Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Top Best (and some obscure) Horror Movies!

I know, I know; I hate myself for my absence too. I have no excuse except for the fact that I could not for the life of me think of any good posts. However, just now in the bath (where everyone gets their best ideas) I was getting in the mood to watch one of my favorite movies Silver Bullet (I'll be reviewing in like two seconds!) and then started thinking about how awful most horror movies are. Like seriously, 98% of that entire genre sucks. So all the more reason for me to list the best ones!

Most people don't peg me for a horror aficionado, and really, I'm not. But I've grown up with a very eccentric dad who loved to watch horror movies with his daughter and read Stephen King to her before bed, and so really, I cannot help but be an expert. While my dad is into any horror movie with guts and gore galore, I really hate those kinds; I'm all for necessary gore, and I absolutely love ones with killer plot and deep, emotional substance. I don't really think any of these are made after 1999, but don't get me wrong, I think there are probably some great recent slashers. I'm just a creature of habit. Meaning, I know my favorites; the ones that I used to watch with my dads on the dark couch, the ones that I watch to cheer me up, the tried-and-true favorites where every scary scene is burned into my memory.

In no particular order, we are off!

1. Silver Bullet (1985)

Okay, can you just say 'childhood'? Probably one of the most underrated Stephen King masterpieces (based on his novella Cycle of the Werewolf), this movie is not only one of the best of horror, but the best period. I'd rank it high as one of my favorite films, because it features a disabled hero, and an aura of unexplainable sadness that grips you long after the movie is over. Jane, the narrator of the film, is the eldest daughter of a broken family, and she tells the tale of her younger, paraplegic brother Marty during a series of savage murders that break out in their home town. Their relationship is realistically bitter, as Jane feels neglected because of the special care Marty needs, and them growing closer as they face a The Monsters are Due on Maple Street - esque dilemma, as everyone turns against each other while the bodies get higher, not paying attention to Marty and his werewolf theory because he's just the little disabled boy. But Jane listens. And if the last minute of the movie doesn't make you tear up like a baby, I don't know what will. Also, the scene with Brady gets me every time.

2. Rear Window (1954)

Actually more of a thriller, but no less suspenseful, Rear Window is one of Hitchcock's best. Featuring two of my favorite actors, Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart, it tells the tale of a man confined in a wheelchair who spies on the people of his apartment building in their homes through his window, to curb his boredom. Harmless? It is, until he swears he witnesses one of them murder a woman. After that, it's up to him, his girlfriend, and his wisecracking nurse to figure out the crime, at the risk of their lives. It inspired the movie Disturbia (another amazing movie that, if you liked this one, is more than worth checking out) and was fanastically done in regards to cinematography, score, casting, and delicious plot. Because, just like the main character, you doubt yourself as to whether the murder was real, or if you've just been cooped up way too long in your room with no excitement.






3. Lost Boys (1987)


If you want literally the most grunge, punk horror movie, then Lost Boys will be your Holy Grail. With an amazing soundtrack including Echo & the Bunnymen, and Gerard McMann with the theme song  Cry Little Sister  (one of my favorite songs in the history of ever; please listen), it's a must-see. The gore is minimal, and the movie has a mix of comedy, darkness, and romance, which makes this a good pick no matter your preference. It's hella 80's, and the fashion is like one big The Cure rave. It focuses on two brothers, one 18 (Michael) and one pre-teen (Sam), who move to California with their mother, and Michael quickly gets mixed up with the Lost Boys. The Lost Boys are, unfortunately, a twisted version the ones from Neverland, never growing old, staying out late, and luring other teenagers to join their never ending partying and killing. When Michael falls in love with the Wendy of the group, Star, he is forced to choose between finishing his transformation into an undead gangbanger, or protect Sam, who has befriended two wackjob 'vampire experts' in his grade. Throw in a sprinkling of Hellhounds, an eccentric grandpa who knows more than he lets on, and 80's slang, and you've got one of the best vampire movies around.

4. The Fly (1986)


Unlike the one above, which features laughs and and harmless ketchup blood, this movie is not for the lighthearted. Heartbreaking, melancholy, and totally gross at parts, The Fly is one of the best science fiction horrors ever made. In probably one of the most doomed romances ever, the movie begins with a brilliant scientist named Seth taking a cute reporter,Veronica, to his lab. He shows her his telepods, which allow teleportation of objects between one telepod to the other. As their relationship progresses, she documents his work. However, he becomes more manic to perfect the devices, as they cannot transport living things (as seen when a monkey is transported, and things go horribly wrong...). In a fit of drunkenness, he decides to transport himself without telling Veronica. When he comes out, the transport is successful, and the couple rejoice. But, there was a kink: a housefly had slipped into the telepod with him. As his and Veronica's relationship gets more serious, he becomes near mad with happiness, saying that he has become "pure", but Veronica is starting to notice that he is changing. Changing into a madman, yes, but also an insect. (I'll give you $10 if you can spot his mason-jar'd penis near the end, when his transformation is almost complete; makes me laugh every time). Trust me, Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis are stellar at portraying a startlingly sorrowful love story in a seemingly cheesy plot, and it's one of the best movies to watch if you don't necessarily want a slasher, but something to chill your blood and make you slightly nauseous, while also sob harder than you did watching Titanic.

5. Tremors (1990)


This is probably a little bit more known to the world via Kevin Bacon (who is great in this, by the way), and this is one of the few movies on this list that feature an actual monster. It's about a small town in Navada called Perfection, an isolated ex-mining settlement with 14 people. Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward play Val and Earl, handymen in the town. A graduate student Rhonda (Bacon's love interest) pops in, doing a study on earthquakes and tremors (ayyyy) in the region. Soon after the people are introduced and stuff, Val and Earl decide to head to the other town; on their way, they find their friend dead up in an electrical pole. Weird? It gets weirder when they find out he died of thirst; he was afraid to come down. Long story short, they head back to the town, the phonelines get cut, and them and the meager townspeople have to beat giant worm-creatures that burrow underneath the ground and pop out of the ground to grab people. That poor pole guy had the right idea with the climbing, but he really should have brought water. I can't explain exactly why this is such a good movie, but whenever it's on, I find myself watching it and enjoying every minute of it.

6. The Omen (1976)


Alright, we are getting down to the nitty-gritty actual horror here with this movie. Though made in 1976, people everywhere still get the chills from Damien and his sick smile. If creepy kids make your skin crawl, then there is no one more perfect than the original Antichrist, right? When a couple adopts a baby from a really sketchy source, they think everything is alright and the boy is just the cutest thing; until he starts killing people, that is. And as if the film wasn't scary enough, the fact that this set had some of the worst luck in the world hits a little too close to home; tragedy struck many of the people who worked on the set, such as the screenwriter's plane getting struck by lightening and the lead actor's son shooting himself in the head. Personally, I would watch this one with a friend, because honestly, there isn't anything more scary than a child's nanny killing herself, screaming, "Look at me, Damien! It's all for you!"




7. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

It's hard to write this right now, because to be completely honest, it's hard to do anything with this movie without fangirling. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know all about Hannibal Lecter and his particular palette, and many of you will have seen this (it was the first horror movie to win an Oscar, after all!). But for the people who haven't, here's the main plot: when a serial killer named Buffalo Bill begins abducting girls and skinning them, a young student Clarice Starling is assigned to interview a prisoner, Hannibal Lecter, who had Bill as a patient when he was a renowned psychiatrist. Starling and Lector begin an intricate game of quid-pro-quo as he helps her catch the killer before he takes even more lives. While a lot of people have become fans of the serial killer all over again with the new show Hannibal, this movie actually has very little in common with it. The TV show mainly deals with the events in the original book Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, when Hannibal was still a doctor and came head-to-head with Will Graham, while this movie takes place after our friend is locked up behind bars (or shall I say glass?). With very minimal gore and no jumps, this is more a crime thriller similar to Citizen Kane, and Clarice Starling shines as an agent who will do almost anything to save these girls, solve the puzzle, and silence the screaming of the innocent. The plot of this story is also based on a book by Thomas Harris, who drew inspiration from real serial killers, namely Ted Bundy, Gary Ridgway, and Jerry Brudos. Want a real scare? Look those bad boys up.

8. Signs (2002)

Again, while not actually a horror movie in the traditional sense, Signs is right up there with Sixth Sense as M. Night Shyamalan's shining moments. I was going to include Sixth Sense in here, but I felt like two of them would be a bit much; when choosing between them, Signs wins by a close call. The premise sounds wonky: a former preacher and widower lives on a lone farm with his two kids, Morgan and Bo, and his brother-in-law Merrill, when aliens begin to invade. But against all odds, this movie is probably the best in its genre. It handles the idea of ETs with a realistic finesse, only showing the aliens briefly through shadows and quick glances, which I personally love. They understood the strengths of not showing the aliens, which gives it a sense of imagination; minds can go forever, while special effects? Not so much. Mel Gibson, while being a stellar douchebag in real life, is amazing in his role as the father who lost his faith since the death of his wife. And can we just talk about how everything ties together? "Swing away, Merrill, swing away."




9. Village of the Damned (1960)

A true classic, if I may say so myself. Right up there with The Haunting of Hill House, and a precursor to many horror movies that focused on children as the villains, including, but not limited to, The Omen, Children of the Corn, and Bad Seed. Considering its time, it's basically one long Twilight Zone episode, and believe me, it's a creepfest. When there's a freak storm thing in a small town, suddenly all the women capable become pregnant, and like four months later, they give birth at the same time to kids with pale eyes and hair. The children act as one, and they develop at a rapid rate, both mentally and physically. When they become too powerful, the adults face a problem no one should face: is it possible to actually kill your own child for the safety of the others? Oh, and unlike a lot of movies, the sequel, Children of the Damned, is just as stellar, and I would highly recommend both!






10. The Exorcist (1973)


Oh dear lord, let me say one thing: watch this in the daylight. With friends and family. On a day when you're secure in your safety and won't get scared easily. I only say this because holy s*** is Regan scary. This is such a popular movie because it created an explosion of possession-centered books and movies, starred a young girl in a role that was so obscene and controversial that she herself couldn't view it till she was 18, and honestly, the soundtrack is perfect. Yes, this is the movie that made you shake in your boots whenever Tubular Bells began playing, like a fear-based Pavlovian dog. Children being the villian was a newly created archetype in the 70's, as was demonic possession, and The Exorcist does a great job of blending the two together. If I'm ever in need of a real, honest-to-goodness freak out, Regan and her demon are there for me. A quick warning though? If you're Christian and get offended easily, this movie is about as sacrilegious as it gets (need I refer to the scene when Regan masturbates with a crucifix?).



BONUS: Tales From the Crypt (1989 - 1996)

A bonus because it's a TV series rather than an actual movie, there's nothing more silly, absolutely memory-filled for me, or ridiculous as Tales From the Crypt. The show always begins in front of a decaying old haunted mansion, and the camera goes through the front door, down the stairs into a dungeon, and lands on a coffin that bursts open, revealing a wily, cacking skeleton named Crypt Keeper, or Crippy as I called him. I'm literally chucking to myself remembering it. My dad and I would watch it every Saturday, before Star Trek and after Friday the Thirteenth (the spooky 90's show, not the horror movie), and it's like the shining jewel of horror series. Spooky. And wonderful. Basically Goosebumps but better and more original. But don't get me wrong: this show was actually pretty scary when it wanted to be. There was campy gore and death, so this was mainly a show for those twisted kids who collected Garbage Pail Kids or, like, ate their scabs, idk. I never ate my scabs, but I certainly was obsessed with Crippy. He's just too adorable, isn't he? I need this show on Netflix ASAP~ 

And there you have it! My competed list of the best horror movies out there, coming from someone who knows a thing or two about horror. I've seen all types, and trust me, I'm not one for shallow slashers like Hellraiser, or movies that are ~this close~ to being snuff films like Hostel or Spit On Your Grave. Dark thrillers that might have a little too much blood to not be considered horror = life. 

Oh, and before I go, let me just add on a little reminder: respect yourself and others when dealing with horror movies. I know it sounds stupid, but really, remember: Don't force yourself to watch a scary movie you know you won't enjoy because of triggers, too much gore, or anything like that. And as an extension, if you're someone who doesn't scare easily, don't force a friend to watch a horror movie with you when they protest. With such a controversial, scary genre (obviously), it's good to listen to people when they say they don't want to watch something, or it will probably ruin everyone's night (or month) :D

Bye bye, boils, ghouls, and non-binary merpeople!!




















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