With the remake of the horror classic “Poltergeist” coming out this week, I felt inspired to turn this week’s #thereisnospoonfriday to my Top 5 Horror movies of all time. I am certainly a big fan of the genre, and have been since I can remember watching movies I was way too young to be watching as a kid (thanks big brothers Mike and Andy). To this day I remain a huge fan of great horror movies and particularly love when Halloween season rolls around because you get the non-stop horror movies playing on most of the channels. Yes – it is fun to see my kids dress up and go trick or treating, but if I am being truly honest the best part of Halloween night is when the kids go to bed and I sit my butt down in the “man chair” (recliner) and binge watch horror classics. As always – this list is according to me – critics be damned. The following movies scared the absolute crap out of me or were just simply great fun, and I keep coming back for more.
1. The Shining – adapted from a Stephen King novel that is somewhat (a lot) different than the Stanley Kubrick movie version. To this day Stephen King trashes it every chance he gets. Not me though. This is a masterpiece of horror AND just plain awesome film making. Each scene is masterfully shot and not a frame is wasted on anything that doesn’t inspire a sense of dread. The story has a family acting as caretakers for a hotel during the dead of winter – but throw in the fact that the hotel is haunted and that the father is slowly losing his marbles and you have a classic horror movie. The suspense builds throughout, and when you do get the scares they are not the “jump” cheap tactic most horror movies try. Jack Nicholson absolutely owns this role and in my opinion has never been better. From the blood pouring out of the elevator to the twin girls in that hallway – this movie is full of iconic horror moments. Favorite scene: Danny (the son) riding his big wheel through the hallways in one continuous tracking shot only to encounter the dead twin girls. Watch the scene here!
2. Evil Dead 2 – If you have read my other blogs, you know by now what a huge fan I am of this series. While Army of Darkness is the more “fun” film, Evil Dead 2 does an incredible job of toeing the line between horror and comedy – and does it in the most awesome way possible. Evil Dead 2 is, in essence, a better remake of Evil Dead and places our hero, Ash Williams, and his girlfriend in a cabin deep in the woods. They uncover and read aloud (dumb move!) the Necronomicon – the Book of the Dead. This unleashes truly awful and scary demonic forces that kill his girlfriend and then put Ash, alone, in a night full of horrific experiences. He cuts off his possessed hand, decapitates his girlfriend’s possessed corpse and briefly gets possessed himself. The turning point is when Ash becomes ASH and finds a shotgun and a chainsaw which he attaches to where his severed hand once was. There are some epic one liners in here, and the level of Ash’s awesomeness just gets better and better as the evil comes at him over the last hour or so. Favorite Scene: Ash fighting a possessed body that was in the fruit cellar – he captures it on the ground and it screams at him “I’ll swallow your soul!”. Ash, in true Ash fashion, points the shotgun at it’s head and says “Swallow this”. Epic. Watch the scene here!
3. The Night of The Living Dead – I LOVE Zombie movies (and TV shows). The special effects just keep getting better, and there are constantly new takes on the apocalyptic zombie scenario coming out. That being said – it doesn’t get better than the original by the master of the Zombie genre – George Romero. Shot entirely in black and white (intentional. Yes – it’s an older movie, but there was most definitely color at that time) the movie literally takes us through one horrible night in the middle of rural America when the dead come back to life to feast on human flesh. No reason is given for this happening, and we see this horror unfold through the eyes of a group of people boarded up in a farm house. There is all the elements here that have been copied so many times since: the interpersonal conflict among the survivors, the race and societal undertones and the “how the hell do we survive” arguments. One of the few horror movies ever that definitely does not have the hero live nor give us a happy ending. Favorite scene – before the zombies start arriving in droves, we meet Barbara and her brother Johnny. They are at a cemetery visiting a dead relative and they see (unbeknownst to them at the time) a zombie coming toward them, His line, teasing her, is iconic – “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” Watch the scene here!
4. The Exorcist – Tough to put this horror classic this low on the list (I am sure to a lot of other people it would be at least #1 or #2) but just couldn’t put it ahead of the three I listed above. This movie scared the crap out of me as a kid. Having a cute young girl be possessed by the devil is scary enough – but this movie doesn’t just go for cheap scares. It is a psychological thriller too, especially with the angst of the whole Father Karras storyline. Everyone remembers the whole “projectile vomit” scene and some of the absolutely unmentionable things that come out of young Regan’s mouth, but for me the actual Exorcist at the end of the film is the scariest part of the movie. Favorite Scene: Father Karras is with Regan alone, and the devil – through Regan, taps into his deepest emotional scars. Watch the scene here!
5. The Cabin in The Woods – This is DEFINITELY NOT your traditional “horror” movie – and that is why I love it so much. It basically takes every horror cliche/stereotype and not only turns it on its ear, but makes an even better, more compelling and genuinely smart story out of it. Picture the house in Evil Dead, throw in the classic teen horror movie character stereotypes, mix in the “monsters” from just about every horror movie ever made and with a twist you will definitely not see coming and there you have it. I would love to write more but I know so many people have not seen this and I don’t want to ruin the fun for you when you do. Trust me – you need to watch this move – immediately. Favorite Scene – again – no spoilers for this one. I will just use two words for anyone who has seen the movie. ELEVATOR SCENE. Watch the scene here!
Another really tough one to narrow to just 5 as the GOAT. As always – honorable mentions time: “Alien”, “Poltergeist”, ‘Dawn of the Dead (original), “Halloween”, “Friday the 13th”, “The Ring”, “The Conjuring”, “Sinister”, “Salem’s Lot”, “The Others”, “The Return of The Living Dead”, ‘Invasion of The Body Snatchers”, “The Thing”, “Jaws”, Re-animator”, “Jacob’s Ladder”, “The Sixth Sense”, “Hellraiser”, “Silence of The Lambs”, “Red Dragon”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “American Werewolf in London” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. These all received consideration and are all really great movies in their own right. I hope this was a great Friday reading diversion for all of you and until next week – there is no spoon.