Top Ten Horror Movies

This is a list I made a long time ago and looking back over it, I realized it definitely needed some touching up. I truthfully believe that I’ve matured not only as a movie viewer, but as a horror movie viewer since my last attempt at this list and it took me a long time to figure every finite detail of the list out, but I finally did it and right in time for October too.

There is a lot to take into account when it comes to Horror. Like any top ten list, I looked at the films not only for their entertainment value, but also from the view point of the filmmaking and the artistic aspects. With horror though you also have to look at how well the film succeeds in exactly what its trying to do, not just be a great movie, but be a great horror movie. That’s why you might find a movie like The Silence of the Lambs not exactly at the spot you’d expect because it may be one of the best movies on the list, it most certainly isn’t the best horror movie.

One last thing before I get into the list; I have a few honorable mentions. I was  displeased with the fact that I was not able to include four movies onto my list of “Top Ten Horror Movies”. After much moral and discomfiting debate I finally decided on ten films and these four just happened to unfortunately missed the mark. This is of course just one mans opinion and I could completely see why someone could put these films not only on a top ten list, but among the top three.

The first film is just a personal favorite of mine, “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon”. This is the best example of combining both the horror genre and the comedy and it just barely missed my list. The other three are the ones I’ll get the most ridicule for. Three films that are amazing and just missed the mark for me are Jaws, Psycho and The Exorcist. All are great films that just list my list of “Top Ten Horror Movies”. I’ve been rambling long enough though so with out further ado here’s a list of my favorite horror movies…

10. The Hitcher

The Hitcher is an often overlooked and under appreciated horror and I’m oblivious to the reason because I love this movie. This is the slasher movie that should be praised over “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th” because behind the despicable antagonist you find a weathered villain looking for a way to go out in glory and in the films protagonist you’ll find a brilliant transformation from innocence to courageous.

9. 28 Days Later

Whether you want to call 28 Days Later a zombie movie or not, no director has ever executed a similar idea with such intensity, artistic flair and overall respect for the exact story they were trying to tell. And yes, by similar idea, I mean zombie movie. 28 Days Later fantastic in the way it never strays from its decrypted path and keeps you involved and craving more until its pitch-perfect ending. It truly is an unbelievably fascinating movie.

8. Insidious

Yes, Insidious, the movie that just came out months ago made it onto my list of the greatest horror movies of all time. The reason is simple, Insidious is a relentless journey into the dark and one that attempts to scare you not by showing a man chopping off someones leg with a chainsaw, but by showing you the things that go bump in the night. Insidious is a spectacular and enthralling roller coaster ride that shows truly great horror can still exist today.

7. Saw

It’s unfortunate that the original Saw may very well be the movie that instituted the idea that in order to make a horror movie now, it must include torture and disturbing gore. That’s strange because the original Saw, aside from the leg sawing, wasn’t nearly as brutal, not too mention awful, as its sequels. Unlike  its  sequels and the films it may have inspired, the original Saw is phenomenal. Where it has its moments of twisted terror it never fails to entertain. It is a staple in the genre of horror.

6. The Silence of the Lambs

While writing a review I usually save this word till the end, but I want to make this as clear as possible; The Silence of the Lambs is masterpiece. It has so much on its palette and has so much to offer and not all of it pertains to the genre of horror, so it barely misses the top five because it’s probably the second of third best movie on this list, but that’s not to say it’s among the best horror movies on this list. The Silence of the Lambs is however amazing in its portrayal of real characters in a horrifying story.

5. Halloween

To put it as bluntly as possible, Halloween is the greatest slasher movie ever created. The sub genre of the horror genre, slashers, as of lately has become some what of a joke with the overly sexualized main characters and the outlandish gore. Halloween is not the first slasher movie of all time, but this original horror masterpiece isa large part of the reason the sub genre, slasher, is so well known today. All other slasher movies should’ve taken note, because this slasher, with the amazing tension, the claustrophobic suburban atmosphere, the villain, is magnificent.

4. Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity is an unflinching excursion into the heart of terror and though modern it is justifiably one of the greatest horror movies ever created. Paranormal Activity is the most realistically executed ghost story ever put on screen and it works. It’s the little things that are the scariest, the door moving, a shadow in the form of a man, something falling in another room, etc. The film is brilliant in the way that it builds and builds, intensifying with each coming night, until the film comes to an end and it’s clear that you’ve just watched a masterfully crafted horror film  in every way imaginable.

3. The Blair Witch Project

The Blair Witch Project is incredible, unequivocal in its craft, and unquestionably one of the greatest horror films in existence. If this was a list of top ten scariest horror movies, there would be no doubt in my mind that The Blair Witch Project would be number one. A horror movie might make you jump, it might make you squeamish from the gore, but rarely will a horror movie, just due to the events that transpire, instill the idea of actual fear and stay with you long after. Incredibly and terrifyingly, The Blair Witch Project is able to do just that. There is no other horror film that is as unsettling in its realism, beautiful in its simplicity and distinguishable in its terror. The Blair Witch Project is simply magnificent.

2. The Thing

The Thing is an unbelievably remarkable horror film that combines isolation, fear, paranoia, extraterrestrial terror, flame throwers, a hero who belongs in an action movie, and much more. The Thing for these reasons, among many others, easily finds its way into the top two of my favorite horror films ever made. The Thing, though being a remake (widely considered one of the greatest remakes in existence), manages to be completely original in the way that it’s a monster movie, only the thing of it is, this monster or “The Thing” has the ability to morph into its prey after killing it.

Once this idea sets in for both the characters in the film and the audience you slowly begin to realize that no one can be trusted and you have to expect the unexpected. These ideas are utilized flawlessly because the story is respected, yet told with such zest. Even though this is film about an alien that transforms into humans, it finds a way to be as real as possible. The characters have purpose yet can’t be called caricatures, the transformations, instead of happening in the blink of an eye, seem grotesque and mutilating, and the plot follows a well-thought out path that fits into the events that transpire before your eyes. John Carpenter is quite possibly the greatest director in regards to the horror genre and this is his masterpiece.

1. The Shining

Stanley Kubrick is unmistakably one of the greatest directors to ever work in cinema. He’s put his uniques spin on so many genres whether that be comedy, war, period piece, sci-fi, drama, heist and I could go on. It was with in one of the most under appreciated genres in film, that he made has magnum opus. Kubrick made so many amazing movies and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find films like A Clockwork Orange or 2001: A Space Odyssey at the top of a list in regards to Kubrick movies, but for me it’s by far The Shining. The Shining is Kubrick’s best and not only the best horror movie ever made, but one of the greatest movies ever made.

Whether you’re looking at The Shining from the view point of a young boy dealing with the consuming darkness at hand, a man’s decay into madness in part due to isolation and writer’s block, but it also might have something to do with the ghosts, or your looking at the film as a simple haunted house story set in the perfect location, you really can’t go wrong. The Shining, like no other film, epitomizes the very idea of horror. The film is epic, it’s beautiful, it’s compelling, yet behind all that it is quintessentially nightmarish.

You don’t even have to be a lover of horror films when it comes to The Shining either. Yes, The Shining is first and foremost a horror movie, but all and all, fundamentally, it is an extraordinary movie through and through. I mean, at the end of the day, isn’t The Shining just a masterpiece about a father and son trying to connect? No, not at all. I did get one part of that statement right though, The Shining is a masterpiece. I love every aspect of The Shining and there was never a single question as to whether or not it would find a place right here as my favorite horror movie of all time.

The Dark Knight Rises Countdown

There are absolutely no words to express exactly how badly I want to see the film, The Dark Knight Rises. I could write a best-selling book series on all the reasons that make me completely ecstatic about seeing this movie, but for now I’ll just give you the two most important reasons: The Dark Knight Rises is the sequel to my favorite movie and it is the final film in what could very well be the greatest series of films ever created.

My 100th post on this site was a The Dark Knight Countdown and I was planning on this being my 300th, but I’ve been posting a lot of reviews and just lost track so in honor of 303 posts here’s the countdown for my second most anticipated movie of all time (first of course being The Dark Knight), The Dark Knight Rises.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES COUNTDOWN

50/50 Review

I’m finding it hard to get started here without making this just like any other review of a great movie, but I suppose I can start with the facts. 50/50 is a touching film about a young man’s diagnosis with cancer and how his life and lives of the people around him are affected. It may be common knowledge at this point, but the reason this film was created was because the screenwriter, Will Reiser, dealt with similar issues when  he was diagnosed with cancer. In this way, it’s hard not to find honest and true moments making 50/50 an excellent movie through and through.

In a film that combines heartfelt drama with laugh-out-loud comedy, you’ll find in 50/50 a truly compelling and enjoyable story. Seth Rogen is hilarious as always delivering his signature blend of comedy, Anna Kendrick is always enjoyable, but the true star here is of course Joseph Gordon-Levitt. This is a young actor confident in his ability and rightfully so because he really is an incredible actor, his performance in 50/50 is nothing short of breath taking.

Every single moment, story arc or plot point in this film had the potential to fall apart and seem forced or even stereotypical. Instead, 50/50 is a breath of fresh air. It’s a difficult task to put your finger on exactly why that is because it’s honestly a combination of everything. Take most of the fundamental reasons dramas can be great and the fundamental reasons comedies can be great, put them in a blender and the delicious beverage that results is 50/50.

In a film with a simple story about fighting cancer, 50/50 tells a timeless tale about playing the cards you are dealt. At times you find yourself looking at your own situation and asking what you’d do in this situation. You draw similarities between your own friends and family. It’s somewhat ridiculous how much a single film can make you feel from time to time. This film is able to accomplish so much due to its subject matter and because it is a very well made film on all accounts.

Just about everything in this movie works. When the characters are sad, you are sad, when the characters are happy, you are happy, when the characters are laughing, you laugh and best of all the film isn’t forcing or tricking your emotions. It’s just that these characters are so honest and relatable that it’s hard not to feel real emotion. There’s not much else that can really be said here, 50/50 was an awesome film and I can’t wait to own it and watch it over and over again.

Grade: A

Drive Review

When you do something enough you find out what you’re good at, what you’re bad at, what you find difficult and what you find easy in regards to that something. Take for instance, writing a movie review. I’ve found that generally it’s rather easy to write a review for a bad movie, it’s fun to rip it a part. There’s those movies in the middle of good and bad that can be a little more difficult at times because you find you have to nitpick, but the true difficulty comes when you find you have to review a truly incredible film that you’d consider a gift to cinema. You find yourself wondering if you’ve given it enough respect and fully established why the film is as good as it is. This is a very difficult review to write because Drive isn’t just the best movie of the year so far, it’s one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen.

Where do we begin? The music? Not yet, we’ll get to that. The direction? We’ll save the best for last. The acting? Maybe in a bit. The writing? We’ll get to that soon. The violence? That will certainly be talked about. How about the characters? The mood? The setting? The subtleties? The action? The art? How about we just start with a bit of a plot summary? That works. Drive is a film about a man who drives for movies, but moonlights as a getaway driver. He becomes close with a beautiful woman and her son. When he finds they may be in danger, he stops at nothing to see to their safety.

Obviously I’m keeping a lot of key plot points out so that you can discover them for yourself, but yes the plot and story aren’t very complex nor is the writing. I for one don’t like to be spoon fed information and in Drive you find some of the greatest examples of showing and not telling. Every single piece of story that needs to be told is told, no more no less. Every single aspect of the movie is well thought out, fascinating, and put together seamlessly, making for the magnificent movie that it truly is.

In Drive you’ll find fabulous actors playing relentlessly interesting characters with depth and feeling. There is not an intense, dramatic or loving moment that doesn’t work because the moments are never forced, they’re honest. Ryan Gosling is fantastic as the hero for his time and place, Albert Brooks is amazing as the conflicted villain, with Ron Perlman as the brutish partner, it’s ridiculous how brilliant Bryan Cranston is in “Breaking Bad” and to see him acting here in a completely different part just makes you want to smile, and Carey Mulligan is equally as enticing as the pure and innocent female lead.

This is the work of a truly master director, Nicolas Winding Refn, who defines his direction from the moment the film begins and keeps it constant through out. He cares about his characters, he cares about the story he’s telling, he cares about every single detail, at the end of the day it’s clear to see that the man doesn’t care about the paycheck, he cares about his movie and it shows. Subtly, with a direction that is cool and calculated, Refn blends and balances the worlds of beautiful art and pure entertainment and the only way you can describe it is perfection.

Every supreme brush stroke that makes for the beauty that is Drive was slaved over and created to be savored. Whether you’re taking in the uniquely timed and surprisingly fitting music, the raw and honest violence that’s some how done tastefully even though it’s some of the most grotesque violence ever placed in an artistic film such as this, the specifically chosen and delectable shots, the palpable and real relationships between the compelling characters, or any number of the many aspects that make this a brilliant film because that’s just a few, than you’re simply taking in one part of the extraordinary big picture that is Drive, a film that is, by all definitions of the word, a masterpiece.

Grade: A+

Moneyball Review

It’s sad to take an entire genre of films and pass judgement on it. I will say though that for the most part I’m not a huge fan of sports movies. Obviously there are some great sports movies. Just last year, The Fighter came out and that was a great movie. There’s even occasions, rare ones, but occasions where you’ll find a masterpiece in the sports genre, take for example my favorite sports film, Raging Bull. For the most part though sports films just seem to follow a similar pattern and in that way lack a certain level of thrill or even entertainment. Moneyball may have in some aspects followed similar patterns, but it managed to be a truly awesome movie.

Moneyball is a brilliant film that looks at Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, and his attempt to make his baseball team a champion regardless of the fact that they have the least money of all other baseball franchises. There are a few details that make Moneyball slightly stereotypical, because the story is told from such a different and interesting perspective and executed so well.

I am not a very avid sports watcher and as a result I did not know this particular story as some of my friends did. Subsequently, there was actually a lot of drama in this movie for me. I had no idea what was going to happen and I was interested through out. And I could care less how historically accurate the movie is because that’s exactly what it is, a movie. The ideas it was establishing dealt with a lot more powerful issues than just baseball and the ideas were expressed due to the plot and brilliant execution of this particular story.

The acting in this film is pristine. Philip Seymour Hoffman is always a positive, this is Jonah Hill’s best performance and you can’t go wrong with Brad Pitt in a leading man role because he’s never given a performance that wasn’t satisfactory. There have been some dull movies, but he’s always played his part. He’s a truly magnificent actor and he’s fantastic in Moneyball.

In the film Moneyball, what you find is a very inspiring and yet honest tale about overcoming even the most relentless obstacles and never forgetting to believe in what’s important. I’ve truly never been as enthralled with another baseball movie than I was with Moneyball. It was written in the unwritten contract of movie reviewing that you have to make some kind of pun when reviewing a sports film so here it goes, Moneyball was a home run.

Grade: A

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark Review

For the life of me, I can’t fully understand why my expectations were so high for this movie. It might have had something to do with the attachment of Guillermo Del Toro’s name, unfortunately though he didn’t even direct it. It could have to do with the fact that this year actually reinforced my fate in the horror genre after the film Insidious was released. A Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark trailer was played before every viewing of Insidious and that was good marketing because I was very excited to this movie. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with the end result.

From the very beginning the film set a very intense and gloomy mood with a disturbing scene in which a man removes a woman’s teeth to give to the voices in his wall. It was a well made opening scene to set up a unique horror story. Then we meet our main characters, Sally, her father, and her step mother and that’s when the stereotypes and the disappointment begins. After the opening credits there were a handful of sequences I could definitely say I enjoyed particularly one where our main protagonist, Sally, crawls through her bed covers slowly. We know what’s to come. We just don’t know when.

Aside from a few select scenes such as that, the audience goes through agony as we have to watch scene after scene of actions that shouldn’t have been taken but are and lines you’d expect to be said and are of course said. I was sad to see Guy Pearce (a personal favorite of mine) in this dull horror flick playing the father we’ve all scene in any other lame horror film like this who of course doesn’t believe his daughter. It’s not that he was bad, he was just in a bad movie. Katie Holmes was decent and Bailee Madison was very believable as the trapped daughter.

All and all, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark had a very interesting premise and a lot of potential. It just seem the filmmakers were too afraid to actually be too out of the ordinary because they managed to take a very unique idea and make just like any other cliche filled horror movie. And it wasn’t even one of the those horror movies that you can laugh it because it’s so stupid. It found a middle ground between amazing and awful and just managed to be sad. It’s truly a disappointment to state this but Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was was just not the horror film it could’ve been.

Grade: C-