The idea of Scream, basing murders on existing horror movies, was genius. The masked killer was creepy and Neve Campbell was a strong female character. The film had its fair share of clichés (annoying female reporter who has a bigger role than she should, to name a few) it was still well directed by Wes Craven and actually really suspenseful. While the sequels we’re subpar at best, the first film redefined the genre and was actually really original and it’s the perfect movie to watch around Halloween. What’s your favorite scary movie?
1408 is a fantastic supernatural thriller that doesn’t rely on blood and gore at all. It’s psychological. We follow John Cusack’s character Mike Enslin, who is a writer and after having just been struck by a terrible tragedy, no longer believes in the afterlife or ghosts and searches hunted houses for the world of the paranormal. He receives an envelop from the Dolphin Hotel which has the room 1408 (1+4+8=13 Mike soon finds out) in New York. He goes to meet the hotel’s manager, Gerald Olin, played by Samuel L. Jackson and despite the manager’s warnings, decides to go spend the night in 1408. What follows is a creepy and disturbing journey that is both chilling and terrifying that makes up for a really well done thriller.
18. VHS 2
VHS 2 is one of the best horror sequels out there. The movie is a collection of short horror stories, and all the shorts are all pretty damn good, with out of them that stands out more than the others called Safe Haven, directed by the Raid director, which is probably one of the scariest shorts that these have ever witnessed.
17. SECRET WINDOW
Johnny Depp gives a great performance as the writer Mort Rainey, who lives in isolation in a cabin in the woods in order to complete his novel after discovering that his wife has had an affair with another man. Things start to go wrong when a mysterious figure (John Turtoro) knocks at his front door and accuses him of plagiarism. That’s when Mort starts to lose it, and you as a viewer is unsure of what is real or not. That’s what’s great about Secret Window. The sense of uncertainty. I wish that Johnny Depp played more human characters like this instead of playing Jack Sparrow for the twenty-eight time. He is a talented actor, but lately has become a parody of himself and it frustrates me to see all that great talent wasted as he is always typecast in the same roles. But he’s fantastic in Secret Window and the ending will give you chills and it’s even better than in Stephen King’s book, which is rare. Great, great movie!
16. THE EXORCIST
While the first act is a little slow and a bit boring, the movie completely makes it up during the second and third act, which terrified audiences when the film was first released. The little girl played by Linda Blair is a terrific actress and really sold that she was possessed by a demon and her mother played by Ellen Burstyn was fantastic as well. The Exorcist is a chilling experience, and stands as one of the best horror films of all time.
15. THE BABADOOK
Extremely well directed by a first time director, and featuring a terrific Oscar Worthy from Essie Davis, The Babadook is one of the best horror films of the past decade. While the movie wasn’t scary, to me anyways, it is still a terrific horror film that stands well on it’s own that slowly builds tension and keeps you in the dark about it’s villain. Let’s hope that there’s only one of these.
Everybody knows the story of Carrie. It’s a classic book written by Stephen King (which is the first novel that was ever published) and a classic film superbly directed by Brian DePalma. Sissy Spacek gave a fantastic performance as Carrie White and Piper Laurie was so chilling as Margeret white, Carrie’s mother, an insane woman who thinks that everything her daughter does is a sin. It also has John Travolta as the villain and he’s amazing in it. Carrie is a fantastic thriller that puts you on the edge of your seat.
Along with Carrie and The Shining, Misery stands as one of the best Stephen King book adaptations that exist. Kathy Bates was truly fantastic as Annie, who saves her favorite author Paul Sheldon (masterfully played by James Caan) from a car crash only to have him imprisoned since Annie Wilks is completely insane and is obsessed with Paul and his Misery novels. She keeps him captive and Paul is forced do what she says as she forces him to write a Misery novel since he killed off her favorite character. The film is brilliantly directed, tensioned filled and actually really creepy and creative. It’s brilliant suspense from start to finish.
Michael Myers is one of best horror villains in the history of the horror genre. He’s insane and the complete and evil incarnate. He will slowly creep up on you and stalk you behind your back without you ever seeing him. The sequels and remakes never came close to what the original accomplished thanks to John Carpenter’s terrific direction which makes Halloween a must watch when October 31st approaches.
11. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
While some people deem this movie slow and boring, I find it extremely creepy and unsettling. The scares are genuine, the tension slowly builds to a terrifying climax. Katie Featherston is a great actress and remains the bright spot of the series thus far. The first three films are actually smart and well above other horror sequels but 4 and 5 completely killed the franchise. At least we still got the original.
10. THE THING
The Thing is probably the best remake ever made. It’s claustrophobic, extremely suspenseful and superbly directed and wonderfully acted. Kurt Russell is the best he’s ever been and the entire cast all around is fantastic. The practical effects for the alien creature are outstanding and still hold up to this day. If you have not seen The Thing yet I highly implore you to watch it.
While definitely creepy and off-putting, Sinister is a story that we’ve all seen before. But the way that the scares are presented and executed is what makes the movie effective. The movie tells the story of a writer and his family who moves into a new house where he finds a box of old Super 8 recording and quickly discovers that each tape is more terrifying than the last and that there are sinister forces at work. These tapes are what made the movie scary, for each presents a creepy and claustrophobic atmosphere along with the music, which makes them disturbing, and downright terrifying and somewhere a Boogeyman is hidden. If you haven’t seen Sinister yet and you’re a movie buff, give it a try. I don’t know if it’ll scare you, but it sure as hell scared the living hell out of me.
Creepy, disturbing, violent and ultimately horrifying, Clark Baker’s Hellraiser still holds up to this day as being on of the most inventive film’s of the genre. The make-up of Pinhead and the creatures of hell are terrific and scary and so well done. The story, which revolves around a woman who wants to resurrect her ex-lover who feeds of blood of innocents, is fantastic and terrifying. Clare Higgins is so good as Julia Cotton even though she is a complete bitch. Sean Chapman as Frank Cotton, the living corpse, is so great and his make-up is outstanding.
Still terrifying to this day, Hellraiser is a horror classic and if you are a horror fan I implore to check it out.
7. THE CONJURING
James Wan is definitely one of the best horror directors in Hollywood working right now. First with Saw, and then Dead Silence, which was a fine little creepy movie on it’s own right, James Wan has proved that he knows how to scare the bejesus out of you. The Conjuring is no exception. Brilliantly filmed and masterfully directed, this is horror at its best. While the movie tends to have a few horror clichés that we have seen a thousand times before just like in Sinister, The Conjuring manages to find a unique spin on the genre and present those clichés in a new and original way. The actors all do a fantastic job with the materiel that they have been given and all offer convincing performances. The Conjuring is one of the best haunted house/possession movies ever made, and I can’t wait for the sequel.
6. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
The Blair Witch Project was completely revolutionary and groundbreaking for it’s time. People actually believed that the footage they had just witnessed was real. And let’s face it, since Internet was hardly around back then, who can blame them? The movie was filmed like a documentary, and boy did it pay off. The acting was terrific for a horror film and the scares we’re extremely well handled. There are also no jump scares! How rare is that for a movie nowadays? It was a very smart decision to by the filmmakers to keep it’s sinister villain in the dark, which made the experience all that more frightening!
The first saw directed by James Wan is a horror masterpiece. It’s superbly well directed and has fine performances by the two main actors Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannell, who play Dr. Gordon and Adam, two people who have been kidnapped and wake up in a bathroom, both of them chained to a pipe, with a dead body lying in between them. They soon discover some horrible secrets about one another and that their fates are intertwined, leading to one of the most surprising and most suspenseful finale’s of all time. And it created one of the coolest and creepiest villains of all time in the process. Saw 2 was pretty darn good in it’s own right and also had a good twist but the rest of the sequels never lived up to what the original Saw offered, which was a creepy claustrophobic thriller that relied more on psychological horror rather than blood and gore.
4. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
Portrayed by Robert Englund, Freddy Kruger is one of the best and most memorable horror icon ever. The sequels and remake (which I found not to be as a complete failure as the Friday the 13th remake was) have never lived to the greatness of the original. It’s concept and execution was right on point, and the atmosphere of the dreams created a sense of despair and isolation where the main characters we’re the most vulnerable, at the hands of Freddy. One of the best and frightening horror movies ever made. Brilliant filmmaking.
Believe it or not, there was a time when M. Night Shayamalan made good movies and in my opinion his best and scariest is Signs. Signs is a very slow paced movie that constantly builds tension. You are completely gripped from the opening credits to the last scene, which is a testament to Shayamalan and proof that he still got it somewhere in him. Signs is also responsible for one of the scariest scenes that I have ever seen on film, which is the birthday party scene, and if you’ve seen the movie than you know what I am talking about. Mel Gibson gave a fantastic performance in the film and the entire cast we’re terrific as well. Amazing film, defenitely worth checking out.
Psycho is in my opinion, Alfred Hitchcock’s best film. It’s superbly directed, and has one of the best anti-hero in film history, Norman Bates, who was brilliantly portrayed by Anthony Perkins. The shower scene terrified millions of people when the movie first came out. Quick fact: Alfred Hitchcock actually took all of the printed books out of the libraries so people wouldn’t get spoiled by the twist ending before hand. The film is superbly directed and the supporting cast is also terrific. Janet Leigh is amazing as Marion Crane, who makes a bad choice in the beginning of the film and has to atone for her sin. Vera Miles is also great as her sister who comes to play during the film’s second act. The film is tense, superbly directed and tension filled and offers one of the best psychopaths and best twist endings in cinema history.
1. THE SHINING
And here we are. At number one. The Shining is the scariest film that I have ever seen. It’s masterfully directed by Stanley Kubrick. In fact, I challenge you to find a better directed movie than The Shining. It slowly shows the descent of Jack Torrance’s downwards spiral into madness. Jack Nicholson gives one of the best performances of all time. Shelly Duvall is also terrific as Wendy, who has been overlooked and has been quoted many times that she had her experience working on the film, since Stanley Kubrick never made things easy for his actors on set. Right from the opening shot which is mind-boggling to the very last frame, The Shining is an absolute masterpiece.
Honoroble Mentions: Poltergeist, The Mist, As Above So Below