Most of my friends don’t like horror movies. If I feel like hearing screams and witnessing eviscerations (and who, on occasion, doesn’t?), I usually have to watch them by myself. In an effort to spread the love, I have compiled a list of Top 10 Horror Movies (according to me, DRAGON, and my visionary colleague Sisckel*). A few notes: I’m not a big fan of gratuitous gore. I’m including a black comedy or two, b/c terror and humor–rather than being far removed–are actually intimately linked; I’ve always suspected that when the zombies attack, I’ll make a couple of wise-ass cracks before they eat my brain.
1. Night of the Living Dead: This black and white movie is not only terrifyingly plausible, but offers a powerful and apt commentary about human nature w/o overdoing it.
2. Black Sheep: When you need to see a film about the mutant weresheep menace, look no further! This, along w/ Flight of the Conchords, showcases the comic sensibilities of New Zealanders, who make fun of themselves and us (and our v. real fear of GMO’s) exquisitely.
3. The Bad Seed: The best of the “evil child” genre, which I personally have always found the most terrifying. You’ll have the urge to start pre-emptively macing little girls w/ blonde pig-tails, b/c BY GOD, SHE’LL NOT TAKE YOU W/O A FIGHT.
4. The Ring: I saw this on the big screen, and kept shrieking and clutching at my friend’s hand (thereby cutting off all circulation). It has a few flaws, but overall is masterfully done, and the ending leaves you horrified even as you’re relieved.
5. The Exorcist: Not as scary as some, b/c the viewer can take refuge in the sanctuary offered by the Christian god, but has excellent pacing and dialogue. Get the digitally remastered version for the shot of Linda Blair running, spider-like, down the stairs.
6. Suspirio: This Dario Argento film is beautifully filmed, and mysterious w/o being gory. Witches aren’t the scariest of cinema’s arsenal of monsters, but this movie also taps into fears and insecurities about isolation and powerlessness. My only complaint is that it takes place in a ballet school, and I wish there had been more dance scenes.
7. Ginger Snaps: A story about the horrors of growing up, using lycanthropy as a metaphor, this indie flick stands out b/c of the relationship btwn. its two main characters (sisters). Bonus points for adding some moments of fun and totally taking the piss out of the emo crowd.
8. Saw: My mom, a fellow horror aficionada, refused to see this on the grounds that it was too disgusting. Actually, the movie isn’t that violent; most of the gory scenes take place after the fact, and the straightforward presentation coupled w/ the clever story line makes the viewer feel like he or she is watching the reality show from hell…but can’t look away. This movie spawned a long line of sequels; I only saw the second one and was pretty disappointed.
9. Nightmare on Elm Street: The terrifying villain claims his victims in their sleep, lending the movie an air of frantic desperation, b/c there is nowhere to hide. Add a creepy children’s rhyme, and you’ve got the makings of a real horror movie.
10. Donnie Darko: While this is not technically a horror movie, that rabbit scared the shit out of me.
Drag me to Hell, Halloween, The Shining, Sweeney Todd; The Uninvited.
*Not to be confused w/ renowned film critic Gene Siskel, who is not currently alive! Although, wouldn’t it be fitting if I were channeling his ghost to talk about horror movies!