With this being Halloween and all I thought I’d list some of my favorite Halloween movies. Not in any order (though top ten lists are really popular), mostly because I can’t really think of what my favorite Horror film is. It would probably be Evil Dead, but then how do I rank all the rest? So to avoid taxing my brain, and finding reasons to avoid writing, I’ll just list my favorites below by horror sub-genre (as I see them).
EVIL DEAD – indie horror
Like I said this is probably my favorite horror film. I remember watching it on VHS when I was who-knows-how-old. The sound of the demon’s voices is still what I use in my head when thinking of what demons will sound like. (I know I was in High School when my sister would try to scare me by sitting cross-legged and giggling like in the film.)
It wasn’t till high school that I really fell in love with the Evil Dead series and Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert (Xena). I’m very glad they gave the world Bruce Campbell.
The movie is a great indie horror film. Friends on vacation, what can go wrong. Well, lots of indie directors would like to let us know. Like: Blair Witch, Cabin Fever, and Touristas.
I just have a soft spot for Indie movies as I once dreamed of becoming a filmmaker.
Ringu/The Ring – Asian Horror
Prior to this film, it had been a long time since I’d been genuinely scared while watching a movie. In fact, the whole J-Horror craze is what made me love Horror movies again. Ringu was the first, then I watched Ju-on (the Grudge), The Eye, Pulse, One Missed Call, etc. (all films that were eventually remade in the U.S.). The Japanese got creepy and atmospheric horror down, then added some scary ghosts and kids to up the ante. Then Korea and Hong Kong got into the action.
Excited that they’re making a 3-D version, always thought that would be perfect. Seeing Sadako reach out of the TV screen would really freak me out.
I was already a fan of foreign films, but this opened me up to watching more foreign horror, like REC. I just wish it had inspired more American filmmakers to try and do something similar.
Dawn of the Dead – Zombies
Of course, the Americans (through George Romero) gave the world Zombies. There had been zombies before, but now when people think of Zombies it’s the Romero version – the dead come back to life to feast on human flesh! Zombies were a voodoo thing and had been represented in film that way quite a bit, but the Romero Zombies were meant to be something caused by science gone wrong (the radiation from a satellite caused the original, I think)
I gotta be honest, I LOVE ZOMBIES! If the title has Zombie, of the dead, or some variation, I’m in. Night of the Living Dead was a seminal film for me. Independent, low budget, with a simple story – stay alive. I remember watching it late at night in high school. I was always kind of freaked out by grave yards before this, but after all I could think was, “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”
Dawn of the Dead (the remake) really and truly freaked me out because now we had fast movers. It’s one thing when you can escape something by going at a light jog, it’s another when they can run full out! I need to get in better shape if that’s going to be the Zombie Apocalypse. I should probably learn some parkour (damn you, Joss Whedon! Between the time I started writing this and my umpteenth proofread, I saw a video Joss posted saying the same thing). I give Dawn of the Dead the top spot on this one, because it helped revitalize a genre by allowing us to choose our zombies. Also, because after multiple viewing the little girl who jumps up at the beginning of the outbreak still scares the crap out of me!
Some of my other favorite Zombie Films:
- Dance of the Dead
- Rammbock: Berlin Undead
- 28 days later (though some consider it a outbreak film)
- Dead Alive
- Shaun of the Dead
Saw – torture porn
I’ve always had a problem with the phrase “torture porn”, not because of the images it brings to mind, but because before Saw ever came out I used to use the phrase “kung fu porn” and that never caught on. The way I see it, kung fu porn made more sense. In porn, every time two people meet, they have sex. In Jet Li and Bruce Li movies every time two people meet they fight. It just made sense.
Movies like Saw, House of a Thousand Corpses, Devil’s Rejects, Martyrs, Hostel, etc. are movies that really un-jaded me from violence in movies. Most times when I’d watch Jason, Freddy, or Myers stab someone, I could almost watch it with glee. It just wasn’t real. Then I watched Saw. I don’t know what they did, but for some reason the torture felt more real. And in each of those movies I mentioned I felt more for the victims than in your typical slasher film. Perhaps it’s that word: torture. Perhaps it’s because they’re not just stabbed and done with. They’re not just beheaded, they’re made to suffer.
It might also be that the bad guys in these movies aren’t supernatural killing machines. They’re humans, doing evil to other humans. That makes it more real. In the case of Saw, it’s a person who wants people to realize that life has value and puts their lives in their own hands. The first was definitely the best; the rest I enjoyed but they didn’t have the same philosophical weight as the first.
So, those are some of my favorite Horror films (with some honorable mentions in each section). I came up with a few other favorites:
Devil’s Backbone – Guillermo Del Toro. A really great ghost story. Very rarely see those.
Poltergeist – Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg. I had one of those stupid clowns! Gave me nightmares at least once.
Demons – Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento. I actually saw the sequel first. These probably gave me my love for Zombies. While they are demons, basic zombie rules apply.
Paranormal Activity – the first one just scared me. I think they should have kept going with prequels to prequels. Paranormal Activity 7 would have been diaries and artist renderings done in a Ken Burns style documentary. 🙂
Scream – great post-modern horror flick. Slasher/Comedy.
The Last Exorcism – great premise about a fake exorcist who decides to come clean. Then Shit Gets Real!
Hope everyone has a great Halloween! Feel free to remind me of some great horror movies I may have forgotten in the comments below.