Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wanna Play a Game? What are Your Favorite Horror Movies? Here are 101 of Mine PART 4 THE FINAL CHAPTER

My countdown concluded #25-1...

25) A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987) Part 3 of the "Nightmare" series remains one of the most popular fan favorites. This is was a transition point in the series, where Freddy started becoming somewhat of a jokester. Case in point: “Welcome to primetime, bitch!” A young Patricia Arquette leads a young cast of teenagers who are committed to a mental hospital because of suicide attempts that are actually the work of one Freddy Krueger. Original "Nightmare" heroine Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) returns as an intern who helps the teens fight off Freddy for good. There are some inventive effects and dream sequences here, most notably the puppet dream in which a teenage boy’s veins are ripped out and Freddy uses him as a marionette.

24) JAWS 2 (1978) This sequel to Jaws works mostly because it’s essentially a teen slasher movie (and to think this actually was released before “Halloween”).  A new great white shark appears off the coast of Amity Island and no one believes Chief Brody. But then his teenage son and a bunch of his friends go out sailing and the shark begins to pick them off one by one. Spielberg had nothing to do with this entry, or any of the others, which is obvious, but I feel this probably the best this film could have been. They did something quite different and it works. They even attempt to blow up the shark before the halfway mark giving him turning him into scarface shark!

23) THE SIXTH SENSE (1999) The last horror film to be nominated for Best Picture (unless you count Black Swan, which is debatable) The Sixth Sense still remains M. Night Shyamalan’s best work. I remember the days when the name Shyamalan was a promise of quality, twisty thrills and now it’s just become a joke, unfortunately.  But this film about a boy who sees ghosts and the psychologist who attempts to help him remains not only a tense thriller but a powerful human drama as well. There are some good frights here and it features some truly wonderful performances from Oscar nominees Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette. This really a beautifully crafted film.

22) THE MIST (2007) Oh that ending! And this was a studio film? Based on a Stephen King novella, this is one of my favorite King film adaptations. A strange mist overtakes a small town the morning after a strong storm trapping a lot of the townsfolk in a small supermarket. At first no one really knows what’s in this mist, but soon they find strange otherworldly creatures are in there and they’re not friendly. Quickly a local religious nutjob begins rallying people saying the end of days is upon them. This is a truly frightening film from Frank Darabont with some truly grotesque effects. I’ve yet to watch the pharmacy sequence all the way through without looking away. A definite horror must see.

21) INSIDIOUS (2010) Another modern instant horror classic, this ghost story is truly frightening. It really gets under your skin. A young boy falls into a deep coma with no real medical explanation and his mother begins noticing strange things around the house. This low budget film, which you’d never even know, is extremely intense and introduced audiences to the “lipstick-face demon” as he’s known in the film’s end credits. It sort of works as a modern version of “Poltergeist” from the guys who brought us the original “Saw” film and it’s truly their masterpiece.

20) SCREAM 2 (1998) This fast tracked sequel is the follow up to the surprise hit “Scream.” This sequel, while not as good or scary as the first film, takes a rather original look at horror sequels and continues to skewer the conventions found in them. Heroine Sidney Prescott is now in college, with a new boyfriend, and guy friend Randy in tow, where a series of copycat murders spring up. Who could possibly be after Sidney this time? The film features another witty script from Kevin Williamson with a wonderful art imitating life plot detail about the events of the first film being turned into a successful horror film called ‘Stab.’ Definitely one of the best slasher sequels out there, but they absolutely shouldn’t have killed Randy. 

19) FINAL DESTINATION (2000) The slasher film without the slasher. This film series introduced “death” as the killer who begins picking off people one by one after they exit an airplane before it gets a chance to explode after takeoff. Devon Sawa has a vision that his Paris bound plane is going to explode, causes a panic and several students and teachers exit the plane, but death doesn’t like it when people have visions of the future and they begin to die in horrible “accidents.” A truly inventive post-Scream horror flick that began an entire franchise of its own features some of the most creative death sequences in horror history. This first film remains the most intense and disturbing and will certainly make you question whether you need to take that trip abroad.

18) SCREAM 4 (2011) Fifteen years after the original film rejuvenated the horror genre came this sequel that was set to relaunch the popular slasher franchise that restarted it all. Unfortunately, the film’s box office performance was rather disappointing as it seems as though audiences seem to be weary of movies with a number like 4 in the title. Fortunately, this remains the best Scream sequel as it is everything a Scream film should be: wonderful death scenes with some great black humor. Ghostface returns after a decade to finish the job on Sidney Prescott where she returns to her hometown and a new generation of witty teenagers meet their maker. The meta factor is dialed up to an eleven here and all your favorite [living] Scream characters return. Who will survive and what will be left of them?

17) HALLOWEEN II (1981) This remains the best Halloween sequel because it most closely resembles the original film. A rarity in the horror genre, this film picks up exactly where the previous film left off and follows poor Laurie Strode as she’s taken to the hospital. Unfortunately Michael Myers survives being shot multiple times by Dr. Loomis and begins to stalk her again. He follows her to the hospital where he begins picking off the staff. This is seriously the most pathetically understaffed hospital in cinematic history. And where the heck are the other patients? This time around things are much more gory, but when compared to the disappointing many sequels that would follow one realizes that Halloween II certainly isn’t all that bad.

16) JAWS THE REVENGE (1987) One of the most embarrassing films on this list, this atrocious attempt at filmmaking is not only one of the worst horror movies ever made, but one of the worst films in general ever to be committed to celluloid. So what is it doing on this list? Well it’s technically a horror movie and it’s a movie that was one of my favorites as a kid. So there you go. But it remains a simply divine guilty pleasure. And I find it kid of fascinating how a film series could turn so sour so quickly. To think Jaws is one of the best films ever made and this fourth entry is one of the worst. They complement each other indeed.

15) ARACHNOPHOBIA (1990) This is a truly terrifying film. Why? Because I’m freaking scared of spiders. This is a fun little movie that is actually pretty hard for me to watch, but I like it so much that do it anyway. The story of a small town doctor dealing with an infestation of poisonous spiders bred from a Venezuelan tarantula is simply chilling at times because those pesky spiders are everywhere! The shower, the basement, hiding underneath the lampshade, in a bowl of popcorn, and even in an old guy’s slipper.  But the film is humorous as well as John Goodman plays a cocky exterminator who isn’t afraid of anything. I’m sure if spiders are no big deal to you this thing probably plays like a more intense episode of Growing Pains but still it scares the crap out of me.

14) THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) Another horror film that changed the genre. This super hyped film about a three person college documentary crew who get lost in the woods, many of whom believed was actually real, is told in a “found footage” style in which the audience is watching the footage of the three characters. No one had really seen anything like it at the time and many wondered, myself included how multiplexes could basically be showing a snuff film in their theaters. Alas it was an elaborate hoax by the filmmakers to scare audiences into believing it was all a true story. But regardless “The Blair Witch Project” remains one of the more intense, creepy, and disturbing modern horror films. There’s very little on screen violence (actually none in fact, this thing got an R rating just for profanity) and it’s a perfect example of what we don’t see that scares the hell out of us.

13) POLTERGEIST (1982) Now here’s a movie that shows a lot and it still scares you. Well not as much anymore, but this early 80s chiller from producer Steven Spielberg and director Tobe Hooper was sort of the evil cousin to E.T. This is the story of a suburban family’s plight with a haunting that goes awry when their youngest daughter, Carol Ann get taken into another dimension. Cue rotund psychic Tangina who can talk to Carol Ann on “the other side.” There are some fun spooky effects, but the frights here are mostly of the type that would scare small children… although that clown doll is scary enough to give anyone the willies.

12) THE BIRDS (1963) Alfred Hitchcock’s second best movie, in my opinion, revolves around a small seaside town getting mysteriously attacked by birds. Now, birds are pretty much some of the least scary animals on the planet, but the scenes Hitch has crafted are pretty chilling for the time. Seeing that guy’s gouged out eyes was enough to give me the spooks when I was younger. Tippi Hedren, at her ditzy best, as Melanie Daniels is largely thought responsible for bringing the birds down upon poor Bodega Bay but the film wisely chooses not to reveal why the birds have decided to launch a mass attack, which makes the entire proceeding a sense of overwhelming dread.

11) ALIEN (1979) In space no one can hear you scream, indeed. Unless of course your on the same ship as a constantly changing form alien. There’s lots of screaming in this movie, and I’m pretty sure the other characters can hear it, but I digress. This early sci-fi fright flick from Ridley Scott is a wonderful take on the haunted house horror movie. A space mining crew is awakened from hyper sleep from a mysterious planet. They touchdown on it and discover lots of eggs. And something jumps out, attaches itself to one of the crew members and it’s all downhill from there. The “facehugger” as it became known as, is one of the creepiest creations in all of cinema. Swedish artist H.R. Giger is responsible for creating the many forms of the alien and it’s certainly something out of a nightmare. Amazingly all of the sequels in this successful franchise has sort of taking a different route in terms of story and genre. The original remains the best however, because of its simplicity and its power to scare. 

10) THE STRANGERS (2008) Oh dear, how scary is this movie. I saw it twice in the same weekend and I was petrified both times. One of my biggest fears (besides spiders) is of home invasion. This creepy movie about a couple who get a visit from three masked strangers, who begin to torment them in increasingly disturbing ways, is a suspenseful terror filled ride for its entire runtime. There are some quite disturbing scenes here and yet its such a simple premise and story. Director Bryan Bertino is very aware of his frame and uses the widescreen to his full advantage. A scene in which Liv Tyler stands alone, already spooked, while a masked figure enters the frame in the background is enough to run a tingle up your spine. Those who like this film and foreign films should also check out Ils (“Them”) a similar story from France.

9) MISERY (1990) You’d have to be a dirty birdie to not get a kick out of this tense shocker from Rob Reiner based on Stephen King’s novel. James Caan plays a novelist who gets into an accident during a snowstorm. He’s rescued by a nurse named Annie (Kathy Bates in an Oscar-winning performance) who says she’s his number one fan. Soon this guy begins to realize that Annie is manic depressive crazy person who’s actually obsessed with him and refuses to let him go. The “hobbling” scene is worth the price of admission alone and it has a lot to say about the relationship between artists and their fans. A truly great scare flick.

8) THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1992) What can be said about The Silence of the Lambs that hasn’t already been said a million times. First off, it’s the only horror movie to win Best Picture (and a total of five Oscars) although many refer to it as a crime thriller. But this is a story about one maniac to kills and eats people and another character kills and skins people. If that isn’t horror I don’t know what is. Anthony Hopkins is chilling as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Jodie Foster gives a brilliant performance of a woman struggling to find herself in a man’s world, and Ted Levine is simply creepy as an Ed Gein-influenced serial killer who kills woman so he can wear their skin. One of the most well directed and acted thrillers ever made.

7) WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994) Taking place ten years after the release of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” this seventh entry in the Nightmare series was conceived by its original creator Wes Craven as a thriller that takes place in the “real world” in which actors and crew members from this horror series actually play themselves and are tormented by a darker version of Freddy Krueger. It was a wild idea that didn’t quite please fans of the series as they were probably expecting something more traditional. But this wildly imaginative and original take on this series is a fascinating drama about how horror films can affect children – Heather Langenkamp plays herself and her young son Dylan begins having psychotic episodes. Is she crazy or is Freddy trying to get her and her son? This was a great prelude to themes Wes Craven would later explore in the Scream series.

6) SCREAM (1996) Speaking of which, here is the grandson of the slasher flick. Psycho is the grandfather, Halloween is the father, and here is the third generation thriller Scream, a wonderful ode to the horror genre that every fan should love and appreciate. It’s witty script from Kevin Williamson is about teenagers who are stalked by a masked killer who torments his victims by asking them movie trivia. It’s wildly bizarre but amazingly creepy. The opening sequence starring a frightened Drew Barrymore is one of the best openings to not only a horror film but to any type of film ever. It sort of works as a short film and then the film opens up and explores an interesting story about a girl named Sidney who the killer may just have a personal vendetta against. This was  a surprise hit and deservedly so.

5) A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) Wes Craven is simply dominating my top ten and for good reason: he has made some truly excellent films in the horror genre. This little hit that not only spawned an entire franchise but helped build New Line Cinema into a full-fledged Oscar-winning movie studio. A bunch of suburban teenagers keep having similar dreams about a dirty burnt man with a razor clawed glove. It seems he wants to kill them and when the teens start dying off one by one, it’s soon revealed that the teens’ parents just might be responsibly somehow.  This film introduced the world to Freddy Krueger who quickly became one of the most beloved horror icons ever created. And he was a child molester and murderer. It’s funny that this film was actually released as the slasher craze was just sort of hitting a rut and it became a phenomenon. Sometimes it’s all about timing. Tina getting dragged across the ceiling is one of the entire series’ most disturbing and frightening images.

4)  THE EXORCIST (1973) Seeing a young girl stick a bloody crucifix in her crotch is not something most people would classify as fun entertainment, but somehow this creepy supernatural thriller became a wild success. Based on William Peter Blatty’s novel, director William Friedkin tells a disturbing story about a young girl who is possessed by the devil. A young priest who has begun to question his faith and an elder priest join forces to drive the demon from the girl. The film is shot in a very realist documentary-like style which is why the shocking images seem pretty shocking. All the effects used to convince us that this little girl has been possessed are brilliantly conceived and it remains one of the most disturbing yet entertaining films ever made. It’s not only a much watch horror film, but it’s a must watch film in general and a prime example of the brilliant filmmaking that came out of its time period.

3) JAWS (1975) Steven Spielberg made a name for himself with this megahit about a small New England town being terrorized by a Great White Shark. Part monster movie, part human drama, this thrilling film some brilliant directing and acting and the most recognizable movie scores ever. Spielberg ever the young talent decided to not show the shark for more than half the film because the mechanical beast refused to work the way he wanted. It ended up working to his advantage and he ended up crafting a wonderfully frightening tale of man vs. animal and in so doing created the summer blockbuster and nearly changed the way people go to the movies. The fact that the film remains scary til this day is a testament to the power of this film and the talent of everyone involved. The opening sequence still scares people till this day and Jaws makes people scared of the water decades and decades after its release.

2) PSYCHO (1960) The oldest film on this list (let’s be honest what old movies are even still scary anymore?) this Alfred Hitchcock thriller is a brilliant exercise in horror. Hitch singlehandedly invented the slasher will this surprisingly violent (for its time) story about a boy next door who runs a motel… and kills women in the shower. Screenwriter Joseph Stefano brilliant adapted Robert Bloch’s novel by making Marion Crane (a minor character in the book) into a main character and killing her off halfway through the movie. It was a sly trick that shocked audiences and therefore Hitch refused to have theaters let patrons in after the film had started. Hitchcock wasn’t just a filmmaker, he was an entertainer and he delighted in scaring the pants off his audience. The shower scene remains one of the most well known and scary sequences in film history. I was obsessed with this film at such a young age it remains one of my favorite movies of all time.

1) HALLOWEEN (1978) This early slasher movie from director John Carpenter remains my all time favorite horror movie. I watched this when I was younger and it scared me to death. And yet I was strangely fascinated by it. The image of the white masked Michael Myers was something so frightening I never to this day could get it out of my head. That simple music score was terrifying. It’s such a simple story too. A young boy brutally murders his older sister (in the film’s brilliant tracking shot opening sequence) and then escapes from his mental hospital years later and begins stalking other teenage girls on Halloween night. This was Jamie Lee Curtis’ first film role and she quickly became a Scream Queen after staring in several back to back horror flicks. This low budget shocker is brilliant conceived and features some truly wonderful cinematography by Dean Cundey. His tracking camera, the steadicam was something very new to the medium, glides from here to there and takes the place of the killer’s point of view. There are some truly frightening things here and the accent here is on suspense and atmosphere not bloody gore. This is a truly shocking and brilliant film that certainly holds up today. It’s a must see for any movie fan and remains the alpha and omega of slasher films.

Happy Halloween! 

The full list: 


The Exorcist
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
The Silence of the Lambs
The Strangers
The Birds
The Blair Witch Project
Jaws the Revenge
Halloween II (1981)
Scream 4
Final Destination
Scream 2
The Mist
The Sixth Sense
Jaws 2
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors
The House of the Devil
Halloween H20 20 Years Later
Jaws III
The Descent
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Urban Legend
Final Destination 5
Child’s Play 2
The Faculty
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 Freddy’s Revenge
High Tension
Drag Me to Hell
The Ring
Rosemary’s Baby
The Fly (1986)
The Blob (1988)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 Dream Master
Scream 3
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Open Water
Friday the 13th (1980)
An American Werewolf in London
The Lost Boys
Piranha 3D
Poltergeist III
Deep Blue Sea
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Friday the 13th The Final Chapter
Sleepy Hollow
House of Wax (2005)
28 Days Later
Child’s Play
Hostel Part II
John Carpenter’s The Thing
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Psycho II
Final Destination 3
Howling V: The Rebirth
The People Under the Stairs
The Human Centipede: First Sequence
Sorority Row
Jeepers Creepers
Wrong Turn
Final Destination 2
The Omen (1976)
The Others
Paranormal Activity
Interview with the Vampire
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Dressed to Kill
Child’s Play 3
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
What Lies Beneath
Let Me In
My Bloody Valentine 3D
Black Christmas (2006)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
 The Ruins
Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III
Fright Night (1985)
28 Weeks Later
Troll 2
The Burning


Monday, October 29, 2012

Wanna Play a Game? What are Your Favorite Horror Movies? Here are 101 of Mine PART 3D

My countdown continued... #50-26

50) GRINDHOUSE (2007) A grand opus ode to cheesy exploitation cinema by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino this double feature includes a zombie flick called “Planet Terror” and a car chase thriller called “Death Proof” and don’t forget about the worth the price of admission horror trailers that appear in-between the two main features. This three hours plus flick was unfortunately split up when released on DVD but the blu-ray thankfully corrected that, as each film complements each other greatly. None of this is particularly scary, but is a great homage to not only the genre but of the grindhouse experience as well. A must-see for fans of this genre.

49) THE LOST BOYS (1987) This campy 80s romp, yes I said romp, is a fun vampire flick in which a boy and his family come across a teenage gang of vampires in their new West Coast California town. I think vampire movies in general aren’t that frightening but this one, like Fright Night offers some pretty cool vampire effects and some cool gory sequences. Director Joel Schumacher adds to the campy proceedings, but it’s mostly because this thing was made in the height of the overly cheesy 80s. And of course you can’t get more 80s than two Coreys in the same flick.

48) AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) One of the very few horror films to win an Academy Award (for Rick Baker’s Make-up which was a brand new category at the time) this tales of two American backpackers who get attacked by a werewolf on the English Moors. One of them dies and other is “cursed” and transforms during the full moon. Director John Landis (who also later directed Michael Jackson’s Thriller music video) keeps things equally funny and horrific. This sort of feels like the “Hostel” of its day going from raunchy Animal House type humor with graphic, gory death scenes. Arguably the best werewolf movie ever made.

47) FRIDAY THE 13th (1980) This is the film that not only started it all, but it copied them all. Taking a cue from John Carpenter’s Halloween, “Friday the 13th” helped usher in a new generation of graphic horror films. But unlike Halloween, there’s little artistic merit here, only truly gross death scenes featuring the work of the great Tom Savini. This was one of Kevin Bacon’s earliest films which follows him and a few other teenage camp counselors getting ready to open Camp Crystal Lake but a killer lurks in the woods seeking murderous revenge. The shocking revelation of the killer is notorious.

46) OPEN WATER (2004) This disturbing thriller, shot in a Blair Witch style, (though it’s not technically a “found footage” movie) is actually based on a real story about a couple who was left behind in shark infested waters while scuba diving in the Caribbean, where they most likely succumbed to the harsh elements they were left in. Real sharks were used and the two actors did all their own stunt work. This is a tense and frightening film that is a strange hybrid of Blair Witch and Jaws, two types of films that I never thought could ever be brought together. This is truly fascinating, visceral filmmaking.

45) THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) Speaking of visceral, the original “meat movie” The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a classic cult horror film about a group of young people who accidentally meet up with a family of cannibalistic rednecks. One of which is a chainsaw wielding maniac called “Leatherface” although I never quite remember him being referred to as such in the actual movie. Tobe Hooper directed the film in a gritty vérité style that makes the film feel more like a documentary. And it was even inspired by the real life cannibalistic crimes of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. This is a strange hybrid of slasher film and torture porn that actually shows very little onscreen gore – shot that way in hopes of actually getting a PG rating, which obviously didn’t happen.

44) SCREAM 3 (2000) The Scream series is probably one of my all time favorite series of horror films. I love all four of the films and they all appear on this list, which is something that can’t be said about every other horror series with the exception of the Jaws series. While part 3 is the weakest of the three, it ended the series (until the fourth one of course) in probably the best way possible and features the great addition of the hilarious Parker Posey. Here the setting is now Hollywood where life imitates art while imitating art. Though it remains the least frightening of the series, there is enough here to satisfy fans of this immensely popular series.

43) FRAILTY (2001) A lot of times in horror films, religion plays a very positive role. Most notably in The Omen and The Exorcist. However, in Frailty, the story focuses on a man who gets a message from God that he must rid the world of demons. And these demons are just people who he ends up brutally murdering with an axe. This man is played by Bill Paxton (who also directed the film) and this leads his two young sons to question what is really going on. His elder son refuses to believe such nonsense, but his younger brother is taken in by his father’s new found religious mission. This is a great little seen psychological horror film that has some pretty tense scenes and a pretty interesting message.

42) A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER (1988) If you’re not really a fan of Freddy movies there’s no need to watch any of the sequels, but number four is pretty good and the one where Freddy Krueger truly becomes the jokester he became infamous for. Freddy is resurrected yet again, by dog urine no less, where he meets a new teenage threat named Alice who intends on getting revenge after Freddy murders her friends and brother. Renny Harlin, who’d go on to direct Die Hard 2 and Deep Blue Sea, adds some colorful production value but many would be turned off by some goofy proceedings. However, the girl who gets turned into a cockroach remains a highpoint in the entire series for me.

41) THE BLOB (1988) Although horror remakes are extremely popular today, they certainly existed back in the day. And here we have a truly disgusting horror/sci-fi take on the creepy crawly monster movie The Blob. The 50s version starred Steve McQueen and Kevin Dillon takes over as a rebellious teenage biker dude who unwittingly becomes involved in this gross mass of jelly that begins growing and killing the townsfolk in a small town. The film was co-written by Frank Darabont, who’d later go on to make The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist, and it features some outrageously gross effects. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a man being sucked down a sink drain.

40) THE FLY (1986) Another 80s remake of a 50s sci-fi film with an extreme horror bent. Canadian director David Cronenberg directs this truly sickening horror movie about a scientist who accidentally begins to transform into a fly when his DNA gets mixed with that of a housefly in his transportation invention. At first he gains superhuman powers but then his body begins to break down and his transformation is truly gross. Many have made comparisons of Cronenberg’s (who is known for his “body horror” films) film with the fear caused by the AIDS virus. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis give terrific performances in this Oscar-winning (best make-up) horror classic.

39) ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) This early chiller from Roman Polanski is a great product of the American New Wave. A newlywed couple moves into a fancy New York City apartment and meet the strange new neighbors next door (one of whom is Oscar-winner Ruth Gordon) who take a liking to the attractive couple. Soon Rosemary (Mia Farrow) becomes pregnant but she slowly begins to think that her baby may be the son of the devil! This slow burning horror film is truly a product of its time and features some terrific performances. Gordon is certainly a hoot and it features such a great ending, it’s crazy to think this movie was release in the swinging 60s. Definitely a horror classic that needs to be seen

38) THE RING (2002) This is a wonderful horror-mystery, based on a Japanese film, starring Naomi Watts that helped boost her career here in the United States. She’s British! She plays a journalist who is trying to solve the murder of her niece somehow involving a mysterious videotape that supposedly kills anyone who views it. Audiences ate this movie up a decade ago where the image of a creepy black-haired girl emerging from a TV set became an allegory for the fear of television controlling our lives. While not quite as scary as its reputation might suggest, it’s still a rather entertaining horror flick that helped usher in the Japanese horror remake craze.

37) DRAG ME TO HELL (2009) Sam Raimi returned to horror triumphantly with this little effort about a young female banker who gets cursed by an old gypsy woman. There are lots of wacky and strange effects and some rather gross things for a PG-13 rated film. Many fans have said this is Raimi back in his Evil Dead form. It’s a strange mix of looney toon comedic violence that I find way more entertaining than any of the Evil Dead films. This is a great movie that is highly recommended.

36) HIGH TENSION (2005) French horror director Alexandre Aja brought this French import Haute Tension to the US two years after its debut in France. The film involves two college girls who get attacked by a crazed killer in one of the girl’s family’s vacation home. The family is brutally murdered and one of the girls is kidnapped and other must save her. This thing is extremely gory and was actually influenced by the American exploitation films of the 1970s. Aja would later remake one of his influences, The Hills Have Eyes. This thing is fill with gobs of gore, but it also has some rather intense suspense as well. Definitely a must see for any fan of horror.

35) A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 FREDDY’S REVENGE (1985) This sequel was rushed into production as soon as the first film became a hit. Set five years later, the film concerns Freddy trying to possess a teenage boy whose family has just moved into Nancy’s old house on Elm Street. This film is the odd man out in the series for several reasons. The rules established in the first film were basically thrown out the window  as Freddy is able to come out into the real world and kill teenagers while everyone’s awake. Also, the idea of Freddy possessing a teenage boy has led many to refer to the film as the “Gay Freddy Movie.” The protagonist, Jesse, is a rather effeminate young man and years later it’s finally be reveled by the original screenwriter that the references to homosexuality were done on purpose. The film features some creepy effects (Freddy claws through Jesse’s chest) and some truly lame effects (exploding parakeet anyone?) It’s definitely one of the least liked Nightmare films, but I find it enjoyable for some strange, campy value.

34) THE FACULTY (1998) A product of the post-Scream era, The Faculty, also written by Kevin Williamson, is a great B-movie with a strong sci-fi element. Every teenager has had  teacher who they thought could be an alien. Well this movie explores that idea, in which an alien invasion begins at a rundown high school. Tradition teenager stock characters fill the bill here as a small group of kids must band together to figure out how to stop the aliens from taking over the town and eventually the world. Director Robert Rodriguez offers some creepy effects but it’s mostly the witty teen banter that keeps this thing afloat and some appealing performances from the likes of Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, and Clea DuVall. A rather eclectic cast also features Jon Stewart, Robert Patrick, Piper Laurie, Famke Janssen, Salma Hayek, and Bebe Neuwirth as faculty members.

33) CHILD’S PLAY 2 (1990) Definitely my favorite Chucky movie features some better effects than the first film and some nice gory murders. The film is also notable as it features some truly bright and colorful camerawork which is definitely a product of its day. There’s no way a horror film would ever be shot like this today. Little Andy from the first film gets put in a foster home after his mother is committed. Chucky somehow is rejuvenated and begins to stalk him again trying to steal his body yet again. The film’s toy factory finale is great. A definitely highpoint for the series.

32) FINAL DESTINATION 5 (2011) What a surprise the fifth Final Destination movie turned out to be! There’s no way in hell that the fifth entry of any series, let alone a horror series should be this good. The film brings the series full circle in such a clever and exciting way and truly has one of the best endings to a horror film in quite some time. This entry involves several employees of a paper company (not Dunder Mifflin) who escape a large bridge collapse and how death comes after them as they die in increasingly gruesome ways. The film is essentially like all the others but there’s a freshness involve here as the third act introduces the idea of possibly avoiding death’s design by causing someone else’s death instead. The climax is simply divine and everything a fan of this series could ask for. And some wonderful eye-popping 3D photography added to the absolutely fun proceedings.

31) URBAN LEGEND (1998) Another product of the post-Scream world, this slasher involves a serial killer who murders people based on popular urban legends. This movie is memorable for several reasons. First of all, it unfortunately introduced the word to Tara Reid, although she technically was introduced earlier in The Big Lebowski a few months earlier. But at least she gets axed to death. And secondly, it marked the welcomed return of two horror icons to the genre: Robert England (Freddy) plays a college professor and Brad Dourif (Chucky) plays a creepy gas station attendant in the opening sequence. There’s nothing really all that special here, but the film is witty and enjoyable enough to recommend it to fans of the post-modern slasher flick.

30) I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1997) The film that gained the most success after Scream was released, was this fun little slasher flick about a group of teens who begin to be picked off one by one by an unknown assailant a year after covering up after a hit and run accident. Many joked about the film’s villain baring a resemblance to the Gordon Fisherman, because the film takes place in a North Carolina seaside town. The film was written by Scream’s Kevin Williamson and while it features a decent script for the genre, it features none of the real wit or spark that made Scream such a success. Nonetheless, I was a huge fan of the film during its release (and even read the book that it was very loosely based on) and still enjoy it today for nostalgic reasons.

29) THE DESCENT (2006) This wonderful little British import was a mild success in the summer of 2006, but fans of the horror genre who didn’t see it are definitely urged to check it out. It’s certainly a must see. A group of women go spelunking in the caves of the Appalachian Mountains and they come across a bunch of cave dwelling humanoid monsters who want to kill them. This gory and extremely claustrophobic film from director Neil Marshall is truly a frightening experience.

28) JAWS III (1983) I refuse to call this movie “Jaws 3D” since I’ve yet to actually seen it in that form. This pretty atrocious second sequel to Steven Spielberg’s classic is set at Sea World in Florida where a grown up Michael Brady works with his girlfriend. Yet another great white shark begins to stalk him where it begins munching on the guests and employees. There’s nothing really good that can be said about this flick, but it’s cheesy 80s vibe and bad acting from the entire cast and crew including Lea Thompson, Dennis Quaid, and Louis Gossett Jr. is only redeemable for it’s purely nostalgic feeling of silliness.

27) HALLOWEEN H20: 20 YEARS LATER (1998) This is probably one of the most oddly titled horror sequels in the history of the genre. It also was inspired by the success of Scream and was actually an idea suggested by none other than Jamie Lee Curtis herself. The film follows Laurie Strode, 20 years after the events of the first two films, where we learn she’s living life in hiding as the headmistress of a private school in California as Keri Tate. But she’s still haunted from her traumatic bout with her Uncle Mike (a plot point they could have ignored, but chose not to, since they ignored films 3-6) and she’s a hopeless alcoholic. Her son John also attends the school, but Michael, who apparently has been “missing” since being blown up is after her and his nephew after these years. The film overall feels more like a Scream film than a Halloween film, but it remains one of the series’ best and offers lots of in jokes (like the wonderful casting of Jamie’s real life mother Janet Leigh as a secretary). This is also the very first R rated movie I saw in the theater.

26) THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009) This is certainly a hidden gem that is really fun for horror fans. I saw it based on a recommendation and fell instantly in love. Director Ti West’s deliberately slow, but with a great payoff, thriller is made in the style of an 80s flick complete with zooms and shot on 16mm film stock. It concerns a young college woman, strapped for cash, who hesitantly takes a babysitting job in a strange house in the middle of nowhere. To say anything else would spoil the fun, but it’s a suspenseful film and you never quite know where exactly it’s going. As part of the film’s promotion it was actually released on VHS as a nod to the era the film depicts. A truly rewarding experience for patient horror fans wanting to discover something new and fun. 

to be concluded...