Written by: Cody Hiner
In an effort at introduction, I’ve decided that my first article on this site should be dedicated to my favorite horror movies. This will be the easiest way to give you all a glimpse into the type of film I enjoy, and what I consider to be the best of the best. Most of you will have no doubt seen most if not all of these selections, but if by chance you have not, do yourself a favor and add them to your watch list. I give to you, friends, my top Ten horror movies of all time.
- John Carpenter’s The Thing
Any top list of horror movies can be swiftly discarded if they don’t include this masterpiece. I was young when I first saw The Thing, but it’s left such an impression, as well as set such a high standard for Horror (and Sci-Fi if we’re being honest) that no film has ever been able to top. The paranoia and dread seeping through the second and third acts are magnificent. An open ended finale is as disturbingly meaningful as it is impactful. This film is the pillar of practical effects, and the standard to which I judge gore to this day.
Another masterpiece, this film took claustrophobic terror to new heights with the cramped corridors within the Nostromo. Unleashing the Xenomorph on the unsuspecting crew is a bit of a slow burn at first, but with each death the titular monster becomes more menacing. The Xenomorph truly feels like an alpha predator; a monster that can eviscerate you with any part of its body, and acid for blood. I honestly can’t think of a more terrifying creation to be locked in with.
Another Iconic (and for good reason) figure in horror is of course Michael Myers in Halloween. While the quality doesn’t last in the franchise (does it ever?), the original feature has been a hallmark of the horror genre since it’s release. The menacing, inhuman killer with the kitchen knife dispelled the illusion that suburbia was safe. His singular focus on tracking down and killing his sister (and anyone who got in his way), made the characters in the film, and the audience by extension, feel helpless to his wrath. The soundtrack itself is revered nearly as much as the film, and is instantly recognizable to even non-horror lovers.
Vicious, merciless, and unrelenting torture lie in wait for Anna. This film could have been split into two films, so distinctly different are the first and second halves of the movie. The tragic backstory and heartbreaking friendship of Anna and Lucie give way to terror, dread, and disgust by the time the credits roll. A higher concept elevates (heh) the story above similar torture movies such as Saw and Hostel, with an endgame that is impossible to predict, and nightmarish to think about.
Revelatory on its first viewing when I was younger, this film stands up to multiple viewings because it’s just so damn smart. Strangers from different walks of life, each with a skill needed to complete the puzzle, must find a way to survive and escape the cube. A fascinating look at these characters as they are reduced to the most base instinct there is: survive. The good and bad nature in each of them take the stage as they attempt to conquer the killer labyrinth they’ve been dropped in. The finale leaves the viewer with an even bleaker feeling than the maze itself.
The pinnacle of supernatural horror for me, Poltergeist still manages to give me goosebumps every time I watch it. Nothing feels out of place here, and the slow burn build up to the incredible final act is such an enjoyable ride that I’ve probably rewatched this more than any other movie on this list (with the exception of The Thing). From an innocent sense of wonder at these supernatural occurrences, we see and feel the slow forming dread and terror of the Freeling family as if we were experiencing these events ourselves. This film still holds up pretty damn well, considering it was released 35 years ago as of this year.
A self aware slasher that popularized the term “meta”, Scream was the movie that horror fans deserved. It knew all the rules, and played with the audiences expectations. The Ghostface killer would be another Iconic horror villain, and the movie thrilled in a way that most horror movies fail to do. It had the gore, it had the wit and humor usually not found in the genre, it had the surprise jump scares and the dreadful anticipation of certain doom. This movie wants for nothing, and spawned many copycat movies trying to replicate its success.
What’s my pleasure? This movie. After the initial scene, which really sinks its hooks into you (hah), it’s a bit of a slow burn to get to the real good stuff, but it certainly pays off in a big way. Introducing us to the Cenobites was a terrifying experience, and the sights that Clive Barker offered us were as horrible as they were intriguing. The practical effects still look better than a lot of movies today, and the hellish imagination behind the infamous Pinhead and other Cenobites, including their motivations, are still one of the more terrifying experiences in the genre.
9. 28 Days Later
A fantastic refresher that revitalized the zombie genre, 28 Days Later really won me over even after several viewings. Its different take on zombies was awesome to see, and really induced stress and fear in a more impactful way to me than the slow moving Romero-esque zombie. Details are sparse in exactly what the virus is, but the rage that it induces turns the hosts into ultra violent zombies. This movie has a couple scenes that really stick with you even after years have gone by, the cinematography and some of the visuals in this movie are truly breathtaking.
10. The Exorcist
For a lot of people, The Exorcist is the most terrifying film of all time, and while I can’t quite agree, I will definitely say it’s one of the scariest films ever made. Demonic possession of a young innocent girl, the physical deterioration and gruesome physical feats are brought to life in a way that had never been done before. The confrontation between the priests and the demon are relentless in their intensity, and make for some of the best material ever committed to film. Unfortunately, the franchise would continue to degrade as further sequels were made, but disregarding all later entries, this classic will always be a pleasure to watch.
There you have it guys, my definitive top ten horror movies. There were almost too many to choose from, so narrowing it down this much was a chore by itself, but let me know if you think I missed any, or if I’ve got something on here that you still need to check out! Any suggestions you guys have for me are always welcome. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you guys next time.