First Anniversary Special: My Top 10 Favorite Horror Movies of ALL TIME: Part One
I can’t believe its been one whole year since I began this blog as a side project for myself. It began as an outlet to speak my mind about the movies I love and that have influenced me. I appreciate the support I have been given so much and I no longer write for just myself, I write for you guys too. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed to me and long may these reviews continue. So what better way to mark the first year than by returning to my favourite genre: HORROR! This list isn’t set in stone and is just my personal opinion, these are mainly films that I grew up with and have influenced me into becoming a fully fledged fan of horror films. So let’s bring on the terror!
10. “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997)
- Directed by Jim Gillespie
- Screenplay by Kevin Williamson, Written by Lois Duncan (novel)
“I know what you did last summer” (1997) was one of the first post-“Scream” slashers that emerged in the late 90’s. Loosely adapted from Lois Duncan’s novel of the same name, “IKWYDLS” tells the tale of four teenagers Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt), Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.), Barry (Ryan Phillipe) and Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) as they celebrate graduating high school with their lives all heading towards promising futures. That night the teens are involved in a terrible accident, they run over a man of unknown identity. In a state of panic rather than notifying the police they dump the body into the murky waters of the ocean in an attempt to keep their secret dead and buried! One year later someone knows what they did, how? well that’s the mystery, it all begins with a threatening letter and ends in a fight for survival as the teens get bumped off one by one! In terms of following in the footsteps of the success of “Scream”, “IKWYDLS” is one of the better offers. The film uses suspense very well, especially during Helen’s chase scene, it shocks in all the right places and keeps the audience guessing until the very end! The performances are strong as the actors play the distressed teenagers straight. The strongest aspect of the film is while “Scream” critiqued the genre, “IKWYDLS” demonstrated that slasher films could become a more sophisticated medium by eliminating the self-awareness of the conventions the former put in place. In terms of the killer, Ben Willis is pretty average, he’s not as memorable or in the same league as say Freddy or Jason, but admitably he does use some creative stalker tactics on his victims including cutting off Helen’s long blonde hair as she sleeps and placing a body full of maggots in the back of the car! Disbelief has to be suspended in these instances, however they are fun to watch. “I know what you did last summer” is a decent offer in terms of 90’s slashers, Kevin Williamson adapted the screenplay well through fitting the story into the then-modern time period as opposed to the 70’s depicted in the book. It is much simpler to separate both texts and view them as different stories completely as the book doesn’t use the horror edge the film did. “I Know what you did last summer” is placed at #10 for being nostalgic, well-acted and suspenseful!
9. “Halloween” (1978)
- Directed by John Carpenter
- Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Genre fans will not be surprised to see this movie featured on the list! “Halloween” begins in 1958 in small-town Haddonfield when a young Michael Myers butchers his older sister and her boyfriend to death on Halloween night! Michael is taken to a metal hospital under the watch of Dr. Sam Loomis. Roll on 20 years and the lunatic has escaped in order to return home to his bloodshed and cause more carnage! Michael begins to stalk Laurie Strode (“Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis) for reasons that are mysterious to the audience (it is however later revealed in the sequel!). Laurie suffers a terrifying ordeal as Michael knocks off her friends one by one in order to get to her! The climax of this film is one of the best in horror history, using maximum suspense as Michael showdowns with Laurie! The strongest aspect of this film is that it doesn’t rely on gore to scare. Its far more disturbing leaving the result of the kills up to the audience’s imagination. The camera work is phenomenal using POV shots from Michael as an effective scare tactic! Michael is one of the most interesting killer’s to date, director John Carpenter even stated that “To make Myers frightening, I had him walk like a man not a monster”, its an enigma as to whether Myers is a supernatural being and is left ambiguous, which makes him all the more chilling especially the concept that he is possibly human and someone who could be identified with. The lack of exposition makes the notion of him far more frightening, this is where Rob Zombie’s re-imagining remake got it so wrong! His motive is never truly understood nor how he’s managed to survive so many times! With Michael being an influential horror villain, Laurie Strode is one of the most influential “Final Girls” that has emerged from genre. She is resourceful and does not succumb to social norms or peer pressure that ultimately destroy her friends, she is most definitely a clean-cut teen role model meaning she can act as a strong opposition to the film’s killer by unknowingly defying the horror conventions of the time. The theme is simplistic yet adds a sense of haunting and has become one of the film’s distinct qualities, giving a sense of pace and suspense. “Halloween” is a film that needs to be seen by all, it is clever in everything it conveys and with little gore exposure it still manages to startle and frighten to this day!
8. “Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie Des Grauens” (1922)
- Directed by F.W. Murnau
- Screenplay by Henrik Galeen, Written by Bram Stoker (Novel)
“Nosferatu” is not only one of the best silent films but also one of the best vampire films in history, most definitely being responsible for laying the groundwork for the future of the majority of creature-of-the-night movies. “Nosferatu” is an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”.The appearance of the vampire is startling and the main contribution to the chilling and eerie atmosphere that the film evokes. In a time with no CGI and limited make-up effects the sheer brilliance of Count Orlock is amazing and terrifying, with his bony fingers, stretched and hunched body, skeletal frame and hypnotizing eyes, he comes across as ghoulish. In comparison to the Dracula character in the films that followed, Count Orlock appears monstrous rather than human-like. The expressionist style is interesting in itself with the use of shadows to create atmosphere also adding to the creativity of the piece. There’s just so much intrigue surrounding “Nosferatu” due to it being an unconventional film choice and because it is now ninety years old, it contrasts modern day films from the genre but still remains unsettling and creepy in a striking way, without being bloody or reliant on jump scares. It truly has stood the test of time as its very well achieved to have made a horror film that stands the test of time.
7. “Hellraiser” (1987)
- Directed by Clive Barker
- Screenplay by Clive Barker
“Hellraiser” will most definitely “tear your soul apart”. It pushes the viewer to the limits in a twisted tale of deceit, sadism and gore. When Frank Cotton uses a cube shaped puzzle in order to delve into extreme heights in his deviant behavior of sadist sexual pleasure, he literally unleashes hell on himself by calling on Pinhead (Doug Bradley) and his Cenobite followers that tear his soul and drag him into their labyrinthine domain, a place were pain and pleasure are inseparable! Several years later Frank’s brother Larry, his wife Julia and daughter Kristy move into the house where Frank vanished. Julia is harboring a secret, she was Frank’s lover! She is scheming to pull him out of hell placing her step-daughter Kristy in great danger through evoking fury in Pinhead! “Hellraiser” is visually interesting, the detail put into the portrayal of hell is remarkable and give a strong indication of how it could be imagined if it did exist! The cenobites are uniquely designed appearing as the nastiest creatures imaginable. The story is compelling, with interesting characters willing to go to extreme for their own selfish means! Julia could be considered the main villain of the piece and she does a great job in driving the audience against her leading them to empathize with Kristy, who carries the film well as the “final girl”. “Hellraiser” manages to achieve a strong balance of keeping the attention and interest of the audience through plenty of thrills and chills and with the amount of gore and torture present. It has several powerful components in place resulting in a well-crafted piece through its well thought out narrative with blood splatter thrown in for good measure!
6. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
- Directed by Wes Craven
- Screenplay by Wes Craven
The movie that brought your worst nightmares into reality! Along with “Halloween” , “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) is one of the most iconic and influential films of the genre. It manages to blur the lines between dreams and reality so well that it achieves a frightening effect, most notably the film’s first death featuring Tina, as she is slashed to death while her helpless boyfriend watches on. Freddy Kruger (played fantastically by Robert Englund) has a disturbing backstory, however its the little exposition that goes with it that makes it all the more unnerving. He is also a menacing villain as he plays it for laughs before slicing and dicing his victims with that iconic glove of knives! In the original, Freddy is not featured as heavily, creating the scary notion of what you can’t see can kill you! “Nightmare…” also makes an intelligent commentary on the state of the American family and the rebellion of youth, allowing the audience to read deeper into it. For a more in depth look at “A Nightmare on Elm Street” check out my earlier review from my special “Halloween Month” : https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/halloween-month-a-nightmare-on-elm-street-1984/ The concept is enough to cause many sleepless night’s making “A Nightmare on Elm Street” a worthy addition to this list.
Part 2 Coming soon….
Hayley Alice Roberts.