Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Top 10 Horror Films of all Time

Below is a list of 10 horror films which I consider to be the best. You may not agree with the list, you may not like the list but it's my list so you can think whatever you like. You may notice the absence of one film in particular, The Exorcist did not make my list as I don not consider this film to be a) good and b) a horror film. One thing that has always baffled me about lists like this is everyone's willingness to include, what I would call, one of the most boring "big" films ever! And for that reason, it does not find a place in my top 10. Saying that, it would not make my top 100, so the point is irrelevant really. Anyway, here is my selection of the 10 greatest horror films. I have not chosen films that are the scariest or the most successful. I have chosen purely on the ones that I enjoyed.

10. 1408: Agree or disagree but 1408 was brilliant. Based on a Stephen King story, John Cusack plays a writer who reviews "haunted" hotels. He ultimately finds himself staying at the Dolphin hotel, where, after the Hotel Manager, played by Samuel L. Jackson tries desperately to get him to stay in another room, he ultimately loses the battle and Cusack makes his way up to room 1408. Almost immediately, unexplainable events begin to plague him. Some great intimate moments featuring Cusack in his room make this film feel very claustrophobic and give it that special touch of atmosphere and suspense. Excellent casting, very well filmed and some great scares coupled with a good storyline help to seal this films position in the top 10.

Released: 2007
IMDB Rating: 6.9
My Rating: 7.5




9. The Ring: Although the Japanese original has a lot more atmosphere, I really don't like films that you have to read and dubbed movies take even more away! This film was released in 2002. Being the first of many J-Horror films to get the Hollywood treatment, it was probably the best (so far). With a lot of the storyline surviving from Hideo Nakata's original "Ring" it plays a pivotal part in what has become a small epidemic of J-Horror remakes. Casting was never an issue as Characterisation was quite low on the priority list although Naomi Watts does play the lead brilliantly. An investigative journalist searches for answers after watching a video tape which has (after seven days) claimed the lives of several youths. The tape in itself is unnerving enough but there are various aspects of this film which see it earn its place in this count down. Very good throughout. Watching the full unedited tape frame by frame certainly sends a shiver down your spine.

Released: 2002
IMDB Rating: 7.2
My Rating: 7.5



8. The Thing: Could anything else go wrong for a group of scientists in Antarctica? A shape shifting alien makes the already harsh conditions even harder to bear! Some very unsettling scenes of the alien in full shift mode and great special effects make up for the plot, which seems very pedestrian at times. A simple "alien attacking scientists" plot but it more than makes up for that in atmosphere and imagery. With the horrific truth that the strange shape shifting alien could be anyone, you do ask yourself, is he the Alien? Directed by John Carpenter and starring one of his (and my) favourite actors, Kurt Russell, having cast him in five of his vehicles, so far. The Thing is widely thought to be as close to "Alien" as any Sci-Fi Horror will ever get.

Released: 1982
IMDB Rating: 8.2
My Rating: 8




7. Night of the Living Dead: As influential horror films go, there are not many more influential than this one. Zombie films before had mainly consisted of voodoo folklore a la White Zombie and Haitian beliefs of the dead being resurrected to perform the duties of slaves. George A. Romero changed all that and every Zombie film that precedes it has a lot to thank him for. Night of the Living Dead follows a group of people who hold up in a farmhouse in an attempt to stave off the undead. As was present in Romero's "Dead" series that followed, Night had a social message. The film focuses on the relationships between the strangers barricaded in the farmhouse and their obvious differences of opinions and at a time when racism was still a major issue in America, Duane Jones was cast as the likable "hero", with complete disregard for what was considered normal in cinema's at the time. Before, African Americans had typically been cast as the comic relief, someone to be ridiculed but this was a definite step in the right direction. With a shocking ending which captures everything that was wrong with America at that time. Zombies had never before looked so good or bad, whichever way you think of it. Clumsy, lumbering lumps that never seem to stop. A true classic and certainly worthy of its place.

Released: 1968
IMDB Rating: 8.0
My Rating: 8



6. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Storyline, Dialogue? Who cares! When it comes to Tobe Hooper's exploitive slasher, none of it matters. A group of teenagers desperately try to escape the clutches of a grave robbing, hill-Billy family with Gunnar Hansen's character as the chain-saw wielding Leatherface. The sheer feeling of despair that is created by this film is only made worse by the reality that no matter how hard you try, Letherface will catch you! That horribly rusty chain-saw sounding like a beacon of terror, only serves to let you know, he has already found you. Hooper manages to create a purely terrifying, atmospheric and grim film which will have you on the edge of your seat. It played a massive part in writing the "how to" guide of slasher, which has rarely been beaten by any other film.
Released: 1974
IMDB Rating: 7.5
My Rating: 8



5. Halloween: The second offering from "Master of Horror" John Carpenter sees one of the most recognisable villains in Michael Myers. An escaped mental patient who is looking for his sister to finish off the work he started years earlier when he killed the rest of his family. The machete wielding masked manic stalks down his prey with a slow and steady pace, which makes the whole experience that little bit creepier. You can run as fast as you like, it won’t make any difference. The whole feel made that little bit more intense due to the excellent score, from Carpenter himself. Much the same as the score which let you know something was going to happen in Jaws, as soon as that music starts playing, we know Michael isn't far away. With Jamie Lee Curtis playing Michael's sister, we have a great lead, who for the most part is just running for her life, screaming all the way, nevertheless, she does it brilliantly! Donald Pleasence plays the Psych Doctor desperately trying to warn the local police of the impending storm that is Michael Myers! Halloween keeps you gripped from beginning to end and a perfect ending, which paved the way for one good sequel before the franchise was well and truly destroyed. Following in the trend of Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, far too many sequels and terribly pedestrian re-makes But the original stands tall and has definitely stood the test of time.

Released: 1978
IMDB Rating: 7.9
My Rating: 8




4. Psycho: It is now time for the "Master of Suspense". Everything about Psycho has you gripped, from the steady opening to the shocking end. Something as simple as Janet Leigh escaping with $40,000 dollars, stolen from her employer and Hitchcock makes it suspenseful. We watch through the window of her car as she drives towards freedom, the music building slowly and a look of fear and panic in her eyes; almost as if she knew that something else would come looking for her. She decides to get off the road to rest and stumbles upon Bates Motel. A bog standard looking motel with a young proprietor, only too willing to help his new guest. The sinister look in is eye, enough to make anyone scared. It may seem strange but for a film that is now 51 years old, I still feel wrong giving the twists away, so I won’t. As the original theatre's warned... "No One ... BUT NO ONE ... Will Be Admitted To The Theatre After The Start Of Each Performance Of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho" and the plea "Don't give away the ending; it’s the only one we have!" It is a film that must be watched from start to finish. Anyone who has seen it will agree and anyone who hasn't, just watch it for yourself.
Released: 1960
IMDB Rating: 8.7
My Rating: 8.5




3. The Shining: Much like Hitchcock, Kubrick was a genius. With various successful films under his belt, if somewhat disturbing in the case of A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick takes Stephen King's novel of the same name and makes it into something King could not accomplish, as witnessed with his own adaptation which was a rather poor effort compared with this one! Rather loosely based on the novel but still, one of the true horror masterpieces. Jack Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a writer who, along with his wife and son travels to the Overlook Hotel to be caretakers for the winter. It isn't long before strange things start to happen. A bad case of writers block is far from the worst thing that inflicts Jack. Over the course of time, he has a full blown mental breakdown and carnage ensues. There are so many scenes in this film that once seen cannot be unseen and will no doubt stay with you for a very long time. Small flashes that make you question if what you have just seen was real or just your imagination playing tricks on you. But I can assure you, you did see it! Filled with memorable moments between Jack and his wife, who is played brilliantly by Shelley Duvall. None more so than the infamous "Heeere's Johnny!" which once you have heard the story behind the scene makes it even more memorable. The famous line uttered by Nicholson was an improvisation after a whole day of hacking on endless door after door as the super perfectionist Kubrick dug deep for that perfect moment of horror magic. Which, needless to say was accomplished and the line itself fitting perfectly with the descent into madness of Jack. I think every emotion known to man is conjured up during this film as it plays its way towards its conclusion. Despite King's decision to distance himself from the film, it is as close to perfection as any horror film could ever hope to accomplish.

Released: 1980
IMDB Rating: 8.5
My Rating: 9



2. Alien: In space no one can hear you scream! Absolutely. Despite my wife being adamant that I am wrong in saying Alien is not only a Horror film, but also my second best horror film of time... It is. The sheer loneliness of the Nostromo as it makes its way through deep space, the unknown quantity captured in every outer worldly shot. Not to mention the terrifying looking alien which is beyond anything in my wildest, twisted dreams. A true predator, right down to its acid for blood! The story follows the crew of a mining ship, The Nostromo. They investigate a possible SOS on a nearby planet but what they find is a wreck which looks like it has been there for some time. As well as the wreck they find what looks like an egg, when it bursts open and latches on to John Hurt's face, they quickly get him back onboard to rescue him. As they seal the airlocks and make their way back into space what they don’t realise is that they have just sealed themselves in with true terror! Once the thing finally let’s go of Hurts' face and dies, they think that everything is fine. Then comes one of the best scenes in movie history. As the crew, including Hurt sit down for dinner, what they witness, will, in movie making circles be remembered for the best acting ever and in movie watchers minds, shocking to its vey core! What starts as a caught, quickly takes a turn for the worst and with a small pop, Hurt falls onto his back and literally gives birth to an Alien. As it bursts through his chest, it sits long enough for everyone to get a glimpse and then as fast as it had appeared, it is gone. The next time we see it, it will have grown into one of the scariest looking things I have ever seen. The atmosphere generated by the brilliant Ridley Scott epitomises fear. This film will also help shape an entire generation of female leads who don’t just run away screaming. Sigourney Weaver's portrayal of Ellen Ripley is just ass-kicking! Seen more in the three sequels which follow this film but this was where it all started. If you want all out action, watch the sequel but if you want to watch one of the scariest films ever made watch this!
Released: 1979
IMDB Rating: 8.5
My Rating: 9



1. Blair Witch Project: This may be a controversial choice in most people’s eyes. You either love it or hate it but one thing no one can deny is that this film was groundbreaking! The Blair Witch project sold itself as the real events that happened in the woods to three student film makers. The footage from tapes was found in the woods, with no sign of the students. As we witness the tapes, it soon becomes apparent that they would probably never be found. They start out asking questions of the nearby townsfolk about the legend of the Blair Witch. Some give tall tales of personal experience whereas some are sceptical of the legend. Their film making takes the deep into the woods and after a few bad nights, things really take a downward spiral. Eventually ending in a shocking but brilliantly creepy way. The thing I always say to people who don't like this film is, watch it again, in the middle of the night, in pitch darkness with the volume turned right up! Some of the noises caught in the background really do take you by surprise. Nothing about this film is boring and it was the first film to use the internet to massive success to promote and generate hype. When I saw this at the cinema, it was loved by all and even made a few female members of the audience cry at the end. Since then, I think the hype coupled with ignorance has seen The Blair Witch Project fall into that obscure region of space that few would dare enter. Well I enter it and I am resurrecting its memory. For people who have never seen it and just made a judgement call based on reviews and what other people say... Shame on you. Please, give it a chance and follow my previous viewing instructions and you will not be disappointed.

Released: 1999
IMDB Rating: 6.3
My Rating: 9.5

Well, that was my Top 10. I hope you enjoyed reading it. The thing to remember is that this is my opinion. All opinions are welcome and I would be interested to see other people’s views. Coming soon, Top 10 most underrated Horror Films.

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