Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Top 20 Horror Films You Should Know

October is upon us! Run for your lives! It’s horror movie month! So let's revive this article.

Horror is consistently one of the most popular genres in film, with even middling movies guaranteed to make money. Why? Because audiences want to feel emotion from their entertainment, and no emotion is easier to evoke than fear. Fear comes in many forms, everything from being startled to deep psychological terror. Few movies reach that final level, but when they do they leave a scar on our culture. With that in mind, let’s talk about the twenty most significant horror films. These aren’t necessarily the best or the most scary or even my favorites, but when you die. . . these will be on the test.

1. Night of the Living Dead (1968): The importance of this film cannot be overstated. This film brought horror movies to adult audiences. Before this, horror was costumed monsters aimed at kids. This film also created the zombie craze which continues unabated today in film and within the Democratic party, and it established all the conventions for the zombie subgenre. “Yes we can. . . yes we can.”

2. The Omen (1976): The Omen spawned the “Satan is coming” subgenre and gave us Damien Thorn, a figure who now represents pure evil in the popular culture. There are even indications this film influenced the American view of Satan and the Book of Revelations. And Gregory Peck playing Damien’s father made it respectable for big name stars to do horror movies. “Let him that hath understanding count tonight’s lotto numbers: 6 - 6 - 2.”

3. The Exorcist (1973): Before Rosie O’Donnell’s Potty-Cam Extravaganza, The Exorcist was considered by many to be the scariest movie of all time. This film brought exorcism to the public consciousness and spawned a demonic possession craze in modern horror films. It also introduced the now-clichéd idea of pitting a demon against a priest who lost his faith. . . gimme $20 on the priest. “The Power of Christ compels you, and your little dog too!”

4. Alien (1979): Alien brought modern horror into the realm of science fiction. It established Ridley Scott (who would redefine science fiction) and it taught us that some aliens want to do worse to us than probe our nether regions. “In space, no one can hear you squeal like a pig boy!”

5. Jaws (1975): Jaws sparked a nationwide panic over and fascination with sharks, which continues to this day. Jaws is particularly noted for waiting to reveal the monster until late in the film to build suspense, though ironically this wasn’t intentional, they just had a hard time making the mechanical shark work. . . which is what they get for hiring a union shark. “Be a real shame if something happened to your boat.”

6. Halloween (1978): Though tame by modern standards, Halloween introduced the slasher film. Halloween gave us Michael Myers, as a masked, speechless, killing machine, who escapes a mental hospital and returns home to kill his family and everyone else in town. And they say you can never go home again?! This murderous Marcel Marceau has become the template for modern slasher villains. “It’s not a man, baby!”

7. The Shining (1980): One of the most iconic and oft-referenced horror films, The Shining is the story of Jack Torrance, who ostensibly goes insane while working as the winter caretaker of a haunted hotel. . . ** cough ** drama queen. This movie, more than any other, defined Jack Nicholson and made Stephen King stories a staple of horror films (though, ironically, King and the film “hated” each other). “All work and no play increases Jack’s take home pay!”

"There's no zipper inspector."

8. The Ring (2002): At a time when slasher flicks had become the norm, this film imported the Japanese vision of horror in which creepy, but non-gory images (often involving children or Hello Kitty) terrorize the heroine while she tries to solve the mystery of what created the evil spirit. It also taught us how bad computer viruses can get. A whole slew of identical, remade Japanese films followed (e.g. The Grudge, Dark Water, The Eye, Children of a Lesser Godzilla, etc.). “It’s the Michael Jackson sex tape!”

9. The Haunting (1963): This oft-remade and copied story of a group of paranormal investigators who deserve everything they get for spending several nights in a HAUNTED house established the haunted house subgenre. Seriously, what part of HAUNTED did they not understand? Idiots. “The spirit of Pelosi haunts the House.”

10. 28 Days Later (2002): This movie revived the slowly dying zombie subgenre, by introducing fast-twitch zombies. Suddenly, zombies became a whole lot more menacing. “Repent the end is extremely f**king nigh.”

11. Resident Evil (2002): Resident Evil established the craze of turning videogames into movies, for which we’re all thankful. It also popularized the use of scantily-clad, young women as the butt-kicking heroes, for which we’re all thankful. “You're all going to die down here. . . and not in a good way.”

12. Poltergeist (1982): This anti-clown diatribe introduced the country to the poltergeist, not a ghost but a malevolent force that haunts people rather than places. This has since replaced simple hauntings in films. It also told ghost hunters what kind of equipment they’re supposed to bring and it introduced ideas like the blinding white light you see after paying your taxes. “They’re here. . . and they brought beer!”

13. Friday the 13th (1980): The story of risen-from-the-dead, hockey-mask-wearing, chainsaw-wielding Jason Voorhees, this film added a supernatural element to the silent, killing-machine character first seen in Halloween, and gave us motiveless killers who can’t be killed no matter how many times you shoot them, stab them, or drop a piano on them. . . unless you use dip. This movie also taught us not to go skinny dipping when you’re in a horror movie. “They call this place Camp Psycho-Bait.”

14. Scream (1996): The story of a killer who’s watched too much Sesame Street, Scream revived the horror genre for younger audiences by setting the film around thirty-year-old teen actors and following like a hipper, totally like cynical, tongue-in-cheek style or whatever. “Obama let me down!”

15. Saw (2004): A snuff film with little else to recommend it, Saw opened the door for modern torture porn, which all but abandons story in favor of 90 minute, sadistic bloodbaths. . . a real leap forward for the human spirit. “Let's play a game. How about Clue?”

"You want us to cut through our wrists. . . but only when it's funny?!"

16. The Blair Witch Project (1999): Shot like a home movie, this story of three film students, who vanish chasing an urban legend started the “found footage” horror film subgenre. “We shouldn’t have meddled!

17. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): Elm Street gave us Freddie Krueger, who can kill you in your dreams. . . just like noctosoriasis. This film is referenced in dozens of later films, inspired numerous sequels and copies, and encouraged slasher films to step up the special effects and creativity by 16%. “Your eyes are getting sleeeeepy.”

18. The Amityville Horror (1979): Father goes crazy, repeats the murderous rampage of the prior owner, blames house. Now that’s creative lawyering! This film popularized the fake “true” horror story, which has become a bit of a cottage industry. “Honey, I got a killer deal on a repossession!”

19. The Evil Dead (1981): Gory, silly and primitive, Evil Dead is not a good film, but it is a cult classic with a devout following among horror aficionados, who will hate this sentence. The story of four people in a cabin who demonstrate that things actually can go wrong when you open a doorway to hell, this film made Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi Hollywood names. “Pass me some sugar, baby!”

20. Rosemary’s Baby (1968): Four out of five Satanists think Rosemary’s baby is the Antichrist. This film made Roman Polanski famous before he made himself infamous. It also taught us that perfectly normal looking people could be Satanists. . . or Obamatologists. “He sleeps above his crib. . . three feet above his crib.”

Again, these aren’t necessarily the best movies or the scariest movies, nor are they my favorites. But they will be on the test, so know them. And if you’ve missed any, October is the perfect month to catch up on them.

So what did I miss? Or better yet, what are your favorites?


tryanmax said...

Good list! I think every include is definitely responsible for inspiring several successor films and other works.

I recently saw Insidious which, I think, is a stand-up take on the poltergeist theme. But it got me thinking, there seem to be far fewer poltergeist films than the other types listed. Can anyone think of any other poltergeist films?

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks tryanmax!

There were a rash of poltergeist films right around the time of Poltergeist. I have a hard time remembering their names, but one was The Entity.

I think you don't see a lot of these films because Hollywood has just turned regular ghosts into poltergeists because poltergeists are more creepy because they attack people.

Anonymous said...

Excellent list and very funny as usual! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Anon!

Unknown said...

That's a pretty complete list. Oddly, as much as I enjoyed the Evil Dead, my favorite of the trilogy was the final one--Army of Darkness.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Army of Darkness is easily the best and it's also the most unlike the rest. I love Army of Darkness, the other two not so much. I see why they're interesting films, but I don't particularly enjoy them.

Outlaw13 said...

To paraphrase Cheech and Chong: "Horror movie? You mean Jane Fonda's in it?"

That's all I've got, not a big fan of that type of film.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, LOL! Nice! Bravo!

BevfromNYC said...

Horror is not my favorite genre 'cause I'm a sensitive and artistic soul {{{cough..cough}}} and frankly, just seeing the title "The Exorcist" gives me only gets worse with "Tubular Bells"!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, "a sensitive and artistic soul" LOL! So you're not a fan of modern torture porn?

On The Exorcist, I have to say that what I think really gives the film it's power is that it's got a strong story and you really get into the characters long before anything "scary" happens. The effects and the scary part aren't that great, except that you really have come to like the priests.

T-Rav said...

Finally got time to check out the article. Good choices...although even better captions :-)

I was interested that you put Resident Evil on the list. It's good, but I feel like it's one of those that have been kinda ruined by the sequels.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I'm glad you liked the captions! LOL! I particularly like the zipper inspector one... that still makes me laugh every time I read it.

I had to put Resident Evil on the list because it has had such a HUGE impact. It really spawned most of what you see in films now -- video games turned into film, hot chicks in the action hero roll, etc. Resident Evil is the film that started all of that and sold Hollywood on the idea this was viable.

I agree though that the sequels have done it harm. I still like the original a lot, but the sequels really went off the rails.

Kenn Christenson said...

Great list, Andrew.

Glad to see a few of my favorites up there. Not a big horror fan, myself.

The films I DO like tend to feature the characters over FX and gore. An example of this is "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." While not a particular "ground-breaker," the story traveled some unfamiliar territory, at least for today's modern horror films. Can't think of a film in the genre, except "The Exorcist," which tackles the demands of faith so seriously and honestly. Plus, there were some genuinely scary moments in there. Never think of 3am in the same way, again.

AndrewPrice said...

Hi Kenn!

I'm glad you like the list.

I agree completely. I'm not a big fan of CGI or gore in horror films. I think genuine fear comes from solid stories with gripping characters. The rest is just shock or gross out and doesn't really make much of an impression on me.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be any, but it should as always serve the story -- not the other way around.

I think one of the reasons The Exorcist worked so well was that the movie really was about Father Karras and his struggles with his faith in light of his mother's death. The demon merely exploited that to intensify what was already an interesting and compelling story.

I agree about Emily Rose and exorcism in general. I thought Emily Rose did a great job of looking at exorcism from the perspective of genuine faith, whereas most exorcism films just treat the idea as another monster movie.

R. Dittmar said...

I've always had a theory as to why Night of the Living Dead works so well as a horror movie. While I don't think for a minute that Romero consciously planned this, the movie is never-the-less a parody of the Judeo-Christian resurrection. Both the Old and New Testaments tell us that when the Messiah comes, the dead will be raised and their bodies reunited with their souls in paradise. This movie however shows us the bodily resurrection, and no souls are in evidence. The message is beyond nihilistic. It's almost Lovecraftian in showing a world where religion has seen glimpses of the cosmic truth, but that truth is that the universe is actively hostile to humanity. Again I stress that this was not Romero's conscious intent, but that he at least accidentally struck some teleological nerves.

Speaking for myself, I think this is why I’ve never been particularly impressed with the 28 Days/Weeks movies. If it’s just some kind of virus then what’s the big deal. We just find a cure and the problem is solved and we all go back to our iPhones and Netflix queues and there are no larger implications of the story. It’s also why I think Romero’s latest movies have been such bombs. Since he never quite understood why the first movie struck the chord it did, he continues to try and shoehorn his zombies into being some kind of metaphor for “consumerism” or “the downtrodden masses” when they really can’t carry these lefty talking-point implications and be scary at the same time.

AndrewPrice said...

Dittmar, That's an interesting observation. I agree that there is a religious angle going on. Specifically, I think zombies terrify us because we are told our souls are immortal. But zombie films seems to suggest that our souls can be destroyed and we become these blank creatures. And I think that terrifies people because suddenly death is no longer the worst thing that can happen to you -- immortal death is now the worst.

Like you, I doubt Romero considered this angle though because his later films didn't seem to grasp what made zombies so terrifying. He instead saw them as little more than scary, gross animals and he chose to go the gore/humor route with his later films.

28 Days Later clearly deserves its place on the list because it took away the weaknesses of prior zombies -- lack of speed and lack of ability to focus. These zombies were fast, strong and determined. But they also weren't as bone chilling because, as you note, there was something about them that was still to human. It was the difference between being delirious and losing your eternal soul. Also, I think the movie lost its way once it turned the soldiers into sadists and rapists.

kristina said...

all good picks, but I so, so, so agree with #1. Living Dead was the first movie I asked to stay up late to watch on TV for Halloween! and of course gave me nightmares, so it will always be a fond #1.

as a classic buff, all the old Universal monsters would make my list...
also The Thing (BOTH versions) but I can see how they'd fall outside the strict horror lines, more into scifi.

it's tough to narrow down and make lists, isn't it? but fun; thanks!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Kristina!

It definitely is difficult to put together a list like this because it's so tempting to include favorites and other films that seem like they deserved great recognition. But I wanted to try to keep to this to just the most influential films -- the ones that really should be a part of any "basic education" in horror.

I love the old Universal horror movies!

Living Dead really is THE movie that gave us the modern horror movie. We probably would have gotten there eventually without it, but it really is the movie that made it acceptable for adults to say they liked horror films. Plus, it's just a really great film!

Tennessee Jed said...

as I scanned the list, I couldn't help but think "what was the scariest movie I could remember. It is, of course "Psycho." Perhaps not technically part of the horror genre per se, I still think it belongs, somehow or another.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Several people have mentioned that.

I had it in my original top 25 list, but it didn't make the cut here primarily because I'm not sure modern audiences would group it in the horror category. While it terrified and fascinated people when it first came out, what it offers would these days be considered little more than your typical suspense movie. Indeed, there is little in Psycho that you can't see on Law & Order or CSI almost any night.

So I think it's hard to include on a list like this because I think people would tend to see it more as suspense or drama than horror at this point.

R. Dittmar said...

"And I think that terrifies people because suddenly death is no longer the worst thing that can happen to you -- immortal death is now the worst."

That's why I'd put Return of the Living Dead near the top of my horror movie list. Remember how they took this point to the extreme. People who are dead are none the less walking around fully conscious and self-aware and in pain! Where does the soul fit in given that?

AndrewPrice said...

Great point because that also begs the question of what was the soul doing before it got reanimated? Basically, it was sitting in a rotting corpse. That's a very creepy thought if that's our fate.

R. Dittmar said...

"Great point because that also begs the question of what was the soul doing before it got reanimated? Basically, it was sitting in a rotting corpse."

Not to get too theological, but there were some Christians that believed something along those lines. The doctrine is called Mortalism:

The idea is that the soul "sleeps" in some way after death and we all "wake up" at the same time on Judgement Day. I'm sure the most avid Mortalist wouldn't have allowed for the body to be running around on it's own after death though!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Outstanding list of groundbreaking horror and an outstanding post, Andrew (love the humor, lolol)!

As far as groundbreaking I would include Psycho (personally, I think psychos are more scary than mindless killing machines without personality like Jason), the original Werewolf (Lon Chaney was a huge star at the time) and of course Nosferatu and Dracula.

I don't know how much influence it had on Nightmare On Elm Street, but I think Dreamscape was the first to break gound in the dream horror (but also scifi) genre.

Actually, I'm surprised there hasn't been more Dreamscape type movies that are decent (besides Inception which wasn't as satisfying IMO although still okay).

Butto include all the grounbreakers of horror and horror sub-genre's (including the comedy ones) it would take a much bigger list.
If confined to 20 my list wouldn't differ from yours much at all, so great work.

I concur with LawHawk, Army Of Darkness rocks! LOL!

Oh, one film I really enjoyed that mixes the psycho element with science fiction is Slient Rage with Chuck Norris and Ron Silver.
Easily one of my favorite Norris flicks and a real gem!

AndrewPrice said...

Dittmar, I hadn't heard of that! Interesting. Here's your link: LINK.

Yeah, I kind of doubt they would have imagined the body running around attacking people after death.

This idea actually brings to mind the film The Prophecy where a war in Heaven supposedly is keeping souls from entering, so they are just sitting in the bodies waiting for the war to be resolved. It was an interesting film with Christopher Walken as Gabriel and Viggo Mortensen playing Satan.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben! :)

The humor is necessary in an article like this! Plus... it's fun.

Yeah, trying to keep this to the top 20 is a bit of a chore (and even then I feared it was a little long). There are lots of other films I'd love to include just to recommend them, but I just couldn't justify them over the ones above.

I felt bad about not including the earlier horror stuff, like Nosferatu, but it's hard to say that those films really had a lot of influence today -- either in terms of story, style, effects, etc. At least with something like Metropolis you see the influences and the homages and everyone at least claims to have seen it and been influenced by it.

We've talked about Dreamscape before I think and I agree that's a great movie. Good story, good enough special effect and solid premise. I wish more people knew about it. I can't include it on a list like this precisely because more people don't know about it, but it does deserve more recognition. I'm also surprised it hasn't been remade. It seems like a real candidate for modernization?

(p.s. Yes, Army of Darkness rocks!!!)

Tennessee Jed said...

Psycho is more of a suspense film than a horror film. It has never been a genre I cared much for truth be told. This is why O probably think of Psycho as being too good to be on the list as opposed to not making the cut. ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I've noticed that our crowd doesn't generally care much for horror. But horror is a pretty broad category and there is good stuff strewn all throughout it.

Ed said...

Andrew, Excellent article as always! You should list your favorite 10 as well. I'd be curious to know what those are.

Koshcat said...

Excellent list. On Fridy the 13th, you mentioned Jason,but he doesn't show up until later. It was his mother that killed all the young counselors, including Kevin Bacon (the horror). I think the first was far superior because the killer wasn't supernatural, just a pissed off mom. Clearly with the sequels they just ripped off Michael from Halloween with Jason, who was far too big to be the boy who drowned while camp counselors were sexing it up.

I always enjoyed the Hellraiser series, especially the first two. Sort of took S&M to a whole new level. Probably the start of torture porn.

I still say in The Shining the movie is about the boy and not about Jack. Don't forget, Scream gave us the rules so new filmmakers can go out and break them. 28 days Later was good but my favorite zombie film is Zombieland. Not very scary but really funny. "It's Bill f---ing Murray!"

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed! I'll have to think about it. Picking favorites is actually a good deal harder because it's very subjective and my tastes change all the time.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Thanks!

Yeah, I know on Friday13, I should have written that a little differently. I had to keep the article short and I guess I cut it too short! That's the problem with these kinds of list is the need to keep them really short so they are readable.

I liked Zombieland as well.

Hellraiser is one of those that I'm on the fence about. I really like the idea and the creativity, but I don't care for the execution somehow. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something unsatisfying for me.

On The Shining, I think you're right -- though the film blurs that a lot. Still, the story makes the most sense as seen through Danny's eyes.

Koshcat said...

Of the whole list, only The Exorcist still scares the crap out of me. In Hellraiser I wonder if the problem is that they really don't build the heroines character well. You don't care what happens to her compared to say Screm where you know a lot about Riply.

tryanmax said...


That's all I have to say about that.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, That could well be because I barely remember her from the film. So it's possible they just didn't spend enough time getting us invested in the characters?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I take it you're a fan! LOL!

Witchfinder68 said...

I'll have you know that after reading this article over at Big Hollywood and then following the discussion about The Shining, I was not able to sit alone last night in my living room and retreated for the safety of my bedroom. Spooky!

AndrewPrice said...

Witchfinder68, Welcome!

LOL! I'm glad you enjoyed it and thanks for commenting!

It's the rare story that can creep me out and leave me spooked to be home alone, but The Shining is actually one that has done that!

Another one that always got to me was Prince of Darkness.

Kenn Christenson said...

There was another "horror" film that came out this summer, which was quite good: "The Conjuring." While not nearly as scary as billed - the film had a great story and characters. My big (and only) gripe with the film is that once you see the ghost - you've pretty much lost the scare factor. The unseen will always be more frightening than an actor in makeup.

KRS said...

I'm just gonna fess up and say that the worst scare I ever had was watching the Dick Van Dyke Show. I was a kid and they showed the episode, "It May Look Like a Walnut." (

I was in love with Laura Petrie and the very idea of her being possessed by aliens led by Danny Thomas with an extra set of eyes in the back of her head, shattered my world and gave me recurring nightmares.

The worst part about this post: I'm not joking.

Btw, the article was quite enjoyable, Andrew.

Mountain Man said...

Wow, it took til #8 to find one made in this century. That says more than anything about the state of movies today.

AndrewPrice said...

Kenn, I thought "The Conjuring" was excellent. I liked "Insidious" too. Agreed though about them showing the ghost. These things are always better when you don't see the ghost.

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, LOL! I'm sorry to hear that. :( Glad you could enjoy the article though. I enjoyed writing it at the time and I think it's pretty funny to re-read actually. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Mountain Man, That does say something, doesn't it? Though, in fairness, time does help to rise to the top of lists like this. Still, you would think we would have something newer higher up.

PikeBishop said...

1. I would like to add the neat little Lovecraft-based 80s flick, "Reanimator" to this list. I fun little scare fest about the sterotypical mad scientist trying to ressurct the dead in his college medical school lab (Miskatonic University of course). It also adds a neat little twist to the genre. He brings back the dead, but they come back in the mental state they were in when they sloughed off the mortal coil. Very few of us die snug in our beds, so the victims come back in a state of agitated mental anguish and they naturally lash out. I liked that.

2. 28 Days later loses a star for me when the run into the stereotypical "evil/rapist/macho army guys."

KRS said...

Oh, as for voting on a real horror movie, I rather like "The Haunting" (1963) which is based on the book, "The Haunting of Hill House." Good book, too.

Actually, now that I think of it, the "Haunting of Hill House" has a lot of the elements that you listed for making a good animated horror, Andrew.

tryanmax said...

I wish I could say I'd seen any impressive horror films since this was first posted. Unfortunately, that's not the case. This list still stands as a great collection of highly memorable and noteworthy horror films.

Koshcat said...

This list really threw me as I read it as a new post. When I saw that I had commented, I was about to go ballistic. I thought someone was sockpuppeting me!

Still a good list. Did you see The Ruins on SciFi? For cheap tv show it wasn't too bad.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I despise the ending to 28 Days Later for that very reason.

AndrewPrice said...

KRS, It does and I think that's why people continue to like it even as so many other horror movies are forgotten. Not only is it the one that really kick-started the genre, but it did it right.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I've seen a couple nice ones, but nothing that I felt should be added to the list. There hasn't been much innovation lately. In fact, this Halloween, all the films out seem to be copies of Poltergeist.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Yep. When we can't get comments, we just fake them! ;-P

I did see The Ruins... I was cringing at the ending! Blech!! I did enjoy it though.

Koshcat said...

Here is something off topic (although bad acting) with regarding to the fainting woman in the Rose Garden.

I had a couple thoughts.

1. It does look like a prop than real
2. What asshole makes a pregnant woman stand in the sun during a boring speech. He would have looked better offering her a chair at the start.
3. Why doesn't her friend on the right actually try to help? The woman is swaying all along. Most regular women who have been pregnant would have been finding her a seat.
4. How did the president (in his case he gets a small "p") know she was swaying behind him?
5. What sort of asshole continues on with his speech while a pregnant woman behind him is getting woozy? Nobody would have faulted him for saying, "Hey, can one of you minions help us here?" and have her taken off stage. Bush would have done it and made a witty remark such as how boring his speech was, etc.

Weirdness all around and with this weird administration, we can trust anything out of their mouths.

Koshcat said...

um, that should read "we can't trust..."

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, Good questions. He may have planted her. That could well be. But either way, I think it makes him come across as a jerk for the reasons you mention.

John Johnson said...

Thank you for another great entry Andrew. Funny too. Kinda like Obama's failed websites funny. But better.

John Johnson said...

Thank you for another great entry Andrew. Funny too. Kinda like Obama's failed websites funny. But better.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks John. What fun would life be if we couldn't laugh? And when it comes to Obamacare, laughing is all we can do at the moment.

Patriot said...

Andrew......I saw Night of the Living Dead at a drive-in movie and it scared the crap outta me! (That and the case of Schlitz probably had an impact) I think the scene that got to me the most was, this was the first movie where the music/sound was almost non-existent as the guy was walking down the hallway when, suddenly, a zombies arms break through the wall and grab him, the music blares, and you just jump out of your seat. Very effective scare for a 16 year old!

The Exorcist was the only other "horror" movie that scared the bejesus outta me. I lived in the DC area at the time the movie was made. At the bottom of the steps where they filmed the fall, someone had splashed red paint! It was awesome. As a Catholic, (and former altar boy) that movie sure hit home at the time. We used to go to the site and get drunk (on Schlitz....what the hell was I thinking?!). I never said my prayers so forcefully and passionately let me tell ya!!

Great list......I'd also agree with the poster who placed the original "Nosferatu" on this list. Think about how that must have scared the heck out of the 'Flappers' at the time! I believe it was a silent film in black and white.....yet very effective scary and effects for the time.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, It is a scary movie really. On the one hand, there are a lot of scary moments, where they do great things like having a zombie slowly walking up behind people. On the other hand, there's a real intellectual horror element too as you think about what the zombies mean.

The Exorcist is a great film and it's fun seeing the sights from that movie for real.

Rustbelt said...

A few thoughts, Andrew...

I watched 'Jaws' again over the summer. (Yeah, I'm a masochist.) I was using the Rifftrax commentary, so I had to pay attention to keep the track and movie in sync.

(as the meeting begins)
Mayor: "Okay, Chief Brody will bring us up to speed."
Mike: "Uh, we got nothing. All hail our new overlord, the shark."

(while Brody sits at the table, right before Hooper walks in)
-Knock, knock...
Bill: "It's George Lucas, coming over for directing lessons."

What struck me is how the camerawork is always MOVING. Doesn't slow. Nobody sitting on couches anywhere. **cough, cough, Episode III **cough**

Okay, I guess I'll be the jerk nerd who points out that that there's nothing supernatural in 'Friday the 13th.' It's just Jason's psycho mom, killing counselors because it was counselors who let Jason drown in 1958. Jason's cameo at the end, according to the producer Sean Cunningham, is just a dream. (And according to later filmmakers, Jason doesn't really become a zombie until Part VI. They liked that because it allowed them to get away with even more stuff.)

Funny thing about the 'Amityville Horror.' This movie really doesn't scare me. However- and maybe this shows what a weird man I am- what actually scared me was the "In Search Of..." episode that was made about it. Honestly, I swear this episode had better special effects than the film. Spock wins again.


Rustbelt said...

Andrew said: "Resident Evil established the craze of turning video games into movies, for which we’re all thankful."

Anyone who's had the grave misfortune of seeing their childhood ruined by the film "Super Mario Bros." will, sadly, never be able to agree with this statement.

And on "Night of the Living Dead"...
I think you're being too harsh on films that predated it. (George has stated on numerous occasions that all the themes were largely coincidental. They just wanted to make a scary movie, whatever the script.)
Remember, those costumed monsters were very scary back in the 1930's. When 'Dracula' (the Lugosi version) came out on February 14, 1931, it reportedly had grown men running out of the theater in terror. According to a book I read on the history of Hollywood horror, this was the first time that an American film featured an actual supernatural character. (All silent film monsters had what we now call 'Scooby Doo' endings, as per studio rules against such creatures being in films.) They really weren't seen as silly until they ran into Abbott and Costello in the the late 40's.

Speaking of which, my brother and I are going to see 'Night' on the big screen tomorrow night. The Rifftrax guys- MST3K alums Mike Nelson (Mike), Kevin Murphy (Servo #2/Professor Bobo), and Bill Corbett (Crow #2/Observer)- will be spoofing it live nationwide. I'll let you know how it turns out. (Though, frankly, I think 'Dawn' is a better film.)

And one more thing... where can I download a copy of "Children of a Lesser Godzilla?"

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, One of Lucas's biggest flaws is his inability to direct even normal action in scenes. As you saw with the prequels, his characters just move to a couch and then sit down and start talking. Spielberg is much smarter than that.

The costume horror movies before Night really are campy. Even when they tried to be more serious, they were camp. Night changed the direction of horror and made it some that directors decided the name of the game was to terrify people.

You know, I actually didn't despise Mario Brothers, but yeah... turd. Hence, it didn't popularize anything.

Sounds like fun to see Night with the Riff Trax team. They are coming here as well. Not sure yet if I'm going.

Children of a Lesser Godzilla has a very limited run and then a dog ate the only copy. So sad.

Rustbelt said...

Stupid dog.

MB may not have popularized anything, but it sure was traumatizing. My poor childhood...

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, LOL! I honestly didn't think it was that bad. It wasn't good, but it wasn't Manos The Hands of Fate or anything.

Mycroft said...

I would argue that The Sixth Sense was a great and influential horror movie. Unfortunately, the movies it influenced and inspired haven't been very good.
Also, I think you have to consider Psycho a horror movie in the same vein as Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes.
To Mountain Man's comment, there have been a few good horror movies this century:
The Woman in Black
The Others
Bubba Ho-Tep
The Descent
Dead End
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
But I agree that none of them appear to have been very influential.

AndrewPrice said...

Mycroft, Those are definitely good films, but as you note, they don't seem to be particularly influential.

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