My Top 15 Serial Killer Films

So my Top 50 Horror Films post was quite a hit with (mostly) everyone. Those that didn’t like it are those I like to call horror’s snobs, you know the type. They only like the “classic horror”, and enjoy looking down their noses at us little people who enjoy a lot of newer stuff (how dare we?? It’s so gauche!)
But even those who enjoyed the post had some little quibbles, the one asked about most often was “where are all the serial killer / slasher films?” And it’s true, my list was almost completely devoid of any serial killers. Out of a list of 50, I think I only had 3 killers in there. The reason is, is I don’t really consider serial killer films, despite the horrific subject matter, to be horror. They’re thrillers, suspense, mysteries, sometimes even comedies. Also, leaving them out means that I can do an article like this, and not have to worry about too much repetition, hehehe.

To keep this list shorter (and unrepetitive), I’m only including films with human killers that have no supernatural abilities. Also, spoiler alert, since I’ll be including methods of killing and a body count. The body count, by the way, will be deaths caused by the killers’ own hands (or by their devices). I won’t include deaths caused by accidents, nor those committed by other people. I also won’t include ‘implied deaths’, those talked about by the characters but not seen on screen, nor those that leave the question of the character’s death up in the air.

And on that note, let’s get this show on the road! Enjoy! 😀



15 I Know What You Did Last Summer

Title: I Know What You Did Last Summer
Released in: 1997
Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr, Bridgette Wilson, Anne Heche, Johnny Galecki, and Muse Watson
Directed by: Jim Gillespie
Written by: Kevin Williamson
Based On: The novel of the same name by Lois Duncan
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Chases after them in a ridiculously calm fashion, and slices them open with a big fisherman’s hook.
Onscreen Body Count: 5
5 Second Synopsis: One year after graduating from high school, four friends’ gruesome secret comes back to get them, as the man they hit on the road wasn’t as dead as they thought.
Why I Love It: The 90’s were an excellent year for serial killer films, both for the teen and adult audiences. After the success of Scream, many companies started making serial killer pictures, with varying results. This one is obviously aimed at teens, but it was one of the better quality ones, along with a few others that you’ll be seeing later in the list.



14 The Raven

Title: The Raven
Released in: 2012
Starring: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Kevin McNally, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Pam Ferris
Directed by: James McTeigue
Written by: Hannah Shakespeare, Ben Livingston
Based On: (Very) loosely based on the final days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life.
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Victims are killed in the same fashion as characters in Poe’s stories, including the razor pendulum from The Pit and the Pendulum.
Body Count: 4
5 Second Synopsis: A serial killer uses Edgar Allan Poe’s various works to inspire horrific murders.
Why I Love It: John Cusack and Edgar Allan Poe, a match made in heaven. Cusack is a wonderful character actor, and he showcases it well here.




Title: Clay Pigeons
Released in: 1998
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Vince Vaughn, Janeane Garofalo, Georgina Cates, Scott Wilson, Vince Vieluf, Nikki Arlyn, and Phil Morris
Directed by: David Dobkin
Written by: Matthew L Healy
Based On: N/A
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Gun
Body Count: 2 (suspected of 7 more across the country)
5 Second Synopsis: After his best friend kills himself, a troubled young man meets and befriends a charming serial killer, who’s got a detective hot on his trail, and who starts to suspect that he’s the one doing the killing.
Why I Love It: Funny and smart, this one’s a real hidden gem of the 90’s. If you’re a fan of wry wit and find things that shouldn’t be funny funny, I definitely reccomend this one. Plus, eye candy en masse.



12 Urban Legend

Title: Urban Legend
Released in: 1998
Starring: Alicia Witt, Jared Leto, Rebecca Gayheart, Michael Rosenbaum, Joshua Jackson, Tara Reid, Loretta Devine, John Neville, Danielle Harris, and Robert Englund
Directed by: Jamie Blanks
Written by: Silvio Horta
Based On: N/A
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Axe, killing in the manner of various urban legends.
Body Count: 9 (plus one dog)
5 Second Synopsis: A killer uses urban legends as inspiration as he stalks his victims, who all attend or work at a university.
Why I Love It: Another one aimed at teens, I love this one for the fun deaths, plus Jared Leto. Never mind that the identity of the killer is implausible and downright silly. Just turn off your brain, and enjoy.



11 Bon Cop Bad Cop

Title: Bon Cop, Bad Cop
Released in: 2006
Starring: Patrick Huard, Colm Feore, Sarain Boylan, Lucie Laurier, Richard Howland, Louis-José Houde, Pierre Boudreau, and Patrice Bélanger
Directed by: Erik Canuel
Written by: Leila Basen, Alex Epstein
Based On: N/A
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Victims are tattooed before being shot
Body Count: 4
5 Second Synopsis: A serial killer is targeting victims who are related in some way to professional hockey. Since killings are happening in both Ontario and Quebec, the two forces team up and find they have very different methods.
Why I Love It: If you’re not from Quebec or Ontario, I’m not sure how much you’d enjoy this, since most of the jokes are really about the differences between language and attitudes of the two provinces. But for those who are, this is a definite must-see. It really doesn’t matter what the plot is (I barely remember), but I remember laughing myself silly. Being someone with family in both Ontario and Quebec, I can laugh at both sides, and that’s what really makes this film. It’s completely bilingual (english and french), so if you don’t understand one or the other you’ll need the subtitles to understand half the film, but it’s worth it. So funny.



10 Psycho

Title: Psycho
Released in: 1960
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, and Virginia Gregg
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: Joseph Stefano
Based On: The novel of the same name by Robert Bloch
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Stabbing
Body Count: 2 (suspected of more)
5 Second Synopsis: A woman, worrying about her missing sister, ends up at a small motel run by a very strange young man, who’s hiding a murderous secret.
Why I Love It: Do I really need to explain? One of the original greats, there probably would be much less slasher films had this one not been made.



9 From Hell

Title: From Hell
Released in: 2001
Starring: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Richardson, Jason Flemyng, Katrin Cartlidge, Susan Lynch, Lesley Sharp, and Annabelle Apsion
Directed by: The Hughes Brothers
Written by: Terry Hayes, Rafael Yglesias
Based On: The graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Stabbing (with extreme over-kill)
Body Count: 5
5 Second Synopsis: A detective is called in to investigate brutal slayings in a poor district of London.
Why I Love It: I eat anything having to do with Jack the Ripper right up, so it was a given that I’d enjoy this. The fact that it’s actually good and stars Johnny Depp is just gravy.



8 Identity

Title: Identity
Released in: 2003
Starring: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, John Hawkes, Alfred Molina, Clea DuVall, John C McGinley, William Lee Scott, Jake Busey, Rebecca De Mornay, and Pruitt Taylor Vince
Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: Michael Cooney
Based On: N/A
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Uses whatever’s on hand
Body Count: 9
5 Second Synopsis: Stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rain-storm, ten strangers become acquainted with each other when they realize that they’re being killed off one by one.
Why I Love It: Except the last two minutes, this is an awesome film. I may be stretching the ‘non-supernatural’ line here, but it’s so good I had to add it. Some shaky acting from some of the supporting cast, but they aren’t onscreen enough for it to ruin the film.



7 Freeway

Title: Freeway
Released in: 1996
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Dan Hedaya, Wolfgang Bodison, Michael T Weiss, Brittany Murphy, Conchata Ferrell, and Brooke Shields
Directed by: Matthew Bright
Written by: Matthew Bright
Based On: Very loosely based on The Little Red Riding Hood
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Strangulation (and necrophilia)
Body Count: 2 (many more offscreen)
5 Second Synopsis: A teen on the run from social services gets picked up by a man on the highway who turns out to be a serial killer. Much to his chagrin, she won’t go down easy.
Why I Love It: This film is absolutely nuts, and I absolutely love it. I can’t even really explain why, I just do. What I do know is that I want some of whatever Matthew Bright is on…



6 Saw

Title: Saw
Released in: 2004
Starring: Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Dina Meyer, Michael Emerson, Shawnee Smith, and Monica Potter
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: Leigh Whannell, James Wan
Based On: N/A
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Different kinds of elaborate traps
Body Count: 3
5 Second Synopsis: Two men wake up in an almost empty room, each chained by the foot on opposite ends of the room, with a dead man sprawled on the ground between them. A cassette player informs them that to escape one must kill the other, or saw their own foot off with a provided jigsaw.
Why I Love It: When it first came out, Saw was unlike anything the horror genre had seen in a long time, a real breath of fresh air. It was a wonderful idea, and very well executed, with only a little shaky acting sometimes. Unfortunately, with all the sequels that came after, the Saw name became synonymous with ‘crap’, and the brilliance of the first film became lost in the sea of awful sequels.



5 Seven

Title: Seven
Released in: 1995
Starring: Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Daniel Zacapa, John Cassini, R Lee Ermey, and Kevin Spacey
Directed by: David Fincher
Written by: Andrew Kevin Walker
Based On: N/A
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Various, based on the seven deadly sins
Body Count: 3
5 Second Synopsis: Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.
Why I Love It: Such a brilliant piece of film. Well written, well acted, with a killer ending that will stick with you long after the movie is done.



4 Scream

Title: Scream
Released in: 1996
Starring: Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Rose McGowan, Matthew Lillard, Drew Barrymore, W Earl Brown, Jamie Kennedy, and Roger Jackson
Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by: Kevin Williamson
Based On: N/A
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Stabbing, plus one death by garage door
Body Count: 5
5 Second Synopsis: A masked killer begins murdering teenagers in a small town, and as the body count rises, one girl and her friends contemplate the ‘rules’ of horror films as they find themselves living in a real-life one.
Why I Love It: The best of the 90’s teen horror, this film was just what the genre needed at that time. Well written and acted, it takes the conventional boring slasher film, turns it on its head, and makes it fun.



3 Copycat

Title: Copycat
Released in: 1995
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, Dermot Mulroney, William McNamara, Harry Connick Jr, JE Freeman, Will Patton, and John Rothman
Directed by: Jon Amiel
Written by: Ann Biderman, David Madsen
Based On: N/A
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Copying famous serial killers of the past
Body Count: 5
5 Second Synopsis: Two detectives contact an agoraphobic psychologist when a serial killers emerges, styling himself on serial killers of the past.
Why I Love It: Another great gem of the 90’s, this is definitely one of the better ones. All the acting is strong, the writing is smart, and the ending isn’t completely implausible. A near perfect thriller.



2 Mr Brooks

Title: Mr Brooks
Released in: 2007
Starring: Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook, William Hurt, Danielle Panabaker, Marg Helgenberger, Aisha Hinds, Lindsay Crouse, and Jason Lewis
Directed by: Bruce A Evans
Written by: Bruce A Evans, Raynold Gideon
Based On: N/A
The Killer’s Mode of Dispatching Victims: Gun
Body Count: 5 (many more before)
5 Second Synopsis: A businessman who highlights as a serial killer is blackmailed by a photographer who happened to take pictures of his latest murder.
Why I Love It: This film is perfect, until the last three minutes. They don’t exist to me. But everything before that, awesome. Even Demi Moore and Dane Cook crank out good performances, and that’s saying something.



1 Silence of the Lambs

Title: The Silence of the Lambs
Released in: 1991
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald, Frankie Faison, Brooke Smith, Lawrence T Wrentz, and Diane Baker
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Written by: Ted Tally
Based On: The novel of the same name by Thomas Harris
5 Second Synopsis: A young FBI rookie is sent to ask the help of brilliant cannibalistic killer Dr Hannibal Lecter in catching another killer who kidnaps his victims, holds them for many days, then skins them to make a ‘woman suit’.
Why I Love It: I really don’t think I need to explain. Over 20 years, and it’s still number one. They just don’t make them like this anymore. Shame.


And, that’s it! What are your favourite serial killer films? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for more!