Longtime and careful readers of the blog know our favourite holidays are Arbor Day and Groundhog day. But Halloween is up there. And October is unofficially Horror Film Month.
Here are our top ten horror films of all time. Feel free to agree.
10. An American Werewolf in London. If you haven't seen this classic, go and watch it. It's fun. It's a bit scary. It's original and unique.
9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). A horror film with an underlying message about the politics of the time.
8. Carrie. Stephen King had a policy early in his career not to get involved in movie projects of his novels. Later he would get so upset over some movies, that he would fund a second production of his movie version of the novel. Not needed with Carrie. It stands as the best movie adaptation of a King novel. And it touches that deep part of the buried psyche that houses the indignities we all suffered in Highschool. Who hasn't wanted a chance to get even?
7. Halloween. (1978). Another 70's horror film (see below), Halloween started the slasher genre. "Why are they going into the attic when the front door is open?" type of film. It makes you squirm and scream inside "get out! Don't do that!". More campy now than when it first came out, it started its own line of slasher imitators as well as a 35-year vehicle for sequels.
Broward Courthouse welcoming video to new jurors. Psycho. Not a film we personally love, but a Hitchcock film has to make the list, and this is his most scary. For 1960 it is stretching the edge of the envelope as to what the censors would allow.
5. Night of the Living Dead (1968). Before the Walking Dead, there was this film, a B budget apocalyptic film about Zombies. It took a while before the public's fascination with civilization ending Zombie apocalypse stories took hold, but this started it all.
4. Rosemary's Baby (1968). If the 1970's were the best decade for horror films, Rosemary's Baby teed it up with a classic. Filmed in NYC with a young Mia Farrow, a collection of Manhattan characters are not what they seem to be. A superstar cast with John Cassavetes, Charles Gordin, and Ruth Gordon make the film a true and unique classic.
3. The Omen. The 1970s were a great decade for horror films. While the Omen came after the Exorcist, it was no mere imitator. Not many kids were named Damien after this flick hit the theaters.
2. Frankenstein. 1931. The first real monster movie. The movie ignores much of the underlying themes of the classic novel, but it is still groundbreaking.
1. The Exorcist. William Friedkin's classic stands the test of time. An unseen horror comes into a house, slowly, with strange bumps and bangs in the attic, and a young teen girl's playing with a Ouija board that answers her questions. Slowly she gets sick. Headaches, uncontrollable spasms on a bed, walking downstairs during a Georgetown party and telling an astronaut guest "you're going to die up there" and then losing control of her bladder. Then it gets worse. The mother, out of ideas consults a young and disaffected priest, who slowly comes around to the idea he might be dealing with a true possession. He records the girl, who by now is tied to the bed and speaking gibberish. The girl/demon briefly takes on the personality of the priest's recently dead mother. We are now in another realm of horror. Rhe supernatural in the bedroom of a normal house in the neighborhood. If it can happen there, where can't it happen? When the priest plays the recordings backwards, he hears people speaking. it's a chilling scene, followed by the letters "h e l p m e" slowly appearing on the girl's stomach. There's a 360 head turn, a floating bed, and a truly shocking slither down the stairs scene that didn't make the original cut but is so very scary when you see it. When the priest brings his evidence to his superiors, the church brings in the last known priest to have performed an exorcism, and you have the face-off between two old enemies. The iconic shot of Merrin the Priest-Exorcist approaching the house where satan has possessed a young girl, standing outside the home at night, under the triangle of light of a lone streetlamp, is one of the best you'll ever see in a movie.
The Exorcist holds up over time. And if you really want to enjoy being scared, read the novel, which is essentially a mystery novel in which the priest is the detective, and satan is the entity he is chasing.
Nosferatu, a 1922 silent horror movie is still a must see;
The Friday the 13th series- Halloween was taken so they made a series of slasher films on the only other day available for potential horror. Not our cup of tea, but successful and part of a genre that demands attention. See also A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Jaws. Don't go swimming. And "you're gonna need a bigger boat." Quint is a great original character played perfectly by the great Robert Shaw who died way too young.
The Shinning (Jack Nicholson edition) See #8. Close but not as good, but a terrifying descent into madness that many of us writers can identify with. Misery with James Caan and Kathy Bates is a close 3rd.
The Wolfman and Dracula. See #2. Almost as good, but Frankenstein makes the list.
If you want to talk horror novels, then The Exorcist, and Stephen King's IT are the top two, followed by King's Carrie and a slew of other early King novels.