Horror is one of, if not my absolute favorite genres of cinema. I looooove a good scary movie. Monsters, slashers, aliens, ghosts, demons…you name it, I love it!
below I have assembled a list of some of my favorites. As with my other film lists, this is not a comprehensive list nor is it presented in any particular order (except maybe the order in which I thought of them.)
So here goes:
1) Poltergeist (1982)
First of all, it’s directed by Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre,) so you KNOW it’s going to be be creepy. Add on the fact that it was co-written and produced by Steven Spielberg (E.T., Jaws, Close Encounters of The Third Kind) and you KNOW it’s gonna be creepy and big! I’m sure a lot of potential home buyers did a LOT more research into the history of the properties they were looking at after seeing this movie. “I LOVE that gazebo…tell me: this neighborhood isn’t built over a graveyard, is it? Are you sure? Positive?”
2) Insidious (2010)
This film is a nice departure from the current trajectory of contemporary horror films away from torture porn (not that there’s anything wrong with that.) This cool, present day ghost story doesn’t rely on gore for scares. This is especially significant considering the fact that that the movie was directed by James Wan (Saw.) Instead, the motley crew of tortured souls just appearing out of nowhere in everyday moments is what kept me looking over my shoulder when I was home alone…in the middle of the afternoon…in full daylight.
3) Saw (2004)
Speaking of Saw, the original movie, the one that launched the seemingly endless Halloween-weekend franchise, is pretty awesome! The first proactively passive-aggressive serial killer, Jigsaw, had us all re-evaluating our lives, so as not to end up shackled to Cary Elwes in a leaky basement somewhere. Although if it were THIS Cary Elwes, that might not be quite so bad…up to a point, of course.
4) Paranormal Activity (2007)
What’s cool about this movie is the amount of effort the filmmakers put into such a seemingly minimalist project. Paranormal Activity relies so much on what we don’t see to scare us. Our imagination is forced to go into overdrive…and it does…for days after watching this thing!
5) A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
This is probably one of my favorite movies overall (had I thought about it in time, it probably would have made my 25 Favorite list.) Freddy Krueger, that dirty, chlid-killing, blade-fingered fuck, is an iconic horror movie personality. But one of the coolest things about this movie is we spend so much of it being terrified by his nighttime antics without really knowing anything about him. Which, if you think about it, is how it would actually be with a nightmare villain. Well, done Wes Craven!
6) The Howling (1981)
This werewolf movie probably contains the scariest representation of lycanthropy on film. And the character of Eddie’s transformation scene is gruesomely awesome! I enjoy the subplot of whether lycanthropy is a curse or a gift. The score is a little hokey but I can easily forgive that just to hear Eddie threaten to give “Bright Boy” a “piece of his mind!”
7) The Shining (1980)
The fact that this film is only loosely based on the Stephen King novel of the same name (which was frightening in its own right) is incidental. The feeling of isolation and mental decline is effectively captured by director Stanley Kubrick. My only criticism is that Jack Nicholson, being who he is, never really read to me as ever having been sane…but that somehow worked, so there!
8) Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
Besides being a fun and titillating take on the slasher genre, this film serves as commentary on the male gaze and women’s typical role in the horror genre. But mostly, attractive people are catching a power drill in the squishy parts!
9) Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
I enjoy this installment of the Jason Voorhees saga more than the original. Mainly this is due to the terrifying image of a deranged killer with a sack on his head. It’s kind of a crazed hillbilly, lo-budget sadomasochistic thing that just sends chills up my spine!
10) An American Werewolf In London (1981)
Aside from containing one of the most epic special effects sequences in the full moon transformation scene, the dark sense of humor in this film is spot on. Even down to the soundtrack, in which all of the songs being used contain the word “moon.”
11) Creepshow (1982)
Composed of a series of short, twisted, macabre and straight up crazy-ass stories, this movie has placed a lot of different shivery seeds in my poor little brain!
12) Night of The Living Dead (1968)
This is it, the film that started my fascination with the walking dead. The scene where the zombies are devouring the human flesh is properly disgusting. And, at least the Black guy dies LAST here!
13) Dawn of the Dead (2004)
This remake of the 1978 George Romero classic is controversial to fans of the genre because of the use of “fast zombies.” Whatever, that shit is cray-cray AWESOMENESS!
14) The Omen (1976)
This movie about the spawn of Satan is both subtle and over the top at the exact same time. The opening sequence is the scene that sticks with me the most, though…as though it were all for me!
15) Halloween (1978)
The one that started it all. Halloween is pretty much the film that created the “slasher” genre. It also introduced us to the fabulousness that is Jamie Lee Curtis!
16) Scream (1996)
I believe I saw this movie in theaters at least ten times! I can’t tell you how long it took for me to be able to answer the phone with no apprehension.
17) Def By Temptation (1990)
This was probably the first all black non camp horror film (“all black” including those folks behind the camera as well.) It’s weird and creepy and highly stylized. Kadeem Hardison’s character “K” has the coolest death scene of the whole movie, I think.
18) Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
The visuals in this movie are crazy! And you don’t know whether you’re coming or going until the “oh shit!” ending!
19) Candyman (1992)
Popular cinema’s first Black, non-camp horror movie villain! Woot! The mythology behind the character of Candyman is intriguing and plausible. I won’t even attempt to say his name in front of a mirror even ONCE! How about you?
20) The Gate (1987)
I remembered being terrified by this movie as a kid. As an adult I was surprised at how funny it is…and still creepy as hell!
21) Hellraiser (1987)
A faithful adaptation of Clive Barker’s short story “Hellbound Heart,” this movie gives us some of the coolest, most gruesome characters in the hellish Cenobites. Am I wrong for thinking Pinhead is a little sexy?
22) The Thing (1982)
The special effects crew put in some work on this bad-assedly gory remake of the 1951 classic. Makes you want to think twice before petting that cute stray dog! The 2011 “re-remake” was surprisingly well done…though we don’t realize just how well done until the very end…not to spoil it, just sayin’.
23) In The Mouth of Madness (1994)
A touch of H.P. Lovecraft gives this movie a gloss of insane, “what-the-hell-IS-that-thing” sense of creepiness! It ALMOST made me afraid to read another book.
24) Lord of Illusions (1995)
25) Vamp (1986)
Grace Jones as a vampire queen…’nuff said.
26) Witchboard (1986)
I owned a Ouija board at the time I first saw this movie…but not long after, lemme tell you!
27) Fright Night (1988)
One of my favorite vampire films! Chris Sarandon’s deadly, sexy coolness made you almost want to give him your neck…almost! And I ended up with a strange crush on the character of “Evil” Eddie.
28) Phantasm (1979)
I can honestly say I’d never seen anything like the alternate dimension the nasties in this film occupied. And every time I close a door with a mirror on it, a little part of me is dreading seeing the Tall Man waiting to holler “BOOOOY!”
29) Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987)
I actually didn’t care too much for the original Evil Dead. Luckily the sequel had everything that was good about the first one plus more badass-ery! Also the best solution to the problem of what to do with the stump after your hand gets possessed and you must exorcise it!
30) Pet Sematary (1989)
Although the novel written by Stephen King was better, the image of evil Gage snarling around with that straight razor wanting to “play” definitely sticks with you!
Which other films do you think I missed?