Thursday, October 20, 2011

Boo! Top 10 Horror Films for Halloween

A great horror film will live with you for a long time – it will survive the ever increasing desensitized viewers that are currently awash in blood and gore. A great horror film will strike you at a core level that cannot be touched like any other; they will make you squirm in your seat, they will make you turn the lights on because you see movement in the dark shadows and they will (sometimes) have you question your beliefs. More importantly, a good horror film will stand the test of time and scare you despite repeated viewings! I have many favorites, but the following list of 10 score high marks on all of the criteria listed above!

10. ‘The Shining’ – Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel has become a tag line more than a horror movie (‘Here’s Johnny!’). But with its haunting score, lush atmosphere and a simply terrifying performance by Jack Nicholson, this story of a family’s descent into madness is a case study of how you make a horror film into art!

9.  ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)’ – Tobe Hooper’s disturbing vision of the real life ritual murders committed by Ed Gein; ‘Chainsaw’ was shot with a grainy, low budget look that made it seem like a documentary rather than a piece of fiction. With little to no blood, Hooper was able to convey a snuff film feel without actually showing the gore. I dare you to look at a small town farm house the same way again.

8.  ‘Halloween (1978)’ – John Carpenter has been blamed for starting the ‘slasher flick’ craze with this simply terrifying tale of a relentless serial killer hell bent (literally) on revenge. The difference, Carpenter’s film is filled with intensity and suspense; he does not rely on gore to make his point, rather the build up and stalking of Michael Myers causes us to be afraid of what might happen, not by what is happening.

7. ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ – As Dr Hannibal Lecter, Anthony Hopkins is the seductive, sick and twisted serial killer that everyone loved to hate. And he did most of this without ever having to step foot out of his maximum security prison cell. Jodi Foster as the FBI trainee Clarice Starling is perfectly cast as the helpless lamb caught in Lecter’s web. Hopkins did more with scene chewing lines and subversive looks than any actor has to date. Chilling.

6. ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)’ – John Carpenter makes the list again creating yet another character that will haunt you (that is until you see ANY of the next 6 or so iterations) into your dreams, literally! Freddy Krueger is the vengeance seeking janitor who stalks the children of the people who murdered him, in their dreams! His initial entrance still can make you jump!

5. ‘Jaws’ – Steven Spielberg’s first big screen movie remains one of the highest grossing horror films on record. When the film was first released – beaches even in Chicago (a lake!) saw a significant drop in attendance. Now that is a film with power! With its heart pumping score and murky visuals, ‘Jaws’ remains as pulse pounding now as it was then.

4. ‘Night of the Living Dead (1968) – George Romero invented the Zombie genre on a shoe string budget with a film that raised the level of hysteria to 11! Often imitated but never duplicated there hasn’t been a better zombie film until the new AMC series ‘The Walking Dead’.

3. ‘The Omen’ – Richard Donner’s horrifying tale of the birth of the anti-Christ will forever scare parents, both old and new; relying more on fears generated internally by the audience, Donner serves up visions that will forever live with you and question that misbehaving child in a whole new way!

2. ‘The Exorcist’ – William Friedkin’s masterpiece; it will stay with you long after any viewing! Something jumping at you from off camera will make you jump; but the disturbing images and feelings generated by ‘The Exorcist’ will stay with you for a very long time. Not only does this film question the very existence of God, but it has the disturbing courage to put Satan into the body of a 12 year old girl. Throwing all of our insecurities to light, ‘The Exorcist’ is a film that horrifies on many different levels.

1. ‘Psycho (1960)’ – Alfred Hitchcock practically set the stage for modern horror films. Rated X when it was originally released, ‘Psycho’ was a censor’s nightmare but a film that audiences could not get enough of. Hitchcock pulled out all of the stops, inventive camera work, a score that will chill you to the bone, courageous direction (as in killing off a major star ¼ of the way into the film) and a central character that was horrifying in his shear every man quality.  Norman Bates wasn’t a monster that we could easily see; his evil was internal, suggesting that an evil like that could rest within any of us.

Happy Halloween!! Bwahahahahahaha!!

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