I take my horror seriously.
I like legitimate scares, tons of gore and great scores.
While I enjoy most movie genres – except for musicals, of
course – horror has been and always will be my favorite.
The entire month of October at my house is dedicated to
watching horror movies of all shapes and sizes.
I’ll watch good horror movies, bad horror movies and even
ridiculous horror movies.
I’ll sit through putrid remakes – just so I can make fun of
Still, there are a handful of horror movies that not only
stand the test of time but continue to scare even to this day.
What are they?
Here we go:
10. Watcher in the Woods: This is a little Disney gem that
very few people have ever seen. I’m addicted to it, though. Not only is this
one of Bette Davis’ last movies, it’s an effective “ghost” story that doesn’t
rely on cheap gimmicks and poor special effects. This is the story of two
sisters that move into a house that is “haunted” by a presence in the woods. Is
that presence a ghost? Is it the daughter of the owner of the house? Is it
something else? The movie has a simple premise – but it delivers genuine scares
and a nice ending. For those that rent the movie, check out the alternate
endings and then imagine how different the movie would have been (different in
a bad way, mind you) if they had went with one of those.
9. Cabin in the Woods: This movie came out this year, so I
admit it might be a little premature to put it on this list. Still, I absolutely
love this film. Not only is it a horror movie, with the fun kills, gratuitous
nudity and convenient archetypes we’ve become familiar with over the years –
but it’s also a movie that has a higher social conscience. I don’t want to go
into the whole background of the film – because that really will ruin it for viewers – but this is actually a recent horror movie that has a decent
pedigree. People should take the time and check it out.
8. The Ring: In general, I’m not a fan of taking Japanese
horror movies and updating them for an American audience. Most of the time, the
Japanese movie is 10 times scarier than the American one – just look at ‘The
Grudge.’ Still, this is one of the rare updates that actually works. The
terrifying tale of a viral video that kills you seven days after you watch it is
not only a showcase for Naomi Watts – but a genuinely terror inducing plot that
is engaging and fleshed out. Plus, I don’t know anyone that didn’t look at
their television a little differently after they watched this movie for the first
time. Now, as good as the first movie is, the sequel is terrible. So, if you’re
going to rent one, stick with the first movie and just pretend the second one
7. Poltergeist: The original angry ghost movie pulls out all
the stops. We have pothead parents. An irresponsible teenage daughter. A tree
that will literally eat you. A terrifying clown doll. Maggots. Oh, and a little
person dispensing advice. Did I leave anything out? Actually, all jokes aside, ‘Poltergeist’
is really the story of the parental bond. It’s just surrounded by ghosts. And,
while the movie is truly wonderful, this is another film that gets overpowered
by the tragedy that followed it off-screen – with two of the three children
featured in the movie dying at a young age. Without this movie, though, we never would have learned the perils of building a subdivision on a former graveyard. You can't just move the headstones people.
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street: The sequels are cheesy and
poorly written (except for 'New Nightmare'), but the original still stands the test of time. I remember growing
up, there was an urban legend that if you died in your dreams you died in real
life. That’s essentially what ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ is a takeoff on.
Sure, they include an impressive back story about a burned pedophile that is
taking his revenge on the children of his enemies. To this day, Freddy scraping
his finger knives along that metal pipe is still uncomfortable. And Johnny Depp
getting eaten by his bed? Still priceless. Forget the sequels, the original
still delivers a multitude of scares.
5. 28 Days Later: Danny Boyle essentially invented fast
moving zombies – even though they’re not technically zombies. No, these are
mindless flesh killers slowly stalking their prey. These are people, infected
with rage, and boy can they run. I first saw ’28 Days Later’ right before that
big blackout we had several years ago. It was still fresh in my mind while I
drove from Royal Oak to Clinton Township in the middle of the night. That movie
was all I could think about. What I like best about ’28 Days Later’ isn’t the
mindless kills. No, the thing I like most is the lesson that tells us sometimes
humans are the worst monsters of all. I love the sequel equally as much – even
though some people complain it’s a slam at the American military. Still, the
original remains the best.
4. Halloween: The original film is still the best slasher
movie ever made. From the creepy score to Jamie Lee Curtis’ authentic debut as
virginal Laurie Strode, 'Halloween' really did set the bar high for this type of
film. This was the first “teenage” movie that served as a cautionary tale of
what happens to bad girls vs. good girls. Curtis wows – and the two young kids
(Kyle Richards and Brian Andrews) are both solid enough to make you believe in
their terror. The interesting thing about Michael Myers (before Rob Zombie
ruined him anyway), is that there was never any reason given for why Michael
went nuts and killed his sister. That’s what made the story so terrifying.
Giving Michael motivation is what ultimately ruined him. Still, this 1978
original continues to scare generation after generation, so it’s the only
Michael Myers I allow to exist in my world.
3. Night of the Living Dead: I’m talking the original here,
not that bad 1980s remake (which I actually enjoy watching, mind you). This is
one of the only black and white movies I can tolerate watching (yes, I know
what that says about me to movie purists). George A. Romero used to be the king
of the undead. His last five or six films in the genre have been really bad.
Still, every time I find myself getting down on him I remember this film and
how it was not only terrifying – but time defying.
2. The Exorcist: I think the scariest thing about this movie
for most people is the religious aspects of it. I know a lot of people that
really believe it could happen. Exorcisms are so common, that Poland actually
puts out a monthly exorcism magazine. The scariest thing for me wasn’t the
religious aspect for the film. I was always put off by all the stories of the
crew members dying while filming. Some of the actors and crew actually believe
that the filming was haunted. Either way, the acting in this gem is still spot
on and the creepy dialogue holds up to this day.
1. The Shining: This is one of those movies my mom let me
watch when I was way too young and I was traumatized for life (‘Jaws’ is the
other one). Jack Nicholson is so freaky in this movie he actually radiates
anger. There is a behind-the-scenes documentary on my Blu-Ray that was taken at
the time the movie was filmed by Stanley Kubrick. It shows how Nicholson got
himself worked up for the “murderous” scenes in the end. That documentary is
just as terrifying as the movie. Still, it’s the scenes of young Danny riding
through the hotel on his Hot Wheels (I used to have a Batman one as a kid) that
always gets me. The scene goes on so long it lulls you into a false sense of
safety before pulling out those creepy twins. The surreal aspects of the film
still work, as well. It’s just an all-around great horror film.
Honorable mentions go to:
Orphan: This is one of the few movies in recent years that
promised a twist and actually delivered. This is about a family that is
mourning the loss of an infant when they adopt a troubled child from Russia.
Turns out . . . well, the twist is too good to ruin for you. Still, it’s a
great movie with a great cast.
Friday the 13th Part 2: I’m one of those people
that thinks the even numbered ‘Friday the 13th’ movies are better
than the odd ones (you know, the opposite of the ‘Star Trek’ films). Still,
when it comes down to it, I think that ‘Friday the 13th Part VI’ is
my favorite movie in the franchise. ‘Friday the 13th Part 2’ is the
scariest, though. It’s also the one that introduces us to Jason. So, if you’re
only going to watch one Friday – make it the second one.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The first movie is dark, brooding
and scary. Plus, Kudos to the filmmakers for not being afraid to kill off the
annoying guy in a wheelchair. I don’t hate the remake – but I do hate the
prequel to the remake.
House of Wax: This will come off as blasphemy to horror
movie purists, but I prefer the remake – only because Paris Hilton gets a rod jammed
through her head.
Dawn of the Dead: I actually love both the remake and the original. The remake introduces those that didn't see '28 Days Later' to fast moving zombies. Also, I have to give credit where credit is due -- that baby zombie is all kinds of creepy.
What do you think? What are the best horror movies of all