It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And by that I mean Halloween! Spooky season is in full swing and we all know the best way to celebrate is by kicking back with some of your favorite horror flicks. Here are my 10 favorite horror movies, what are yours? Sound off in the comments!
10. Cabin in the Woods (2012)-
Cabin in the Woods had an uphill battle just to get made. Originally filmed in 2009, the film was initially scheduled for release in 2010 but was then pushed to 2011 due to issues converting it to 3D. In 2011 it was shelved indefinitely due to financial issues at MGM. The film finally was released in 2012 and was a decent enough success at the box office pulling in double its budget. Cabin in the Woods is a difficult movie to describe without giving too much away, but it is far more than the typical group of horny teenage friends who go to a secluded cabin for a weekend of unprotected sex, drinking, and smoking weed. Cabin in the Woods is a lot more than that and it knows it, there are some curveballs in there too and a good amount of humor too. The film is meta and self-aware, but it never goes too far and treads into Scream type territory. Drew Goddard crafted a thrilling and unique vision that acknowledges, but never outright parody’s what came before it, and stands as one of the most under-appreciated films in recent memory.
9. The Shining (1980)–
The Shining isn’t just a great a horror film, its one of the best films that the legendary Stanley Kubrick ever made. Sure, Kubrick’s vision takes some liberties with the original novel and Stephen King hated the final product, he ultimately made his own (and far inferior) version as a mini-series. But Kubrick directs Jack Nicholson to the best performance of his career in his most iconic role. It’s the gold standard for a haunted house horror film and family drama horror story. The Shining is a slow build that still holds up today and is still horrifying no matter how many times you’ve seen as it earns each of the scares it gives.
8. It (2017)-
It isn’t really about clowns. It‘s about growing up, and how our fears as children aren’t the same as our fears as adults, how we can’t outrun our childhood trauma, and how some places truly are just evil. It is also Stephen King’s master thesis on what horror is. It‘s actually pretty surprising that King’s magnum opus hasn’t been adapted for the screen more. We only have the 1990 mini-series starring Tim Curry and now Andy Muschetti’s 2017 blockbuster. The latter is an absolute work of genius and covers the younger years of the Losers Club when the terror strikes for the first time. Everything about this adaption works; from the narrative choice to focus only on the adolescent years, to the performances from Bill Skarsgard and the child actors. It is no small feat to adapt, but Murschetti absolutely knocked it out of the park and created one of my favorites to be released this century.
7. Shaun of the Dead (2004)-
Yes it’s silly and yes it’s a comedy, but Sean of the Dead thrives not just as a send-up of George A. Romero’s classic film series, but also a smart step forward in the not yet oversaturated zombie film pantheon. Shaun of the Dead works on multiple levels. To start its an absolutely hysterical parody of zombie films that identifies tropes and expertly exposes them. It’s also a pretty good zombie horror flick in its own right, especially once things move to the Winchester pub and the film takes on its own Dawn of the Dead type narrative. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost knocked it out of the park on this one as Shaun of the Dead is incredibly re-watchable and is arguably the best horror comedy ever released.
6. Psycho (1960)-
Largely considered the first true film of the slasher genre, Psycho was unlike anything that Alfred Hitchcock had done before. Psycho wasn’t just a departure from what Hitchock had done before, it was completely different from anything that cinema goers at the time had seen before too. For starters it was the first time that a lot of people saw a man and woman sharing a bed on screen, or a woman in bra on screen, both of which happen in the opening scene. At the time unmarried couples sharing a bed was considered taboo by the production code (the production code was essentially todays MPAA and before you ask yes they were just as fucking stupid). More randomly Psycho is also widely believed to be the first time that audiences saw a toilet flushing on screen. (1960 was a different time to say the least). Back in 1960 Psycho‘s violence was unprecedented and gratuitous with Hitchcock submitting the film several times to the production code to get an R rating. Then there was the casting of Janet Leigh, a major film star cast in the leading role, who was killed off just 47 minutes into the film in a major twist that no one saw coming. Plus do I even need to mention to “shower scene”? It’s still considered one of, if not the most, iconic scenes in horror history. Psycho doesn’t just land here for what it did though, as large as a shadow that the film casts it still holds up today. Norman and Mrs. Bates are still absolutely chilling antagonists who are just as frightening now as they were 58 years ago.
5. New Nightmare (1994)-
The early 90s fucking sucked for horror movies. There really isn’t a nice or easy way to say it. The genre was mostly relegated to straight to VHS low budget movies that not even BlockBuster could move from it’s shelf. Out of the horror movies that actually made it to the theaters, the bulk of them were just shitty sequels of other slasher movies. Enter New Nightmare which after a string of really terrible sequels has the tall task of trying to rejuvenate the pretty much dead Nightmare on Elm Street series. It was also the first Nightmare on Elm Street film that Wes Craven directed since the original. Somehow it manages to be the best film in the series and serve as primer for where the genre was heading. In a lot of ways New Nightmare has become beloved not necessarily for what it did, but for being the trial run for Craven’s 1996 Scream. That’s shortsighted though as it not only resurrects the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise from the dead, it creates one of the best and smartest sequels in horror history. If you are unfamiliar the premise of New Nightmare, essentially Heather Langenkemp, famous from her role as Nancy in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, plays herself as she is asked to re-praise her role as Nancy in a new sequel to the original film. She signs on and then she and her family are haunted by Freddy Kruger in real life. It’s pretty brilliant and always manages to stay one or two steps ahead of the audience. Wes Craven is widely considered one of the masters of horror, and he more than lives up to it with New Nightmare.
4. Evil Dead (2013)-
I know, I know, this is the re-boot of one of the biggest and best cult classic horror movies of all time. The 1981 Evil Dead is fucking brilliant, nothing will ever change that, but, Fede Alverez’s 2013 entry is a bold and terrific reboot that somehow never feels unnecessary. It’s a modern update to a classic horror flick that ups the stakes on everything and never tries to be something it isn’t. Jane Levy’s Mia is a strong and likable protagonist who kicks ass. It’s a shame that this never got the sequel that was originally planned, as the after credits scene hinted at a conjoining of the Evil Dead universe with Ash with this one, that would have been incredibly fun. From a strictly film making stand point the fact that the movie was completed with entirely practical effects is utterly awe-striking when you see the finished product.
3. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)-
Most people can pretty easily tell that the Friday the 13th series was just a blatant rip off of John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece Halloween (more on that one soon!), but that doesn’t mean that the series can’t be super fun, and super dumb fun at that. By the time the fourth entry, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter came around the series stopped trying to do anything that even remotely resembled a plot. It gave into itself, didn’t take it self seriously and gave the series what is arguably it’s most unabashedly fun entries to date. Plus a young Corey Feldman is a ton of fun to watch as Tommy Jarvis, who still stands as the best antagonist in the entire Friday the 13th series.
2. Scream (1996)-
Wes Craven does it again on what is hands down his best film. I already mentioned during the New Nightmare entry how shitty the first half of 1990s were for horror films. New Nightmare was a nice departure and rare standout but it wasn’t until 1996’s Scream that genre was given new life and completely resurrected from the dead. Scream took every established horror trope in the book and flipped it on its ear. It’s a stark departure from the straight to DVD sequels that the market was oversaturated with. Scream was a truly original idea that pays homage to what made the genre great before it, while also keeping it honest. The biggest testament to Scream is that while it calls out and eviscerate everything that made the genre so formulaic it never reaches the level of becoming a full on comedy. It manages to not take itself so seriously, but also command the respect and attention of the audience. Scream above all else loves horror movies and it’s the ultimate film for people who love them too.
Do you dig Scream? Want to learn more about the franchise that changed horror? Then check out The Quest For More Money-A Podcast About Movie Franchises today! It’s a monthly podcast that I co-host where we take a deep dive into one film franchise a season. In our first season we tackle the Scream franchise and the first two episodes are out now on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
1. Halloween (1978)-
This is it. The film that changed horror forever 40 years ago and helped give birth to the slasher genre that we know and love today. John Carpenter’s 1978 film was never supposed to be anything special, let alone a touchstone of horror cinema that’s still talked about 40 years later. Instead, it’s influenced every movie that’s come after it and gave people something that they’ve never seen before. Halloween didn’t just make an impact on horror, it redefined it in a way that we never saw before or since (with the exception of maybe Scream in 1996). Perhaps the biggest thing that separates Halloween from what came after it is the idea that the town of Haddonfield is the quintessential every town filled with likable characters who we get to spend time. Because of that, we care about what happens to them. Jamie Lee Curtis is iconic as Laurie Strode and embodied what a scream queen was. None of this is any sort of small feat for a slasher movie. Especially when you go into the film already expecting 80% of the cast to die. Michael Meyer’s slow, methodical, and motiveless killing still terrifies viewers to this day and makes this my all time favorite horror film.
Night of the Living Dead (1968), Silence of the Lambs (1991), Rosemary’s Baby (1968)