I haven’t done a post like this in a dog’s age. Originally, I intended to do this as my Halloween post. Well, the time of year has long passed, but the concept is worth something anyway. Here is my list of my top ten horror films. If you like what’s here, let me know. Be sure to say what your favorite horror films are as well. Open dialogue changes the world.
10. Dead Silence
On the surface, this horror film is like a dozen others. There is a supernatural monster, evil puppets and the plot isn’t all that unique. However, as with others on this list, the trick is all in the execution. Especially with respect to the villain. Mary Shaw was a remarkably intimidating villain, given her frail look and dark voice. Sure, the puppets added to it, but she was still something. I also liked her motivation. She didn’t just kill people because she could. Without giving it away (because it is central to the plot), her reason for killing people was tied up in her hobby and how she died. The film made a lot of use of dark lighting and good practical effects. All-in-all, while it isn’t a ground-breaking horror film, it is still very good all the same.
9. The Woman in Black
Something that bugs me about the modern horror scene is that it seems like every film these days is trying to use gratuitous amounts of gore to appeal to the gross-out factor. Called “torture porn,” by the Saw and Hostel franchises, it is rare to see a horror film come out these days that doesn’t have it. This film is not one of those. It is also nice to see that Daniel Radcliffe can act outside of the Harry Potter films. I was worried that he would be typecast after those movies, but this film showed that his acting chops go much further than that. Since he is alone so much in this film, in the dark house the film is set in, seeing him able to have such versatility as an actor was nice. Plus, this film got the setting and mood just right. Set inside a house in a bog. The sense of isolation is perfectly captured. Plus, the way that they used the toys inside the house was scary as shit! A very intimidating film that showed that great horror can be done without all the blood and guts. But that’s not to say that it has no place, as you’ll see in another entry.
8. The Ring
The ONLY remake of a Japanese horror film that actually works, but that’s because of it having Gore Verbinski as the director. He know what he’s doing. The sequel was crap, but the original film was a wonderfully-dark psychological horror film. Part of my interest in this film is due to the well-shot video that the film is based on. The story of a little girl and her psychotic journey down the rabbit hole, only to make a video which punishes other people for what was done to her, which is an ironically-common theme in horror films. The premise of the main character only having seven days to figure the mystery out before she dies is even better, making it feel like there is a time limit and that the race is on. Seven days to death, as it were. An underrated film, if you ask me, and one of my personal favorites.
7. The Shining
You probably saw this coming. I mean, Stanley Kubrick is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. So it only makes sense that a film of his is on the list. It’s ironic that Stephen King hated this movie. He was personally-involved in a remake some years later, which sucked so much ass. But this film is a classic piece of horror. The Overlook Hotel will go down in history as one of the greatest horror settings of all time. The pacing, the shots, the dialogue and the unbelievable use of psychological horror was just amazing. This movie scares you from start to finish. My favorite scene is the one in the bar. You see the main character’s descent into madness, along with some amazing dialogue that shows us just how much he is enjoying it. Arguably the greatest horror film ever made, it is on this list for a reason.
6. Sleepy Hollow
Comedy and horror. Those two things are VERY hard to merge together. But wouldn’t you know it, Tim Burton does it almost flawlessly. This is Burton at his best, before his work went completely downhill. The cinematography of this film is amazing. Depp’s performance as Ichabod Crane is hilarious and the Headless Horseman is such an intimidating villain. Christopher Walken’s portrayal of him before he loses his head (which is oddly uncredited in the film. Weird, right?) is intimidating as fuck. There is a neat twist about the villain that actually is pretty good. But the best selling point of this film is the dark atmosphere and the overly-fake blood and gore. It is totally ridiculous, but this was a deliberate decision. Since this film involves a lot of headless bodies, it is only natural that one would have a lot of gore. But this film makes it work because it isn’t realistic and it is used in a way that makes sense within the film. A film that is so underrated, and one of my favorites.
5. Ginger Snaps
This film proved that a film does not need a huge budget to be a good one. This film is amazing, for what it had to work with. Telling the story of two sisters – Ginger, the dominant and over-powering sister and Bridgette, the submissive and vastly intelligent younger, it is a story about the supernatural and maturity. It mixes the themes of womanhood, werewolf lore, growing up and puberty into one terrifying package. While the plot alone is good, seeing the lengths that Bridgette will go to to protect her sister, who is clearly the only person in her world who matters, all while finding out what she is made of, is just beautiful. This is a very dark film, mixing heart-breaking drama with grotesque horror and personal tragedy. This film proves – never judge something by its cover. (except Twilight and the Hunger Games. You can judge those things all you want. They suck!)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
A lot of you might be thinking – wait, isn’t that a sci-fi film? Sci-fi and horror are not mutually exclusive. Nowhere is this better displayed than my favorite of Stanley Kubrick’s movies, this one. This film is psychological horror at its best. HAL is one of the greatest villains of all time. A monster who feels no emotion, has no malice, it is merely going on programmed instinct. The terror of this creation came from the fact that we made it. This monster is a product of our design, acting on programmed instinct. We have no one to blame but ourselves for what it does. The slow pace of this film can bug some. Robot Chicken did a very funny parody of this by having a girl with nice boobs inserted into shots from it. But for me, this was just the right kind of psychological terror, and much like another choice on here, it shows that sci-fi and horror are great bed-fellows.
Another science fiction film that is a great horror film. Since Ridley Scott knew that he was going to be making a movie with a dude in a rubber suit, he made this film all about its psychology elements. The feeling of isolation in this film is captured nigh-perfectly. The tagline for this film set it up flawlessly – no one can hear you scream in space. Nice. The story of the Nostromo and the xenomorph is now among sci-fi film legends. The xenomorphs were a terrifying and implacable enemy who slowly stalks its prey, turning a very professional crew, along with very well-trained and well-armed marines in the sequel into terrified children in its presence. These creatures are smart, without mercy and stalk their prey with absolute precision. A wonderfully terrifying film, that I still remember fondly to this day.
2. Let the Right One In
Since this is one of my favorite films of all time, you may be wondering why it isn’t at the top of the list. I’ll get to that. This film is amazing. Each visual, each line of dialogue, each shot is utterly perfect. The tale of a young boy and his growing love for a vampire is among the greatest films ever made. Why America had to go and make their own shitty-ass version of it is beyond me. We seem to do that a lot. It’s like – if another country made a good film, then by god, so can we. Wrong! Almost always wrong! However, the original Swedish version is one of my favorite films, with just the right mix of romance, horror and dark imagery. But my favorite scene in the film is all done in one take, without seeing hardly anything. A young boy is being drowned, and the people who are drowning him are being brutally killed. Not one scene of this massacre do you see, with the camera holding on the boy’s head underwater, vaguely hearing the screaming and carnage above. Beautiful.
And my favorite horror film of all time is –
1. The Thing (John Carpenter’s remake)
Talk about a film that got SO little respect. Both Siskel and Ebert tore it to pieces, due to the level of gore in the film. And yeah, the gore levels in this film are off the chart. But here’s the thing – it’s never in bad taste. The creature in the film is able to become anything. Any organic life form. Every single part of it is dangerous. Every single part of it can mutate. Even its blood is a threat. The sense of isolation in this film is amazing. All of the main character’s are believable, with their sense of impending doom getting ever closer as the monster starts tearing them apart. How it all comes together is the icing on the cake. An unappreciated film in the worst way that I mean to get people to recognize for how good it truly is. If you haven’t seen it, and you have the stomach for it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
So, those are my favorites. How about all of you? Any horror films that catch your eye? Let me know in the comments section.
Until next time, a quote,
“Why don’t we just wait here for a little while. See what happens.” -MacReady, The Thing