Ah, horror movies. For little ten year old me, they were the ultimate. I’m pretty sure Mom thought I was a sicko for liking them which satisfied my duties of doing That Which Will Annoy her Most. But aside from that, I’ve got genuine love for horror movies, so today I present my top . . . six.
Hey, way to have a weird countdown, Andrew.
I know, but it’s not a countdown as in, “And now, the number one horror movie of all time is . . .”. I came up with six categories and picked a favorite for each one because ” . . . everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”
Slasher scares: Halloween. The premise, like most slashers, is simple: Sent to an asylum as a child for killing his sister, Michael Myers, now grown, escapes to pick up where he left off. Michael’s doctor, Sam Loomis, may be the only one who can stop him.
Why it’s the best- Halloween understands the power in a buildup and how scary rising tension is, so when the scares hit, they deliver. It also has the most memorable music in horror history. Like Jaws, the music is as necessary as the main characters. And on top of all that, you get introduced to Final Girl; The ultimate bad ass who defeats the killer in every slasher. If you think there’s a better one than this, you’d be wrong.
Want more? Try the original A Nightmare on Elm Street or Child’s Play*
Comedic scares: Army of darkness. Yes, Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland are funny, but do either of them star Bruce Campbell? Exactly. There’s no contest and if you disagree, you’d be wrong.
This is the third movie in The Evil Dead franchise (not necessary to have seen the previous movies) and sends longtime hero, Ash Williams, to medieval England. If Ash wants to get home, he must retrieve the Necronomicon, but he screws up the incantation causing the dead to rise. And he’s not dealing with brain-eating zombies. He’s dealing with smart aleck skeletons carrying swords and using cannons against the castle he and the rest of the town are defending.
Why it’s the best- From minute one, Army of Darkness doesn’t take itself seriously. The slapstick gags combined with cheesy dialogue make this movie nothing but fun. Sure, there are some scares and cool special effects, but the real strength of this movie is the over the top comedy.
Want more? Try Dead Alive or Return of the Living Dead*
Creature Feature: The Fly (1986)* I don’t normally endorse a remake, but this movie succeeds in sticking to the basic plot of the original while taking it to a whole new level. Seth Brundle is a brilliant scientist experimenting with teleportation. He meets journalist, Veronica Quaife, at a meet the press event and invites her to check out his Telepods. Soon after romance blooms, but since it’s a horror movie, things go terribly wrong. Seth uses the Telepod on himself not realizing a fly is in there with him too. Confused, the computer fuses their atoms together.
Why it’s the best- Many classic monster movies like King Kong and The Creature from the Black Lagoon have their monsters motivated by love for a woman and I really liked that this element was The Fly. Every aspect of Seth’s humanity is slowly eroding, but the one constant is he still loves Veronica. Everything he does right until the end is for her. And despite the monster he’s becoming, she never stops loving him. Doesn’t that sound awesome? I think we’ve established what you’d be if you disagree.
Want more? Try Slither (Nathan Fillion alert!) or The Thing (1982)*
B-Movie scares: Puppet Master 3: Toulon’s Revenge These movies were never meant for huge audiences, so if you’re looking for something different, this is the one you want.
The movie takes place in Nazi Germany and Andre Toulon’s amazing puppet show has gotten the Nazi’s attention. When they discover his puppets are the no strings variety, they try to take all of his research. Toulon tries to stop them and his wife ends up on the wrong side of a Nazi’s bullet. You realize, of course, this means war.
Why it’s the best- Because of their small budget, B-movies have to get inventive if they want to make a good movie. The stop motion animation and puppetry work together to make the puppets really seem alive. No CGI here, folks. And the brief origin of the puppets elevates them from inanimate objects out for blood, to characters just as dedicated to the fight as Toulon. Don’t try to disagree with me. Just don’t.
Want more? Try Planet Terror or Killer Klowns From Outer Space*
Foreign scares- Let The Right One In* I live in the USA, so by foreign, I mean not American. I love this movie so much, I’ve blogged about it before. If you don’t mind subtitles, you have to watch this one.
Twelve year old Oskar is a regular target for bullies. He’s angry about it and spends his nights wishing he could get even. When he first meets Eli, she tells him they can’t be friends, but Oskar doesn’t understand why. She’s about his age and seems to be all alone, like him. What he doesn’t know is that Eli is a very old vampire who only looks like a ten year old.
Why it’s the best- By the time Oskar finds out what Eli is, they’ve developed a strong bond and he finds he doesn’t care. With the bully’s violence escalating and the town’s people coming after Eli, it’s, believe it or not, quite sweet and touching the lengths the kids will go to protect each other. And it’s got, hands down, one of the best horror movie climaxes I’ve ever seen. Just try and disagree, I dare you.
Want more? Try Audition or Inside
Classic scares: Psycho (1960) Marion Crane is on the run after stealing a whole bunch of money from one of her employer’s clients. She decides to hide out at the Bates Motel, run by Norman Bates and his mother.
This turns out to be a fatal mistake.
Marion’s disappearance attracts her sister and a private eye to the motel. Together they unravel the mystery and discover the sick relationship of Norman and his mother.
Why it’s the best- Too much to write. Seriously, I could do a whole blog post on the shower scene. Simply put, no one I know has ever disliked Psycho. No matter what genre of movie they like. Trust your old pal Andrew and see it.
Want more? Try Night of the Living Dead (1968) or Nosferatu*
*These movies are all streaming on Netflix
Want to congratulate me on my excellent selections? Think I missed something and want to be told in the comments you’re wrong? Just supposing I’d entertain your favorites, what would be in your top six?