"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Top Ten Horror Films of All Time

Happy Halloween

By Gary;

I cannot let my favorite holiday pass without listing my personal favorite top ten horror films.

Now the question come up, exactly what is a horror movie? 

That is hard to answer.  Would the movies "Alien" or "The Thing from Another World" qualify as horror?  They are far more scary than many so-called horror flicks.  But I think we need to weed out Science Fiction style films. . . . . but on the other hand, "Frankenstein" would be perhaps the first Science Fiction book ever written.

Oh, screw it.  No aliens or Sci Fi.   Let's go with movies that feature scenes that startle the viewer, and the macabre and the supernatural. These films may overlap with the fantasy, supernatural, and thriller genres.

Plots within the horror genre often involve the intrusion of an evil force, event, or personage, commonly of supernatural origin, into the everyday world.

Prevalent elements include ghosts, vampires, werewolves, curses, satanism, demons, gore, torture, vicious animals, monsters, zombies, cannibals, and serial killers.

So considering those guidelines, here is my top ten horror movies.

#1  -  Dracula (1931)

Renfield: He came and stood below my window in the moonlight. And he promised me things, not in words, but by doing them.
Van Helsing: Doing them?
Renfield: By making them happen. A red mist spread over the lawn, coming on like a flame of fire! And then he parted it, and I could see that there were thousands of rats, with their eyes blazing red, like his, only smaller. Then he held up his hand, and they all stopped, and I thought he seemed to be saying: "Rats! Rats! Rats! Thousands! Millions of them! All red-blood! All these will I give you! If you will obey me!"
Van Helsing: What did he want you to do?
Renfield: That which has already been done!

There is no other way to say it.  Dracula is the classic of all classics.

The great Bela Lugosi had the role of a lifetime.  The atmosphere of Dracula's castle and turn of the century London is spot on.  And then there is Renfield.  My God, what an acting job.

#2   -  Halloween – (1978)

This movie blew me away in the theater . . . yes, I am dating myself. But the film freaked me out. I had never before seen anything like it.

This 1978 classic American low budget independent slasher horror film was directed, produced, and scored by John Carpenter and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut. The film was the first installment in what became the Halloween franchise.

Halloween was produced on a budget of $325,000 and grossed $47 million at the box office in the United States, and $70 million worldwide.

#3   -   Underworld  - (2003)

Underworld breathed fresh life, so to speak, into the endless Vampire movie saga.

The main plot revolves around Selene (Kate Beckinsale), a vampire who is a Death Dealer hunting Lycans.

The film's greatness comes from the stylish Gothic visuals, the "icy English composure" in Kate Beckinsale's performance, and the extensively worked-out vampire–werewolf mythology that serves as the film's backstory.

#4   -   Frankenstein - (1931)

Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" in 1818 is perhaps the very first Science Fiction book.  By chance it doubles as horror.  Certainly the movie is a classic of acting and atmosphere.

Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster created the very image of the horror movie.

The scene in which the monster throws the little girl into the lake and accidentally drowns her has long been controversial. Upon its original 1931 release, the second part of this scene was cut by state censorship boards in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Those states also objected to a line they considered blasphemous, one that occurred during Frankenstein's exuberance when he first learns that his creature is alive. The original line was: "It's alive! It's alive! In the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!" Kansas requested the cutting of 32 scenes, which, if removed, would have halved the length of the film. Jason Joy of the Studio Relations Committee sent censor representative Joseph Breen to urge them to reconsider. Eventually, an edited version was released in Kansas

#5   -   The Silence of the Lambs – (1991)

Hannibal Lecter: You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition's given you some length of bone, but you're not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling? And that accent you've tried so desperately to shed: pure West Virginia. What is your father, dear? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp? You know how quickly the boys found you... all those tedious sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars... while you could only dream of getting out... getting anywhere... getting all the way to the FBI.

If you have never seen this movie on a full screen in a dark theater then you have no idea of its power.

The Silence of the Lambs was released in 1991, and grossed over $272 million.

The film was the third film to win Oscars in all the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It is also the first winner of Best Picture widely considered to be a horror film, and only the second such film to be nominated in the category, after The Exorcist in 1973.

#6   -   Psycho – (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock created the modern slasher film.  All the films that come after "Psycho" use that movie as a baseline to expand on.

The murder of Janet Leigh's character in the shower is the film's pivotal scene and one of the best-known scenes in all of cinema history. As such, it spawned numerous myths and legends. It was shot from December 17 to December 23, 1959, and features 77 different camera angles. The scene "runs 3 minutes and includes 50 cuts."

Most of the shots are extreme close-ups, except for medium shots in the shower directly before and directly after the murder. The combination of the close shots with their short duration makes the sequence feel more subjective than it would have been if the images were presented alone or in a wider angle, an example of the technique Hitchcock described as "transferring the menace from the screen into the mind of the audience".

#7   -   The Wolf Man - (1941)

The film stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as The Wolf Man, featuring Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Béla Lugosi.

The transformation of Chaney from man into monster was laborious. The makeup had been designed originally for Henry Hull and the film Werewolf of London but it was uncomfortable to wear and difficult to apply and Hull refused to wear it. Chaney adopted it as his own.

Chaney claimed he was forced to sit motionless for hours as the scenes were shot frame by frame. At times he claimed he was to remain sitting even while the crew broke for lunch and was not even allowed to use the bathroom. Chaney even went as far as saying special effects men drove tiny finishing nails into the skin on the sides of his hands so they would remain motionless during close ups

Do not make this mistake - Zombies are not your friend.

#8   -   The Walking Dead - (2010) 

Most fans have never seen a "classic" film on the big screen in a theater the way it was intended to be viewed.  The only experience they have is on a small screen in their living room.  So there is no reason not to consider TV movies as candidates for this list.

"Days Gone Bye" is the first episode of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead.  The film is off the charts.  A movie on a small screen.  It originally aired on AMC in the United States on October 31, 2010. The episode was written and directed by Frank Darabont, the series creator.

I choose to lump all six episodes of season one of "The Walking Dead" as one production.  If you watch the DVD without commercials it becomes one full, long and a damn good movie.

#9   -   The Hills Have Eyes - (2006)

His first mistake was voter registration . . . . . .

Big Bob:  "Bobby, leave Doug alone. He's a Democrat. He doesn't believe in guns."


The movie is disturbing, very disturbing in so many ways.

It should be noted that the great Ted Levine has now been in two horror classics.  This movie and The Silence of the Lambs.

This is a remake of Wes Craven's 1977 film The Hills Have Eyes. Written by film making partners Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur of the French horror film Haute Tension, and directed by Aja, the film follows a family which becomes the target of a group of murderous mutants after their car breaks down in the desert.

The film was released theatrically in the United States and United Kingdom on March 10, 2006. It earned $15.5 million in its opening weekend in the U.S., where it was originally rated NC-17 for strong gruesome violence, but was later edited down to an R-rating.

#10   -   The Exorcist – (1973)

Demon:  "Your mother sucks cocks in Hell, Karras, you faithless slime."


The film has had a significant influence on popular culture.  It has often been named the scariest movie of all time. 

It became one of the highest earning movies of all time, grossing over $441 million worldwide. It is also the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture.

The Exorcist contained a number of incredible special effects.  The effects were so unusually graphic that it is amazing that it received an R rating and not the X rating.  Theaters provided "Exorcist barf bags". 

Because of death threats against actress Linda Blair, Warner Brothers hired bodyguards to protect her for six months after the film's release

American Werewolf in London

Bubbling Under - the almost top ten

An American Werewolf in London  -  (1981)

The Lost Boys  -  (1987)

John Carpenter's Vampires  -  (1998)

Dawn of the Dead – (1978)

The Shining – (1980)

30 Days of Night - (2007)

(Wikipedia - List of horror films)


Armand Vaquer said...

Re: "Dracula." 19th Century?! There are automobiles in the movie.

Gary said...

Armand, I stand corrected. Even the book published in 1897 just makes it into the 19th century. Better to say turn of the century London.