75) THE OMEN (1976) – Ahh, the original Final Destination movie. The devil’s child is born and given to a mother after she unknowingly miscarries. And this woman is the wife of the American Ambassador to England. As the child grows up strange things begin to happen, like his nanny committing suicide at his fifth birthday party. The film features some rather startling death scenes for its time, including one of the best decapitations in horror history. It’s a movie that holds up today, even if it’s not the scariest film ever made, it’s not only a great piece of horror filmmaking, but of 1970s American cinema in general.
74) FINAL DESTINATION 2 (2003) This by all accounts is a pretty bad sequel to a really great movie. However, I enjoy it purely for its creative death sequences, which is really why anyone loves a Final Destination movie. The opening highway crash is pretty intense too. The film offers probably one too many ridiculously preposterous plot details (save the pregnant lady!) and a few unintentional laughs (that final shot is hilarious) but what do you expect from a movie in which “death” is the killer?
73) WRONG TURN (2003) Ahh, inbred mutant cannibalistic mountain men always make the best horror movie villains. Effects and make-up genius Stan Winston created these guys who live out in the woods of West Virginia waiting to murder unsuspecting tourists who wander down the wrong road. The movie owes a lot to another horror films like “The Hills Have Eyes” but the make-up effects are truly something. So what if the characters are so annoying you can’t wait to see them die?
72) JEEPERS CREEPERS (2001) A strange hybrid of Steven Spielberg’s Duel and an old fashioned monster movie, Jeepers Creepers involves a mutant creature, who appears every few years to feed on humans. A brother and sister (a refreshing change of pace) team up to fight the “Creeper.” The film’s first act is pretty thrilling, but things soon become slightly routine but it’s still a well done modern monster movie.
71) SORORITY ROW (2009) I’m not trying to advocate for Rumer Willis to continue to act in movies because she most definitely sucks a lot, but Sorority Row is a wonderful inclusion in the “revenge slasher movie.” It’s sort of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” meets “Black Christmas.” This campy ode to 80s slasher flicks involves a sorority prank gone horribly wrong and the fun is had at watching the coeds being knocked off one by one in gloriously gruesome fashion. This one has a truly wonderfully tongue in cheek vibe that’s not too over the top and it features a superbly game Carrie Fisher in an extended cameo.
70) THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE: FIRST SEQUENCE (2009) Does anyone even remember life before the term “human centipede” existed? This truly bizarre piece of horror cinema is truly a sight to behold. This is a prime example of a film’s grotesque reputation far out doing the actual film itself (the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre another early example). The movie isn’t nearly as gross as one would expect (you have to stay for the disgusting and almost unwatchable sequel for that) but it’s a truly strange exercise in modern horror and the epitome of what has been coined “torture porn.” A mad German scientist wants to make a “human centipede” by sewing three humans together mouth to anus. Those horror fans brave enough to give it a shot will be pleasantly surprised, all others should probably skip it and watch Hocus Pocus instead.
69) THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS (1991) Fans of the genre, know that horror was in a strange place in the early 90s. There wasn’t much great stuff and the stuff that did existed was truly odd. Case in point this little seen gem from Wes Craven about a pair of rich loons who own a maze centric, booby trapped house with hordes of teenage boys locked in the basement. The film’s hero is a young black boy and the film is actually a decent social commentary about the current state of socioeconomic race relations. I’m not sure it’s really all that scary, but it’s certainly an obvious example of something truly different in the genre and true product of its time.
68) HOWLING V: THE REBIRTH (1989) I’m not quite sure this movie should be on this list because it was never released theatrically in the US, but it’s one of those horror movies I watched on TV all the time when I was younger. This bizarre horror take on Agatha Cristie’s “Ten Little Indians” revolves around a group of people, unknowingly purposely selected to tour a Hungarian castle, where they begin being picked off one by one by an unseen hairy assailant – aka a werewolf. This movie stars no one you or I have ever heard of and it has nothing to do with parts 1-4, which I either don’t even like or haven’t even seen. It’s pretty stupid and probably the most embarrassing entry on this list.
67) FINAL DESTINATION 3 (2006) A little bit of trivia for you, this remains the only Final Destination movie that I never saw in the theater. It just escaped me for some reason, but I righted that wrong but outright purchasing the DVD without even seeing it. And as a fan of the first two films, my purchase was completely justified. The makers of the original film returned one more time to present us with another tale of “death” claiming the lives of teenagers to survived a gruesome accident (this time a roller coaster crash). On her way to becoming a Scream Queen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead makes a great ‘final girl’ with enough wit to outsmart death this time. That tanning bed/casket graphic match is a hug from the horror film school god.
66) PSYCHO II (1983) How does one follow up Alfred Hitchcock’s cinematic masterpiece “Psycho?” By waiting until he’s dead of course! This long awaited (or hardly wanted?) sequel was released three years after Hitch’s death and it actually remains a decent follow up (and another great Anthony Perkins performance). Released at the height of the slasher craze, the film never dumbs things down and actually takes a rather tasteful (or as tasteful as a knife down the throat or a shovel to the head could be) approach by following Norman Bates after he’s been declared sane by the state. He’s released back to his home and motel, but it seems that someone is trying to drive him mad again. It obviously doesn’t match the cinematic quality of the original, but it’s probably the best sequel that could have been produced considering the original’s classic status.
65) THE HILLS HAVE EYES (2006) The original Wes Craven film is obviously considered a 70s cult classic, but I preferred the gritty remake over crudity of the original. It’s a truly disturbing and horrifying movie that certainly was birthed from the “torture porn” subgenre of the mid 2000s. There are way more overt political undertones (the father-in-law is conservative and the son-in-law is liberal) which were handled way more subtly in the original, but director Alexandre Aja, who made the disturbingly scary French thriller High Tension works his gory magic here in his American horror debut.
64) THE THING (1980) John Carpenter’s sci-fi horror remake classic The Thing features some of the most grotesque effects I’ve ever seen in a horror film. He took a way more subtle approach with Halloween: it was what we didn’t see that was scary. Here he takes the complete opposite road showing us countless disgusting things as some kind of shape-shifting alien parasite begins infecting an Antarctic science crew. Invoking themes of paranoia and fear of the unknown, The Thing remains a classic in the genre in which sometimes it’s what we DO see that scares us.
63) HOSTEL PART II (2007) I prefer Eli Roth’s sequel in every shape and form. The first film was an obnoxious torture porn flick that played like Frat Boy’s European Vacation. I couldn’t wait for the main characters to die, and they certainly took way too long to do so. Here with females in the lead, I found them much more sympathetic and actually feared for them. There are some truly disturbingly graphic sequences here and is certainly not for everyone. But getting an inside look at the infamous company that lets rich guys pay money to torture and slaughter young American tourists was as fascinating as it was disturbing. While I do enjoy this film, I remain of the opinion that Eli Roth has yet to make a horror film that is truly good, save for his Grindhouse short “Thanksgiving.”
62) CHILD’S PLAY (1988) Chucky is a truly great slasher movie icon. And he’s a doll. One has to realize just how silly the idea of “Child’s Play” is but a horror fan can’t help but enjoy the crap out of these movies. A serial killer transfers his soul to a doll before dying after a police shootout, and it unknowingly ends up as a gift to a young boy from his single working mother. The doll begins talking and walking around on its own, which the boy completely thinks is because his doll his the epitome of awesome technology, but that isn’t the case. Soon ‘Chucky’ wants to transfer his soul to the boy before he gets trapped in that rubber body. It’s not as silly as it sounds but as the series went on it became ridiculously so, Seed of Chucky anyone?
61) 28 DAYS LATER… (2002) Future Oscar winner Danny Boyle directed this intense British horror flick that single-handedly revived the zombie movie. Cillian Murphy wakes up from a coma in the hospital (ala Rick in The Walking Dead) to find that a “rage virus” has turned people into mindless raging killing monsters. He meets up with a few survivors while avoiding the “zombies.” It’s a truly great genre film that changed the game and was rather influential. Its low budget, shot on video quality adds to the terror factor.
60) TREMORS (1990) Oh man, this is a great cult classic. In the style of a great monster movie fashion, Tremors takes the Jaws approach by not showing much and using great point-of-view shots instead. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are working guys in small town Texas with plans on living the place behind when strange murderers begin happening. But it turns out the culprit is actually under the ground. It’s not quite as silly as it sounds; there are some truly great moments here and some wonderful humorous character bits. Even Reba McEntire is pretty good, scary indeed.
59) HOUSE OF WAX (2005) I remember seeing this at the drive-in as a double feature with “Crash.” Yes, “Crash” the Oscar-winning movie about tense race relations in Los Angeles. They showed that movie with the movie that features Paris Hilton getting a metal pole through her head. An in-name only remake of the old 3D Vincent Price chiller, it features a small town wax museum with figures made from real people! It’s not particularly scary but I like it because it takes the basic idea from the original film and basically turns it into a WB worthy slasher flick. Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra gives the whole thing a weird 70s European feel. And any film that uses the tagline “On May 6th…See Paris Die!” is worth the price of admission.
58) SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999) I had reservations about calling this horror film, but by definition it fits the bill. With so many onscreen decapitations, it’s really just a gothic horror creation from the master of the bizarre Tim Burton. It’s not all that particularly scary, but this stylish thriller features Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane who instead of a timid schoolteacher like in the original story is now a timid forensic scientist who believes that a killer of flesh and blood is behind a rash of recent gory beheadings in a small Northeast hamlet. The townsfolk believe it to be a ghostly spirit known as the Headless Horseman. This is a great flick, perfect for Halloween viewing with outstanding Oscar-winning production design.
57) SINISTER (2012) The most recent film on this list is an instant horror classic. This truly frightening flick stars Ethan Hawke as a true crime novelist who is investigating the mysterious death of a family. He finds disturbing home movie footage in the attic of his new home and soon uncovers a rather disturbing mystery all while realizing his house just may be haunted. A wonderful mix of “found footage” thriller and haunted house flick, this is a great entry in the genre and it features one of Ethan Hawke’s best performances. It reminds me most of “Insidious” which will appear on this list as well.
56) FRIDAY THE 13TH THE FINAL CHAPTER (1984) Gore master Tom Savini returned to the Jason franchise with his wonderful bloody effects so that he could kill Jason off for good (cue about six more sequels). This fourth entry features everything one wants in a Friday the 13th movie: lots of horny teenagers getting killed off in increasingly gruesome ways. It’s really just a standard 80s slasher sequel in every shape or form, but the Friday the 13th films quickly became monotonous and dull, even if they were rather bloody. They’re really just unmemorable to be honest. This is one of the sequels actually worth watching. Yes that’s a pre-Back to the Future Crispin Glover getting cork-screwed and macheted to the face.
55) IDENTITY (2003) This is the second horror movie on this list inspired by “Ten Little Indians.” This time it’s about a bunch of people stranded at a secluded motel on a dark rainy night. Someone is killing these people off one by one. This one is rather taut and it features a pretty interesting twist and was a surprise sleeper hit in the summer of 2003. John Cusack is a limo driver who gets caught up in the mystery after he accidentally hits a pedestrian with his limo. This is a good one.
54) TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING (2006) This by all accounts is a pretty bad movie. But as it was influenced by the other torture porn films of the day it’s pretty decent and I actually like it more than the Jessica Biel remake. This prequel takes a look at Leatherface’s early days… he was born in the slaughterhouse! This is gruesome and disgusting and it features R. Lee Ermey yet again as the sadist “Sheriff Hoyt” who we learn is most definitely not a real sheriff. And look! Is that White Collar’s Matt Bomer?
53) DEEP BLUE SEA (1999) This is more of a sci-fi action version of Jaws, but since it features so many gory deaths it counts as horror to me. It works basically as a monster movie version of “The Poseidon Adventure” where scientists must survive the flooding of their underwater research facility after the genetically alterned sharks they’re studying begin picking them off one by one. The computer effects are a little shoddy and there aren’t many characters to root for, but this is basically a B-horror monster movie with the mad scientist whose creations turn on him (in this case it’s the sexy Saffron Burrows who doesn’t look like any brilliant scientist that seems to exist in real life).
52) POLTERGEIGST III (1988) Poor little Heather O’Rourke died before the filming of this movie even finished. It’s probably for the best because how embarrassing is this piece of crap? I just loved this when I was little and it’s place on this is strictly for nostalgia purposes. Little Carol Anne from the previous films is now a pre-teen sent to live with her aunt and uncle in their ritzy high rise building. The ghosts follow her and appear in the mirrors that line the building’s hallways. There are some interesting effects involving the mirrors and a pretty gross scene in which Lara Flynn Boyle emerges from the dead body of the tiny Tangina character. This is silly stuff, but good for a nice trip back to the world of silly 80s effects.
51) PIRANHA 3D (2010) Oh Alexandre Aja what have thou wrought? This extremely silly yet magnificent remake of the 1970s cult flick “Piranha” (which was itself a horror-comedy parody of “Jaws”) is extremely gory and extremely tongue in cheek. No one in their right mind would actually be scared, but it such a campy and fun gorefest that one can’t help but appreciate those involved in its creation. I mean this thing has Elizabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, and Richard Dreyfuss all in glorious 3D.
to be continued...