Ten Great Horror Films
-as defined by kahl
An editors note from Katerina423
I asked my good friend kahl to throw together something for me for Halloween. I just threw out the idea of something about top 10 horror movies... and this is what the brilliant mind came up with. All the credit of the article goes to her and all the mistakes are courtesy of me.
I had so much fun reading this and I know you will too. So settle in, grab something yummy to drink, and enjoy a fun and scary read. You will, invariably, find some movies to rent for the upcoming All Hallows Eve and have yourself a wonderful scare-fest. I've booked my Netflix according to this.
Happy Halloween everyone.. I hope it's a particularly chilling one.
Film like any art is extremely subjective. There is no definitive measure to what makes it good or bad, as everyone's meter of value quantifies differently. This is especially true of Horror films. Not only is a horror film contending with the basic appeals of aesthetics and taste, but Horror films have the added duty of handling your fears and bitch-slapping your psyche. No two people react exactly the same, to the same stimuli. And every "Grand Master" of Horror has their own theories on how best to tweak the switches and dials that send the men jumping and set the ladies to screaming. Alfred Hitchcock's theory was to show only the barest minimum--let the viewer's own fears do most of the work. Wes Craven likes to make us question the nature of reality and relies on aspects of life we already find mysterious or unknowable like dreams or the afterlife. Some go for the gut, relying on our natural repulsion to blood and violence to turn our heads. And classic of all are the Jump sequences-Raging monkeys leaping out of no where to rip off our faces...or the face of the guy in the movie; but these gags still work for exactly that reason. Our mind plays along and we allow for the role reversal and just when we forget we're watching--Masked man with a chainsaw.
The definition of a Horror film is one that strives to induce fear, revulsion, horror and terror in its viewers. Wikipedia distinguishes horror and terror as follows: "Horror is the feeling of revulsion that usually occurs after something frightening is seen, heard, or otherwise experienced. It is the feeling one gets after coming to an awful realization or experiencing a deeply unpleasant occurrence. By contrast, terror is usually described as the feeling of dread and anticipation that precedes the horrifying experience." So in this we have our basic set of ingredients. Something frightening, revolting, horrifying and terrifying.
So having just said that there is no way to say that one film supersedes another, how can I dare to make a list of Ten Great Horror films?? Because they are great. They not only have all the required ingredients for a true horror film, but they are revolutioinary in their own right. They have stood over time, made huge impacts on filmmaking and the horror genre, and they have impacted society in a way that makes them undeniably great. When people leave a theatre afraid to take a shower, or go to sleep, or to leave next weekend for that hotel in the Colorado Rockies....well, then the directors have done their job and that film is solid. To avoid any idea that I have a preference for one film over the other, they are listed in order of release (date) and for the record...some aren't my favorites at all. So at the very end, I've included a list of some more obscure Horror films that I think should be seen, and a few that got bumped to make room for others on this Top Ten Horror Greats.
10. The Ring(2002)
So how the hell does the director of MOUSEHUNT manage to make it to a list of Great Horror Films? By introducing the mass of Western culture to the magic of Eastern Horror. Gore Verbinski remade the 1998 Japanese horror Ringu trying to keep as faithful to it and the book, while still updating it and westernizing it for American audiences. One surprising thing to note is that the now trademark Ring theme and image seen on the cover and throughout in subliminal blips is unique to the American film. The title of Ring in the original 1991 novel by Koji Suzuki, was in fact only a reference to the cyclical nature of the curse. The American film differs greatly from the book and even from the original Ringu Japanese film, however, Verbinski scores major bonus points for translating aspects of Asian horror into the American mainstream, a feat which has not only introduced a new set of Scare-Master tools, but also turned many American eyes eastward to the wealth of Horror in the Asian market, particularly Japan and Korea. "Here we go, the world is spinning. When it stops, it's just beginning. Sun comes up, we laugh and we cry. Sun goes down, and then we all die..."
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9. Nightmare on Elm Street(1984)
Whatever you do, don't fall asleep... And many didn't after seeing this film. Wes Craven masterfully created a demon that would follow us home, because he lived in our dreams. Worse yet, Wes Craven targeted kids. The very teenage kids he knew were coming to see his movie. The film relies on all the classic tools; dark places, eerie lighting, gory and grotesque deaths, and a villain as frightening to look at as the threat of his razor-clawed gloves. In this original Freddy Kreuger was more of a "silent type" like other famed horror goons, Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers. Over the course of the following seven sequels and spin-offs, however, he's developed a cheeky personality and a smart mouth. This film, like Halloween, spawned an entire cult following that is quickly recognized. A remake has even been planned for 2010. Although the ongoing feud between Friday the 13th fans and Freddy fans was enough to give birth to the Freddy vs. Jason film, Wes Craven's Freddy Kreuger was a more solidly developed character that set a precedent for horror movies that followed. Our monsters started to become more than just a voiceless mask with a weapon, and Craven paved the way for directors like Clive Barker, who would follow three years later with Hellraiser.
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An incredibly quotable film, Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of this Stephen King classic thriller, is also booed by King fans as being unfaithful! Ironically, the most famous quote "Here's Johnny!" was an ad-lib by Jack Nicholson mocking then TV Host Johnny Carson. Regardless of the books foundation, the film has a life of its own and features many of Kubrick's trademark themes. One to questions reality and the existential nature of things, Kubrick was a director who always pushed too far. Most all of his films were released to stunned and disappointed audiences only to be hailed later as ingenious classics. The Shining was not far different, only opening on 10 screens and making less than 3% of what the film cost to make in its opening weekend. The Shining known as a powerful thriller with many disturbing visuals actually has only one on screen death.
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In space no one can hear you scream. A tagline so often quoted even 30 years later. While often grouped with its successor Aliens, by James Cameron, Ridley Scott's original feature set all the foundations. Also denoted as a science fiction classic, Alien also follows the core structure for a classic horror monster movie. In this cross-genre story of a dock-loader named Ellen Ripley on the space ship Nostromo battling an alien infestation, filmmaking was introduced to an exciting new hybrid of fear. This film had something for everyone; the suspense, the gore, the mind fucks. Each member of the alien's brood successfully poked at different niche scares. The facehuggers were these slimy crustacean-like nasties that assaulted in nothing less than a rape-like fashion. The Chestbursters came from inside you, parasitic and vile until their host died screaming and exploding. And the soldiers, the hunters, dripped ooze and toyed with you offering up the bloody slash-fest as well as all the jump-scares you need. Not only did Alien win the Oscar for Best Special FX, it was nominated for best Art Direction and won the Saturn Award for best science fiction film and best director from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.
John Carpenter's original story of a psychotic youth escaping an asylum and returning home as an adult to slay his home town, went on to spawn four consecutive sequels, a fifth on the 20th anniversary of its release, and a 2007 remake by Rob Zombie which was met with high acclaim. The Character of Dr. Sam Loomis (a character name from Psycho, by the way) was offered to Christopher Lee, famous for many horror roles throughout the 60s and 70s, but was turned down. He still says it was one of the biggest mistakes he ever made, as obviously Halloween--and Michael Myers is a zeitgeist not to be stopped. Michael Myers is still one of the most recognized Halloween costumes today.
It's a shark. That's it. No big mystery. They even show it to you on the poster. SO how did Stephen Spielberg, a relatively unknown director, manage to turn a shark into the demon of the deep? How did he leave hundreds of thousands terrified to enter into open water or...even just ride a boat? The magic of this film is two-fold. Firstly, it takes something that is a natural predatory threat and makes it into an unstoppable nightmare. Sure, most everyone thinks sharks are cool--when they are in a tank or far, far away. Spielberg knew this, so he focused on the two aspects of the shark that were the scariest: 1-the forewarning fin and 2-the JAWS. Seems simple right? So why is it so damn scary?? Spielberg recognized that if people close their eyes they won't SEE the scary part (teeth and blood) so he had to make sure they could HEAR it. Not much screaming underwater, so he turned to brilliant composer John Williams. Together they managed to prove that in film sound is sometimes MORE important than what you see. Duhn Duhn. Duhn Duhn.
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The film Billy Graham declared was actually possessed by a demon in the celluloid itself. Not many horror films make such an impression. William Peter Blatty, author of the acclaimed insisted on director William Friedkin (when Warner Brothers refused Stanley Kubrick). Friedkin's directing style is unique and not often widely accepted by audiences, but his use of strong angles and harsh lighting proved useful in this film. Running with his gritty, documentarian techniques applied to his previous film "The French Connection", Friedkin brought a sense of realism to the Horror genre not yet known. The intensity of the set, as Friedkin always insisted on as much realism as possible, became too intense on several occasions and finally a real Priest was asked to bless the set, and the cast and crew. Although William Friedkin is not a well-known director by name, his film is considered by some the greatest Horror film ever made.
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3.Night of the Living Dead(1968)
George A. Romero's Legacy began here. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't a "Zombie" film. The word Zombie is never even used in the entire film. They are the "living Dead" or most commonly referred to as "those things." While the dead reanimating is an idea centuries old, Romero is given a singular credit in the introduction of cannibalism, an aspect of the film that earned the filmmakers the brand of "Satanists" by many religious groups who were appalled by the films grotesque themes and graphic nature.
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Why Are Zombies So Awesome?
What Makes Zombies So Awesome?
By Robt Foppe.
Zombies have been an ongoing obsession in today's vision of pop-culture. They've appeared in movies and television shows since the 1930's. Also, due to their wavering ideology, the term "zombie movie" basically applies to about 75% of all horror movies ever made. There are those movies that are obvious about their zombie themes, whereas others are more questionable to the sticklers. For instance, John Carpenter's "The Fog" features pirate ghosts. So they're ghosts, right? Wrong! They appear as zombie-ghosts.
So then, what classifies as a zombie?
Zombies are humans (sometimes creatures) that have either...
*Died, yet resist death
*Have been put under mind control
*Have been infected with a mind-altering virus
There are several classifications of zombies. These classifications include:
(obviously, egyptian dead people that were mummified that are brought back to life via a curse or evil spe
Though many know the ear piercing soundtrack, or the blood-spattering shower scene, few people can tell you what Alfred Hitchcock's final black and white film was really about. The sexy Janet Leigh (whose daughter was the scream queen of 1978's Halloween) is hiding out after stealing big money from her employer and stays at a completely vacant motel managed by Norman Bates, a taxidermist and voyeur with a mommy problem. The film was very nearly not passed by the censor review board, not only for the obvious gore and violence, but an overwhelming level of sexuality which was deemed indecent. The book upon which this film was based--oh, didn't know that did you? --yes the book by Robert Bloch was actually inspired by Serial Killer Ed Gein. While the 1998 Gus Van Sant remake is purportedly shot for shot of the original with only additions of original material that Hitchcock had removed, it was a pale comparison. To quote Marion Crane: "Yes. Sometimes just one time can be enough. "
The full name is Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens.; or "Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror." This often spoofed but highly regarded film was made by director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau during the Silent Era of cinema. Sweden actually banned the film upon release for its "excessive Horror," a ban they did not revoke until 1972. The story is based very loosely upon Bram Stoker's 1897 novel "Dracula," and set the precedent for decades of Vampire films to follow.
There are, of course, dozens of films that are so very worthy of mention. As I'd already stated the Friday the 13th series was popular enough to lead into at least 11 sequels and spin offs. The Hellraiser Series is mighty worthy of watching. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre series, Suspiria- a fantastical, little known gem, Jungfrukallan ("Virgin Spring"), The Thing (from Outer Space), Diabolique (french), The Amityville Horror, Rosemary's Baby...all the Dead movies (Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Evil Dead)...Silence of the Lambs and its sequels.
I could go on for days, and I'm sure you'll all remind me of your favorites. But below is a quick list of some obscure or underrated greats, also in order of year:
Ten Horror Movies You May Not Have Seen But SHOULD.
1.Repulsion (1965) - Another psychological thriller from Roman Polanski about a sexually repressed woman left to hallucinations and madness.
2.The Tenant (1976) - Roman Polanksi at his best, psychosis and paranoia drives a man to question the last tenant's suicide
3.Wicker Man (1977) - The Original with Christopher Lee, serious Scottish craziness centering on a strange pagan village
4.Manhunter (1986) - Made long before Red Dragon, this version pits CSI's William Peterson against Tom Noonan with the help of Brian Cox's enigmatic and creepy psychopath Hannibal Lecter.
5. Near Dark (1987) - a very different kind of vampire movie, starring Lance Henrickson, Bill Paxton and Heroes' Adrian Pasdar
6.Audition (2000), Japanese - A man holding an audition for a new wife finds out just how painful objectifying a person can be. Eihi Shiina is truly gifted. *shudder*
7. The Devil's Backbone (2001), Spain - Guillermo del Toro, director of Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy, sets a chilling ghost story in an orphanage during a bloody civil war in 1939.
8.Irreversible (2002), French - a reverse mind-fuck similar to Memento...only far more sinister as Monica Bellucci is the victim of rape
9.Tale of Two Sisters (2003), South Korean - Two sisters home from a mental institution. Wicked Stepmother. Evil ghost. The tag: "Faerie Tales have never been this Grim." Enough said.
10.The Machinist (2004) - A masterpiece of suspense by Director Brad Anderson staring a grotesquely thin Christian Bale. Check out Anderson's earlier film too, Session 9 (2001)
If you enjoyed reading this, I highly recommend reading more about film and amazing movie reviews by kahl at earth-bound misfit, i