitely one of them. Future LOST star, Terry O’Quinn, plays everyone’s favorite Jerry…Henry…Bill… or literally whichever old white man name he wakes up and feels like using for the foreseeable future as he searches for his new family. This movie could have easily been a forgettable Basher, but the original story, above-mediocre acting classic fall setting made this movie an instant Basher classic. Bonus points for having a terrible 2009 remake.
#4 – My Bloody Valentine
Ah the holiday specials. Those are some of my favorites! Who doesn’t enjoy curling up on the couch and watching Basher movies all year long? Halloween doesn’t have to be the only time that we get to watch tons of horror movies! Most people have seen Gremlins and Black Christmas (some of my favorite Christmas movies), but there is another holiday that some people tend to forget about… a holiday that can be truly terrifying… and heart wrenching: Valentine’s Day. My Bloody Valentine gives viewers exactly what they want: a low-budget slasher movie shot in a small Canadian town in Nova Scotia where a killer dressed in a miner’s uniform goes around town looking for a heart to call his own. This movie is extra special for a few reasons. It was clearly shot in the fall (prime Basher shooting season), even though Valentine’s Day is in February and a good chunk of this film takes place inside mines. It doesn’t get much better than that!
#3 – The Mutilator (or Fall Break… or… whatever they feel like calling it)
This was the crème de la crème of Basher movies for me. This movie is best viewed in a group of no more than five friends (and no less than 3 friends) for optimal fun. I don’t even know where to begin with this one… this movie was so complex and thought provoking that the people who made this movie couldn’t even decide on a name for it so, naturally, they kept both names. I’d hate to spoil anything about this movie, but I will provide you with a little bit of a Q&A framework:
1. Does this film’s title tell you anything about the movie? No. Absolutely not. For some reason, this movie had not one, but TWO titles and neither of them make any sense whatsoever.
2. Is this film set in the fall? Maybe. All I know is that there was a beach and some people wore jackets and others wore bathing suits. It looked windy.
3. Can the film be summed up by its tagline? Yes. “By sword; by pick; by axe; bye bye”
#2 – The Burning
Possibly one of the best of the Friday the 13th summer camp rip-offs, this Basher was an instant classic in my books. Strangely enough, The Burning was a low-budget horror film with no shortage of talent behind it. Co-written by Bob Weinstein, brother of Hollywood’s real-life Voldemort and founder of Miramax Films and Dimension Films, this film featured a pre-Seinfeld Jason Alexander as either a very old camper or a very old counselor (either way, definitely old), as well as a score written and performed by Rick Wakeman (the keyboard player from the progressive rock band, Yes). If you’re looking for a Jason Voorhees knock-off killer at a Camp Crystal Lake knock-off camp with more gore than you could hope for and some off-beat comedic one-liners from Jason Alexander (who might as well have just been playing George Costanza), The Burning is an essential watch!
#1 – Sleepaway Camp
This movie is at the top of my list for very good reason. It is surprisingly original. Not only is this movie filled with great kills and classic Basher criteria, but it also has one of the most original third acts in horror movie history. There is no way to truly talk about the greatness of this movie without spoiling it, so I would just recommend watching this movie without any expectations whatsoever. Do not watch a trailer. Do not read about it and whatever you do, DO NOT look at any images of this film online. You will be thankful that you followed my advice after watching the film. This run-of-the-mill Basher took what was a tired, formulaic plot and turned it into something wild. But in all serious, I can’t say anything else… just… watch the damn movie.
Thanks for checking out my top 5 favorite Basher list! I’m sure there are many other great Bashers out there! Let me know what your favorites are in the comments below.