Horror is a genre which I love, but have only recently gotten into. So this list is by no means definitive: it’s just how I feel at the moment. So with that in mind, these are my top 10 favorite horror films at the moment.
10: I Saw the Devil (2010)- I Saw the Devil is difficult to classify as a horror film, so I thought a long time about whether or not to include it on this list. Well obviously, I decided to include it, since it is in fact very horrifying and disturbing, and if the SAW or Hostel movies can be considered horror, so can this. I Saw the Devil is a South Korean revenge film (apparently their favorite genre). The film features a great creepy performance by Min-sik Choi (the main character from Oldboy, which if you have not seen…..fix that), as well as from the “hero” played by Byung-hun Lee (the villian from The Good, the Bad, the Weird, which if you have not seen, also fix that). The film sets itself apart from many revenge films by going into really dark and disturbing places, not only in terms of violence, but themes as well. The film asks some very interesting questions, and I recommend it highly. I must say, that this film is definately not for the squeemish, as it is really a horror movie in many ways.
9: Psycho (1960)- I doubt that I need to tell you why Psycho is a great movie. It features one of the all time great villian roles with Anthony Perkin’s charismatically insane Norman Bates. It features one of the all time great plot twists in film, and also one of the best and most memorable scores. Not to mention, it pretty much invented and perfected the slasher genre. If, for whatever reason, you have not seen this film, do it as soon as possible.
8: Alien (1979)- I have a bit of a strange relationship with Ridley Scott films. On the one hand, the man is a genious director: he’s brilliant when it comes to staging, cinematography, and most of all, lighting. However, I really do not like most of his films. Even his big movies that everyone loves like Black Hawk Down or Gladiator, I really cannot bring myself to enjoy. On the other hand, there is one genre in which I always love Scott, and that’s when he does Sci-fi. Of course his masterpiece to me will always be Blade Runner, which is after all, my favorite film. There is, nonetheless, no denying his genious in his other big Sci-Fi Classic, Alien. Alien is an older style of horror that you rarely get today. It’s a slow burner, a very very slow burner, but when it hits, it hits hard. Many scenes are still very effective and shocking today. By far, the best thing about the film is the cinematography. The whole film has a very eerie and subtle atmosphere that is really accentuated by the camera work, the subtle but memorable score, and the brilliant lighting. Now I will confess that I prefer the sequel Aliens, but that’s really more of an action film than a horror, so I figured it would be better to put this one on the list.
7: Shaun of the Dead (2004)- Yeah, it’s a comedy mostly, but when Shaun of the Dead tries to be suspenseful (particulary in the final act), it hits it out of the park. Not much to say on this one other than it’s hilarious, and mandatory viewing for any zombie fan out there.
6: Cabin in the Woods (2012)- I know this movie is also a horror comedy, and that it’s also really new and hard to call a favorite yet….but I honestly could not justify not having it on this list. It’s by far my favorite movie of this year so far, and I have not ever been jumping up in my seat in glee at what was happening in a movie since…..ever….until this movie. The film has a lot to say about the current state of mainstream horror, and it manages to make it work in a way lesser genre, where deconstructions (see: Sucker Punch) would fail at. I really cannot say a lot about the plot, since it really is a twist after twist film, but I will say, do not let the title fool you, this movie is more than it seems.
5: Braindead/Dead Alive (1992)- Let’s face it, the 90’s were not a good time for horror movies…..or music….or comics….or a lot of things, but this is one of the gems that managed to come out at that time. Most people know Peter Jackson as the man who directed The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I know him as the deranged genious who made this insane, hilarious, and ridiculously gory zombie masterpiece. And when I say gory, I mean GORY. The film is technically the goriest film ever made and it shows during the climax. After this film, nothing will ever seem bloody again…….except maybe Ricki-Oh but that’s for another day.
4: John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)- Easily one of the best remakes ever. John Carpenter took a classic monster flick and one-upped it…..by changing everything. The thing (pun intended) that makes this film genious is its premise: the film is based more on the original story Who Goes There than the 1951 classic. In the story, the creature could assimilate people and take on their appearance, and this element is used to great effect by adding a sense of paranoia about both the characters, and the viewer, whichever could be the true “thing.” The film also features some of the best anamatronics ever, and fantastic direction from the once- brilliant Carpenter.
3: 28 Days Later (2002)- Easily the best modern horror film, 28 Days Later kick- started the zombie genre back into film by making the infected faster, and more brutal. But the infected weren’t what made the movie work. What made it work, was a unique direction from Trainspotting director Danny Boyle, and a cast of characters which, unlike most characters in zombie films, are actually likeable and relateable. The film is also noteable for an iconic post rock-esque score, and a great cast, that includes one of my favorite actors Cillian Murphy, as well as the loveable Brendan Gleeson, and former 9th Doctor Christopher Eccleston as the villian.
2: The Exorcist (1973)- Considered by many to be the greatest horror film ever, there’s really not much left to say about the film, it’s been mostly spoken for at this point. Great cast, creepy atmosphere, iconic score, and easily the scariest make-up job ever put on film, if you haven’t seen this film yet, you really need to.
1: The Evil Dead Trilogy (1981, 1987, and 1992)- I had a hard time deciding which film to put on the list. On one hand, Evil Dead 2 is my favorite, being hilarious, gory, and just complete fun. On the other, The Evil Dead is the best horror film, being really gory, really tense, really atmospheric, and featuring the only scene that still scares me no matter how many times I watch it (card reading scene, need I say more?). So in the end, I figured, I’ll just put them all at #1, That’s about it really…….Oh yeah, Army of Darkness, the third film, isn’t really horror, but it completes my favorite trilogy, so I wouldn’t dream of leaving it out.
That being said, those are my top ten horror films at the moment. If you haven’t seen any of these films, needless to say, you should. If there are any films that I see that I would put on this list, I will review them and let that be known.