10 Horror Films That Changed the Genre

Actor Tony Moran played the very first Michael Myers back in the 1978 slasher film "Halloween." He likely had no idea how many more slashers would walk in his scary footsteps. Fotos International/Moviepix/Getty Images

The killer stalks you relentlessly. Faceless, mute and merciless, he attacks with terrifying strength and seems impervious to harm. This isn't your average nightmare; it's the formula for the classic slasher film. One slasher movie stands above the rest as the original, the movie that both created and perfected the form: John Carpenter's "Halloween."

With "Halloween," Carpenter established the tropes that are reused, recycled and paid tribute to by hundreds of subsequent movies about relentless stalker/killers. But Carpenter arguably did it best. His victims are established as likable, three-dimensional people without bogging down the movie. The killer, Michael Myers, is mysterious behind his creepy, unsettling mask. The score, composed and performed by Carpenter himself, builds tension and then explodes with signature sounds that signify each attack. The movie's success immediately spawned a slasher craze in the 1980s — "Friday the 13th," "My Bloody Valentine," "Sleepaway Camp," "Sorority House Massacre" and dozens of others, not to mention the remakes of and the sequels to the original "Halloween."

Movies with slasher themes certainly predate "Halloween." Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" contained multiple elements of later slasher films, and many horror fans could argue that it deserves its own slot on this list. "Black Christmas" (1974) and "The Town That Dreaded Sundown" (1976) also are part of the slasher lineage. "Halloween," however, was the most successful.