Thursday, October 30, 2014

Top 100 Horror Films


I always find myself returning to the horror genre. It started with EC Comics. Then quickly evolved into a love for movies like Creepshow and The Thing. Soon I was constantly reading Fangoria and learning how Savini, Baker and Botin did makeup. I ate it all up.

Horror hasn't really been respected on the same level of drama. So it really leads to fans feeling even more passionate about this genre. It has the best merchandising, t-shirts and the coolest looking posters. Who can not think of the posters for Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Jaws when the genre is discussed? You're not going to see a convention centered around drama films or period pieces. I really try not to be bias toward one particular genre. A good drama has just as much credibility as a good horror movie. While as much as I love any other genre that has potential (drama, comedy, thriller), there is still a straight line that leads me back to the nostalgia of horror.

The Noughties saw the continuation of J horror from the late 90's, the so called "torture porn" of Saw and Hostel, the New Wave of Franch Extreme horror movies like Inside, Martyrs and High Tension, and studios doing what they do best- capitalizing on a successful movie through remakes and rehashed concepts. Rob Zombie proved he was not just a music video director. Neil Marshall took us from the Scottish highlands to claustrophobic caves. Danny Boyle gave the zombie genre the adrenaline shot it needed with 28 Days Later. All of this resulted in a decade stained crimson red.

Now modern horror currently is bombarding viewers with 50 films that are "From the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious" and . There is hope though. Lucky McKee and Ti West are proving that smart, drawn out horror still has a pulse.

It's a rough time to be a fan of any genre. So I culled together 100 examples of horror movies that work. For me, at least. Hopefully if you watch them they will work for you too.


There's films from Britain, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Japan, South Korea and Mexico. Horror

They span the years from 1921 right on up to 2013.

Directors who have more than one film included are Carpenter (4), Romero (4), Argento (3), Cronenberg (3), Rob Zombie (2), Hitchcock (2), Fulci (2), Holland (2), Hooper (2), McKee (2), Tourneur (2).

All 100 of these fiendish films are well worth your time.


1. The Exorcist (1973, William Friedkin)
2. Psycho (1960, Alfred Hitchcock)
3. The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick)
4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991, Jonathan Demme)
5. The Thing (1982, John Carpenter)
6. Carrie (1976, Brian De Palma)
7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, Tobe Hooper)
8. Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)
9. The Blair Witch Project (1999, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez)
10. An American Werewolf In London (1981, John Landis)
11. Rosemary's Baby (1968, Roman Polanski)
12. Jacob's Ladder (1990, Adrian Lyne)
13. Suspiria (1977, Dario Argento)
14. Night of the Living Dead (1968, George Romero)
15. Audition (1999, Takashi Miike)
16. Nosferatu (1922, F.W. Murnau)
17. The Devils Rejects (2005, Rob Zombie)
18. The Innocents (1961, Jack Clayton)
19. Possession (1981, Andrzej Zulawski)
20. Santa Sangre (1989, Alejandro Jodorowsky)
21. The Haunting (1963, Robert Wise)
22. A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 (1985, Jack Sholder)
23. Jaws (1975, Steven Spielberg)
24. Freaks (1932, Tod Browning)
25. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale)
26. The Descent (2005, Neil Marshall)
27. The Fog (1980, John Carpenter)
28. Videodrome (1983, David Cronenberg)
29. Cannibal Holocaust (1980, Ruggero Deodato)
30. The Wicker Man (1973, Robin Hardy)
31. Halloween (1978, John Carpenter)
32. The Fly (1986, David Cronenberg)
33. Vampyr (1932, Carl Theodore Dreyer)
34. 28 Days Later (2002, Danny Boyle)
35. The Beyond (1981, Lucio Fulci)
36. Eyes Without A Face (1960, Georges Franju)
37. Hellraiser (1987, Clive Barker)
38. Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer (1986, John McNaughton)
39. Let the Right One In (2008, Tomas Alfredson)
40. The Body Snatcher (1943, Robert Wise)
41. Creepshow (1982, George Romero)
42. May (2003, Lucky McKee)
43. The Changeling (1980, Peter Medak)
44. Haxan: Witchcraft For the Ages (1924, Benjamin Christensen)
45. The Evil Dead (1981, Sam Raimi)
46. Tenebre (1982, Dario Argento)
47. Who Can Kill A Child? (1976, Narciso Ibanez Serrador)
48. Carnival of Souls (1962, Herk Harvey)
49. The Birds (1963, Alfred Hitchcock)
50. House of the Devil (2009, Ti West)
51. Day of the Dead (1985, George Romero)
52. Pontypool (2009, Bruce McDonald)
53. Ginger Snaps (2000, John Fawcett)
54. Near Dark (1987, Katherine Bigelow)
55. Zombie (1979, Lucio Fulci)
56. The Babadook (2014, Jennifer Kent)
57. Frailty (2001, Bill Paxton)
58. The Host (2006, Bong Jon Ho)
59. The Entity (1982, Sidney J. Furie)
60. The Brood (1979, David Cronenberg)
61. Cat People (1942, Jacques Tourneur)
62. Dawn of the Dead (1978, George Romero)
63. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992, Francis Ford Coppola)
64. Poltergeist (1982, Tobe Hooper)
65. Lords of Salem (2013, Rob Zombie)
66. Ravenous (1999, Antonia Bird)
67. Re- Animator (1985, Stuart Gordon)
68. Noroi: The Curse (2005, Koji Shiraishi)
69. Martyrs (2008, Pascal Laugier)
70. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982, Tommy Lee Wallace)
71. Phantasm (1979, Don Coscarelli)
72. A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987, Chuck Russell)
73. The Gate (1987, Tibor Takacs)
74. Deep Red (1975, Dario Argento)
75. Hausu (1977, Nobuhiko Obayashi)
76. American Psycho (2000, Mary Harron)
77. Cemetery Man (1995, Michele Soavi)
78. The Omen (1976, Richard Donner)
79. The Phantom Carriage (1929, Victor Sjostrom)
80. Prince of Darkness (1987, John Carpenter)
81. Maniac (1980, William Lustig)
82. Night of the Creeps (1986, Fred Dekker)
83. The Cabin In the Woods (2012, Drew Godard)
84. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003, Kim Jee-woon)
85. The Black Cat (1934, Edgar G. Ullmer)
86. Tales From the Crypt (1972, Freddie Francis)
87. Bug (William Friedkin, 2005)
88. Village of the Damned (1963, Wolf Rilla)
89. Inside (2007, Alexandro Bustillo and Julien Maury)
90. Trick R' Treat (Michael Dougherty, 2008)
91. Fright Night (1985, Tom Holland)
92. The Mist (Frank Darabont, 2007)
93. Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981, Frank De Felitta)
94. The Lost Boys (1987, Joel Schumacher)
95. Child's Play (1988, Tom Holland)
96. God Told Me To (1976, Larry Cohen)
97. Night of the Demon (1957, Jacques Tourner)
98. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988, Wes Craven)
99. The Woman (2011, Lucky McKee)
100. Exorcist III/Legion (1990, William Peter Blatty)

The Monster Squad, Slither, I Walked With A Zombie, In the Mouth of Madness, Misery, Phenomena, The Conjuring, The Uninvited, You're Next, The Invisible Man, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, It (first half), The Blob (remake), City of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, Candyman

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Favorite horror montages

Tired of scouring youtube for well edited montages? Fear not. These three are well above the average splice and dice edits that litter the site.



Kill List

Ben Wheatley's psychological horror film starts with the verbal violence at a table and takes us into actual violence as we see an ex-Marine being sent on a mission to take out three people of varying professions.

Takes a vicious left turn when you expect it to go right and it pays off with a horrific climax.



The Bride of Frankenstein

A classic in every sense of the word. Bride was the first sequel to earn the status of standing toe to toe to the first entry in a horror franchise. Beyond just the historical relevance, the movie is filled with the trappings that make a great film. The score by Franz Waxman. Elsa Lanchester's brief but memorable moments as The Bride. Karloff's sympathetic performance as the Monster. The addition of Ernest Thesinger as Doctor Pretorious. A favorite for sure. A+


The credit says "Directed by Tobe Hooper". But I'm willing to bet that Spielberg had a much larger hand in just being the producer of this film. In hindsight, Spielberg directed two movies in 1982. One was the lovable E.T. The other was the ghastly, relentless Poltergeist.  A-

Ginger Snaps

A film that uniquely binds the bodily functions and hormonal changes of a girl with the changes one goes through once bitten by a wolf. A

Friday, October 24, 2014

10/21- 10/24


MISERY (1990)

Kathy Bates gives her best performance as the demented and delusional Annie Wilkes. The number of Stephen King horror adaptations can either be really good (The Shining, Carrie) or embarrassingly bad (Dreamcatcher, The Langoliers). Misery falls somewhere in the area of not his best, but still above average.




When Frankenstein and Dracula were re- released as a double bill by Universal in the late 30's, the company decided to go back to the well with one of its best selling properties. This time, director Rowland V. Lee was tapped to direct and Basil Rathbone was set to star as the son of Dr. Frankenstein. Bela Lugosi starred as Igor and Boris Karloff returned to his most known role as the Frankenstein Monster. The lighting, expressionism and weird camera angles highlight the most ambitious of the Universal monster pictures. I would have liked to have seen more sympathy from Karloff in this performance.  Another problem was  a narrative shift from growth of the monster to revenge mystery.


SQUIRM (1976)

Nature gets revenge is a common theme in the 70's. You had Long Weekend, Slugs, Kingdom of the Spiders, Food of the Gods. Even schlock meister Bruno Mattei took a stab at it with Rats: Nights of Terror. Can't say I'm a fan of this subgenre. Mystery Science Theater 3000 sure loves this movie.


Monday, October 20, 2014

10/17- 10/20



After the huge success of Halloween 4, Part 5 was rushed into production and released a year later. Even the producers now lament this decision. Of all the annoying characters in slasher flicks, Tina takes the cake by far. That is hard to do.

Not the worst entry in the series (that prize belongs to Resurrection) but still tolerable.



One of the nine horror pictures Val Lewton released under RKO. This time Jacques Tourner takes the helm of director. Spotty in places as far as structure goes but still keeps in tone with the "what we don't see will haunt us more" idea behind Lewton's films.




An apocalypse scored by Alan Holwarth. John Carpenter's second in his loosely based 'apocalypse' trilogy is the one I have seen the least of his classic '76- 88' streak. One of the best streaks of any genre director. The nightmarish visuals show Carpenter at the top of his game and the moody score reinforces this. Lovecraft would be proud.



"Do I look like someone who cares what God thinks?"

Sooner or later your horror franchise will find itself in space. Jason found this out. Leprachaun found this out. It only took 4 movies for it to happen to our beloved Pinhead. Only this time we have flashbacks to 18th century France to show the origins of the Lament Configuration puzzle box. It's an origin story. What is a major downside is that during the post production there were massive re-shoots. This clearly shows in the pacing. Director Kevin Yagher would disown it making it an Alan Smithee film.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 16


The final setpiece is the highlight of this slasher flick from Canada. I just wished everything that came before it was as haphazardly put together. The movie can't decide what it wants to be: a crime mystery or a slasher.


Day 15

what happened on Wednesday...


How can a film with Christopher Walken, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen. Eric Stoltz, Viggo Mortensen and Amanda Plummer go wrong?!

Well for one, Gregory Widen's script and direction play it safe for the most part. Walken, Koteas and Mortensen do what they can with the material. You're not really being bold and abrasive if you decide to just show two sides at war with each other and have it narratively fitter out during the climax. Overall, a mediocre effort.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Day 14


Marks my first stint into Mario Bava territory. The reason why I have held off Bava was that the gothic horror movies of the 50s early 60s always had this artifice about them. The Hammer films especially. I could never quite get into them. Bava has influenced genre filmmakers like Guillermo Del Toro with his gothic atmosphere and is the predecessor to all the Italian horror directors of the 70's and 80's.

The deaths are ghastly, having someone jump onto a spiked gate right at the start of the movie. The set design is very painting like. Bava's fluid use of camera techniques comes from his background as a cinematographer. Lots of crash zooms that emphasize the reveal of a shadowy figure or a witch. Or even crash outs to reveal a setting. A lot of it is over used and gets distracting after a while. One thing that I hope to see more of in Bava's color films is his use of color. His use of tinting is an obvious influence on Argento's work. I just wished the film as a whole would have held up.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 13


"Eat shit and live, Bill"

An example where the ending overtakes any discussion of the film.

Everyone at this camp is riddled with attitude. Some overwhelmingly so. Except the shy Angela. A bit disjointed in parts. Some things it does have going for it are the is that it is more aware than the typical 80's slasher flick.



"Much worse."

The 80's had Night of the Creeps. The 90's had The Faculty. Now James Gunn continues the trend with in the oughts with Slither. Having honed his splat cred with Troma, Gunn seemed to be the most confident director to emerge from the Troma team. Michael Rooker rocks it as usual. While the Faculty may be the least interesting of the three films, it still plays with the same concepts and creature- mind control and alien slugs. Slither seems tighter and more energetic. Having an ability for the viewer to grab a dozen varied screenshots from the movie and go "whoa that's in there?! That too?!"

The same amount of fun you see in this movie can be had in his latest film, Guardians of the Galaxy.



Phenomena is the film Dario Argento cites as his favorite. High marks given the man's catalog. It's also one of Jennifer Connelly's first films. Connelly had quite the year in 1985, starring in a horror film by Dario Argento and the Jim Henson picture Labyrinth

The Goblin score pulses through the proceedings as we are bared witness to maggots, flies, deformed characters, and a murder/mystery. It is presented as a macabre fairytale with some illuminating set pieces and precise cinematography by Romano Albani.

The music of Iron Maiden and Motorhead are awesome additions to the mood of the piece. Donald Pleasance even has a meaty role. Seriously, go watch this flick. You won't regret it.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 12

SHIVERS (1975)
a.k.a. They Came From Within

Cronenberg's debut is what you would call 'rough around the edes'. It's crudely made. Cronenberg has yet to master his technique and the pacing/editing of the piece clearly shows this. That aside, what Cronenberg does do right is provoke a strong sense of isolation, paranoia and fear. It's an unsettling film that really gets under the skin.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 11

EDEN LAKE (2008)

Michael Fassbender is in this?!

Yes, the great Fassbender is in a horror movie. The problem here is that the film's first act, and Michael's character Steve, is riddled with cliches. Yet, the film feels exhausting in its depiction of a vacation gone to hell. It all starts when Steve makes the bad decision to rattle a few kids up. These kids, but more specifically, their leader Brett, are ones who would have no problems with smacking another one around or smashing someone's drawing for the hell of it. It is clear the leader holds a wand of fear over the most of them. Making it all the more tragic as we watch them terrorize a couple on a vacation. Despite the cliches, Eden Lake is a film that made feel uncomfortable. If that is what the makers were setting out to do, mission accomplished.


Day 10


In one of the better horror films of the last 10 years, director Juan Antonio Bayona has crafted a hauntingly beautiful film. It's easy to see why Del Toro would want to produce a film like this. It has all the traits the he loves: childhood innocence, the fear of a child, and gothic horror.

It's a first time viewing but I know I will be returning to the film.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Day 9

a.k.a. Gates of Hell

Zombie, City of the Living Dead and The Beyond. One of the great trifectas in horror cinema. Fulci's now famous contribution to the Zombie genre, the aptly titled Zombie, was the first truly nasty zombie movie. Night of the Living Dead brought the atmosphere and sharply crafted the genre of the zombie movie by amalgamating everything about the undead that we saw previously and fitting it into social commentary. This continued with Dawn of the Dead. The zombies in a Fulci film are how I imagine a zombie should be. The plot is stripped down to its bare components. In other words, Fulci took what Romero did and pushed it in a more abstract territory. Something that City embraces and something that I dig.

It is with City of the Living Dead that Fulci was able to continue his streak of visceral horror. How does he do it? Introduce demonic powers. How cool is that? Throw in some of the goriest work he has done, which is saying a lot, and you have a demonic zombie treat of a film.

Fulci regular Catriona MacColl and Christopher George, known to exploitation aficionados for his roles in The Exterminator and Pieces, are the leads. Fulci also brings aboard his cinematographer Sergio Salvati whose camera work delivers thick, ominous dread and composer Fabio Frizzi.


Day 8


After the third (what I think is the best of the sequels) Halloween performed poorly, the studios did the only thing they thought logical- give them Michael Myers. Key word: thought. With Carpenter having now left the series as executive producer and only being involved by having a check delivered to him anytime his theme is used, the creative control behind the sequels took a nosedive.

Granted, this is the Halloween sequel that is a part of Halloween nostalgia. It's the one they would always show on cable around this time. Put next to Halloween 5, it's actually a decent movie. Put next to Halloween: Resurrection, it's fucking work of art.

The lesson we can glean from this movie and its successors it is this- the continuation of the Myers character and the mythology that surrounds him is no longer spooky.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sixty Eight



Day 7

AMER (2009)

Striking high contrast cinematography by Manuel Dacosse allow first time filmmakers Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani to get as much of its message across through visuals than dialogue. The influence of Jess Franco and Mario Bava shine through the visual storytelling.

Acting as a loving homage to the giallo genre of the 70's, Amer utilizes the tools in that toolbox- the black gloves, the bright colors, the POV shots, the unsettling soundtrack- to tell a psychosexual tale of voyeurism. The act of being watched. Whether around the corner or peeking through a keyhole.  Like most of giallos, its less about plot than it is about sensory experience.

This is horror going in the right direction and something I wish American horror filmmakers would look at and go "Wow. That's good. Let's do more of that in this movie."


Monday, October 6, 2014

Day 6


A rewatch of this DePalma classic has made me love it all the more. Brian De Palma is one of my favorite filmmakers and this film is infused with everything we love about him. The split screens, the blue lightning bolt, the songs, the camera movement. All are ingredients to this wonderfully bizarre musical. De Palma regular William Finley and Suspiria's Jessica Harper are perfectly cast in the paranoid fantasy that has one of the best endings from any DePalma film. In the battle against this and Rocky Horror, Phantom gets the edge.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Day 5


A timeless horror classic. Boris Karloff got his first real role and the role he will be most remembered for. It be done at the time of German expressionism, the film really lets its influence of that style shine through. The shadows and eerie atmosphere all add to the tone of the film. The mortality explored through the Frankenstein monster and how Karloff sells it is transfixing.


Day 4


The Jonestown Massacre is one of the scariest events in history. Jim Jones leading almost 1,000 people to their deaths through his mass delusions and paranoia. The PBS documentary, the surviviors' accounts, Tim Reiterman's book on the subject, and the absolutely chilling audio taken from it add up to something that has fascinated me in the sense the West Memphis Three does.

Ti West's thriller is a take on that. The film follows very closely to the facts of the event. With some exaggeration. The problem here is the exaggeration and the potential for how good this could have been. You already have a terrifying story in your hands, so to embellish it with anything more dampens the mood.

That being said, the movie is intense enough to warrant a recommendation.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Them bones

Day 3


After Rejects, Rob took on material that wasn't his own and shaped it into his own mold. The major things carried over from Rejects is Phil Parmet's gritty 70's era photography and Wayne Toth's grim makeup. Ken Forree, William Forsythe and the always great Brad Dourif seem like Rob just used the them for the hell of it.

The thing about Halloween '07 is that the first half is actually a movie about the beginnings of a psychopath. This makes the second half, which Michael stalks the teens, seem  more jumbled. Myers is a soulless monster. D+


From the obvious similar theme music and the POV shots for the slasher, this one was done as cash in on Carpenter's Halloween. Worth it for a cool Paul Gleeson appearance, an early Tom Hanks role and another early role from James Rebhorn as a professor. Otherwise, forgettable. C-

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day 2


A creature feature that works. Fred Ward has been one of my favorite character actors ever since seeing The Right Stuff. He gets some good stuff to play off with Kevin Bacon. The key to the movie is that it doesn't really bog us down in scientific lingo. Instead it offers much welcomed levity.


Jack Clayton already has my admiration for directing The Innocents. Twenty two years after it, he went back to the genre and delivered what I consider a criminally overlooked Halloween film. It's one of the films I always think of when October hits and the autumn leaves are carried by the wind.

The 80's were a decade where the children's movie offered conflict in terror. That is no more evident than in this really good Ray Bradbury adaptation with a menacing portrayal of evil by Jonathan Pryce in the form of Mr. Dark.


A unique genre film that blends elements of drama, thriller, supernatural horror and documentary.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Day 1: Chopping Mall

A ridiculous, batshit concept of security robots gone haywire in a shopping mall. It's basically what happens when you mix Dawn of the Dead with RoboCop (think ED-209 but smaller). Props for the always lovely Barbara Crampton and an awesome cameo by Dick Miller. C

Dir. Jim Wynorski
Run time: 81 minutes

October is here

Hello boils and ghouls. Join me in the 31 Days of Horror-thon. 31 days of fright filled fun.

Don't miss it and don't forget to wear your masks.