14+ Iconic Killing Tools in Horror Movies

Bear traps, flamethrowers, and mysterious silver orbs. Here is a list of the most iconic weaponry in horror films. 

A cheese grater is a tool for a possessed woman to use against her sister in Evil Dead Rise (2023).

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Of all the gifts that the horror genre has given, iconic weaponry is one of the best. Alongside most legendary horror characters is an iconic weapon to aid them in their journey. Most notably in the slasher genre, which arguably began with one ultra-bloody Italian film. So bloody that the film was refused certification in the United Kingdom. The film goes by many names, but it is most commonly referred to in English as A Bay of Blood. The movie has many creative weapons in its arsenal, from a billhook to a fishing spear.

The horror films on this list venture outside the slasher genre to explore social horrors and even musicals. Reading this list, you may learn that killers can be creative and sentimental people. They often form strong attachments and symbolism to their weapon of choice. Even the most banal objects are transformed into weapons by horror filmmakers. Such as a razor giving too close a shave, a sickle used to serve bloodthirsty crops, and a pair of scissors used to untether united souls. Keep reading to discover what other banal, deadly, and mysterious objects are in the horror film genre’s arsenal.

Most Iconic Killing Tools 

Chainsaw – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).
In a 2015 interview for USA Today, Gunnar Hansen said he’d never used a chainsaw prior to playing Leatherface. He also said the chainsaw was real, and he fell once while filming with the live, running saw landing dangerously close to him.

A road trip goes sour when a group of teens transition from eating meat to being meat. Their road trip goes from bad to worse when the road leads them past a slaughterhouse to a family of cannibals. The most memorable member of the family is insane and very hungry, an especially deadly combination for a cannibal. The masked man is known primarily as Leatherface. Though we only see him use his chainsaw to kill one person in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (he uses a hammer more often for the actual killing), the weapon is iconic enough to make it into the film’s title. 

Kitchen Knife – Halloween (1978)

Michael Myers brandishes a kitchen knife in Halloween (1978).
Michael became more and more creative with his choice of weaponry throughout the Halloween franchise, but the kitchen knife is what he is most associated with.

A film about returning home is appropriately accentuated with a kitchen knife. Michael Myers, whose psychiatrist describes him as an empty vessel for evil, has escaped the asylum. Fifteen years after murdering his big sister, he has returned to terrorize his hometown. While stalking teenage girls he quickly finds a favorite to aim his knife at. Babysitter Laurie Strode fights with all her might against Michael and his kitchen knife in this film and many that follow.

Silver Orb – Phantasm (1979)

A Silver Sentinel as seen in Phantasm (1979).
The deadly orbs seen in the Phantasm franchise are known as Sentinels, and there are different kinds of Sentinels introduced in the sequels.

Dead bodies are pulled from their eternal home. Tall Man is intent on using corpses to re-animate as slaves. A teen boy, the boy’s older brother, and a family friend are the only humans who have caught on to Tall Man’s sinister plot. They face more than just the strange grave robber. They are also up against his arsenal of high-tech and mysterious weaponry. Most notably, the Silver Orb, a shining metal ball that propels itself into the victim’s skull. Once attached, it sucks all the blood from the victim until they are completely drained of their life force.

Flamethrower – The Thing (1982)

A flamethrower throwing flames in a small room in The Thing (1982).
As exciting as the flamethrower scenes in The Thing (1982, seen here) are, The Thing from Another World (1951) features a scene with fire that is just as wild.

Within Antarctica’s frozen landscape, a shape-shifting alien hunts a research team. The team is torn apart from within as they realize that the Thing may be any one of them. The ultra-powerful extraterrestrial is difficult to take down, but not impossible. When the team discovers The Thing’s aversion to flame, they use an M2A1-7 flamethrower to incinerate the creature. This iconic weaponry is seen throughout most of the franchise, including The Thing video game. 

Sickle – Children of the Corn (1984)

A man is attacked with a sickle in Children of the Corn (1984).
The children of the corn use many implements of destruction, but the sickle understandably became emblematic of the franchise.

Children are often scary. A kid with a sickle in their hand is even scarier. Burt and Vicky learn this lesson the hard way in a small rural town full of corn fields and little else. The town is ruled by a cult of children, and Burt and Vickey soon discover they are over the cult’s age requirement. Unfortunately for them, this means being sacrificed to “He Who Walks Behind The Rows.” The sickle serves a dual purpose. Murdering people to sacrifice to the crops, and harvesting them. The film is based on the 1977 short story of the same name written by Stephen King. 

Freddy Krueger’s Glove – A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 

Nancy sleeps in a bathtub while Freddy's glove emerges from the water.
Freddy’s glove evolved throughout the franchise, though it mostly adhered to a leather-and-metal look similar to the glove seen in the original 1984 movie (seen here). Big exceptions include Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) which looked more like muscle and bone, and various gloves seen in dream like the Power Glove glove in Freddy’s Dead (1991) and the syringe glove in Dream Warriors (1987).

Though he may be burned, and technically not even alive, Freddy Krueger is dangerous. The fact that he is dead makes him even more dangerous, giving him the power to roam the dream realm. This realm is his arena, where he fights a bloody and psychological battle with his victims. Freddy fights with his signature weapon, a glove with blades sprouting from the knuckles. The most iconic scenes from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise feature this deadly glove reaching from a bubble bath, sprouting from a mattress, and many other innocent places you feel comfortable enough to sleep in. 

Guitar Drill – Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)

The killer from Slumber Party Massacre II (1987).
The infamous guitar/drill made a cameo appearance in the Slumber Party Massacre re-imagining from 2021. (pictured here: Atanas Ilitch as the Driller Killer in Slumber Party Massacre II)

Many horror filmmakers love to dream up outlandish tools for murder in slasher movies. In Slumber Party Massacre II, dreams become reality when a rock musician from the nightmares of a young woman steps into the real world with his ridiculous guitar/drill. As impractical as it is dangerous, the cherry-red guitar is better at shredding internal organs than it is for the usual shredding rockers.

Chainsaw Hand – Evil Dead II (1987)

Ash emerges from a basement in Evil Dead II (1987).
Ash’s chainsaw hand (seen here in Evil Dead II) would be replaced by a metal hand during Army of Darkness, but it would return from time to time in the Ash vs. Evil Dead TV series.

Killing tools aren’t the sole property of villains. The reluctant hero Ash crafted one of the most iconic tools in horror history in Evil Dead II when he attached a chainsaw to the stump where his right hand used to be. See, his hand “went bad,” so Ash had to cut it off with the chainsaw that soon took the hand’s place at the end of his wrist. With his new appendage, Ash battles Deadites with with gusto and much splattering.

Hook Hand – Candyman (1992)

Tony Todd as Canyman in Candyman (1992).
Tony Todd is fantastic as Candyman, playing the character as both terrifying and intriguing at the same time.

A killer with a hook is a familiar character in many urban legends. Candyman turns the idea of a hook-handed killer into a horror icon, and his ever-present hook is instantly recognizable. For most people who encounter the Candyman after saying his name five times in front of a mirror, his hook is the last thing they ever see. But for Helen Lyle, a graduate student researching local urban legends, the vengeful spirit has other plans. Plans to increase his legend and strike more fear into people who know his name.

Lawnmower – Dead Alive (aka Braindead, 1992)

Lionel approaches zombies with a lawnmower in Dead Alive (1992).
Dead Alive is one of the goriest movies of all time thanks to scenes like this.

Part of the fun of just about any zombie movie is watching the various ways the heroes “kill” the undead. In Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, Lionel (Timothy Balme) comes up with an entirely sensible solution for getting rid of the unwanted guests who have turned into zombie. He uses a lawnmower. With the spinning blades of the mower held out in front of him, Lionel clears the room of zombies, turning them into gallons upon gallons of blood and gore that cover nearly every available surface.

Axe – American Psycho (2000)

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho (2000).
This axe-murder scene from American Psycho is made even more iconic thanks to Patrick Bateman’s surprisingly in-depth analysis of Huey Lewis and the News that precedes the bloodshed.

Though he may seem like any other psychotic Wall Street executive, Patrick Bateman has an even darker side. Hidden under his carefully curated surface is a maniac losing their grip on reality. Bateman is even meticulous while in a murderous frenzy. He carefully places newspapers beneath the victim before tearing them apart with his axe. After his axe-murdering rampage, his floors remain as spotless as his void conscience. American Psycho is based on a 1991 novel written by Bret Easton Ellis. 

Reverse Bear Trap – Saw (2004)

Shawnee Smith as Amanda Young in Saw (2004).
The reverse bear trap (pictured here on Shawnee Smith as Amanda in the original Saw from 2004) is seen a few times throughout the Saw franchise, and an updated version is used on Mark Hoffman in Saw VI (2009).

The Saw franchise is full of deadly traps. The reverse bear trap stands out as one of the most horrific of them all. Amanda, one of Jigsaw’s victims, awakens with a metallic taste in her mouth. She quickly discovers that the taste isn’t just from her blood, but also the metal hardware that is tightly wound around her head. It soon becomes clear that to free herself, she has to play a game with Jigsaw. Losing the game means triggering the trap to open, pulling her jaws apart. Amanda not only survives Jigsaw’s trap but lives on to form a familial bond with him.

Razor – Sweeney Todd (2007)

Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd, singing to a razor.
The character Sweeney Todd first appeared in the mid-1840s in a serialized penny dreadful story titled The String of Pearls.

To Sweeney Todd, his razor is an extension of his arm. While holding the shining silver razor, he finally feels complete. It makes sense since he is known for being a talented barber. When he returns from his imprisonment following a fake charge, his shaves begin to cut through the skin rather than close to it. Craving vengeance, Sweeney is blinded by bloodlust. He only cares about two things: killing the judge who destroyed him and his family, and singing a beautiful melody while doing it.  

Scissors – Us (2019)

The scissors from Us (2019).
Like much of Jordan Peele’s work in horror, the scissors in Us draw on familiar iconography from the genre while infusing it with new meaning.

In Jordan Peele’s version of America, everyone has a hidden twin. While on a beach vacation, the Wilson family comes face to face with theirs. All over the country, doppelgängers have emerged from their underground bunkers to finally claim the life that could be theirs. Calling themselves “the tethered,” they carry around scissors to untether their soul from their counterpart. “There’s a duality to scissors, both literally and physically,” Peele says. “They’re a whole made up of two parts, but also they lie in this territory between the mundane and the absolutely terrifying.”

More Iconic Killing Tools 

Jason as seen in Freddy vs Jason (2003).
One theory for why Jason Voorhees often uses a machete is that it is a tribute to his mother who was beheaded with a machete.
  • Power Drill – Driller Killer (1979) – Reno is a sensitive artist having a really bad time in New York City. He makes his bad time everyone else’s problem when he goes on a murderous rampage with a power drill.
  • Machete – Friday the 13th Franchise – Though Jason will use just about anything to kill someone, the machete is the tool most often associated with him. Even Jason’s mother is associated with a machete, though not in the way Jason would like to remember.
  • Hedge Shears – The Burning (1981) – Disfigured by campers, a counselor hunts down his young abusers with a pair of hedge shears. 
  • Pickaxe – My Bloody Valentine (1981) – The town of Valentine Bluffs lives in fear of Harry Warden, a pickaxe-wielding killer who, twenty years ago, threatened to return and kill again if the town ever held another Valentine’s Day dance.
  • Giant Safety Pin – Killer Workout (1987) – In this slasher that capitalized on the popularity of aerobics in the 1980s, the killer repeatedly uses one of the most bizarre signature weapons in film history: a humorously large safety pin.
  • Sleeping bag – Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) – Jason Voorhees smashes a victim in her sleeping bag against a tree, mercilessly killing her.
  • Boomstick – Army of Darkness (1993) – Ash is transported to the Middle Ages, where he must defeat an army of the undead. Luckily, he has a firearm from his timeline that he refers to as his “boomstick.”
  • Hatchet – Hatchet (2006) – Like many slasher villains, Victor Crowley only uses his signature weapon occasionally, preferring to kill with whatever is close at hand. But when the name of a weapon is in the title, it becomes iconic be default.
  • Tanning bed – Final Destination 3 (2006) – There are many strange killing tools in the Final Destination franchise, but a tanning bed is one of the weirdest and most memorable.
  • 1969 Dodge Charger – Death Proof (2007) – Stunt driver and killer Mike McKay (Kurt Russell) has a car modified so that it is “death proof” in the event of crashes… but only for the driver.
  • Blender – You’re Next (2011) – A desperate woman uses the bottom of a blender (the part with rotating metal blades) straight to the head to kill one men who are after her.
  • Cheese grater – Evil Dead Rise (2023) – Demon possessed Ellie uses a cheese grater during a fight with her sister Beth.

Further Reading

Meet The Author

Kasey Rae is an artist, writer, and filmmaker, residing in the mountains of New York. Her favorite horror films are Nightmare on Elm Street and The Descent.