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Scariest Motives in Slasher Films?

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So I'm watching the new TV series "Slasher" and thinking it's very similar to the recent TV series "Scream" and "Scream Queens". Your parents did something wrong decades ago and a killer(s) is taking revenge today on those involved and their children. I'm not trying to be reductive and I have absolutely no problem with formulaic. In fact, Slashers are very much my favorite sub-genre of Horror and I'm always a little skeptical of contemporary critically acclaimed Horror movies because they feel intentionally gimmicky to "genre break" and are often not that scary (I'm looking at you Babadook and Unfriended). I started thinking about the tropes used in Slasher killer motivations.


It seems most Slasher villains are killing because of these reasons (sometimes a combination):

  • Revenge: You and your friends did something wrong, so you're being punished. Your parents did something wrong, so you're being punished. You are similar to the type of people who did something wrong, so you're being punished.
  • Depravity: The killer(s) is some deformed freak of nature. The killer(s) flagrantly breaks some strongly held social taboos (usually cannibalism). The killer(s) gets off on killing.
  • Satanic/Magical Benefit: Killing is necessary to grant or maintain some benefit like resurrection, eternal life, great power, youth, opening a gateway for your demonic friends, etc.
  • Territorialism: You had the audacity to trespass on their campsite, abandoned building, puzzle box, graveyard, remote nature area, etc.
  • Unexplained: The movie never explains why the killer(s) is killing. Sometimes writing the killer off as "mad" or "pure evil".

I'm kind of a fan of the Unexplained, like Halloween (before all the horrible Rob Zombie nonsense). The depraved cannibals are shocking at first, but can quickly become over-the-top monster movies (e.g. Wrong Turn). Revenge is ok, but I prefer when it's a very loose association like camp counselors let a "special boy" drown and then chopped off his mother's head, so all counselors must die. A more direct motive for revenge can have you sympathizing with the killer, which kills a bit of the scary factor for me. Terriotrialism can be fun too, since it borders on the Unexplained because it's not a compelling reason to kill people.


So what do you think is the scariest motivation?

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I find Michael Myers' to be the creepiest because he's pure evil. I usually hate that motivation in any villain because it's very stupid, but with Myers it works, because unlike Jason, he'll kill anything and anyone whenever he wants, he's far more bloodthirsty than Jason, because at least Mr Voorhees stays in Crystal Lake and doesn't bother anyone, Michael kills everything he encounters and he doesn't give a shit.

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