Wednesday, October 6, 2010

31 days of horror

I got a request recently to create a list of the Horror movies in the spirit of Halloween.  Since I love the holiday and it is the last of the month I think I can do better than my usual 5, 10, or even 20 best, or worst lists.  So I am going to give you 31 movies and why they are great working their way to Halloween.  That being said, the order will be least to greatest working from 1-31 as opposed to how I normally do it. So now every day of October you can watch a really good horror movie with this guide.
1. Bride of Frankenstein- I think this is the best of the golden age classic horror movies.  Yes it’s a sequel, but it follows the book a lot better and the mad scientist Dr. Pretorius is played really well and is a much worse villain than Dr. Frankenstein.
2. The Fly (original) - Another classic. While the remake is awesome for its gross-out value, this one stands out to me for being genuinely creepy during the monster movie era.  That fly man screeching “Help me.” at the end is an awful scene to behold.
3. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? - A psychological thriller. When you watch this you can’t help but feel trapped in this house.  Meanwhile this psycho woman is torturing her invalid sister and you can’t help but feel the tragedy of it.
4. The Omen- Gregory Peck’s son is the antichrist.  The panic and terror he portrays is awesome.  It can’t end well for his character but he’ll be damned if he won’t try to make things right.
5. Suspiria- A dance school run by a coven of witches.  It’s a gore filled mess that hits the ground running.  Lots of surprise kills that threw me for a loop the first time I saw it.
6. An American Werewolf in London- A funny movie that has one of the best transformation scenes I’ve ever seen of a man turning into a werewolf.
7. Psycho- Killing the main star was unheard of in the 60s but Hitchcock had guts.  The movie makes you really like all the characters and the psychology that leads to the murder at the Bates Motel.
8. Jaws-Whenever I swim in a lake I think about the fish and crap I can’t see beneath me.  When I swim in an Ocean it’s a billion times worse since the ocean has stuff in it that would make the lake creatures look like Bambi.  “Jaws” reminds us that there is still something to fear about the sea.  Even though you are more likely to killed on the way to the ocean then by a shark.
9. Carnival of Souls- A car accident starts things off into a creepy chain of events. The surviving woman is haunted by ghastly images of ghoulish people that follow her, especially around an abandoned carnival.  The images and settings make this a haunting piece perfect for the Halloween season.
10. Night of the Living Dead- A creepy movie featuring some great racial tension at the time and displays of cannibalism which elevated the horror genre to new heights.
11. Scream- The slasher genre was pretty dead and this movie brought it back.  The script is hip and funny.  It made for an enjoyable story and brought a new mass of slasher horror crowd into the theaters.
12. Saw- Before it became just a series of endless torture-porn this story was genuinely creepy and had an interesting motive and idea behind it.  I loved the twists and turns and the gritty look the film had which made it seem all the dirtier.  After a while the series started to rely on the schadenfreude of the audience and them saying “Ooh that’s gotta hurt.”
13. Friday the 13th- The first one is great.  When viewed for what it is it’s a story of a mother seeking vengeance for her dead kid.  It makes perfect sense.  It’s a full and decent story and then they brought Jason back as an adult in number 2 and the bottom dropped out.
14. Nightmare on Elm Street- The idea of nightmares killing you is pretty silly but Robert Englund and his humorous take on a very evil character made for a series that had a view good moments.  The first is still gold.  Plus, it’s the screen debut of Johnny Depp for all you Jack Sparrow fanatics out there.
15. Halloween- Michael Myer’s blank cold expression and the silent kills make him an amazing villain for the Halloween films.  Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic as the babysitter Laurie Strode.  Everyone plays well off one another and the music cues sell it to make a truly mesmerizing and creepy movie.
16. Dawn of the Dead (original) - If “Night of the Living Dead” popularized the zombie genre “Dawn of the Dead” perfected it.  “Dawn of the Dead” showed a world taken over by the walking dead and what was worse the things we had to worry about wasn’t just the zombies but gangs of raiders and ourselves.
17. Death Proof- A cleverly written bit about a psychotic stuntman.  This movie is great because it puts you on the edge of your seat with its stunts and gore and keeps you there with its smart dialogue.
18. Cloverfield- A modern day monster movie told through first person camera.  The panic and destruction of this cthuloid horror destroying New York is portrayed well. I also really liked the aspect that that the tape they were using was recording over another tape so you got hints of that day it was recording over.  It made it seem a lot more realistic and sold it more for me.
19. Hellraiser- This movie horrific and bloody with lots of S&M themes tossed throughout.  It had some great make up effects that are wildly disgusting.
20. The Mist- As a Lovecraft and King book fan I loved this movie. It’s hard not to see their influence in the work.  I know it’s based on the King short story but the ending is different and much, much darker.  I was impressed they took it that far and I tip my hat to a movie that will do that.
21. The Last Exorcism- Like “The Mist” this movie had a very Lovecraft feel to it.  It was incredibly well told though and while it could have made you HATE the main character for being a total fraud it gives you lots of reasons and builds him into a very likeable protagonist that you care about.
22. The Shining- While wildly different from the book this movie is very creepy.  While not having a large kill count Kubrick manages to creep us out with music cues, amazing camera work and Jack Nicholson’s overall crazy act.
23. 28 Days Later- A story of infection, fast zombies, and man against man.  There is a charm to this movie and the way the characters fight so hard against madness zombies and struggle to stay together as a unit in the face of this adversity.
24. The Exorcist- The battle over faith and the soul of a sweet little girl.  The desperation really is played well by all the actors and in all it’s a great movies with a mix of wonderful effects and visuals used to compliment the acting.
25. Let the Right One In- A dark, romantic, and yet frighteningly lonely tale of a vampire and boy.  It’s the best vampire story I’ve ever seen.  The Swedish setting only compliments the cold loneliness.
26. Alien- The alien’s life cycle itself is terrifying.  A bizarre spider-crab attaches to your face and lays an egg in your chest which burst out releasing a hellish spawn.  That is awful.
27. The Thing- “The Thing” is an awesome view of paranoia and terror.  An alien that can turn itself into anyone lands in Antarctica and begins taking over a research facility there.  It is a story right out of H.P. Lovecraft and the effects are amazing for 1982.
28. Drag Me to Hell- Sam Raimi returning to his horror roots.  This movie had some wonderful gory scenes and terrifying shots.  The cast worked well to play it off and in the end you had a movie that really was a chilling ride.
29. Texas Chainsaw Massacre- This movie is the ultimate in Rural-terror.  Like “Deliverance” the mood is you step out in the country and you are doomed.  A family of cannibals terrorizes a group of young adults.  One of which is played expertly by Marilyn Burns.  Her terror is portrayed so perfectly.
30. The Blair Witch Project- This movie is so eerie and does so much with so little. That is awesome.  It made me scared of the woods by just using sound effects and some small camera techniques.  The acting was good in my opinion though the plot ridiculous.  It was a genuinely scary movie that was parodied years to come.
31. Paranormal Activity- The best scary movie I’ve ever seen.  Like “The Blair Witch Project” it did a lot with a little however it was more believable in doing so.  Taking it to a home setting instead of the woods made it even more terrifying because if you can’t be safe at home. Where can you be safe?  Even on multiple viewings it still manages to bring chills to my blood.

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