Horror is a wonderful, often over looked genre. People seem to either really love horror movies, or just sort of deal with them from a distance. Personally some of my favorite movies fall into the horror genre. Horror is more flexible than people give it credit for and manages to tackle many different topics and ideas. Here are 10 of my personal favorite horror movies.
If Alien has one thing going for it above all others it’s atmosphere. The movie really works perfectly to create a complete feeling of being trapped, and hunted. A lot of choices work well for this movie. Choosing not to show the alien much helps with suspense and keeps the viewer afraid of the unknown. Also despite the fact that the crew is trapped with this hunter it takes a long time for it to work it’s way through the crew. A lot of horror can misstep with moving too quickly. Alien takes it time and builds effective suspense while we’re waiting. The movie also includes one of the greatest, yet worst scenes of all times. Very few will forget the first time they saw the chest burster.
Psycho is a movie that builds towards a perfect ending. It changed so many of the rules for movies. It was the first movie with a flushing toilet, first movie where such a huge actor died quickly, shocked audiences with it’s gore, and actually changed the way people watched movies in America. Frankly that raises some high expectations and this movie delivers. It is suspense to the highest degree, it builds and builds to a wonderful ending.
I am a fan of the Universal horror movies across the board. I can’t help it, I like the classics. Frankenstein is my favorite of those hands down. It’s well acted, uses shadows to the best possible advantage, and has a solid story. Beyond that though it’s far ahead of it’s time in how it plays with the idea of who is really the monster. Is it actually this abomination or the man who created it?
Not the first slasher movie ever made, but still one of the starting points for that sub genre. John Carpenter took bits and pieces from what came before and created a piece that stands out in the horror genre. The “rules” as we started to know them for slasher movies were in large part created with this film. Aside from that it’s also just a good movie.
Modern horror rarely excites me. I find it’s a lot of gore with very little substance, and it takes a lot for a modern horror movie to really grab me. I might enjoy them, but there are few that I love. I love this movie. It takes it’s time, building up an extremely claustrophobic and down right helpless situation. Then when that happens bam, you get your monsters. The movie manages to give the gore, and action that modern horror movies seem to depend on, yet it still brings the suspense and atmosphere that the classics were so good at.
I love the score of this movie, the setting, the plot, the acting, everything about this movie. It’s dark, disturbing, and pretty much says from the get go that things are hopeless. It keeps everyone guessing about who is really infected, and gives both suspense and jump scares. The end is also one of the best I’ve seen in a horror movie.
This was the meta horror movie before meta horror movies became their own sub genre. The rules that Halloween established (with help from others) are actually listed in the film. It embraces the desires of the modern audience with highlighting what older films did the best. It features well thought out and planned twists, and just stands in a league all it’s own. The movie might not be the scariest, but it’s certainly entertaining.
Night of the Living Dead
The modern zombie was made with this movie. Zombies were taken to a whole different realm thanks to Romero, a bit of money, good planning, and one great movie. You can easily give me a list of zombie movies that might seem better for various reasons, but this is where it started and it’s such a good start too.
Shaun of the Dead
Before you loudly declare that Shaun of the Dead is not a horror movie, you are wrong. Shaun of the Dead is certainly a comedy, but it’s still a legitimate zombie movie as well. It has the staple characters and the big moments we know from zombie movies. We lose an innocent loved one, the heroes are overwhelmed by the extreme numbers, and there is a lot of horrible deaths. Shaun makes you very comfortable that we are mostly dealing with a comedy, it’s a lot of laughs with maybe a few moments until the end of the movie when it all changes. Once we lose Shaun’s mother the movie ceases to be funny with a few scary moments and movies to intense with just a few funny moments. The movie is great. It manages to really combine comedy and horror in a new and wonderful way.
American Werewolf in London
What kills me about this movie, but also makes me love it is how much I actually like David. You know what has happened to David and what will continue to happen to him, yet it’s entertaining to watch. The transformation was brilliant for the time, and better than some CGI transformations you can see these days. The werewolf scenes are brutal, David’s dreams and visits from Jack are uncomfortable, and you know the whole time where it’s going to end up but you so don’t want it to.
I realize that this makes my “top ten” actually “top eleven”, but I just couldn’t leave this one out. If you want to learn what good suspense is, this is a great movie to look at. The build is slow and creepy, then just explodes into an amazing climax that gives you no time to rest. It’s a great story, and well made movie.