I’m new to these parts so I thought I would introduce myself in list form, specifically my end-all-be-all favorite horror flicks.
By no means are these the best horror movies ever made but they are my favorites. If desert islands had TV and DVD hook up capability these are the ones I would bring with me.
Enough blathering on and let’s get to the movies!
The 10 spot in my ultimate list goes to the only 90s horror movie that will appear on this list. As a whole I don’t really subscribe to the 90s meta/cynical idea of a horror movie. Of course there are exceptions like Scream and I do love Urban Legend as flawed as it may be but generally my tastes reside in the 70s/80s fare.
What I love about Candyman is it remains socially relevant no matter when you watch it. Every time I turn it on I see bits and pieces of world events today happening within the story, events that hadn’t even happened yet are depicted in this film. In the horror genre it’s hard to make a movie that doesn’t eventually date itself. We all the style of the 80s slashers and 70s psychological hits but most come away dated in some way.
Not to mention I was always the lame ass at slumber parties who refused to do anything related to Bloody Mary lore. I’m 24 and I still refuse to call that bitch out. Obviously Candyman follows in the same vein but instead of scaring you to death or whatever it is Mary does he rips you from groin to gullet with a big tetanus-y looking hook. No fucking thank you.
9. Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (aka Blade of the Ripper):
My love for Giallo, and other Italian sleaze, was born of Edwige Fenech, George Hilton, and Ivan Rassimov’s warped love triangle. If you are new to the genre, or looking to indoctrinate your friends to it, I highly recommend starting with this film. It’s basically a step by step guide on how a Giallo formula works.
I fell in love with Strange Vice upon first viewing because I didn’t know there were movies like it, let alone an entire catalogue of them. I always loved the slasher type of film but this made me realize it can also be done with a dash of sex appeal and class. It’s also a great mystery and the twist is almost perfect and brings a smile to my face every time!
End note: Edwige Fenech made me realize one of my two “girl crushes”.
What can I say about David Cronenberg that hasn’t been said? The man is a genius of the body horror and was always YEARS ahead of his time and none of his films prove that true as well as Videodrome does. In a world where we are consistently “hyper-stimulated” by social media and portable technology it’s uncanny how close this movie mimics us.
And really, that’s what makes this movie so scary to me. It’s not quite as grotesque as The Brood or The Fly but it taps into the psychology of the modern world so acutely that you can’t help but come out of it worried about what further advances could do to us as a whole. That doesn’t mean I’m going to put down my iPhone or stop gulping down as much media as I can, it just means I know the inevitable consequences of over saturation.
Bonus love: James Woods and Debbie (oh sorry, DEBORAH) Harry are so deliciously sleazy it’s impossible to not acknowledge how perfect they are.
Please, oh please let this be one remake idea that remains shelved at least until I am cryogenically frozen somewhere. If Strange Vice was my introduction to Giallo then Suspiria was my introduction to the bat-shit crazy side of Italian horror cinema. Dario Argento has fallen pretty hard off the good-movie-making wagon but his films from the late 70s to mid 80s are something to be adored.
Suspria is a film of its time and I don’t mean it’s dated, actually it shows the type of filmmaking that can never be duplicated in the mainstream. The amalgamation of lighting and sound design are what sets Argento apart from everyone else at this time. Honestly, it’s no surprise Argento generally makes shit nowadays he probably used all of his creative genius to make his early films.
The story does get a bit muddled as we hit the half way point but it never loses the audiences attention. We are constantly worried for Jessica Harper’s character and are just as confused about the surroundings as she is. Suspiria made me realize that a film doesn’t need to be completely linear or coherent to be good and it made way for me to enjoy other directors like David Lynch.
6. Creature From the Black Lagoon:
As I’m sure most of you did, my first introduction to horror movies came from the Universal Monsters Collection. As I got older my favorites began to cement themselves and my appreciation for the Monsters grew, especially after learning how they saved Universal Studios from going bankrupt. It’s a goddamn shame that Universal Studios them park is taking out The Universal Monsters attraction because of lack of interest.
Creature From the Black Lagoon is my favorite of the originals, I even got him tattooed on my leg. Though this isn’t one from the “hayday” of the 30s, it still captures the same magic as Dracula and Frankenstein did. In fact if you look at the number of horror movies made in 1954, only 6, you’ll see that Creature is in fair company when it came to monsters sharing the spot with Godzilla and Them!
Though it is the “younger” of the original monsters it still holds that same magical otherworldly feel from the others. Watching the Creature himself interact with the characters is always mesmerizing given he has no dialogue, not even groaning like the Monster in Frankenstein. Ricou Browning and Ben Chapman, the actors who brought Creature to life, are grossly overlooked in their talent. They aren’t even credit for Christ’s sake! From a technological aspect this is clearly the best of the entries but it holds dear to my heart for its simple and beautiful story.
The second Clive Barker story turned horror film to top in my list is Hellraiser. Despite it’s really weird and confounding ending I will forever adore this movie for an array of reasons. Namely: Pinhead. Pinhead is a great character because he isn’t the true villain of the film or really any of the ones to follow. He is simply a minion of Hell who has a job to do and I bet he gets employee of the month every time! It’s really Julia and Frank who are the real villains.
I’m also a big fan of mixing animation and live action so the incredible use of claymation effects is beautiful to watch. Hellraiser is just a fun movie and I even enjoy some of the sequels.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984):
Unlike Pinhead, Freddy is indeed the villain of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise but there is just something about him that worms his way into our hearts.
Though my introduction to horror was through Universal Monsters , Nightmare on Elm Street was the ultimate test of my loyalty. I was probably about 10 or 11 when I first saw Freddy in all of his glory. It was late at night and I was staying at a friends house and we were searching for scary late night movies on TV. Low and behold this was what happened to be showing on Big Chuck and Little John that evening. As I watched in unending fear while one of my friends laughed at me I knew it was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. From then on all I wanted to watch was horror. I wanted to regain that fear I had first experienced and to this day the scene where Tina shows up in her body bag still gives me chills.
3. Carrie (1976):
It’s a damn shame that now whenever anyone wants to search for Carrie they will have to differentiate between 1976 and 2013. Brian De Palma is a great filmmaker but for me Carrie will always be my favorite. Carrie hits close to home for me, and I think many other girls, who were hesitant about going into High School. The psychic aspect of this movie is really the least frightening thing about this film, the scary part are the terrible classmates.
Sissy Spacek is one of the only performances in horror that has ever made me feel really really terrible for what was happening to them. In a lot of horror movies we don’t get a lot of chances to really feel for our inevitable victims. Usually we just eagerly await for them to get picked off one by one. The character of Carrie in the FILM (not the book!) is so heartbreaking that any female, whether you were popular or not, can’t help but feel bad for her. As a 13 year old girl my first experience with Carrie was a terrifying one considering I was just about to go into High School.
Thankfully my school experience was nowhere near as horrible as Carrie’s I still can’t help but feel so emotionally drained after each viewing.
Taking the second spot on my list is another Stephen King adaptation and the film that made Anthology Horror my second favorite sub-genre. Creepshow is damn near perfect in my book, it combines horror and humor seamlessly and never favors one over the other. Coming in at 2 hours long it is also probably one of the lengthiest of anthology horrors.
Creepshow is a collection of 5 stories written by Stephen King and directed by zombie grandfather George Romero. It’s one of the few times we get a non-zombiecentric film from Romero and is the best of his King adaptation projects. It also nails it with a great wrap around story featuring Tom “Thrill me” Atkins and King’s son Joe Hill.
This movie made me seek out other anthologies and ultimately led me to my desire to, eventually, write a guide to every single one I can seek out.
Side note: “They’re Creeping Up On You” is my favorite segment despite my crippling fear of cockroaches.
1. The Shining (1980):
Okay so I really didn’t mean to make my top 3 horror films of all time Stephen King adaptations, I really didn’t. But looking at the movies I have chosen of his work can you blame me? Although, I almost feel like this isn’t considered to be a real adaptation of his considering he hates it so much.
I find every aspect of this film to be fascinating and every time I watch it I pick up on new things and new feelings. It also gave me the lifelong fear of creepy dead kids. Even though I know exactly when the twins will appear I can’t help but get goosebumps every time Danny starts riding his big wheel over the wooden floor.
Side note: Strangely enough the building I live in reminds everyone of The Overlook.
And there you have it! My personal favorites of this wonderful genre we all love. I’m sure you won’t all agree with everything on my list and probably not the order but I loves what I loves. What are your favorites?