Home > Uncategorized > My Favorite Horror Flicks

My Favorite Horror Flicks

As a special Halloween treat, we’re going to chat about horror flicks.  Horror movies are like comfort food for me, they poke something in my soul that feels instinctual rather than intellectual.  Instead of poking at the mind, they go straight for the heart, preferring to raise your blood pressure than to stimulate your cerebral cortex.  With a few exceptions, they aren’t the smartest films you’ll ever watch.  Their purpose is to entertain viscerally, not provide eye-opening insight into life and/or love.  Considering the volume of mind-bending, cerebral films I’ve been watching the last few years, the month of October provides a welcome break.

Horror preferences tend to depend on your era or age: my dad’s generation loves the Universal monsters (Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon), my generation prefers the slasher franchises (Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers), and the new generation loves the torture porn, Asian imports, and/or general remakes (Saw, Hostel, The Ring, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)).  I think the horror heyday resides somewhere in between my dad’s and my group, those 70’s horror flicks that really terrified and tested waters most cinemagoers weren’t prepared for (The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Jaws, Suspiria, Don’t Look Now, The Omen, Carrie).

Here’s my list of favorites:

#1 The Exorcist

The king of all.  First and foremost, it’s an amazingly scary horror film.  But aside from the scares and creepy make-up, it has an incredible script and perfectly casted actors in each part.  As a whole, a film doesn’t get much better than this.  Having an antagonist completely restrained for the duration of the film and still managing to scare the living hell out of the audience is sheer genius. 

#2 Halloween (1978)

The first film that scared the daylights out of me, and I enjoyed it.  I saw the movie, bought the mask, and hung it in my closet facing my bed.  Any night I slept with that closet door open I could wake up and see that damn thing staring at me in the darkness.  No idea why I did that to myself.

#3 The Thing (1982)

The paranoia and suspense are unparalleled, and the creature images are the stuff of nightmares.  Carpenter did more with basic animatronics and old school effects than any computer could ever do.

#4 Evil Dead 1 & 2

Over-the-top, in-your-face, gory, bloody, craziness.  Once these films get going they refuse to let up.  I have no idea how Raimi came up with some of this stuff, and to be honest I’m a little concerned about his sanity every time I watch these.

#5 A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Ultimately, Mr. Krueger scared me more than any other flick on this list.  It’s unfair, Krueger was a villain who didn’t have to play by our rules, we were forced to play by his rules in his games.  For years I refused to re-watch it.  The way Craven bent reality in the dream sequences left me completely unsettled and unprepared for what he was capable of.

#6 An American Werewolf in London

Aside from the scattered scenes of werewolf mutilation and transformation, the playful nature of this film makes it so different to watch.  Most horror films are soaked with dread, but Landis keeps you grinning most of the time. Just before he unleashes the beast.  Love the soundtrack too.

#7 Suspiria

Pure joy for the eyes.  The colors are practically a character in the film, forming the tone and mood in so many scenes.  Italian horror is quite a beautiful sight.  The soundtrack on this one is one of the best horror soundtracks as well, thanks to Goblin.

#8 Black Christmas (1974)

A rare horror film set at Christmas time, a tough gig to pull off without appearing as exploitation.  Instead this is one of those slow building, tense thrillers with a rarely seen but frequently heard villain.  The phone calls are pretty freaky.

#9 Dawn of the Dead (1978)

As zombie movies go, this one is tough to top.  Romero’s black and white original is almost on the same plane, but this flick is a little more of an adventure and it’s a pretty fun ride.  Another film that holds back on the dread and despair until just the right moments.

#10 The Shining

The ultimate slow-build, pot-boil, epic horror film.  The film is so masterfully shot and acted, it’s almost an artsy horror film.  Having Kubrick behind the camera is a step up for any movie, but have him direct a Stephen King story and put Jack Nicholson in the lead role and you have the ingredients for a horror masterpiece.

#11  Peeping Tom

The original first-person POV killer in cinema.  This film made me appreciate Michael Powell even more, which is saying something considering his body of work.  The film was well ahead of its time, and to be honest, I’m utterly surprised we haven’t seen a remake of it yet.  I pray it never happens, but in the YouTube/Skype world we live in, the theme of this film would fit right in.

I had to push it to 11 films, I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving any of these off the list.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 1, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Yes! I love that era of horror. Although in fairness, I love most eras of horror. But the 70’s/early 80’s segment was fantastic.

    I can get behind silent horror, I can really dig the Universal monsters, I can appreciate and have fun with the craptasticness of the 50’s and 60’s sci-fi/horrors, and of course the 70’s and early 80’s were incredible. I don’t want to say that the 80’s slashers were bad movies- that’s not fair of me to say- but I’m not the biggest fan. I don’t enjoy them in the least. And the torture porn… meh. I can, however, appreciate two foreign movements- New French Extreme and J-Horror (although J-Horror is pretty cliché after awhile).

    Great article!

  2. November 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks, man! Other than HIGH TENSION and AUDITION I’m pretty unfamiliar with those foreign horror sub-genres. If you have any recommendations for me I’ll gladly check them out. American horror sucks pretty bad right now, so any change of pace is more than welcome.

    I have a soft spot for the slasher flicks because I basically grew up on them. I’m not entirely proud of it but I’m stuck with that association. Now I’ll pretty much watch any horror from the 70’s and early 80’s, before it got ridiculous.

    I really miss the days when accomplished filmmakers were helming these genre flicks, now all we get is commericial and music video directors with the lowest price tag.

  3. November 1, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Part of what I love about the horror genre is that there are so many gems out there, but you have to dig deep to find them. It’s so satisfying to stumble upon a little known, no budget horror that’s genuinely good. You have to dig through a lot of crap, to be sure, but when you get to the good ones, it’s extremely satisfying.

    A few that I’ve enjoyed in recent years: House of the Devil, The Signal, Dead End, Salvage, Triangle, and The Burrowers. There are definitely some clichés in that bunch but they try and they aren’t big budget schlock.

    As for French New Extreme, I’m still diving in a bit myself. But I’ve seen and liked Frontiers, Inside, Martyrs, and Calvaire.

    J-horror… well, those are a little more obvious. Pick just about any American ghost movie from 2003-2009 and there’s a J-horror equivalent that came first. Ju-On, Ringu, One Missed Call… Anything by Takashi Miike (Audition) is good, which would include Ichi the Killer.

  4. November 2, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Definitely going to give that list of movies a look. Thanks for taking the time, man.

    I think I have the greatest interest in the French New Extreme. As cinematically experimental as the French have been historically, it seems like they could be the most intrigueing.

    As for J-Horror, the idea of watching more Takashi Miike movies is very appealing. As much as I hate to admit it, I really enjoy ICHI THE KILLER, and VISITOR Q has been on my Netflix queue for ages.

    Thanks again.

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