In the spirit of Halloween, we decided to come up with our own Top Ten Horror Films list. These aren’t in any particular order, and it was a tough list to compile. A lot of movies, such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Thing, we wanted to put on the list, but we figured we’d try and narrow it down to just a few of our favourites. Please note that while some of these movies may have been re-made, we are only talking about the originals. Also, if you haven’t seen one of these movies yet, please move on to the next movie, this list does contain SPOILERS. You have been warned!
This is my personal favourite. While much has been made about the control Spielberg had over the movie versus Tobe Hooper, part of what I feel is appealing about this movie is the wide-eyed children and wholesome family moments (classic Spielberg motifs) that draw the unsuspecting viewer in. Things slowly start to get creepy, like when JoBeth Williams turns around and the chairs are suddenly stacked up on the kitchen table, and then BOOM full-on creepfest.
Lets face it, when John Carpenter’s Halloween arrived on screens, it really did create a whole new sub-genre. And while slasher movies (and their subsequent sub-genre, the self-referential slasher movies) have been done to death (excuse the pun), Carpenter’s original movie still retains its watchability. Who can forget the creepy piano score? And certainly this writer will never be able to look at a louvered closet door without thinking of this movie, which is why this movie makes it on our top ten horror film list.
While pretending to audition women for a TV show, a lonely widower searches for his dream mate. What could go wrong? Well apparently a lot if you are the lead in Takaashi Miike’s 1999 classic. As someone with a healthy fear of needles, I really could’ve done without the last part of the movie. However, Miike doesn’t rely on the torture-porn seen in movies nowadays. He attacks us psychologically, and seriously, who can forget the “deeper, deeper” noise as Eihi Shiina attacks her prey with her own form of acupuncture.
Here is another movie that attacks the audience psychologically. And for that reason it can be appreciated on several different levels. Is Rosemary crazy or not? Is her baby really the devil? While Polanski doesn’t out and out reveal the baby, there is plenty of evidence in Ira Levin’s story to show that might be so. But even if her baby isn’t the Antichrist, is the fact that her neighbours and husband are witches that plan to sacrifice her child, any less horrifying? Add to that, the helplessness of the situation, a pregnant mother with few friends outside of her husband and “kindly” neighbours. This top ten horror film is watchable again and again.
How do you make a slasher movie stand apart from the rest? You make it a self-referential slasher movie, with characters who all know the roles they play. Of course, since then, there has been Scream 2 and 3, and a renewed interest in slasher movies, but you can’t beat the original. Taking a page from Hitchock’s book, the makers decided to kill Drew Barrymore off right away, thus letting the audience know that this is not the type of movie you’re used to. Another reason to like this movie is that they actually come up with a somewhat plausible reason for the omnipotence and omnipresence of the serial killer.
Another Spielberg classic, this top ten horror blockbuster was, and probably still is, the reason why a good number of people are afraid of our beaches. And it is the most quotable movie on the list. Favourite moments in this movie are too many to count, although the opening sequence definitely has to be up there. Very creepy, and setting the tone for the rest of the movie. And as for the Jaws theme, need I say more?
This is another horror film where music plays a strong role in creating the mood, after all, would the shower sequence be quite as disturbing without that music? Killing off Janet Leigh was a stroke of brilliance for Hitchcock and completely upsets audience expectation. From that moment on, anything goes. And while Halloween really seemed to have kicked off the slasher sub-genre, Norman Bates definitely helped to lay the foundation for it.
So there’ll be some people looking at this list and asking why not The Exorcist? The short answer is “it’s IGP’s list and we don’t care for it“. Long answer is that in our opinion it chooses creepy-ick factor over creepy-chills factor. The Omen on the other hand- well, first off, who can forget that music? As you can see, movies featuring a good score, are usually pretty good at scaring people and this is no exception. Director Richard Donner pulls together a stellar cast with Gregory Peck as an American diplomat who realizes that his “child” played by the ever-creepy Harvey Stephens may be the Antichrist.
Arguably Ridley Scott’s best film to date, Alien combines the familiar motif of a group of people being hunted by a killer, with good old fashioned science fiction. Along with being a visually stunning movie, it also catapulted star Sigourney Weaver into the stratosphere of science fiction heroines. What’s most unique about Ripley is that she starts off as a character mostly in the background. The least likely of the motley crew to actually survive. And H.R. Giger’s work will forever be associated with this movie.
Atmosphere in a horror film is everything and not least of all in this 1960’s classic. It’s not what you see that will scare you. There’s no dead bodies to be found in this haunted house tale. But wait until you see the reactions of the characters as they hear the pounding outside as it gets ever closer, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.