My 10 favorite horror movies
Yes, yes, it’s not the most original Halloween blog posting, but I’ve had a long week, and I like zombies. Disclaimers: I’m going by what I like, not what is scariest, because that’s a can of worms. Also, I’m a child of the 1980s – no “Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” here.
10. 28 Days Later (2003)
A new addition to the pantheon, boosted by its see-sawing between light and dark, the creation of a new kind of monster (the plague, in human form), and a message that works.
“I promised them women.”
9. The Thing (1982)
Much better than “Alien” because the monster can take the appearance of anyone and anything. Kurt Russell’s finest hour as a hard-drinking control freak.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
8. The Fly (1985)
The creme de la creme of gross-out pictures, or “body horror.” Nothing could prepare viewers for what Brundlefly looks like when his skin rips off. The long build-up to his transformation and the pregnancy sub-plot (complete with nightmare) add a lot.
“Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
7. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
The best movie about paranoia and trusting no one. Absolutely one of the most traumatizing shock endings ever.
6. The Exorcist (1973)
A wonderful atmosphere of dread, and many great scenes that aren’t even gross – the spinal tap, Regan “spidering” down the stairwar, Regan pissing on the floor.
“Fuck me, mommy!”
5. Aliens (1986)
It takes the zombie movie to another level – these people aren’t just defending themselves from attack in a house, they’re ALONE IN SPACE! The walk-up to the Queen’s lair and the original scenes of dead bodies cocooned in the alien tunnel are the best.
“That’s it, man. Game over! It’s game over!”
4. The Shining (1980)
Has any movie created a more disturbing mood with as many fucked-up, nonsensical images? The woman in the bathroom. The man in the bear suit in the bedroom. Jack Nicholson’s frozen death mask. The little girls. The blood in the elevator. “Redrum.”
“I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just gonna BASH your BRAINS in!”
3. Poltergeist (1982)
The clown scene aside, this is resplendent with terrifying situations, builds terrifically (from the mysterious chairs on the table to … LIVING CORPSES IN THE RAIN!), and cleverly sets it up so the problem is almost – but never quite – solved.
2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Two psychopaths, one demure (Hannibal) and one just completely off the hinge (Buffallo Bill). The best acting of any of these movies, and a harrowing depiction of kidnapping.
“It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again!”
1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
A meditation on life, love, consumerism, and what really matters in the human experience. And a biker gets his stomach ripped open. Just the funniest, grossest of all zombie movies. The best touch is the creepy “expert” with the eyepatch who gets on all the TV broadcasts.
“Each one it KILLS gets up and KILLS!”