The best slashers always have trademark weapons. Sure, many of them use a myriad of tools to murder their unsuspecting victims—a true slasher can kill you with anything from a telephone cord to a hot sauna rock—but more often than not these butchers become synonymous with one tool or another.
But why do specific weapons so perfectly fit specific horror movie slashers? Why, when that character is casually portrayed by the media, do we always want to see them wielding their blade of choice? Let’s take a look at some of cinema’s greatest killers and how their tools of the trade match up with their specifically sick minds.
- Michael Myers – The large kitchen knife
Deep inside, Myers is still that little boy who butchered his sister for doing the Bad Thing. His insanity has always been childish, based on a brutal understanding of parental punishment. Hence the kitchen knife, the first dangerous item a child ever sees. Mommy used it to cut the jack o’ lantern, so it must work well.
- Ghostface – The hunting knife
These are modern times Ghostface lives in, and as such he’s a realist. A diehard fan of classic slasher films, he’s seen how cumbersome gas-powered saws and handmade murder gloves can be. The hunting knife, though, is sleek, affordable, and usually comes with its own holster. It was designed with the act of gutting in mind, and it works perfectly.
- Jason Voorhees – The machete
While a product of childish revenge mentality similar to Michael Myers, Jason didn’t grow up locked in an asylum. The teenagers he hunts don’t need to be punished for doing the Bad Thing, they need to be punished for killing his mom, and ultimately him. As such, they require quick, brutal slashes and hacks, to end them like pests. The machete is the perfect tool, slicing away at the tangled web of shallowness that blocks the path towards purity.
- Freddy Kruger – The knife-glove
Freddy Kruger is a special figure among slashers. He isn’t an innocent turned evil by society who’s seeking revenge, he’s sadism incarnate. He gets off on fear and suffering, and he wants to feel it, touch it, know it. Murder isn’t a moment of passionate release for him, it’s a slow decadent process, like drinking a glass of fine wine. The glove is for slicing rather than hacking, allowing him a hands-on approach to his favorite pastime. It’s almost as if he came up with it in a dream.
- Leatherface – The chainsaw
A man’s gotta eat! Sure, you can laugh and gibber and moan at a victim’s suffering, but this ain’t about punishment or any of that psychobabble, it’s about getting messy and chopping the meat off the bone. Leatherface loves the chainsaw cause it carves the tasty parts right off so he can get them cooking quickly. You don’t want to keep the family waiting!
- Pinhead – The surgical tools
For the Cenobites, agony is an art form. It must be brought out with care and skill, as though it were a sculpture hidden away within a block of clay. And any true artist needs many tools to perfect their craft down to the slightest detail. Hence the surgical tools—the bone saw, the paring knife, the chained hook. They allow Pinhead to pull torment from his victims in the most perfect and pleasing way imaginable.
- Cropsy – The shears
Cropsy is a narcissist. His mantra is, ‘It’s all about me.’ Like the Candyman, he is avenging the crimes committed against him specifically, but Cropsy wasn’t tormented due to ignorance or bigotry. The youths of the world will pay for the stupid mistakes that ruined his life. His shears, though cumbersome and not perfect for murder, serve to remind them of who he was. The shears aren’t for everyone, but for a caretaker, they work perfectly.
- Jack Torrence – The axe
While Jack’s weapon of choice is somewhat of a traditional one—the caretaker before him used it, so why not keep the trend going?—it also reflects his need for catharsis. Torrence is a bubbling cauldron of stifled creativity and unvented anger. Have you ever swung an axe? It requires huge movements that use your whole body. When Jack murders, it’s a complete workout, a violent catharsis.
- Sweeney Todd – The straight razor
Revenge is work to be done quickly. Sweeney Todd may profit from the meat pies made from his victims, but the purpose of his killing spree is to avenge his wife. He’s deeply impatient, and sees his victims leading to the Judge as pit stops along the way. He doesn’t dilly-dally with torture or mutilation; he makes a quick clean slice to the throat and yanks a lever.
- Candyman – The hook
Perhaps the most sympathetic of the slashers here, the Candyman was born out of bigotry. Originally a painter, he was lynched for loving a white woman, and now exists as vengeful urban legend. To him, mankind has proved itself to be nothing more than scared, reactionary cattle who will kill something beautiful to fit in and seem normal. So he will treat them that way by goring them with a meathook.