MundanO’Ween: Our top horror films
Nothing goes better with Halloween or Day of the Dead or a trip to the theater with your mom (ahem) than a good scary movie, though finding horror films that are actually good is harder than you might think. Note to Hollywood, gore and shock value do not equal scary (we’re looking at you, Saw films…).
To help you with your horror film viewing for the weekend and beyond, we put together a list of our Top 10 horror films, and asked our friend and resident movie critic Rowan Morrison to do the same. He’s also been kind enough to curate a list of films currently available on Netflix to put you in the proper mood for Halloween, which we will provide for you on Friday. Join the conversation and tell us your favorites in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter @mundanitypod.
JLo’s Grindhouse Top 10
10. Pan’s Labyrinth
Guilermo del Toro’s fairytale nightmare is one of the best movies of the 2000s period, regardless of genre.
The dark, confined spaces are every bit as terrifying as the titular monster.
8. The Thing
John Carpenter’s best, about a murderous alien that assumes the shape of those that it kills.
It seems such a tame thing when viewed today, but you have to recognize and respect the massive influence it had on virtually every film in the genre that followed.
A waking kaleidoscope of a nightmare that’s also one of the best tales of witchcraft ever filmed.
5. Evil Dead II
Sam Raimi basically remade his first stab at the Evil Dead series, only with more invention and more blood.
4. Night of the Living Dead
The original zombie film and the one that established the “Romero rules.” (Pro tip: if it runs, it ain’t a zombie.)
3. An American Werewolf in London
I love everything about this movie, about a werewolf that the locals refuse to acknowledge. Thank you, Mr. Landis.
2. The Exorcist
I was so freaked out by this movie that I refuse to watch it a second time. Hands down the scariest film on this list, but…
1. The Shining
…not my favorite. Long live the (Stephen) King (even though the man himself hates Stanley Kubrick’s vision for his novel). How are you going to fight a movie where Scatman Crothers takes an axe to the chest the moment he walks in the door?
“When the Dead Have Their Holiday”
Rowan Morrison’s celebratory Samhain 2015
No order is intended or implied. Culling the list down to 10 is hard enough.
Nosferatu, eineSymphonie des Grauens (1922, F.W. Murnau)
Murnau’s third best film, which is to say it’s better than most films ever made. Dream-like, poetic, and skin-crawling. Max Schreck’s bestially pestilent performance is truly horrific and truly iconic (I’m talking to you, stab-happy, hocky-masked, machete-wielding, knife-fingered clowns).
Repulsion (1965, Roman Polanski)
Having demonstrated his mastery of minimalist claustrophobia with Knife in the Water, Polanski pushed the boat way out in his English language debut with a nerve-shreddingly realistic portrayal of escalating psychosis and mental disintegration. Deneuve, je t’aime.
Cannibal Holocaust (1979, Ruggero Deodato)
Deodato was hauled up in front of an Italian court on murder charges to prove he didn’t kill any actors during production. He also invented mock-doc found-footage horror twenty years before Blair Witch. Is it really a biting social satire? Absolutely. Is it exploitation cinema? Oh yes.
Psycho (1960, Alfred Hitchcock)
Maybe better described as a thriller, but belongs on a horror list for its profound impact on what we now know as the genre. Over fifty years later it’s hard to comprehend the impact this utterly unique and insanely inventive genre-mashing film had on audiences at the time. Hasn’t lost any of that impact.
Funny Games (1998/2008, Michael Haneke)
I know, what the hell right? Haneke is possibly the most transgressive filmmaker of our time. You just have to work for it. If this film doesn’t horrify, subvert, disturb, challenge and provoke you, you’re not watching it right. Try harder.
Night of the Living Dead (1968, George Romero)
As with Psycho, a “things were never the same again” moment in horror cinema and it’s hard to imagine the shock it must have been to contemporary audiences. I actually prefer Dawn, but Night makes the list for laying the foundations of Romero’s zombies-as-social-satire agenda.
Alien (1979, Ridley Scott)
An exercise in flawless production design that can support seemingly limitless re-watching. It’s hard to find a purer manifestation of the incomprehensible beastie in the dark.
The Wicker Man (1973, Robin Hardy)
You’ll not find Summerisle at Epcot, but it really does offer a rich and vibrant cultural experience (indigenous song and dance, harvest festivals, fancy dress, nubile fire jumpers, animal masks, Christopher Lee in a kilt). And let us not forget the celebrated Landlord’s Daughter.
A Flower of Flesh and Blood – GiniPiggu 2 (1985, Hideshi Hino)
Has the distinct honour of convincing Charlie Sheen it was a real snuff movie, freaking him out and causing him to contact the FBI. An official investigation ensued. If 40 minutes of plotless and lovingly-rendered dismemberment doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, avoid.
(Linking rather than embedding the trailer due to content. Consider this a warning.)
Ringu (1998, Hideo Nakata)
The bedraggled, contorted, matted-haired matriarch of modern Jho manages to blend a classical Asian ghost story vibe with some very modern twists. What seem like narrative idiosyncrasies and non-sequiturs to a western audience only add to the unnerving and terrifying atmospherics.
ScaredyHobbit’s list of 10 scary movies
10. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
I remember seeing this when I was little and the thing that always stayed with me was that **Spoiler Alert** THE GOOD GUYS DO NOT WIN! It was the first time that I had ever seen a movie where good does not win over evil (or alien). Also, I thought that “pod people” were in peapods for a couple years after that…what can I say, I was pretty gullible.
9. The Manitou (1978)
This was one of the first scary movies that I remember seeing with my Dad. It also had Tony Curtis in it… that’s right, not Jamie Lee Curtis (who will be in the list a bit later) but her dad. This one had it all… symbiotic growth of a humanoid on the back of a woman’s neck that is “born”, spooky poltergeisty kind of stuff, Native American chief combating the “presence” with his ancient ways and a completely bizarre end sequence that took place… wait for it… in SPACE! Yup, it scared little 8 year old me, but by now… it would probably be one of the funniest things ever.
8. The Entity (1981)
This movie is not only scary and really weird, but it is based on a true story. For 1981, the special effects (and practical effects as well) were pretty good. It was scary because you couldn’t see what was attacking her… only that it was attacking her. There is one particular scene that takes place in a bathroom that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. Still a creepy movie… and it has Ron Silver and Leonard Nimoy! How can you go wrong there?
7. Phantasm (1979)
Four things…1) set almost entirely in a mausoleum, 2) floating killer silver spheres, 3) cloaked little people from another dimension and 4) THE TALL MAN…nuff said.
6. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
This was the first zombie movie I ever saw. I know the purists will say that you have to see “Night of the Living Dead” but when an eight year old witnesses zombies eating brains IN A SHOPPING MALL, that is nuts. At the time my plan would be to hole up in the arcade to wait for help. Yeah, I would have lasted 2 quarters in a zombie apocalypse.
5. Ju-On (The Grudge) (2002)
For a while there, I was really into Japanese Horror movies. What made them even scarier to me was not only in the portrayal and the stark white appearance of the dead, in a weird Kabuki way, but the fact that it was subtitled… which made me focus on what was on screen and NOT the dialogue. The twisted forms and screen jump moments pulled me in good. And in this movie, the sound that the dead make is just super creepy.
4. The Ring (2002)
Well, this is the one that started my phase of Japanese horror movies. It is the American version of the J-Horror classic Ringu. I saw this movie with 5 of my co-workers while on a work trip upgrading PCs to Windows XP. We sat in the exact center of the theater, and we were the only ones there. I remember every time they would show parts of the “videotape” I would cringe because once you watch it… you die in 7 days. Solid movie. Creepy ass little kid too.
3. Alien (1979)
The first time I saw the Xenomorph I thought I was going to die. I never saw the chest burst coming and I was 9 and reminded that “In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream”. ‘Nuff said.
2. Halloween (1978)
The Shape came before Freddy and Jason. Michael Myers was the scariest thing I had ever seen at 8 years old. I remember seeing this movie at a drive-in, which clearly made me think we were going to die at any moment when Michael Myers attacked.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
This is THE SCARIEST MOVIE EVER!!! It took me 23 years to actually see the complete movie. The link to the original trailer is below… which I didn’t watch… just got the link. I’m going to go watch some clips of Joel Osteen now…
There you have it. 25 films over three lists. Many thanks to Rowan for helping us out.
Which of you favorites did we leave out?
Jim, Shawn (and Rowan)
Posted on October 29, 2015, in Movies and tagged A Flower of Flesh and Blood, Alien, An American Werewolf in London, Best horror films, Cannibal Holocaust, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead II, Exorcist, Funny Games, Halloween, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Ju-On (The Grudge), Night of the Living Dead, Nosferatu, Pan's Labyrinth, Phantasm, Psycho, Repulsion, Ringu, Suspiria, The Entity, The Manitou, The Ring, The Shining, The Thing, The Wicker Man. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.