Well, we were practically naked on PCR update day (Wed), as obviously the beloved writing staff needed a bit more time than anticipated putting their thoughts to "paper" regarding last weekend's fun-filled freaky antics at ScreamFest and The Hallowen Horror Picture Show! HAha.
I had expected to be swamped with PCR work Wednesday, but instead I was swamped Thursday. Pictures from these events are on their way from every corner of the county it seems, so I'll be formatting my little arse off probably through Friday and Saturday getting it all done.
Thanks to Chris Woods who got his ScreamFest column in first this week and with which I launched this issue. Thanks also to ED Tucker and Chris Passinault for their reviews of ScreamFest '07 and Halloweenapalooza, respectively! I fell waaaaaaay behind this week with everything arriving at once, so please be patient regarding columns' photographs, they WILL be included as soon as I can get to them!
A Better-Late-Than-Never Top 10 Horror Movie List!
While most PCR readers recognize Terence Nuzum as my "second-in-command", Lauré Piper filled that position nicely when I was commited to the hospital for one week in 2005 to treat a leg infection (she still has emergency access to the account, you know, just in case). Prior to that she was quite the prolific TV reviewer. Anyway, Lauré returns with her Top 9 Horror Movies of All Time (she couldn't think of 10) and is now on the Top 10 list, just scroll waaaaaaay down to the bottom to see it!
Unique Video and Crazed Fanboy Present CULT-O-WEEN...
A reminder that this Friday, October 26th, three or more PCR writers (including yours truly) will be appearing at an event staged by Frank Granda and Andy Lalino, CULT-O-WEEN, at the Unique Video rental store on Armenia Avenue at Waters in Tampa FL. Meet 'n greet, fan talk, and video display are in store.
Creature Feature episodes being made available
I haven't forgotten my announcement of a couple weeks back of making some Creature Feature episodes available, it's just that there were some thorny issues to iron out that took a little a little longer than anticipated. Please rest assured I am working on it with all due diligence and I intend to have it working over the next few days!
It has literally been years since we've staged a "Top 10 List" of anything, and this month we're bringing it back with one of the ones that started it all: "The Top 10 Best Horror Movies of All Time". In this case, "Best" means mostly "Favorites". The section immediately below is for the PCR staff writers only. I am happy to now report all their submissions are in! We strongly recommend PCR Readers wishing to contribute use The Message Board thread that has already been started. Thanks! --Nolan
The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time by Nolan B. Canova
Waaaaay back in PCR #30, October 2000, we had our first Top 10 Best Horror Movies challenge, initiated by one Terence Nuzum, much like this year's. At that time my listed faves, in order, were: The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs, Alien, Psycho, Night of the Living Dead/Dawn of the Dead, John Carpenter's The Thing, Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, The Evil Dead, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, and The Cyclops. Although I knew I had something in the Archives I deliberately avoided looking until after I composed this year's list. I was surprised at how relatively intact my list remained. I did notice some subtle changes over the years, however. KEEP IN MIND, my definition of "Best/Favorites" are what actually horrified me at the time and age I was when I first saw them! So without further ado, drumroll please, starting with Number 10...
10. Alien (1979). I'm a little softer than Terence when it comes to specific catagorization. Ridley Scott's sci-fi/horror/monster movie that defies exact categorization virtually re-invented the space thriller. Based loosely on "It: The Terror From Beyond Space" (admiited later by collaborator Dan O'Bannon). James Cameron's "Aliens", deserves mention as being that rare very worthy sequel. 9. Night of the Living Dead (1968)/Dawn of the Dead (1978). I'm going to get monstrous guff from Terence for the two-in-one title, but I really feel like these two are forever tied together in post-apocalyptic horror history. Re-defined the Zombie movie with a dystopian scenario and a downbeat ending. Explored the way we see things through the media, then later our mass consciousness on consumerism. Social commentary like that is what I'm all about. 8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Like so many original ideas that have been so heavily spoofed, it's hard to remember when this was a truly mind-bending horrifying experience. But I do remember. Introduced the character of child-killer Freddy Krueger, himself killed by an angry mob, who came back to kill again through the dreams of neighborhood teenagers 7. Friday the 13th (1980). Like Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees has been spoofed so many times, the original horror can get lost in the comedy. But I was there was this was pretty ground-breaking stuff in terms of violence. Jason, like Freddy, enjoyed several sequels that milked the franchise for all it was worth. The idea of the unkillable killing machine, and the message that "sex equals death" to partying teenagers went as far as it could here. 6. John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). After one of the most impressive horror debuts of all time with Halloween (the film that usually gets the credit for being the first to feature an "unkillable slasher/killer" type), John Carpenter absolutely blew me away with this remake (or re-imagining, depending on you you talk to) of John Campbell's "Who Goes There?" and the '50s Howard Hawks film adaptation, starring James Arness as The Thing. Make-up maestro extraordinaire Rob Bottin created an incredible show-stopping series of special effects for Carpenter's version, demonstrating the alien's possession and re-creation of the human host bodies. The Antarctic locale, like the original, emphasized the lonely despair of the men, cut off from worldly contact. For many horror fans, this was the shit for many years. Still is. 5. The Evil Dead (1981). I figured I'd seen everything by 1981. Then I visited a midnight show at the South Tampa Twin Bays dollar theater and took in The Evil Dead on a casual recommendation. Holy Christ Jeezis, I wasn't prepared for this as director Sam Raimi's violent paranormal vision of ghosts and zombies-in-the-woods completely shook my world and demonstrated what could be accomplished on a low budget. I can remember thinking "This isn't going to let up! If anything, the pace is accelerating!". Introduced Bruce Campbell as "Ash", a character he's trademarked since. 4. The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1960). Alternately titled The Head That Wouldn't Die, this was a childhood nightmare-producer that exposed its low-budget roots on another look in adulthood. BUT.... you have a mad doctor who saves the head of his fiancé after its decapitation in a car accident. You see the head talking from a laboratory plate. You have the creepy, humpbacked assistant. You have the doctor visting whorehouses to find a suitable replacement body for his fiancé (I love this guy). And the best...the best.....the mutant horror-in-the-closet, the result of expermental mistakes and accidents, not only rips an arm off "Ygor" (graphically shown!), but breaks out at the end with some coaxing from The Head! This kept me coming back to Terminus! 3. The Cyclops (B&W, 1959). The very first horror movie that literally gave me nightmares as a child, but I was compelled to watch whenever it repeated on Shock Theater or Terminus. To me, director Bert I. Gordon absolutely nailed the horror of post-nuke mutation frenzy (a popular theme at the time, although I think the Cyclops was created from Uranium radiation). Of course, any repeated viewings in adulthood (which are rare) resulted in the realization that it was a very low-budget, cheezy affair, but hey, it had Lon Chaney and giant lizards! A better-remembered Gordon effort, The Amazing Colossal Man came out around the same time and explored similar themes. The giant's deep, heavily-echoed grunting still gives my chills. 2. The Silence of The Lambs (1991). I figured I couldn't be captivated by horror-thrillers much anymore after the amazing '60s, '70s, and '80s. it had all been done, or so I thought, until this "crime drama" based on the book by Thomas Harris played with your head more than exhibit violence (although it did do that, too). The most notable appearance of serial-killer Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lector (I say "most notable" because the character's actual first appearance was in "Manhunter", played by Brian Cox). Anthony Hopkins created an indelible impression that could not help but stick with you after you left the theater. His obsession with FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jody Foster) played on the Beauty and the Beast theme, sure, but created a crazy onscreen chemistry that was as mesmerizing as it was bizarre. 1. The Exorcist (1973). This film, like so many other horror originals, has been spoofed so many times that it's hard to remember a time when its release created a scalper's market for movie tickets (I'm not kidding). I was out of Catholic school only a short time when this came out. The reality of the duel between God, man, and the devil was a very real thing to me back then. Based on the book by William Peter Blatty, director Billy Friedkin provides an ultra-realistic and modern portayal of a mother (Ellen Burstyn) coming to grips with the paranormal. After exhaustive examinations by doctors and scientists fail to find a cause for her daughter, Regan's, strange behavior and illnesses (Linda Blair in her landmark role), it is suggested demonic possession may be the culprit. Incredulous, Mrs. MacNeil can only respond with, "Are you suggesting that I take my daughter...to a witch doctor?" No, but Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) is summoned to perform the rites of exorcism. Attending Jesuit priest, Damien Karas (Jason Miller), already tormented by his own crisis of faith, witnesses a duel between good and evil he never imagined. The foul language, sexual situations and violence were quite ground-breaking for its day as 12-year-old Linda Blair was required to say lines that would've gotten us expelled from Catholic school! This film cost me many nght's sleep at the time and, despite my conversion to Atheism since then, the "what if?" questions it raises makes it, to me, the most disturbing and personal horror movie of all time.
Honorable Mentions: Psycho (1960. The classic--and first--modern-day serial killer "slasher" movie), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974. Like Psycho it was based on real-life serial killer Ed Gein's exploits and created the "crazy hill family" horror category on the spot), Halloween (Carpenter's classic slasher movie that re-wrote the rules for those that followed), Frankenstein (original 1931 -- along with "Dracula" set the tone for the sound era's monster movie), Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (saw it in 3-D and uncut in 1973. The first movie I was carded to enter), Aliens (James Cameron's very worthy sequel), Fright Night (perfect combination of horror and comedy that makes for the best kind of fun horror movie without being ridiculous), Shawn of the Dead (see "Fright Night"), and Jaws (saw it before I went swimming -- and I didn't enter the ocean again for 15 years!).
The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time by Terence Nuzum
Just to be safe I'm pointing out that these are my favorites based on which films I cannot do without not watching every October. Some I had to leave off like Phantasm which isn't solely horror and The Wicker Man which falls kinda into mystery/suspense and drama. Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein though usually associated with horror, I consider sci-fi. Otherwise they'd be on here. In no order here they go.....
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974 Still on my list after all these years. Even though it has lost a bit of its potency there are some parts that will remain frightening to the end of my days. Redneck backwoods cannibals are still the most horrific thing I can imagine.
The Old Dark House 1932 James Whale set the standard for crazed rural families that even extended to Chainsaw's deranged bunch. Karloff is left to a minimal role here but it's Thesiger's nervous character and his crazed younger brother Saul that steal the show. The creepiest of the dark house type movies. With its rainy windblown nights and dark hallways this one is perfect for any Halloween viewing.
Carnival of Souls 1962 One usually associates the emergence of Felliniesque dream logic and European Art House techniques applied to the American landscape and ideology with David Lynch but in reality Herk Harvey's sole film did it first. Truly a nightmare one cannot forget of specters tormenting a young woman from the ruins of a super creepy abandoned carnival. I saw this when it played at Tampa Theatre in the 90's. I must have been 12 or 13 and I never shook it.
Shockwaves 1975 Usually faster-moving zombies aren't scary but somehow these work. Waterlogged Nazi SS super soldiers rise from the sea and one by one pick off castaways. The images of the sunken U-boat are freakishly frightening.
Halloween 1978 Even though it ripped off not only parts of Argento's Deep Red and most of Bob Clarke's Black Christmas it still managed to meld them into something all its own. The music matched with the emotionless William Shatner mask and shots of the Shape stalking Laurie Stroud still pack a punch after all these years. Somehow for all its unoriginality I still love it.
Dracula 1931 Yes, the Spanish version has better camera work, better atmosphere, cooler scenes, and though Browning was on sleep mode for most of this film it does have the one thing that makes it what it is....Bela Lugosi. The rare instance when an actor makes the film. Lugosi's visage stalking the foggy London streets and the early scenes in the castle are the kind of images that I always think of when I hear Universal Horror.
Tombs Of The Blind Dead 1971 Rotting Templar Knights emerging from dusty ancient tombs slashing, killing, and drinking the blood of everyone including children just quite frankly says it all.
Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things 1972 See what makes this film so great is that it comes off so damn amateur yet manages to be extra scary because of it. Though some find it talky in the beginning none complain when the zombies crawl out of the earth and slaughter all the characters. This is one of two Bob Clark films to appear on my list.
Suspiria 1977 Italian director Argento's absolute masterpiece. With this one he proved he was the modern Bava. Stylized lighting and camera work that made the locations as much a menace as the witches themselves make this the best of the Italian horror-art films.
Black Christmas 1974 Bob Clark's undisputed masterpiece is without a doubt the most frightening film ever made. Unnerving to the point of hairpulling, this film has been ripped off to death yet never improved upon. Carpenter's Halloween owes its fortune to this gem. Taking not only the main characters of female students but also the holiday theme and pretty much the last shot sequence. Also the cops who are staking the town out for the killer much like Loomis did and placing of the girls bodies around the house ritualistically. But it has nothing like the magnificently shot scene when Margot Kidder's character bites the dust. It's Clark's most beautifully shot scene in his entire ouvere. The rich characterizations and believable scenarios along with the nail-biting suspense make this one of the best horror films ever constructed. NBC supposedly pulled a showing of this baby for being too scary.
The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time by ED Tucker
1. The Exorcist (1973) - The granddaddy of all horror movies and still frightening on multiple levels. I was extremely impressed with how well this film held up a few years ago when it was re-released to theaters in “the version you’ve never seen”. This tale of Satan instilling despair into man by corrupting an innocent and the efforts of science and religion to deal with the problem is timeless.
2. Phantasm (1979) – This film probably did the best job ever of translating a nightmare onto the screen and still maintaining a reasonably coherent story. For a young boy, having to deal with the death of your parents is hard enough but when you discover the local undertaker is homicidal alien harvesting the dead for slave labor – look out!
3. Halloween (1978) – John Carpenter probably had no idea he was unleashing a whole new genre on filmgoers when this modest little horror film was released. This film is the very definition of synergism with the music, acting, atmosphere and story all blending together into a greater whole. Halloween gave audiences everywhere a brand new reason to be afraid of the Boogeyman!
4. Friday the 13th (1980) - It’s hard to believe in the wake of all the cash-ins that followed it that this film packed the punch it did back in the day. Being in the first wave of slasher movies, Friday blazed some new horror trails and the closing stinger is still a classic.
5. The Evil Dead (1981) – The old dark house scenario gets a radical face lift when a group of college students discover the book of the dead in an isolated cabin. While this film has plenty of gore to satisfy the hard core fans, it also manages to give audiences a lead character they can relate to. Bruce Campbell does an excellent job of conveying Ash’s terror as his friends are overcome by demonic forces and he teeters on the brink of madness.
6. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – A gut-wrenching roller coaster ride from start to finish. Tobe Hooper gave us a unique film that has been imitated and homaged many times but never duplicated. The single greatest example of TCM’s impact is that so many people who saw it during its original release still swear they saw things on the screen that never happened!
7. Alien (1979) – While on the surface a thinly veiled remake of "It, Terror from Beyond Space", Alien cranks up the suspense and ultimately ends up a haunted house movie in outer space. This is another fine example of characters you care about making the scares that much more potent.
8. Night of the Living Dead (1968) – The original zombie gut munch classic! George Romero’s wise decision to film this movie in B&W gives it a gritty documentary feel that makes this story of the dead rising to attack the living seem like it may well be the end of the world. The shocks are provided not only from the relentless undead but also from the survivors who may prove an even bigger threat to themselves.
9. Black Christmas (1974) – One of the first “the killer is in the house with you” films, this one really sucks you in and never lets up. This is a perfect example of the less-is-more school of story telling with a minimal back story making the killer all the more frightening. By the films conclusion, the viewer has been assaulted with a plethora of mayhem that makes the downbeat finale feel almost exhausting.
10. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – This may have been an allegory for Communism but can anyone who saw this film as a young child honestly say they were not scared by it? What could be more frightening than everything in your world appearing to be perfectly normal on the surface when a plot to eliminate the entire human race lurks just below? The paranoia level is off the chart here (is it still considered paranoia if everyone really is out to get you?) as small town doctor Kevin McCarthy tries to escape his overrun community and warn those not yet affected, all while avoiding falling asleep!
The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time by Mike Smith
In response to the Top 10 Horror Movie theme I went back to issue #30 seven years ago and found I had chosen the following:JAWS, CARRIE, THE EXORCIST, ALIEN, ARACHNAPHOBIA, SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, SUSPIRA, HALLOWEEN, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE. My critera was simple. What movie has given me chills while watching, no matter when I saw it. With the exception of "Curse of the Living Corpse," which I really just threw on the list because it's a pretty decent horror cheapy that happens to be Roy Scheider's first film, the list has stayed pretty much the same. Ironically, I just returned from seeing "JAWS" on the big screen tonight as part of a retro movie festival and once again I was reminded why I love the film so much and why it stands alone as my favorite. Good old fashioned thrills and not a lot of unnecessary blood (yes, I'm talking to you, Eli Roth). That, to me, is a great horror film. Boo!
1. JAWS At about 2:00 in the afternoon on September 23, 1975 I was sitting in a dark auditorium at the University Cinemas in Tampa. On screen, Richard Dreyfuss was peering through a hull in the bottom of a boat. Suddenly, the ghostly head of a fisherman popped up. I showered the people behind me with popcorn, at least eight rows back. To me that was THE moment I realized movies were pretty damn cool. I judge every other film moment by that scene and have yet to have it topped.
2. CARRIE OK, DePalma would go on to steal from himself (and Hitchcock) for the next decade, but he did it best here. Extra points because when I was working at Twin Bays we had a woman pass out opening night during the "hand pops out of the grave" ending.
3. THE EXORCIST Matt, Corey, Scott Gilbert and I saw this at the Hillsboro Drive In. If you can imagine a bunch of kids huddled together on the hood of a car whispering "The power of Christ compells you" over and over then you know why it's on this list.
4. ALIEN Another group memory. Tyrone Theatre in St. Pete. A riot almost ensued when Ben Gregory, who had read the novelization, spoiled the "chestburster" scene moments before it happened.
5. ARACHNAPHOBIA Spiders. Enough said.
6. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS Like I said in my intro: "Good old-fashioned thrills and not a lot of unnecessary blood."
7. SUSPIRA We played this FOREVER at Twin Bays. I had no idea who Dario Argento was but he sure scared the hell out of me.
8. HALLOWEEN The best of the late 70s/early 80s. And damn it, Jamie Lee Curtis WAS hot, no matter what others told me back then.
9. TALES FROM THE CRYPT Not the television series but an early Hammer classic from 1973. I can still picture the psychotic escapee dressed as Santa Claus doing away with Joan Collins.
10. CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE Billed as Roy R. Sheider my favorite actor gets revenge on his family in a very cool hat and cape.
Of course, I can't discuss horror films without remembering the night a group of us saw "FREAKS" at the Tampa Theatre. If you were there that night, the words "IT'S A CHICKEN!" have special meaning.
The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time by Paul Guzzo
I am in no way a horror buff. I couldn’t argue the merits of one director over another or give you back stories on horror films, etc. like so many of the readers of Crazed Fanboy can. I’m more of a comedy and nerdy documentary fan. In fact, when first asked to submit a list, I wasn’t even sure I’ve seen 10 horror films in my life. With all that said, here is my list:
10. The Quiet Place … oh wait, you said horror films. I thought you said horror-ible films! *rim shot* Ok, I actually loved our little short film we all made and am very happy that out of the big pile of DVDs I gave to the Tampa Museum of Art, they chose the Quiet Place as one of the local films showing at the next Art After Dark.
9. The Stand I don’t know if it counts as horror, but it was a Stephen King film. I still stand (pun intended) by my opinion that the book is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read, and this comes from a man who really doesn’t like Stephen King books at all.
8. Hellraiser When I was 12 and watched this film – an age I should not have still been spooked by movies – I was just disturbed.
7. Kiss Music Videos When I was 5 or 6 years old I saw a Kiss music video and had nightmares for days. Yes, I can admit this 26 years later. Of course, I also once had nightmares after seeing an All In The Family episode. Archie Bunker was trying to turn me into a pop sickle … don’t ask.
6. Nightmare On Elm Street I love this film and can watch it over and over again. Plus it’s one of the films morons like to mention so they sound smart – “Did you know Johnny Depp was in it?” REALLY?!?!?! WOW! Of course, I always trump their stupid trivia by telling them that Heather Langenkamp was on Just The Ten Of Us, a Growing Pains Spin Off! (Yes Mr. Woods, I am also aware that good ol' Roper was in it.)
5. Frankenhooker One quotes says it all, “My whores are the best – best to look at, best to f**k!”
4. Saw I've never seen it ... but a good horror film is supposed to scare the hell out of us right? Well, I afraid the sequels will never end!!!!
3. The Gate Sometimes great cheese is better than great frights. When the little clay demons run around I want to jump into the television and pick one up and tickle it and talk to it like a baby! Uhh… moving on …
2. Something Wicked This Way Comes Never, EVER, has a film scared me more than this. I saw it when I was maybe 9 years old and couldn’t sleep for weeks. Ray Bradbury is an absolute genius. I also love a short film based on a story he wrote once called The Playground. Again, just creepy., and not just because it stars Captain Kirk! I love films with no gore yet scare the hell out of me.
1. 100 Tears I loved the locally made film and still think it’s the best locally produced feature Tampa has seen. BUT, what enables it to rank number 1 is how scared I become every time Joe and Nolan are in the same room together since the review was published.
The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time by Chris Woods
Here are my Top 10 best horror films of all time. For me, these are films that I can watch over and over again. Films that I feel best represent the horror genre, that have suspenseful stories, great characters, and scare the hell out of you. I’ll countdown from the tenth film on my list all the way to my number one horror film.
10. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) Probably one of the best horror films from the silent area and a great portray of German Expressionism. To me this film still holds up to this day. It’s dark innovating nightmarish set design and creepy characters pull you into this scary tale. A must see for any horror fan and an excellent example of the history of the horror film and films in general.
9. 2000 Maniacs (1964) One of Herschell Gorden Lewis’ finest film moments. Say what you want about The Godfather of Gore’s movies, but for me he has made some of the best splatter films of all time. 2000 Maniacs is my favorite movie of his. He presents a creepy scary story with great characters and probably the best acting from any of H.G. Lewis’ films. The way the characters are killed off are priceless. Also it has a great soundtrack along with the main theme song, “The South’s Gonna Rise Again”.
8. Tenebre (1982) It’s always tough picking my favorite Argento film. But I have to say Tenebre is one of his best and one of my top horror films. This stylish murder mystery has so many thrills, twists and turns. Very suspenseful through out, awesome cinematography, and a thrilling soundtrack by Goblin. The film has some similarities to Argento’s first film, The Bird with Crystal Plumage, but it holds up on its own as a horror classic.
7. Halloween (1978) The ultimate slasher film. Even though there were many slasher epics before this one, it still remains a horror classic. Not only is it the ultimate slasher film, but also it’s a classic horror suspense movie. Carpenter creates a scary atmosphere, with scares around every corner. I love the feel of this film, a small quiet town being terrorized by an unknown silent maniac. For me this film never gets old and I never get tired of it.
6. Dementia 13 (1963) A haunting tale from Francis Ford Coppola, which was one of his first films under Roger Corman. This is a great scary movie. Set in an old castle in Ireland with a great cast. The mood is very eerie in this film with the music also setting the creeping tone as well. It also helps that the movie is in black and white, which gives it an extra creepy feel. First time I saw this film was back in the 80’s on USA Network’s Night Flight and it became one of my favorites back then. An excellent film to have in your horror collection.
5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) One of the most deranged, eerie, scariest, twisted films that I ever seen. Forget all the sequels and remakes to this movie, go with the original. This film will stand the test of time. Just the raw grittiness of the film makes it pure horror. Scenes like when we first see Leatherface come out of the back room of the farmhouse and strikes his victim with a hammer, then pulling him into the room and slamming the door shut. That scene gives me chills all the time. And you can’t forget the climax of the film at the dinner table and when Sally jumps out of the window and escapes from the chainsaw family. A classic.
4. The Shining (1980) This might have been the first horror film I’ve ever seen. Saw it back in the early 80’s and it scared the hell out of me. Today, it’s still one of my favorites and still scares me. Stephen King wrote a great horror story but Kubrick made it his own by creating a haunting masterpiece. Everything about this film is eerie, the Overlook Hotel, the music, cinematography, editing, Nicholson’s great performance, the maze covered in a blizzard, everything. I think the one thing that freaked me out the most is the quick cuts of the twin girls, especially when Danny finally sees them at the end of the hallway. Scary stuff.
3. Psycho (1960) One of Hitchcock’s best and not only one of greatest horror films ever but one of the greatest films of all time. The opening credits even gives that great element of suspense that sets the tone of the whole film. Top notch performances out of the whole cast. The Bates Motel and the Bates house on the hill are always haunting images. I never get tired of watching this film. There are also some great symbolic things in this classic. Most fans of this film’s favorite moment is the shower scene, which is a great scene by my favorite moment is when they go to the fruit cellar and we finally see Mrs. Bates.
2. Dawn of the Dead (1978) Romero’s awesome follow up to Night of the Living Dead remains a classic and an important film in the world of horror and cinema. This is such a great movie that I can never get tired of and always love watching it. This one still has the mood of Night but it’s also very different in many ways. This ones in bright blood red color, has tons of fast pace action but also it’s a film that represents a time in the late 70’s. The group in Dawn are some of the best characters in any film. You really feel for them and want to cheer them on. But most important they are some great terrifying zombie scenes in this film. From beginning to end there’s thrills and scares every minute. Part that always sticks out is when Roger and Peter are moving the trucks in front of the mall doors and eventually Roger gets bit. That whole scene is so suspenseful. Not only is this one of my favorite horror films but is one of my favorite films in any category of all time.
1. Night of the Living Dead (1968) To me this film is the holy grail of all horror films. Just like all the other films on my list, Night of the Living Dead will always be a classic, will stand the test of time, is not only the best horror film but one of the greatest films ever made. First time I saw this film was on Halloween on Night Flight in the 80's and is one of the best films I ever seen. Just the mood set by this film gave me chills when I first saw it. Especially the opening scene at the cemetery, which is my favorite part of the film. Romero took a typical some kind of monster attacks the world flick and made it into a thrilling masterpiece that has a great touch of realism to it. At the end of this movie, the hero doesn’t kill the monster and everything is all right, oh no. Our heroes die and the horror lives on. Like Dawn represented the late 70’s, Night represents the time of the late 60’s. Very dark, everyone at each other’s throats, the world's about the end, mindless violence. After seeing this film I decided I wanted to make movies and I fell in love with horror.
The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time by Andy Lalino
I guess a quirk about getting older is the frequency at which I question things has increased. In this case, Nolan, Terence and Chris challenged the PCR writers to conjure list of our "Top 10 Favorite Horror Movies" presumably in celebration of Halloween. As I examined their query, I thought to myself: "That's actually a good question." What exactly is a favorite? Why has it become one?
For kicks, I looked up the definition of "favorite". Here it is:
a. One that enjoys special favor or regard.b. One that is trusted, indulged, or preferred above all others, especially by a superior: a favorite of the monarch.
I suppose the goal here is to select the horror films that are not necessarily the greatest ones ever made, but those that perhaps "speak" to you in ways that others cannot or did not. Perhaps its stature is due to a point in your life when you saw it, the special make-up effects, or even the musical score.
As you can imagine, with as many films as I've seen, this was going to be an involved proposition. I mean; back in 1982 it was fairly easy to pick 10 of my favorites, but as time passes and more movies get added to the mix - not to mention an "older" perspective on some movies or maybe a freshly jogged memory - it becomes mind-boggingly difficult. Also, there's the danger of omitting a movie I may have temporarily blanked out on as I prepare this compilation.
Realistically, this isn't a Rosetta Stone, so as I throw caution to the wind, and yell out a hearty "Here goes!", I present to you, readers, my Top 10 Favorite Horror Films of All Time in no particular order. I think you'll be surprised
Disclaimer: Titles are subject to change one half hour from now.
1. John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) As I'm sure you've read me state before, the summer of '82 was the best season EVER in the history of fantastic cinema. Never has there been a perfect storm of genre quality and quantity. John Carpenter's The Thing is an adaptation of John W. Campbell's short sci-fi story "Who Goes There?", as was Howard Hawks's classic 1951 production The Thing from Another World (one of Carp's favorites). This time, however The Thing was not a vegetable-based alien, rather a mimicking, shape-shifting abomination from our most repellent nightmares.
Many of you may already know that JC's The Thing was a box office "disappointment" upon initial release. Back in '82, this was a movie I rooted for. Excitedly, I read as much as I could absorb about the film in Starlog/Fangoria magazines, and was highly anticipating another Carpenter/Russell team-up after the robust success of the previous year's Escape from New York.
In '82 I was 16, and had to sneak in to the Pinellas Park Mall Theaters (only three screens at the time); I recall Blade Runner screening next door.
Let me honestly tell you, I could not have prepared myself for what I was to witness in those 100 minutes of watching JC's The Thing for the first time. The experience was both exhilarating and repulsive. It was a marvel experiencing both Carpenter/Russell unfurling some of their best work, while at the same time being shaken out of my Ocean Pacifics by Rob Bottin's horrific special effects. I'm not sure if today's audiences would consider some of the effects "tame", but at the time this was a movie that could quite literally rip a viewer to shreds, as it did me. I recall walking out of the theater in a complete daze, and with an upset stomach that lasted for hours. Beyond the effects, which included Albert Whitlock's thrilling segment of The Thing's saucer entering earth's atmosphere at the beginning, was Ennio Morricone's repetitively unsettling synth score. I also admired Dean Cundey's cinematography in the way he lit night scenes with safety flares and accented the snow with a chilling and uneasy blue and mauve palette. Bill Lancaster's (Burt's son) was taut and daring, however if I were to point out flaws in the film, it would have to be the unaddressed plot holes. Was it ever answered who got into the blood in the refrigerator?
But as the grim feeling of wooziness finally wore off, I realized I just experienced one of the greatest horror films ever made.
I can testify that there were not many people in the theater. Later that week I learned that my fear had come to fruition: JC's The Thing had been officially declared a "bomb". I recall being dumbstruck. "What?" "How?" I asked. It was such an incredible film. Some threw out various reasons. "No women." "No one wanted to see a scary alien after Spielberg's E.T.." "Too gory."
I recall wondering if it was the geniuses at Universal's marketing dept that shouldered the blame. Here they had a movie with some of the most frightening alien images ever created for film, and the movie poster is the depiction of a human being with light coming out of his head. And this compels a John Doe moviewatcher to see this movie - how? I also noted the newspaper ads were substantially smaller than some of the other blockbusters that summer.
Heartbroken, I managed to see JC's The Thing a few more times before it was quickly yanked (probably after a three-week run at Pinellas), and went on with my life.
Then, very gradually, something incredible happened.
Some months later, I remember sitting in my art class one day at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg, when a guy sitting behind me said: "Hey, did you see The Thing on cable last night? It was awesome!". I immediately turned around and agreed, and we chatted about all the great things about the movie. Also that year I managed to talk a friend (Sean Timson) into dubbing me a VHS copy, which was prized at a time when VHS tapes cost on average $80! Sean, I'm still in debt to you, man.
Since the gory glory days of early '80s horror, JC's The Thing has since become a heralded favorite of fans everywhere, ultimately thanks to the excellence of Carpenter/Russell and the whole cast and crew, but also to the fans who never, ever abandoned the film and ensured it takes a rightful place as one of the best horror films ever made.
Let's once again give kudos to a magnificent ensemble cast which included Wilford Brimley, Donald Moffat, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Richard Masur, and of course the great one himself, Kurt Russell in one of his best roles as R.J. MacReady.
I'm proud to state that it is my favorite horror film of all time, and brag that I'm set to go to Universal's Halloween Horror Nights 2007 solely to experience the haunted house based on Outpost 31.
Favorite Lines: Palmer: "You got to be fuckin' kidding!"; MacReady: "Back off! Way off!"
2. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) After Ed Tucker's recollections of this astoundingly great horror film in PCR #385, there's not much to add, other than it was one of those incredible '70s made-for-TV movies that managed to soil the skivvies of us kids (see also Secrets from '77, The House That Would Not Die from '70, and The Dead Don't Die from '75). While I'm sure the Halo 3 crowd of today would probably laugh at the dwarf-like creatures who look like they've been dunked in candle wax, let me assure you that back in 1973 this movie induced many sleepless nights and recurring nightmares. To this day, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is an often asked about, highly prized horror film beloved by those who had the good fortune to have their minds forever warped by challenging it in the '70s.
For the unfamiliar, DBAOTD was the strange tale of Sally and Alex Farnham, a couple who move into a large home they recently inherited. Before long, Sally is haunted by little, gremlin-like creatures that only appear when her husband is away. They eerily whisper her name in a gradual attempt to drive her mad. They wish to drag poor Sally into hell itself, with the home's fireplace being the gateway.
The horrifying little creatures, Kim Darby's performance, and the ultra-cool essence of '70s pop culture make this one of my all-time best horror experiences and one that I'll remember with great memories all my life.
Favorite Line: The Gremlins: "Ssssaaaalllllyyyyyy!"
3. Destroy All Monsters (1968) Terence may argue that giant monster movies are not legitimately horror, but if you're even thinking about messin' around with Destroy All Monsters, I suggest you take cover immediately! Personally, I consider anything with a monster to be horror, whether it be giant praying mantises, scorpions, moths, etc. Besides, I don't see any rules about not including sci-fi/horror hybrids.
Let's just say right here and now that Destroy All Monsters is the ULTIMATE monster-bash of all time. Words cannot express how exciting it was in the mid-'70s to groove on Channel 44's promos of DAM airing on either Creature Feature, or as the grand finale of "Godzilla Week"! Really, how can you lose with having The Big G, Rodan, Mothra, Ghidrah, Angurus, Minya, etc. all duking it out on Monster Island? Besides the monsters, DAM was just plain good science-fiction, and one of the last really classic Godzilla movies before the series became too silly. This is the movie to beat, and for a little kid in the '60s/'70s, the pinnacle of creature feature filmmaking. It just doesn't get any better than DAM.
Favorite Line: Godzilla's growl
4. Demons (1985) For all it's over-the-top outrageousness, Demons is an action-packed, completely satisfying horror adventure from our friends in Italy. I was fortunate enough to see it at the Plaza Twin in St. Petersburg during it's very successful run in 1985. You want to make sure you see Demons in a movie theater as to maximize the film's impact, because that's exactly where much of the action takes place.
Demons begins with Claudio (Goblin) Simonetti's classic opening theme fueling a well-cut montage of a scary character in a metal mask (Michele Soavi) handing out tickets to a free horror film at the new METROPOL theater (in West Berlin). Innocently enough, groups of people begin to collect at the Metropol. The wander through the lobby, unaware that there are "clues" all around them as to their horrifying fate. Finally, they take their seats in the auditorium and the movie begins - a creepy film-within-a-film about kids who break into the grave of the prophet Nostradamus.
On screen, one of the kids takes the mask Nostradamus was buried in and wears it. Just as he does, a hooker who was watching the movie puts on a similar mask hanging in the lobby. Both get a scratched from the mask, and then all hell breaks loose. The scratch - both in the "movie" and in the theater - causes an infection which leads to the victims becoming Demons: Teeth fall out, replaced by loathsome fangs, and their fingernails transform into claws. Sickening purple veins cobweb their skin as their eyes become demonic hellfire-orange.
What follows is a hair-raising battle between the survivors and the onslaught of Demons within the Metropol movie theater. It's similar to Night of the Living Dead, but relies less on realism.
My favorite moments include:
- The way the filmmakers foreshadowed the artifacts that can both help (the sword, the motorcycle) and hurt (the Demons mask) the characters in the lobby.
- The mind-blowing helicopter scene, where it crashes through the ceiling, providing the survivors with an escape route.
- The braided-hair hooker Demon (Geretta Geretta, also in T2, Smithereens, and Warriors of the Lost World!) - truly hellish!
- The post-apocalyptic conclusion (and surprise ending).
- The New Wave/Heavy Metal soundtrack - perhaps the only time both genres co-existed for a greater good.
- The big motorcycle/Demons fight in the auditorium.
- Finding the secret room.
- The great Urbano Barbarini (Gor, Luigi Cozzi's The Black Cat, Argento's Opera) BIG TRIVIA NEWS!!!: Nicoletta Elmi, Metorpol's attractive red-haired usherette in Demons, was the little girl in Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, Bava's Baron Blood + Twitch of the Death Nerve, and Argento's Deep Red!!!! I DID NOT REALIZE THIS!!!
5. Cat People (1982) Maligned and misunderstood at the time, I found Cat People (and The Keep - 1983) to be two truly beautiful horror films, admirable not so much for their gore or scares, but for creating artsy atmospheres of dread complete with two of the greatest movie soundtracks ever recorded (by Giorgio Moroder and Tangerine Dream, respectively). Cat People succeeds on many levels. It's oh-so-perfectly cast, from Nastassia Kinski and Malcom McDowell to John Heard. Kinski portrays the alluring Irena Gallier, a young woman who returns to her home in soggy New Orleans only to discover forbidden secrets of her family's lineage. Welcoming her back is creepy brother Paul, played by McDowell, who proceeds to seduce her. Why? The Gallier family suffers from a bizarre curse: they transform into panthers and leopards whenever turned on or having sex - unless they practice the act of incest, which is Paul's agenda. Irena, despite her extraordinary beauty, is still a virgin who instinctively has kept her desires at bay lest she transforms into a lycanthropic beast.
For all the criticism leveled against it, Cat People is really a tour-de-force by everyone involved. I can't think of any actress at the time that could have pulled off Irena as well as Kinski. She's lovely, daring, sexy, flirty, erotic, shy, virginal, complex, all at once. McDowell is just as effective when he goes out on the prowl for victims or attempts to seduce his own sister. In fact, one of the victims, a hooker, is played by horror fave Lynn Lowry (Romero's The Crazies, I Drink Your Blood, Cronenberg's Shivers), confronted by Paul's transformation into a black panther. John Heard is Irena's love interest, playing a New Orleans zoo administrator eagerly awaiting his chance to possess Irena both emotionally and sexually. The supporting cast is solid as a rock, featuring a topless Annette O' Toole; Ed Begley Jr. (who gets his arm ripped off); Ruby Dee, the Gallier's secretive caretaker; and John Larroquette. Director Paul Schrader, though rumored to be high during portions of the production, I thought handled the film admirably, relying on offscreen scares to terrify. Big kudos to DeWitt Bodeen (story), Alan Ormsby (Deathdream, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things), and Paul Schrader for crafting a complex screenplay that totally does justice to the famed original. Though minimal, the Tom Burman studios did outstanding work in the Special Make-Up Effects dept., and of course David Bowie sings the famous theme song "Puttin' Out Fire" (Cat People)". Ace cinematographer John Bailey (American Gigolo, Incident at Loch Ness) crafts a drab New Orleans setting along with luscious dreamscapes of the cat cult's domain in dream sequences. And, as mentioned, not enough can be said about Moroder's score.
What I liked about the film:
- Kinski. McDowell. Heard. O' Toole. Lowry
- The interesting, pulpy, ambiguous dream sequences
- Unabashed eroticism, fueled by Kinski and McDowell
- The swimming pool scene
- The scary autopsy scene, which I guarantee will make even a hardened horror fan jump.
- Irena's theme (Moroder)
- When Paul Gallier eats the cat regurgitation (gross!)
6. The Exorcist (1973) One of two films on my list from '73. No matter what an individuals preferences are in horror films, William Friedkin's The Exorcist is horror excellence that belongs on anyone and everyone's Top 10 List. It's one of the few horror films crafted to the level as to be recognized by the Academy Awards, and for good reason. It's a high class production all the way, and ironically yet filled with some of the most vile and repulsive material in the history of horror cinema. We all know the story and the extent of shocks the audiences of 1973 were witness to when The Exorcist was released to an unsuspecting public. What really shines here above and beyond the horrifying make-up of Dick Smith and the demonic portrayal of Regan (Linda Blair) are the finely crafted characters and situations, not to mention that essential early '70s ambiance that embodies the film. Had it been made any earlier or later, this film may not have worked at all. But the stars were in alignment during the construction of this film, and the Friedkin/Blatty team couldn't ask for a better assemblage of on and offscreen talent. The Exorcist changed lives and cinema as we know it, and will always remain a perennial classic.
Favorite Line: "The power of Christ compels you!"
7. Stephen King's The Stand (1994) I know I '90s-bash unmercifully (with good reason), but if there was a bright spot to this horror-unfriendly decade, it had to be the ABC premiere of the mini-series The Stand. To many of King's fans, The Stand remains his all-time favorite novel, of which I am a subscribing student. I read the book approximately in 1984, and found it to be a supreme work of genius. In years to come, I predict King's novel will be regarded as one of the finest examples of literature ever authored, and will be studied in English classes all over the world along with Shakespeare, Frost, and Auden.
When I first heard rumblings in the '80s of there being an adaptation of The Stand for the big screen (at the time slated for George A. Romero), I was thrilled. Before long, info began to trickle out that instead of a feature film, The Stand was to be released as a mini-series. I found it to be a bit of a bummer, but nothing I was too disappointed about. I didn't know much about Mick Garris, who at the time was noted for helming Sleepwalkers and the better-than-expected Psycho IV. It wasn't until the promos appeared on TV and radio that The Stand began to garner a lot of buzz.
No doubt Garris, a friend of King's, knew just what kind of responsibility he was about to undertake in crafting an adaptation of King's most heralded book. He had to please both hardcore King fans and the everyday schlub out to waste time in front of the boob tube as well. For the most part, I'd say Garris and co. succeeded extremely well.
At times it was the little moments that really stuck with me while watching The Stand. For example, at the end of installment 2 after Stu Redman escapes from the disease containment facility, he's lying down on the ground, and happens to look up at a billowing American flag. In his head he hears the voice of Mother Abigail, and he knows it's his calling, as one of the few survivors, to persevere and preserve all the remaining good in the world. Another is: after the ravages of the Captain Trips have taken its toll on the population, Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" plays to a montage of dead bodies. Another small but effective touch is when Stu Redman unsuccessfully tries to save the life of a man by performing surgery on him, desperately depending on a medical book illuminated by candlelight. And of course when Larry Underwood and Ralph Brentner hang together after Glen Bateman's brutal murder, reciting a prayer together before their imminent deaths.
God, there are so many more: The haunting command given to Tom Cullen: "Return when the moon is full"; and when Nick Andros visits Tom Cullen in a dream, instructing him how to care for Stu, who caught the flu after all. And Stu/Tom's triumphant return home to Boulder in Snowcats in a beautifully edited segment.
Just too many unforgettable moments to mention, and when it first aired, wild horses couldn't keep me away from my TV set.
Boosted by a teleplay by King himself, The Stand really delivers, taking into account the content restraints native to television. Here's what I liked:
- W.G. "Snuffy" Walden's incredible score.
- Gary Sinise as Stu Redman. Couldn't have picked a better actor for the role.
- The scary scene when Larry returns to his home to care for his mother.
- Jamey Sheridan as Randall Flagg/Laura San Giacomo as Nadine Cross/Corin Nemec was excellent as Harold Lauter/Ray Walston/Adam Storke as Larry U./Bill Fagerbakke as Tom Cullen
- Shawnee Smith
I was disappointed by the following, but not enough to exclude The Stand from my Top 10 List:
- Molly Ringwald. Molly, I love 'ya dearly for TBC, but it seemed like you were clearly uncomfortable with the role.
- Ruby Dee was anemic as Mother Abigail
- Occasional cheesy make-up effects
- The highly-anticipated tunnel scene didn't live up to expectations
- Rob Lowe wasn't quite there as Nick Andros. Not sure why he was cast.
- Matt Frewer just wasn't the Trashcan Man I envisioned from the book.
- Could have used more scenes of outright horror.
Favorite Line: "Return when the moon is full."
8. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) One of three remakes on my list! Actually, in the case of both JC's The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, one could argue that they're not remakes, but rather adaptations of the original source material, in this case Jack Finney's famous science-fiction novel. In what has to be one of the most nightmarish scenarios ever painted in film or literature, the earth is gradually and horrifyingly taken over by a patient, unstoppable alien species. They arrived as "seeds" from space, sailing on solar winds toward our planet. They basically introduced themselves as plants or "pods" and begin growing around the San Francisco area.
The pods take over humans as they sleep, absorbing their essence and growing an identical duplicate in their place - and eventually killing the host. What results is the reproduction of perfect imitations of us - without feeling and emotion, a kind of alien assimilation (again, similar to JC's The Thing and the inferior It Came from Outer Space).
This concept was explored in both the '56 and '78 versions, however I find the later interpretation to be supremely horrifying. Well-acted, tense, great visual effects (very gory at the time for a PG movie), a great score by Denny Zeitlin, and outstanding make-up effects by the Burman Studios (see Cat People above), and capable direction by the very talented Philip Kaufman.
Now, realize that I saw this film at the movies as early as 11 years old! Can you imagine what a film such as the '78 Invasion of the Body Snatchers can do to someone so young? The whole concept of people being taken over slowly and without you even noticing had me keeping my eye on my parents and teachers for weeks of sleepless nights!! I felt at any time pods could drift down from space and start assimilating those family and friends closest to me, and wouldn't stop until I was next! Beyond the concept, this was strong material. The scene where Donald Sutherland (as Matthew Bennell) destroys the birthing pod people with a ho in his garden is real nightmare material, as is the half dog/half man and the shock ending.
And what a cast! Sutherland is excellent, as is Brooke Adams (The Unborn), Art Hindle, the great Jeff Goldblum and the equally great Veronica Cartwright. Leonard Nimoy towers as the psychiatrist Dr. Kibner, and look for Kevin McCarthy and director Don Siegal (director of the original) in cameos. I'm the proud owner of the Fotonovel!
Memorable Line: Matthew: "It's a rat turd!"; Matthew: "How did you know my name?" / Jack Bellicec: "Hang up, Matthew." / Matthew: "I didn't tell you my name!!"
9. Dawn of the Dead (1978) It was a big internal struggle to choose whether Dawn or Night were going to make it on my personal favorites list. I chose Dawn simply because I would reserve Night as one of the very best horror films ever made, and as a colsolation relegate Dawn as a fave. I recall seeing publicity photographs from Dawn of the Dead in my movie magazines and in book stores. Even simple photographs scared the hell out me, and I could only anticipate what horrors lied ahead of me when I finally saw this film.
I was lucky enough to have seen my virgin screening of Dawn of the Dead at a midnight show at Tyrone Square Mall in the '80s; I'm guessing '83 or '84. I'm so glad it was at the movies and not on video. Romero's film satisfied as both a gore-filled horror adventure, a commentary on consumerism and individual identity, and an exercise in masterful filmmaking. From the beginning assault on the low-income housing project (which includes a head blowing up and a neck being chewed up) to the barricaded mall, Dawn of the Dead is the ultimate thinking man's zombie film with in-your-face exploitation elements.
A favorite moment from the Tyrone Mall screening was when the square-headed zombie was about to get it from the helicopter blades. Some black guy in the audience was screaming "Frankenstein"! "Frankenstein" - and then the top of his head got shaved off! We were all rolling around in nervous laughter - God, there were no better cinematic times than those!
, Favorite Line: "The Mall was an important place in their lives." No kidding.
10. Return of the Living Dead (1985) One of the most pleasant surprises in all of horror cinema - and one of the most admired films - has to be Dan O' Bannon's Return of the Living Dead. It arrived at a time when slashers, rather than zombie movies, were in fashion. But this was no ordinary zombie film. The writing team of O' Bannon/John Russo/Russ Streiner/Rudy Ricci are to be commended for taking the zombie sub-genre and doing the most interesting things with it in a nonstop barrage of no-hold-barred avalanche of horror.
The zombies in this film were intelligent, fast-moving, and could communicate. And, they were extremely scary and attacked with gory panache.
My personal history with this film was while working for Crossroads 2 Theaters in St. Petersburg. A bunch of us employees screened the movie the Thursday before it came out. God, what a night!
What I liked:
- The contrast of the young characters with the older ones. Generationally, they were at odds, but had to get along to survive, never once earning each other's trust.
- The female zombie interrogation - a cinema first
- The great punk soundtrack, featuring The Damned, Tall Boys, The Jet Black Berries, The Cramps, T.S.O.L., Roky Erickson, The Flesheaters, and SSQ.
- Split dogs
- Resurrected pinned butterflies
- Clu, James, Don, Thom
- Linnea and Jewel
- Frank's suicide by incinerator
- The midget zombie
- The concept of zombies luring humans to the site of devourment "Send More Cops!"
- Matt Clifford's instrumental score
- Trash's graveyard striptease
- Trash zombified
- The way Frank & Freddy gradually turned into zombies after breathing the poison gas.
Favorite Lines: Tarman: "More Brains!"; Freddy: "What do you mean no blood pressure, no pulse?"; Freddy: "You mean the movie lied?"; Frank: "That's not a bad question, Bert!"; Paramedic: "Room temperature!"; Freddy (as zombie): "Tttttiiiiinnnnnaaaaa!"
Runners up: Poltergeist; Destroy All Planets (Gamera); Night of the Living Dead; Pieces; The Deadly Mantis; Let's Scare Jessica to Death; 7 Doors of Death
The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time by Lisa Ciurro
Wow, this was a difficult list to make. My first list had 20+ movies and I’ve been rearranging it for a while now. I’m using a very personal definition of “best horror movie.” I’ll be the first to admit that there are films on my list that probably will never appear on another “best list” of any kind. My list isn’t about best direction or best special effects (or even best story, one could argue) necessarily; it’s about the movies that creeped me out or scared the hell out of me. In descending order:
10. April Fool’s Day (1986) Not a classic by any means, but I have fond memories of sneaking into the movie theater to see this film. A group of friends take a weekend trip together to a remote country house (on an island, I think) where they are gruesomely murdered one by one. Or are they? It is called April Fool’s Day, after all. Years before Scream was released, this movie turned a critical, self-referential, sarcastic eye on the horror genre. Great twist ending.
9. Jeepers Creepers (2001) A brother and sister are traveling back home on spring break when they encounter a stranger. The first half of the movie is them being terrorized on the road by this stranger’s truck, getting run off the road, witnessing the stranger dump what looks like a body down a pipe and so on. The second half of the movie is them discovering that the stranger is actually a flesh-eating demon who’s pretty much unstoppable and arises every 20-some-odd years to feed. A lot of reviews I’ve read said that the movie took a nosedive in the second half. I still like it, although it is definitely weaker in the second half than in the beginning of the movie. Aaaahhh, the beginning….It’s great, believable, riveting tension and terror and fright and suspense. I saw this in the theater by myself and I actually found myself sitting upright, leaning forward…a literal “edge of the seat” moment. I can’t enjoy the humorous Mac/PC commercials on TV because the Mac guy (Justin Long) will always be the very unlucky victim of Jeepers Creepers to me.
8. Terror in the Aisles (1984) Technically this isn’t a horror film, per se, but a semi-documentary about (mostly) horror films. Hosted and narrated by Donald Pleasance of Halloween fame and Nancy Allen of Dressed to Kill and Robocop fame, this movie features clips from about 75 horror, sci-fi, suspense and crime films, mostly from the 70s and early 80s, presented in segments loosely based on the "theme" the hosts are discussing. The hosts – sometimes cheesy but always entertaining – present the clips based on what movie audiences find scary and thrilling. Like so:
Monsters? (Cue Wolfman, The Thing, Alien and An American Werewolf in London.)
Creepy/crazy villains? (Cue Nighthawks, Dressed to Kill and Marathon Man.)
Voyeuristic stalking scenes? (Cue Psycho and When a Stranger Calls.)
Revenge? (Cue Ms. 45 and Carrie.)
Pure relentless evil? (Cue Halloween, The Exorcist and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.)
The film clips are not identified, the endings are revealed, and the narration could be a little better. But I love, love, love this movie. It exposed me to several horror/thriller films I might have otherwise missed. (Yes, I “slow advanced” the credits on my VCR and painstakingly wrote down the names of all the films that were shown….this was back in the days before IMDb.com and such.)
7. Scream (1996) A fresh look at a familiar genre. Scream made fun of and analyzed scary movies while managing to be a scary movie itself. I love the film-obsessed guy played by Jamie Kennedy who knows all the slasher film rules. The opening scene with Drew Barrymore was well-done. A lot of women have experienced a creepy obscene phone call/crazy stalker ex-boyfriend/scary night babysitting at the neighbor’s house sometime in their lives. The beginning of Scream took that weird-feeling-turned-fright to the ultimate extreme.
6. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) It's bad enough when the boogeyman is chasing you in real life. But when he's chasing you in your dreams? Talk about invasion of one's privacy and personal space. Nice revenge theme, with the sins of the parents affecting the children in the harshest way possible. This movie probably isn't such a big deal these days, but to a teen in the 80s, Freddy -- with his scarred face and those creepy razor-blade fingernails -- was like something out of a ... nightmare.
5. Hellraiser (1987) This is a sick little movie. Greed, lust, pain, pleasure, sin, redemption, love, hate, sex and death are all intertwined and explored in Hellraiser. The world opened by the puzzle box leads only to pain and suffering...a world without hope...a world inhabited by some of the creepiest characters on film, the Cenobites.
4. The Thing (1982) A remote location. Not knowing who you can trust. An alien life form taking over your friends one by one. John Carpenter’s version of this movie takes these elements, adds a talented cast, throws in decent special effects and creates a tense, scary nail-biter movie. The shock of the Wilford Brimley scene – you know what scene I’m talking about – gets me every time, just a little bit, even though I’m expecting it. The first time I saw it, though, when I didn’t know what to expect….Oh. My. God.
3. Jaws (1975) I wasn’t sure if this is considered a horror film or not, but I’ve seen it on other lists, so I’m putting it on mine. This damn movie scarred me for life. The music. The opening scene with the girl desperately clinging to the buoy. The spray of blood that gushes up when the little boy disappears. The music. Quint’s creepy story about the U.S.S. Indianapolis. The music.
I haven’t been in the ocean since 1996, when some friends and I were out in the water (too far out) at dusk in Panama City and two ominous fins swam slowly, and closely, by us. As I swam back to shore, all I could think about was the opening scene of Jaws and wondering how much it was going to hurt when the shark chomped off one of my legs (which, of course, never happened). Damn that Spielberg.
p.s. Don't waste your time trying to convince me that my friends and I saw dolphins and not sharks. They were sharks and I'm never going into the ocean again. Damn Spielberg.
2. Psycho (1960) Everyone is familiar with the plot of this infamous Hitchcock film these days, but 1960s audiences were shocked to see the lead actress killed so early in the film. Hitchcock gave us iconic film images: the creepy house on the hill, Norman Bates’ eerily serene face at the end of the movie (“I’m not even going to swat that fly”), the close up of the drain/Janet Leigh’s eye/her face and the swinging light bulb revelation scene at the end. Millions of people get spooked in the shower when they hear a strange noise (you know you’ve peeked out from behind the shower curtain “just to make sure no one’s there” at least once in your life), and it’s all because of Psycho.
1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Tobe Hooper’s now-legendary film, loosely based on Wisconsin murderer Ed Gein, has spawned several sequels, a remake and a prequel (I suppose that technically it’s a prequel of a remake...a prequake?). The film’s depiction of violence and depravity slaps you in the face and the utter hopelessness sucks the air from your lungs. I saw this movie when I was 17 and I still haven’t recovered. To be honest, I only remember bits and pieces of it now. I want to watch it again, but have never worked up the nerve.
(11) It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Not a horror film, you say? It is when your spouse forces you to watch it every freakin' October!); (12) Alien (No matter what genre category you assign this film to, it's a classic, and deservedly so.); (13) Misery (My favorite Stephen King novel and movie; great peformances; very creepy.); (14) The Descent (A large part of why I like this movie is that it features intelligent, adult women instead of the usual bimbo stalker prey. Apart from that, it's claustrophobic and suspenseful. The European (original) ending is better than the happier, made-for-Americans version.); (15) The Omen (Tame by today's standards, this movie freaked me out when I was a kid.); (16) Silence of the Lambs (Very well done and one of my faves...not sure how it didn't make it to the top ten.); (17) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (The 1978 version was eerie and scary. And that last scene!); (18) Henry:Portrait of a Serial Killer (Not a horror film, I suppose, but this movie about what drives a serial killer to murder scared me far more deeply than a lot of horror movies did.); (19) Saw (The concept of the original film was creative and creepy.); (20) Candyman (I know, I know...but dammit, I *like* this movie.)
Also, I suppose that I should confess to having a bizarre fascination with the Final Destination series. I love the over-the-top, outrageous, creative and sometimes hilarious ways that the characters are killed off.
The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time by Corey Castellano
Great make-up and photographic effects always enhance an already great screenplay, of course. That said, I have always been partial to man-versus-the devil/ghosts/boogieman/his-own-dark-demons" which has always been more entertaining to me than *simply* a gore-fest or effects-laden mega-hit. Counterintuitive, I suppose, since I make my living as a make-up artist now, yet, reflecting back, these are the films that scared me.
1. The Exorcist Scary as hell. Ground-breaking, shocking. The mood evoked and build-up to the pay-off scenes are excellent.
2. The Changeling Loved this film. Dead kid bouncing a ball down the stairs is the scariest scene in the whole movie.
3. Legend of Hell House Just liked it a lot. Nothing really to add to that.
4. Poltergeist Good blend of elements. Roller-coaster ride. A lot of creep factor to offset the comedy. Exploitation of common childhood fears worked really well.
5. Psycho Certainly overall suspense and ambience makes this a classic. "Reality" of it--nothing supernatural, someone who was simply wired wrong, the boy-next-door Tony Perkins. Hitchcock's masterful direction goes without saying.
6. Night of the Living Dead A developed scenario the scares really well. Built the mood effectively. Kept the characters' problems compounding and funneled to its nihilistic end.
7. Dawn of the Dead Same mood reasons. Over-the-top gore factor. Its commentary on consumerism, usually over-rated in the press, IMHO, appeared, to me, to be more related to location availability.
8. Halloween What I like about Halloween over Friday the 13th: Michael Myers became the proverbial boogie man, and he stayed truer to the theme over many sequels. Friday the 13th, seemingly very similar on the surface, actually was more commercially supernatural as Jason Vorhees re-resurrected ever more powerfully demonic to satisfy market requirements. An admittedly slender, but distinct difference between the two franchises IMHO.
9. Phantasm The creep factor was outstanding in this one although it lost me in the subsequent sequels. The scene of Angus Scrimm standing there pointing ("Booyyyyyy!") is still with me to this day.
10. A Nightmare on Elm Street Concept was great, very inventive. Dreamlike qualities were original and effective. While the dream "injuries" were inconsistently incorporated in "real life" from moment one, it's the concept most abused in the inferior sequels.
Honorable Mentions: "John Carpenter's The Thing". Special make-up effects are outstanding, of course, but as "man vs alien", this is more sci-fi than horror.
The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time by William Moriaty
Please be advised one and all that horror movies are not my passion nor forte, but there are several that I find very enjoyable. In the case of my first selection, however, I found it to actually be somewhat disturbing.
So I ask my PCR brethren and our dear readers that they please forgive me that I do not possess as good a grasp on what constitutes superior directing and production qualities like they do, but I instead rate these memorable flicks more as that of the child who watched Dr. Paul Bearer's, Creature Feature flicks on Saturday nights and afternoons many moons ago...
#1: Carnival of Souls I saw this movie probably over 30 years ago on Creature Feature, but it was not until I saw a VHS version at a friends house when I was 37 years old in 1992 that I was really left with an indelible impression from this powerful work of art.
This is not a slasher movie, or even what one might classify as a horror movie, it is a movie that explores life at the moment of death in an exceptionally profound and disturbing way.
The imagery of this movie is unforgettable. The abandoned casino on the Great Salt Lake at sunset, the ghoul man, the bus load of ghoul people, (I am getting goose bumps even thinking about this stuff right now) the moments of dead silence, all work to make this a movie that you should experience if you have never seen it before.
One of the most beautifully and artistically filmed parts of this movie is where the female lead is walking beneath the casino's boardwalk. As she is walking, the play of light and shadow that the boardwalk casts upon her appears to take on a life of its own, as if she is generating moving shafts of light off of her body.
The DVD version has a shot of this same scene from a different perspective that is even more incredible to behold.
You will probably not feel good after watching this movie, but after you've had a chance to gather your thoughts (and it may take a while, this is truly a much more heavy flick than meets the eye), you'll know that you've seen a rare and wonderful masterpiece that was unbelievably filmed by some dudes from Kansas that earned their living cranking out institutional instructional and educational short features!
#2: House on Haunted Hill I can not deny that I am a William Castle fanatic! I was raised on that stuff from the time I was about 7 or 8 and I never forgot about how that man's movies scared me to death!
Late Saturday nights spent with my sister eating pop corn, drinking Kool Aid (Coke's when my parents could afford them) and watching William Castle movies on the local fright shows was a staple and now treasured way of life in our household back in the 1960's and early 1970's.
Of Castle's offering, my favorite is the House on Haunted Hill . The house itself from the outside looks totally terrifying (and it's a real house in L.A.!) , the entire movie takes place at night, and the movie is delightfully peppered with Castle's wonderful tension and suspense that has you jump out of your chair when a witch's face appears (just got them chill bumps again!) when a candle is lit in a dark cellar, or when a woman is seen floating outside a banging window in a ferocious lightning storm!
Vincent Price is priceless in this Ten Little Indians type of movie. The scene with the skeleton rising from the acid vat and shoving Price's wife into it will be forever etched on what little amount of gray matter I have left!
What an incredible flick to have seen at the drive-ins or movie houses back in that wonderful populuxe era!
#3: 13 Ghosts William Castle again, this time offering the audience 3-D glasses!
Castle always had some cheesy gimmick to market his madness which only added to the curbside kitsch appeal of his flicks.
Being a kid when I first saw this, I could identify with one of the lead characters, a kid named Buck . Turns out that Buck's father, a curator at an L.A. natural history museum, inherited a large spooky mansion from his eccentric uncle who claimed to have gathered ghosts from around the world!
Only problem is that these ghosts all died horrifically violent deaths, deaths that were wonderfully recreated whenever one of the film's leads slipped on a pair of glasses that made the wearer not only hear but see the ghostly activity.
Several images that will last me life long include where a headless lion tamer shows Buck a lion biting off his "head" (cleverly choreographed with circus music followed by a disgusting crunching sound), a jilted chef named Emilio who parts his lover's head with an ax, a congregation of ghosts that form a spinning wheel of fire attacking Buck's father, and the ghost of the eccentric dead uncle whose grotesquely disfigured face puts ugly in a whole new category!
The female interest in the movie is Buck's sister who is the object of affection for the uncle's attorney, portrayed by actor Mark Milner.
In this haunted house many terrifying things occur including an ax that flies through the air missing Buck's dad by inches (Emilio at work again), lots of moaning voices and creaky doors, and a ghoul terrifying Buck's sister who's not what he really appears to be!
Go get yourself some pop corn, a Coke and your 3-D glasses (as Count Floyd would have said on SCTV! ) and fire up the DVD player to enjoy horror the William Castle way by watching 13 Ghosts!
The Top Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time by Lauré Piper
Long-time PCR readers may remember me as Nolan's "second-in-command" when I took over the site for one week in 2005 when he was commited to the hospital. Before that I was a frequent contributor to PCR, most notably with reviews of TV's The Gilmore Girls. I couldn't think of 10 horror movies for this season's list, so listed below are my Top 9 Horror Movies of All Time!
1. The Sixth Sense. The ghosts themselves gave me nightmares then, still give me nightmares today. 2. The Silence of the Lambs. That people do these things scares me more than ghost and goblins. 3. The Exorcist. Scared me when I was little. I haven't watched it since so, I don't know if it still would. 4. Aliens "franchise". The infant aliens tend to give me the creeps; but how can you not love a heroine like Ripley? 5. The Stand. That science could wipe us out--yeah. Scary. 6. Ghost Ship. For the same reason as Sixth Sense. 7. Creature From the Black Lagoon. Well, ok, not so scary, but... for personal family reasons, it's become a favorite family in-joke, so has to be on my list. 8. Underworld Movies. I don't really consider vampire movies "horror", but #8 goes here. 9. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (Branagh's version). Again, not for any scare factor, but I think this version got as close to the book as no one has done yet. So for that, I add it. 10. Couldn't think of a tenth!
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