Which remake did King once call “the best horror movie of the new century“?
Stephen King has been regularly churning out scary stories for over 40 years now, and with many of them considered to be among the best of all time, I suppose you could say that King knows a thing or two about the horror genre. Hell, I’d go so far as to say that his name is incredibly fitting. For there are many masters of horror, but friends, there is damn sure only one true KING.
One of the great things about Stephen King is that he’s always promoting the work of others. Over on Twitter, @StephenKing can often be found taking a break from his own writing to personally recommend new indie horror movies that many of his fans had probably never even heard of, and the importance of that cannot be overstated. Such an influential figure encouraging others to check out new horror films is exactly the kind of boost that many of those movies so desperately need, and it makes us happy that King has become one of the genre’s gatekeepers.
Who better, am I right?
So which horror movies has King personally recommended over the years? Searching through his tweets, reading through the 2010 forenote to his must-own book Danse Macabre, and browsing through various other quotes, we’ve been able to compile a list of 15 horror movies that King has vouched for in recent years. And some of the movies on that list may surprise you.
You’ll find the list below, with quotes from King himself!
1) THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE
“Visceral horror to rival ALIEN and early Cronenberg. Watch it, but not alone.”
2) THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
“One thing about Blair Witch: the damn thing looks real. Another thing about Blair Witch: the damn thing feels real. And because it does, it’s like the worst nightmare you ever had, the one you woke from gasping and crying with relief because you thought you were buried alive and it turned out the cat jumped up on your bed and went to sleep on your chest.”
3) CRIMSON PEAK
“Was treated to a screening of Guillermo del Toro’s new movie, CRIMSON PEAK, this weekend. Gorgeous and just fucking terrifying.”
4) DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004)
“Genius perfected would be Zack Snyder’s Dawn remake, which begins with one of the best opening sequences of a horror film ever made. Snyder’s zombies are, it seems to me: fast moving terrorists who never quit. You can’t debate with them, you can’t parley with them, you can’t even threaten their homes and families with reprisals. All you can do is shoot them and then steer clear of the twitchers. Remember that their bite is worse than fatal.”
5) DEEP BLUE SEA
“Directed by the ever-popular Renny Harlin, who could potentially turn Heidi into an action flick, this movie about genetically engineered sharks, you could say, isn’t up to very much… until, at the most unexpected point of the film, one of the surpermakos rears up and bites Samuel L. Jackson in half! Yessss! I screamed out loud, and I treasure any horror movie that can make me do that.”
6) THE DESCENT
“If it were to pick another movie to analyze closely, it would be this remarkable story of six women who go on a caving expedition and encounter a race of subhumans (who resemble del Toro’s Pale Man, now that I think about it). What gives the movie its resonance is how the women play against each other – their very real resentments (and secrets) allow us to believe the monsters in a way that most horror movies do not. I never tire of saying this: in successful creepshows, it’s not the FX, and mostly not even the monsters, that scare us. If we invest in the people, we invest in the movie… and in our own essential decency.”
7) EVENT HORIZON
“Basically a Lovecraftian terror tale in outer space with a The Quatermass Experiment vibe, done by the Brits. The plot’s messy, but the visuals are stunning and there’s an authentic sense of horrors too great to comprehend just beneath the eponymous event horizon.”
8) FINAL DESTINATION
“I love all these movies, with their elaborate Rube Goldberg setups – it’s like watching R-rated splatter versions of those old Road Runner cartoons – but only the first is genuinely scary, with its grim insistence that you can’t beat the Reaper: when your time is up, it’s up.”
9) THE HITCHER (2007)
“Rutger Hauer in the original will never be topped, but this is that rarity, a reimagining that actually works. And Sean Bean is great in the role Hauer originated. Do we really need this film? No. But it’s great to have it, and the existential theme of many great horror films – terrible things can happen to good people, at any time – has never been so clearly stated.”
10) THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009)
“The best horror movie of the new century. The Dennis Iliadis version is to the original what a mature artist’s painting is to the drawing of a child who shows some gleams of talent. The 2009 Last House is the most brutal and uncompromising film to play American movie theaters since Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer.”
11) THE MIST
“The ending will tear your heart out… but so will life, in the end. Frank Darabont’s vision of hell is completely uncompromising. If you want sweet, the Hollywood establishment will be pleased to serve you at the cineplex, believe me, but if you want something that feels real, come here. Darabont could have made a higher-budget film if he’d added a cheerful ‘It’s all OK, kiddies’ ending, but he refused. His integrity and courage shine in every scene.”
12) THE RUINS
“The Scott B. Smith-scripted adaptation of his novel isn’t quite as creepy as the book, but the sense of dismay and disquiet grows as the viewer begins to sense that no one’s going to get away. With its cast of mostly unknowns, this would play well on a double bill with Snyder’s Dawn [of the Dead] remake.”
13) STIR OF ECHOES
“Writer/director David Koepp should be declared a national treasure. His adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1958 novel is an unsettling exploration of what happens when an ordinary blue-collar guy (Kevin Bacon) starts to see ghosts, thanks to a hypnotic suggestion.”
14) THE STRANGERS
“An orchestration of growing disquiet and horror as a young couple (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) are set upon by a trio of masked psychotics. It starts slowly and builds from unease to terror to horror. Why is this happening? Just because it is. Like cancer, stroke, or someone going the wrong way on the turnpike at 110 miles an hour.”
15) THE WITCH
“The Witch scared the hell out of me. And it’s a real movie, tense and thought-provoking as well as visceral.”