My love of the horror film genre (although I’ll probably never write one) is vast and runs deep – all the way through my immediate and even some of my extended family members. We often tell people that you can’t be a part of the family if you can’t watch a horror film (we should really make that part of the initiation process of marrying into the family). My first memory of watching a horror film was with my mother and my sister…we were young and our eyes were wide; we had no idea what to expect. The movie was entitled Hell Night made in 1981 and talk about the nightmares that were had from that night forward. I have been chasing that GREAT BIG SCARE ever since. Now that I’m older it has become more difficult for horror films to scare me (anything on the ID channel does this for me nowadays effortlessly) but I still adore them. I have carried on the tradition with my own kids by showing them their first scary (not so scary) film The Quiet Place at the tender ages of 5 and 10 (LOL…yeah, I’m the only one of the three that got a kick out of that experience and I can’t wait to do it again). This is the hardest list I have ever had to make, but here are my top 5 favorite horror films (which could easily change by tomorrow) in no particular order…because I just cannot, but I can watch all five of these films to this day and still get scared:
01. Halloween 1-3 || Dir. John Carpenter / Dir. Rick Rosenthal / Dir. Tommy Lee Wallace || 1978 / 1981 / 1982
There have been several memorable, iconic horror film boogeymen to scare all that is sacred (and holy) out of us. Michael Myers is that boogeyman for me (most people who know me would have probably thought Freddy Krueger because of his sharp wit…but nope). The expressionless face mask and mechanic’s jumpsuit paired with the tilted head nods get me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. There are about 8 films in this series and a 2007 remake directed by Rob Zombie but I only acknowledge the first two, the third installment that had absolutely nothing to do with the series, and Rob Zombie’s version.
Sidebar: No one shatters the damsel in distress archetype like Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis’ portrayal of Michael’s sister Laurie (besides Jessica Biel as Erin Hardesty in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 version).
02. Saw || Dir. James Wan || 2004
“Would you like to play a game?” The first movie in the Saw saga was bloody brilliant! No movie will ever top that surprise ending (not even The Others).
03. Scream || Dir. Wes Craven || 1996
This is the movie that made me go…I could write a horror movie. It was so smart, witty, charismatic and knew exactly how to poke fun at the horror genre without being condescending to the viewers who love the genre. Screenwriter, Kevin Williamson, was genius!
04. The Others || Dir. Alejandro Amenabar || 2001
Horror films about ghosts and haunted houses don’t always do it for me, but this movie did. The tone and pacing were perfection. The acting done by the two children were superb. Nicole Kidman made me take notice of every film in her filmography (although we won’t speak on Eyes Wide Shut). I heart a film with a plot twist that I would have never suspected.
05. The Shining || Dir. Stanley Kubrick || 1980
“Here’s, Johnny” and “redrum” will never ever ever get old. Those lines have become a staple for any lover of film who loves to recite movie lines. Talk about using minimalism, music, mise en scene, Jack Nicholson’s natural ability to speak (and look) crazy fluently, Shelley Duvall’s quiet quirkiness and Stanley Kubrick’s directing nuances to bring forth such a Horrific (Horror+Terrific) masterpiece…and Stephen King gets some credit too.
Question: What’s your Top 5? If you could replace one of my Top 5’s which movie would it be and what would you replace it with? Comment below…