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.
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.
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.
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.