So today is Halloween. I don't really go for horror movies though. I never have, I guess I just have too good of an imagination. However, I do like some of them, and not all of them are of the humorous sort. So I am going to give a quick rundown of some of my favorite horror movies of all time.
Shaun of the Dead
This one is a no brainer for a guy like me. I am not a big fan of blood, guts, and gore. I don't really like to be scared all that much either. So this is perfect. It has all the elements of a good horror/zombie movie and than adds some really great comedic elements too. If you haven't seen this one and you are even a remote fan of horror or comedy, you'll enjoy this one.
Dawn of the Dead
This is probably the most controversial choice on my list. You might wonder why I think this is controversial since it is a zombie movie, and the original is directed and written by mister zombie himself, George Romero. Well the reason really is because I hate the original. The one I am talking about is the remake from 2004. See what the original really lacked was the feeling that modern society has with malls. Back when the original was made the mall was a newish thing and Romero wrote it that way. Now the movie took on a whole new tone and in a way a new setting. Malls are way more than they used to be really. So if you like zombie movies with a minor message involved and some great acting, this is a great one.
This one is a given for any list like this. You should have a version of Frankenstein on every single list of horror movies. The original Universal movie is great for its day, and honestly, is still a very good movie. If you want to go a little more modern, the Robert DeNiro and Kenneth Branagh one isn't so bad either. It is closer to the book than the original, and it has some great acting. Both have their ups and downs though. If you're a literary person, the newer one might be a bit more for you since it has the ties to Milton's Paradise Lost that the original book had so tightly in it. The original didn't keep those there. Either way, great movies.
Lord Of Illusions
I won't go into too much detail with this one. If you want a lot of details, go back and read my blog on this movie. Let me just tell you, if you are a fan of noir, horror, and/or the occult, this is not to be missed. Also, it has the best use of Scott Bakula ever.
If you were a teenager in the '90s you couldn't have missed this one or at least one of its sequels or pretenders. But there was nothing quite like the first time you saw this movie. The director Wes Craven and the writer Kevin Williamson essentially took a tired, and very nearly dead sub genre of horror and revamped it. They took all the rules that a good horror movie has to follow, and threw them out the window for starters. The main characters could die, the heroes and heroines were not invincible, and virgins weren't even safe. If you have never seen this movie, and like the old cheesy drive-in horror movies, or the awful Nightmare On Elm Street movies, you should definitely see this and find out for yourself if its worthy of the pedestal it has been put on. I don't know if it is, but it is certainly a great horror movie.
I saw this one years and years ago with my dad. He was always the one who let me watch this kind of stuff when my mom said no way. Now, don't mistake this for the recent 2011 remake/prequel that is currently out in theaters. This one is much better, and has a cast that is simply fantastic. It is a great scary movie set in the arctic with a new twist on the old idea of the killer among us premise. No one knows who to trust, and everyone is suspect to have THE THING inside of them. The Thing is an alien creature that can take on any shape of anyone it comes into physical contact with. Once it does, it essentially absorbs that person into itself. The movie will have you guessing right up until the end, and the score is amazing just like it is in every single other John Carpenter movie.
What list like this would be complete without this John Carpenter gem. Look, I won't say much about this one other than if you've gotten to this point in your life and haven't seen this movie, go watch it right now... go on, I'll wait. The score is amazing, you'll jump out of your skin a couple of times, and it never overdoes it with the gore or the tension.
I am doing two here, because it was hard for me to pick one of them. Basically, see above. If you have gotten to this point in your life and haven't seen at least one of these, go watch it now. They both are amazing space horror films that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat right until the end. Skip the other sequels though.
So yeah, I know, this is a TV movie technically. However, it is also one of the best Stephen King adaptations of all time. It (no pun intended) is honestly better than the book in some ways as well. If Pennywise, played wonderfully well by Tim Curry, doesn't scare you, than you are definitely a better person than I am. I am not afraid of clowns at all, but if clowns were like Pennywise even a little, I might be. Give this one a shot if you've never seen it, you won't regret it in the least. Just remember two things, one this one is an all day watch, it is LONG. The second thing is, "They all float down here."
This movie is truly frightening in a way not another one on this list is, or can ever be. It has tension that builds constantly until the middle when everything comes to a head. But it doesn't stop with the scares all the way until the ending of the movie. If you're possessed by the devil, what can anyone do to save you? That is what this movie is all about, faith. Faith in God, and faith in the people around you. The fact is, there is no way to know for sure if this one could ever happen or not either. It isn't like Halloween where you can say, "Well he was insane and I can just hope to never have someone like that come after me. But even if he does, I can just shoot him." It isn't like Aliens and the danger is far far away and will probably never be an issue. It is a movie about a demon possessing a child, and how the mother reacts, how the child reacts, and finally how the church reacts. This is another one that if you've never seen it, you owe it to yourself to see.
Shadow of the Vampire
This is my one and only vampire movie on this list. It barely counts as a horror movie though. It is a drama and nothing else really. It is about the director and the making of Nosferatu and the star, Max Schrek. This movies takes the old myth behind Nosferatu that Schrek was actually a vampire and that was why he could play the main character so well. Schrek is brilliantly played by Willem Defoe and the director of Nosferatu is played by John Malkovich. If that isn't enough to get you to run out and see this one, it also has a pretty great surprise ending too.
This is the only one on this list that if I tell another person I love this movie, plenty of people I know may lose a little respect for me. It's gorey, and it's a little corny, but it is also damn good. It has a girl as your main character fighting the evil uncle who has come back from the dead and is sleeping with her evil stepmother. But honestly, for a movie that was made on 2 million dollars, and by a guy who had barely directed a thing before it, its a great movie. The director/writer of the movie is Clive Barker, and he does a great job for what is practically his first time out. If the scene when the Cenobites show up doesn't scare the crap out of you, than you're a better person than I am.
Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight
This one is always ignored. I don't know if its because I'm just too much of a fan of it, and its really bad and I don't realize it, or if its because it was a Tales From The Crypt movie, and that kept people away from it. But I really think this is a great movie. It has a little bit of everything that a good horror movie needs. Tension, an imposter among us, questioning who is and who isn't strong enough to make it through the night, demons, and the eternal fight between good and evil put to the test in one night. I won't tell you who is and who isn't the hero or heroine of the movie and who is and isn't the villain, because I may give something away just with that, but just give this one a chance. At worst, you might just find its so corny you laugh at it. At best, you may end up really enjoying like I do every time I watch it. It also ties into Bordello Of Blood, ignore that movie. If you ever see that movie on a shelf in a video store, burn it right there on the floor of the store. They won't arrest you for it, they will probably give you a medal. I honestly blame Bordello Of Blood for Demon Knight being ignored even.
Just watch this and call me 7 days later, okay?
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
This one is another that if you have never seen it, just go watch it. You won't regret it. Its a great film that takes an okay book, that the author swears wasn't about communism FYI, and makes it into something amazing. The main character narrates the entire film and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Honestly, this movie is a great argument for why more movies should use narration as a tool. So go watch it, and see how well you sleep that night, or if you do at all. But if one day you see your neighbor mowing his lawn and looking like he might not be himself, try not to question if he took a nap that day, and don't worry about going to bed that night. I'm sure you'll wake up fine.
So there it is, my list, for better or worse. Feel free to tell me what you would or wouldn't have added. Like I said, I'm not the biggest horror person ever. But I tried to hit a nice variety here, and I think I did pretty well considering I'm a total chicken when it comes to these kinds of movies. As the crypt keeper likes to say, "Pleasant screams boys and ghouls."