20 - The Sixth Sense -
Night Shyamalan’s third film is easily his magnum opus, a film so
simple yet so powerful that it has regularly been held up among the
greatest films of all time. Everyone tried to argue that they figured
the ending out, and they all were liars. I had a few guesses but the
surprise ending here was so out of nowhere that the hints to the ending
made throughout the film did not even seem like hints until the end.
The film also launched the short but lucrative A-list run for its star
Haley Joel Osmont, who remained consistently good though many of his
later vehicles sort of felt weak as a whole.
19 - Seven
is the film that really got me into the modern thriller. I never cared
for horror movies or thrillers when I was younger, I was more of an action and
comedy person, but Seven taught me that the horror film can be a
cerebral good time and helped me to break down the wall of pretension that I had
put up for myself. I still love Seven to this day, as I do pretty much all of
David Fincher’s films. This is one of the strongest crime thrillers of
all time and I feel it is at least almost as good as Vertigo and the
Third Man based on the mystery and inventiveness of the story. The
ending is a real kicker too, it feels like it all built to this one big
climax. I also like how the entire film is dark and grungy until the
end where the field is bright and open. It is a nice little piece of
symbolism, as though we’re forced to see the world through John Doe’s
18 - Misery
is one freaking disturbing movie. To me, Misery, like Seven, is much
scarier than A Nightmare on Elm street because it seems real, like it
can happen. I still love Nightmare more, just because it is such a
great story told in such a clever way, but Misery just hits me in an
interesting way. It’s almost hard to explain. However, when Annie
breaks Paul’s ankles with that hammer, you know he’s trapped. You feel
his pain. It is so chill-inducing and so perfectly done that it feels too real at times.
17 - Zombieland
This is a fun movie that uses gore well, but is more of a comedy than a
horror film. Zombieland is a great pick for people trying to get into zombie
flicks because, while it is not the best, it is one of the most
accessible. The gore effects here are superb and the performances by
all involved are damn good. If you want a little laugh to go with your
gore, this is a great choice.
16 - The Silence of the Lambs
Oscar-winning thriller gave us one of the greatest movie villains of
all time, Hannibal Lecter. The character is not the principal villain
of the story, that would be the killer Buffalo Bill, but he is so
terrifying, so evil and so intelligent that he just instills you with a
unique style of fear. His creepy persona is just so perfectly performed by Anthony Hopkins that it stays with you long after the movie is over.
Heightening this fear is Jodie Foster’s character Clarice Starling,
whose own terror is visible and only amplifies the effect of Hopkins’
15 - Rosemary’s Baby
Polanski’s thriller about a woman who is pregnant with the spawn of
Satan is probably one of the most captivating horror classics of all
time. The film is filled with these birth pains (so-to-speak) that just
build and relax, coming closer and closer until the very end. The climax is one of the creepiest scenes ever put to film in my opinion. With all of the tennants standing around a room at the end of which is a carriage holding a terrifyingly-deformed baby. This movie is one hell of a creep fest from start to finish.
14 - Ringu
Japanese original Ringu towers above the over-produced mess that was
the American remake in just about every way. It is scarier, it is
smarter, it is better-acted and better-directed. Ringu is moody, the
special effects are great and the story is a lot better than it really
has to be for this type of movie. Good on you Japan for teaching us how
to make a good horror movie, yet will still manage to screw it up here
in the U.S. almost ever time.
13 - 28 Days Later
one end of the world to another, we go from Japan to the UK for 28 Days
Later, one of the best “zombie” movies pretty much ever made. 28 Days
later is a stunning thriller from Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning
director of Slumdog Millionaire. The story follows a man named Jim,
played by the very-adept Cillian Murphy, who wakes up after a coma to
find his home city completely abandoned. That is, until he falls under
attack by hordes of “zombies” piled on top of eachother in a church. But these aren’t the lumbering, slow
“zombies” we’re used to. No! This things are sprinters and they are
ready to eat your face! In 28 Days later, mankind becomes infected
with what is known as the Rage Virus, which throws its victims into a
state of uncontrollable violence. Along the way our hero meets up with a
group of survivors fighting a resistance against the lost souls.
This is a really good one people.
12 - Wait Until Dark
Until Dark is one of those movies that requires you to really put
yourself in the character’s shoes. A group of thugs, led by a
terrifying Alan Arkin, follow a missing stash of drugs to the apartment
of an innocent blind woman named Susy, played by the almost-always
unmatched Audrey Hepburn. There are scenes where she is moving about
her house, completely unaware of her silent intruders, but as the movie
continues, and she realizes she is not alone and the terror in her
performance is unforgettable.
11 - Shaun of the Dead -
is the ultimate zombie/comedy. I love this movie because it follows
the zombie tropes that work, casts aside many that don’t, and features
characters we can see ourselves hanging out with. I also like how it
implements some real human situations, like when Shaun’s mother is
bitten. It feels like Edgar Wright wanted to really tell a story with a
humorous angle, rather than going for a straight spoof. This, to me,
makes for better comedy.
10 - Army of Darkness
of Darkness is great fun. One of my favorite films of the 90’s, Army
of Darkness concludes the Evil Dead trilogy with Ash transported back to
medieval times to unwittingly get dragged into a prophecy and a fight
against an evil army of the damned. This movie is a blast, mixing gore,
slick practical effects and some very well-done slapstick to make for
one hell of a good time. I also adore the stop motion animation used for many of the scenes because this movie was released on the cusp of the rise of CGI, just before that crappy medium came in and made just about every movie ugly. Yeah! I said it!
09 - Night of the Living Dead -
zombie classic that started it all, George A. Romero’s
independently-filmed horror masterpiece is one of the most influential
films ever made. It sparked the indie-horror movement and it gave life
to the zombie genre. It is still, to this day, the standard by which
all zombie films are judged and it remains one of the all-time greats.
It also stands out for its use of a black protagonist, something that
was quite rare at the time.
08 - An American Werewolf in London
this and The Howling (released a few months before) it can be
difficult for some to really settle on which film from 1981 gave new life to
the werewolf movie, but for me, with all of The Howling’s credibility, I
just cannot bring myself to enjoy it as much as John Landis’ An
American Werewolf in London. The movie is funny, the effects by Star
Wars legend Rick Baker are some of the best I have ever seen in a
werewolf flick, the story is much more relatable, and the lead just comes off as more
sympathetic. Also, there is that completely epic transformation scene.
Yeah.. You know the one I’m talking about! They tried to make it
“awesome” in 1997 with An American Werewolf in Paris but they laced it
with crappy CGI and just made the whole thing look dumb.
07 - The Shining
to hate me film snobs, but this is the only Stanley Kubrick movie I
like. Yep, it’s true. I am so sorry. He just does not appeal to my
tastes. That said, this amazingly creepy and well-made chiller about a
caretaker and his family trapped in a haunted hotel alone during a
winter storm remains one of my favorite films of all time. As the father falls deeper and deeper into madness we are
forced to wonder if he is possessed by the spirit of a man who slayed
his family years earlier, or if he was already predisposed to violence
induced by alcohol. Is he evil, or stir crazy? The haunting moments in
the film are dreamlike and terrifying as we are never really sure what
is real as we near the end of the movie. The strangeness that abounds in the
Overlook Hotel stays with you thanks to the great use of atmosphere and a
legendary performance by the great Jack Nicholson.
06 - Audition -
story of a lonely man who holds a fake audition for a new better half
that becomes enamoured with the WRONG woman is so freaking disturbing
that I’ve only seen it once, more than a decade ago, and it stuck with
me and impacted me as though I’ve seen it a hundred times. I love the
look of this film. It’s so sterile, so fluorescent, until we begin
spending time with Asami, whose apartment is warm and welcoming. It is a
masterful use of visual symbolism by the epically-talented Takashi
Miike. What has made Audition an enduring and notable thriller through the years is the notorious torture scene. The last few minutes of the film is focused on this beautiful girls complete phsyical undoing of our protagonist. It is terrifying, graphic and disturbing as hell. This movie is not for everybody, but if you can stomache it, it is one of the best of the best.
05 - Evil Dead 2
Raimi’s crowning achievement is this creepy, claustrophobic sequel to/reimagining
of the first film, where everybody really just goes all out with the
craziness. Lots of blood, lots of memorable moments and some great
humor. Bruce Campbell is as badass as ever and every little setpiece
flows together seamlessly. For what essentially ammounts to a bunch of
action and scare scenes strewn together, Evil Dead 2 is pretty freaking
awesome and one of the best horror films of all time.
04 - A Nightmare on Elm Street
love the original Nightmare, and they can tack on all the CGI they want
with the remake, but it is not going to make a better movie. The original
remains the best by far, with Robert Englund’s famous Freddy and some
stunningly-good special effects. The atmosphere is slick and the story
works. Nightmare is a great film that gave us one of the most legendary
screen characters of all time.
03 - Halloween
us go from a movie that shoots gallons of blood out of a bed, to a
movie that has almost no blood to speak of. Halloween is the chilling
thriller about an escaped mental patient named Michael Meyers on the
loose, who terrorizes a young babysitter named Laurie (Jamie Lee
Curtis). A doctor, knowing what the killer Meyers is capable of, works
with the police to stop him before his body count rises. John Carpenter
gave us a horror classic with this movie. A film that would spark the
“slasher” genre and would bring horror to the forefront as a
legitimately and almost-universally-recognized artform.
02 - Jaws
by some to be the greatest thriller ever made, Steven Spielberg's Jaws
is a classic. The theme of man versus nature is universal and easy to
understand. We know that beasts can kill us, and we know that we are
not at the top of the food chain. Jaws follows the sheriff of a small
New England town named Brody, who is faced with the threat of a killer
shark lurking in the water. The town council refuses to close the beach due to the impending travel season
and the result is the death of a small child. This prompts Brody to
summon the help of a shark expert named Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and a
fisherman named Quint (played by film veteran Robert Shaw in the twilight of
his career) to find and kill the deadly crature once and for all. Jaws
is a classic. It is one of the most beloved films of all time and ranks
as one of the best monster movies ever made.
01 - Psycho
for my favorite. Alfred Hitchcock is a legend and Psycho is one of my
favorite films of his, and certainly my favorite of his that could
qualify for this list. Psycho is a film about a woman who escapes with a
large amount of money in tow and hides out in the secluded Bates motel.
It is there where she meets the mild-mannered Norman Bates, a man who
claims to live there with his mother, but after the young woman is
murdered, her sister, on her trail arrives and begins to unravel the
madness of the mind of Norman Bates. Anthony Perkins’ performance as
Bates here is astonishingly good. He is creepy and twisted in a way
that no other character before him has ever been. The film shocked
audiences and for years was called the scariest movie ever made, and it
would hold that title until the release of Dario Argento’s Suspiria in
the late 70’s.
that is my list. It’s not exactly conventional, I know, but I go for
entertainment over just about anything else, and these movies
entertained the hell out of me. I still watch most of them every year
around Halloween. What are your favorite films for Halloween? Feel
free to share them in the comments below.