First Anniversary Special: My Top 10 Favorite Horror Movies of ALL TIME: Part Two
5. “The Evil Dead” (1981)
- Directed by Sam Raimi
- Screenplay by Sam Raimi
Notorious and bloody disgusting! Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” is fascinating on many levels. It invites the viewer to revel in it’s carnage and its twisted black humor. The fact that back in the 1980’s it was the Number #1 best selling video, then subsequently found itself banned only adds to the intrigue. When Ash (played by the epic Bruce Campbell) and his friends spend a vacation in a remote cabin in the woods they stumble upon a mysterious tape recorder featuring crucial information and a warning by the previous inhabitant. Before they know it demonic forces are awakened and all hell is unleashed in a blood-splattered, nightmarish adventure that encourages the audience to bask in the craziness. Ash is a great character to root for and also participate in yelling at when his actions don’t meet the obvious. As a film “The Evil Dead” has so many elements that satisfy the horror fan, the level of gore is immense, the characters are fun, the cinematography is interesting and the achieved product for the small budget it had is brilliant, it also has some pretty intense moments. “The Evil Dead” will remain a classic, its also pretty hilarious that it caused offence judging by how lenient studios are with horror films these days! However, it will always remain in my heart as my number one video nasty!
4. “Final Destination” (2000)
- Directed by James Wong
- Screenplay by James Wong and Glen Morgan
Before it became a franchise that churned out a million different ways to die, “Final Destination” (2000) was a creepy little film that warned when your number’s up, its really up! Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) along with his classmates board flight 180 to Paris. Prior to the plane taking off Alex gets a really bad feeling, the plane explodes killing everyone on board! Its only a dream, however he still causes a scene resulting in several people vacating the aircraft. To his horror flight 180 explodes before his eyes in a sick twist of fate. Now Alex and his friends are far from safe, something is killing them off in the order they were originally supposed to die and its up to Alex and his girlfriend Clear (Ali Larter) to put a stop to death’s design. “Final Destination” took the postmodern teen setting set up by the likes of “Scream” and tried something new and inventive that gave a chilling and suspenseful pay off! The characters are layered and worth rooting for as they make attempts to dodge death’s plan and survive! The romance between Alex and Clear emphasize this in terms of hope that they will make it. “Candyman” icon Tony Todd makes a surprise cameo as a sinister mortician warning Alex of the inevitable. The film had the perfect balance of bloodshed and emotion fitted together with a truly disturbing concept that anyone can die at any time! Well executed with memorable characters, “Final Destination” demonstrates that a horror film doesn’t need a machete-wielding psychopath in order to be scary!
3. “Scream” (1996)
- Directed by Wes Craven
- Screenplay by Kevin Williamson
Now for the film that redefined the horror genre. “Scream” (1996) has got it all, extreme suspense, witty dialogue, a sick and twisted killer with a sinister way of playing games with his victims before butchering them to a gruesome death, and the best characters that have emerged from the genre. “Scream” is clearly in place as a deconstruction of horror films with its postmodern angle and is always one step ahead of itself. The story is well developed moving into thriller territory. Following her mother’s murder a year previously, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) attempts to adjust back into normality, until a masked killer strikes again causing mayhem for the small town of Woodsboro, Sidney and her friends including bumbling police officer Dewey (David Arquette), movie buff Randy (Jamie Kennedy) and headstrong news reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) must fight to stay alive while uncovering the mystery behind the grisly murders and disturbing phone calls! “Scream” cleverly challenges and exposes the rules of standard slasher films while subverting and conforming to them at the same time. There are plenty of nice homages to earlier slashers such as “Halloween” (1978) in place. Its self-referential style even sparked off a new sub-genre of its own. The refreshing part of the movie is finally having characters that are identifiable so that the audience care whether they live or die! Stylish and scary, “Scream” is the horror movie that never gets old and is responsible for making me the horror fan I am today!
2. The Wicker Man (1973)
- Directed by Robin Hardy
- Screenplay by Anthony Sheffar
“The Wicker Man” doesn’t use expected conventions in order to create scare tactics. The way the film works as a whole achieves a startling, thought-provoking effect as it uses the themes of Christianity vs. Paganism and questions morality. Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), a devout Christian begins investigating the disappearance of a young girl on a Scottish island. It begins innocently enough but soon turns into a profound nightmare, especially when it reaches its disturbing conclusion. “The Wicker Man” cleverly doesn’t appear like a traditional horror film on the surface, however it builds the intrigue and suspense as the film progresses. At first the genre is difficult to pin-point due to the fact much of it is shot in daylight and the majority of the score features lighthearted folk songs complimenting the air of mystery in the the tone . The portrayal of the occult is fascinating as the viewer can see both sides of the religious spectrum. Allegedly the film wanted to demonstrate an accurate portrayal of paganism and it is clear that the authenticity is present in Anthony Sheffar’s screenplay, he creates a disturbing sense to the community and the frightening notion of nowhere to run and no one to turn to! It’s the shocking climax of the film is what makes it truly horrific. It could be argued that “The Wicker Man” is a standalone film that hasn’t turned into a money-making franchise (excluding the remake!!!!), there has been nothing like it since. It relies on little effects to create something memorable and on the whole disturbing. A truly unique piece of the horror genre.
1. “An American Werewolf in London” (1981)
- Directed by John Landis
- Screenplay by John Landis
“Beware the moon!” is a warning that should not be ignored, the consequences could be deadly! “An American Werewolf in London” (1981) achieves so much that has never gone unrecognized. The narrative is simplistic but effective, it offers a twisted sense of humor and profound special effects that remain timeless. Two American tourists David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) stop in the British countryside and stumble upon the appropriately named pub “The Slaughtered Lamb” . Following an encounter with some hostile locals, the two friends make their way to the moors where their attacked by a savage beast! Jack is killed and David wounded, but this is where the story really begins. David is taken to hospital in London where he begins to experience bizarre hallucinations, its not until he gets a visit from the decaying corpse of Jack that he soon learns he was bitten by a werewolf and will slowly transform into one! Not only that the only way he can be free of the curse is if he takes his own life! David takes shelter in a flat with his love interest, nurse Alex (Jenny Agutter), but before long he becomes his worst fear in the best werewolf transformation scene in cinematic history and my personal favorite sequence in any horror movie! The film focuses on an interesting mythology that compels the story, empathy is in place for David as he experiences the psychological effects of his changes. There are plenty of scenes played for laughs including David waking up in London Zoo and the seedy porn theater where he encounters a number of his mutilated victims. To compliment the hilarity “American Werewolf” has its fair share of unsettling moments such as the murder on the London tube, werewolf David attacks a business man who’s completely isolated in an environment that is known for its constant business, scary stuff! The soundtrack is also catchy and compliments the hybrid tone of the film perfectly, it also cleverly uses songs with the word “moon” in them. For all these reasons, “An American Werewolf in London” remains a cult film, fans of the genre view it numerous times and it never gets dull. Now remember, “Stay on the road, keep clear of the moors!”.
Thanks for reading and thank you for the continuous support!
Hayley Alice Roberts