Monday, October 17, 2011

The Top 20 Horror Movies of All Time

Hey there, blogophiles.  The Halloween season is upon us, and as you may have guessed by some of my previous posts I am hopelessly addicted to horror movies.  If horror movies were IV drugs I would have collapsed my jugular vein long ago.  So I thought that I’d spread my addiction a bit further in honor of the season and regale you with my list of the Top 20 Best Horror Movies of All Time.  I could have made a list of the Top 100 Horror Movies of All Time, but usually those lists tend to turn into The Only 100 Horror Movies That the Writer Has Seen and are a tedious waste of time.  However you can be sure that the twenty that have made my list deserve to be there even though they have bumped out some notable selections.  Also, I have composed the list entirely of influential, well-made films that push the boundaries of the genre.  Don’t expect to find any of the beautifully cheesy B movies that we all love, such as: Frankenhooker, Rawhead Rex, The Stuff, and The Giant Spider Invasion.

Without any further ado (or fanfare) I give you Daniel P. Daniel’s list of the Top 20 Horror Movies of All Time.  Read it if you dare {enter Vincent Price laugh track}:

20.          The Hills Have Eyes (2006):  This is the most recently made film to make the list and one of only four that made the cut from this century.  Although Wes Craven’s original was truly demented, Alexandre Aja sees his demented and raises him one disgusting.  This gives new meaning to the term “nuclear family”.  Is it creepily horrifying?  The ayes have it.
19.          The Birds (1963):  No horror movie list can be complete without including at least one film from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.  This is one of his best.  Certainly not as shocking and perverse as “Psycho”, yet this movie somehow leaves you with a feeling dread and helplessness even though the assailants are only birds.  There is never an explanation as to why the birds placed humans on their shit list, but once the onslaught begins there is no turning back.
18.          28 Days Later (2003):  Super-fast, rage-infected, blood-puking zombies.  Need I say more?  Danny Boyle’s dystopic view of the future is both frightening and involving.  This nod to “Dawn of the Dead” quickly devolves into a gore-fest, but, remember, it’s the animal rights activists’ fault.
17.          Hellraiser (1987):  Clive Barker kicks open the door to Hell in this surreal freak show.  Some would argue that the sequel “Hellbound: Hellraiser 2” is a better all-around movie, but I think that the very introduction of Pinhead and the seriously effed-up Cenobites into the world makes “Hellraiser” a better movie despite some of its shortcomings.
16.          Poltergeist (1982):  They’re heeere.  We have been subjected to haunted house movies for nearly 100 years, but Tobe Hopper and Steven Spielberg leave them all in a quivering pool of pink ectoplasmic jelly.  The innocence of the prototypical family in the non-descript suburbs allows the audience to lend credence to even the most impossible situations, and nearly 30 years later I'm betting sales of clown dolls still haven’t recovered.
15.          Saw (2004):  James Wan really came out swinging in his directorial debut.  “Saw” is a snuff film on steroids – gruesome, gory and real.  Jigsaw puts his victims in incredibly intricate controlled environments and forces them to make horrifyingly difficult decisions...much like life in general.  Survive and you’ll appreciate what you have a little more.
14.          Jacob’s Ladder (1990):  If I had to describe this film with one word it would be: unsettling.  Although this movie is unfairly shrugged-off as nothing more than a cult feature, the freakishly nightmare visions straddling reality and hallucination have you continually wondering what is real after all.
13.          Friday the 13th (1980):  Of course this one had to be #13.  I saw this movie at the drive-in with my parents (I know, right?), and thanks to Kevin Bacon getting an arrow shoved through his throat from below a bed I still can’t sleep on bunk beds.  This film spawned an incredible 13-movie franchise that has been the backbone for the horror genre for 30 years.  Jason Voorhees is the ultimate indestructible slasher racking up over 150 kills throughout the entire franchise, yet he somehow walks the line between hero and villain.
12.          Silence of the Lambs (1991):  This film won five Academy Awards, a Golden Globe and numerous other awards which makes it impossible to exclude from any list of the greatest horror movies of all time.  The acting by Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins propel this deeply disturbing and exciting piece of cinematic excellence into the mainstream and truly freaks everyone right the eff out. 
11.          The Shining (1980):  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  Stanley Kubrick truly is an unparalleled weirdass, and it bleeds through in this brilliant adaptation of Stephen King’s book.  This movie is carried by the incredible performance of Jack Nicholson {I’m not gonna hurt ya.  I’m only gonna bash your fucking head in.}, but somehow Shelly Duvall seems a lot creepier to me.
10.          A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984):  If Nancy Doesn’t Wake Up Screaming She Won’t Wake Up At All.  This is really Wes Craven’s coming-of-age film.  With “Nightmare” Craven really comes into his own, and the performance of Robert Englund as Freddy is nothing short of brilliant.  {One, two, Freddy’s coming for you.}  And who can forget the tour de force performance given by Johnny Depp?  Anyone?
9.            Alien (1979): In Space No One Can Hear You Scream.  Ridley Scott tears the roof off of the sci-fi horror genre and blasts us into the 21st century a few decades early with this masterpiece.  Suspenseful and thrilling this movie is aided along the way by brilliant set design, and it set the bar for all sci-fi horror to come.  The alien bursting from the chest of John Hurt is easily one of the scariest moments in movie history.
8.            The Exorcist (1973):   Religion truly is disturbing, and this movie proves it.  {The power of Christ compels you!}  The cast and the storyline draws you in by making every piece of this film seem utterly plausible which makes it an unforgettable movie that doesn't just get under your skin - it stays there.
7.            Dawn of the Dead (2004):  I chose Zack Snyder’s take on George Romero's 1978 horror classic for one reason: Richard Cheese singing “Get Down with theSickness.”  Zombies, shopping malls, gore (the zombie birth scene is particularly hard to take) and celebrity assassinations – what more could you ask for?
6.            The Thing (1982):  John Carpenter takes the gloves off in this remake of the 1951 original.  Along with “Alien”, “The Thing” helped launch a new wave of sci-fi horror films.  Action-packed and visually amazing for its time, this movie is probably why to this day I don’t like huskies…or Norway.
5.            Audition (1999): This movie is so insanely creepy that I had a hard time even writing this paragraph.  Japanese horror at its finest.  Takashi Miike creates a psychological train wreck so compelling that you just can’t look away even though every nerve in your body is begging you to.  This one makes “Fatal Attraction” look like “Mary Poppins”.
4.            Evil Dead II (1987):  Sam Raimi and the ultimate horror movie hero, Bruce Campbell, enter the list with this brilliant horror-comedy sequel.  The joy which the cast and crew take in creating a masterpiece of slapstick gore is obvious.  “Evil Dead 2” is a must-see for all connoisseurs of truly demented films.
3.            Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974):  Supposedly based on a true story, Tobe Hopper's second entry into my list is a landmark low budget horror movie which is absolutely a modern classic.  Grainy, disjointed and frightening, if this movie doesn’t make you want to run from the theater then there is something seriously wrong with you.  Plus, this movie proves that hillbillies are much scarier than zombies.
2.            Jaws (1975):  I had a hard time keeping this out of the Number 1 position.  {Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies…}  Spielberg plays on our ingrained terror of the unknown like no other movie made before or since.  {Farewell and adieu you ladies of Spain…}  The score alone is enough to make you white-knuckle it through the movie.  {We’ve received orders to sail back to Boston…}  To this day I can’t step into a kiddie pool without heart palpitations.  {And so never more will we see you again.}
1.            Halloween (1978):  The Night He Came Home.  This is the movie that launched John Carpenter’s career into superstar territory and set the standard for every horror movie to follow after it.  Scary, suspenseful, thrilling, creepy, and more, but what really sets this movie apart can be summed up in three words:  William Shatner mask {shudder}.  Top marks all around.

Honorable mentions: Trilogy of Terror, Ju-On, Suspira, The Fly, Night of the Living Dead, Psycho, Cujo

So what do you think?  Did any of your favorites make my list?


Grumpy said...

Glad you made Halloween #1. I saw it one night at the movies and had to sleep with the lights on.
I was in my 30s.
I would put The Haunting (1963) in there - lots of trepidation. Must see with lights out.

Some Guy said...

I've seen maybe half of these movies—never been much of a horror fan—but Poltergeist ranks right near the top of the list that I'm just now putting together in my head.

I'm sure there are better and scarier movies out there (28 Days Later is both, and The Shining, while maybe not a great movie, is still awfully effective), but I watched Poltergeist at about seven years old, which is just about the right age for a movie like that to mess a kid up for life. I'm not sure I've watched it all the way through since.

Elgart said...

The Exorcist of Linda Blair is one of the scariest I have seen. I am very fascinated to Silence of the Lambs. Great post! I hope you can also visit my collections of recent best horror movies of all time.