74 (huh?) top Horror Movies

There’s a group of film critics/enthusiasts putting together a rather impressive list of top horror movies, along with detailed essay/analysis of each film. I can’t recomend reading this list enough.

So, to play along, somewhat, I’m posting a list of my top 74 horror movies. 74 because no one does a top 74 list. And, it’s sort of a cop out on my part, but this is not an objective list. It’s a personal one. So there are some objectively bad movies on this list. This list is only about the mark these flicks left on me. So there.

1. The Thing: Carpenter’s best film. It’s not even close. Tension, claustrophobia, a wow-monster, and a fatalistic machismo that’s almost charming.

2. Jaws: I had shark nightmares for decades after seeing this film. Quint remains one of the most memorable characters in the history of film, and the USS Indianapolis scene is perfect.

3. The Exorcist: The power of my list compells you!

4. Evil Dead II: Seeing this movie is akin to the first time I heard Hukser Du or The Ramones. What is that, and I want more.

5. The Fly (Cronenberg): I’ve only seen it, in its entirety, once. That’s all I can handle. So grotesque and so sad.

6. Alien: This movie affected me before I saw it. Listening to my parents talk about it in hushed tones, and awe, sent me ducking under my blanket and sleeping with the light on.

7. Ravenous: A flawed movie I suppose, but one with such quirky charm. I have to admit I’m a little obsessed with the flick. I own the soundtrack and listen to it frequently. My kids call it “dragon music.”

8. Pyscho: The overhead shot/kill, and the end reveal of Norman mother still give me shivers, even after all the repeated viewings.

9. Frankenstein: The rose petal scene.

10. Night of the Living Dead (original, of course): They’re coming to get you, Barbara. I greet my agent this way all the time.

11. The Shining: Yeah, Jack starts off crazy, but the atmosphere of menace maintained throughout the movie just might be unmatched.

12. Them: Giant radioactive ants from the New Mexico desert attack LA. Easily the best of the 50s giant monster movies. Make me a sergeant in charge of the booze…

13. Creature from the Black Lagoon: Unlike Them!, which I think holds up much better today as a film (the appalling sexism in Them isn’t as in your face as it is in Lagoon), Lagoon still has the Creature, my favorite monster design.

14. Rosemary’s Baby: Hail Satan? Maybe?

15. The Blair Witch Project: I saw it before the hype and loved, loved, loved it. The ending particularly. This movie is a bellwether for me. If you didn’t like it, we’re probably not going to have much common ground in the horror genre.

16. Duel: Dennis Weaver yelling, “Come on,” for thirty minutes straight while fleeing from a crazed truck driver. Works for me.

17. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1979): That ending, man. That ending!

18. Let the Right On In: Mood and character. Smart, quirky, sad. My current favorite vampire flick.

19. The Wicker Man (original): Another movie with a perfect affect ending. Bonus pts for Christopher Lee as a scary hippy.

20. Bubba Ho Tep: Perfect union of Bruce Campbell and Joe R. Lansdale. Surprisingly emotive story for all its goof.

21. The Descent: As scary and claustrophobic as a movie can get. And that’s before the monsters show up.

22. The Dead Zone: I used to be able to do a mean Walken impersonation: “The ice, is gonna break!”

23. The Devil’s Backbone: Man’s inhumanity to man is more frightening than the supernatural, as always.

24. Event Horizon: No movie has disturbed me as much as this. The film clip of the previous crew, in particular.

25. Silence of the Lambs: It puts the lotion in the basket….

26. Session 9: Flawed, but I so love this movie. Mainly for the Danvers State Hospital setting. I grew up near there, and it was our ultimate haunted house.

27. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Icky, but undeniable.

28. 28 Days Later: Tense, scary, and smart (until the dumb rambo ending)

29. American Werewolf in London: Great mix of humor and horror. Griffin Dunn is a reason to watch. And I had a crush on the nurse.

30. ‘Salem’s Lot: Kid floating outside the window gave me nightmares.

31. Halloween: I hate slasher flicks, but this one is still scary.

32. Nightmare on Elm Street: I still hate slasher flicks, but this first, non-wisecracking Freddy gave me nightmares. Notice a theme emerging?

32.  Godzilla (original): Orson Wells narrates the fiery destruction of Tokyo. Seen as a kid, I just loved watching a giant monster. Watching it now, with post WW2 Japan as the backdrop, it’s downright disturbing. Or as disturbing as a guy in a rubber monster suit gets (further reading, Shambling Toward Hiroshima by James Morrow)

33. Something Wicked This Way Comes: Fantastic adaptation of the Bradbury classic.

34. Near Dark: Vampire noir.

35. Rec: A genuinely scary zombie movie, with an unforgettable ending.

36. Tremors: If I find this movie on TV, I can’t not watch it. Alex Keaton’s dad as a gun nut! Giant worms! Jaws on land! So much fun.

37. Cemetery Man: Disturbing and weird.

38. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original): You’re next!

39. Donnie Darko: The dread of tragedy that hangs over this movie is palpable. Scary bunny.

40. War of the Worlds (original): I won’t watch the remake. Still in love with the original design of the martian spaceships.

41. Jacob’s Ladder: Doesn’t hold up as well as some, but still, packs a creepy punch. *twitches my head really fast*

42. The Wolf Man: Might’ve been my first horror movie. Lon Cheney Jr, soft dissolve, and misty foggy woods.

43. Pi: Math horror!

44. Wolfen: Albert Finney as a tough guy cop and Gregory Hines tap dances around werewolves. Wait, that part didn’t happen. Yet another movie that gave me nightmares.

45. Gremlins: The most subversive holiday movies (check the dates, it came out around xmas) ever. I won’t eat after midnight.

46. The Thing from Another World: So what if it’s an attacking carrot. Still good.

47. Rodan: Yeah, Rodan. The opening mine scene (larvae under the water) is the scariest three minutes in big-monster Japanese movies, hands down.

48. The Birds: I might like Mel Brooks’s High Anxiety better.

49. Re-Animator: Title kind of says it all. Gory mayhem that offers a certain panache.

50. The Abominable Dr. Phibes: A smarter, slightly less sadistic (though no less cruel and disturbing) precursor to the lame SAW movies. That’s right, I said lame.

51. Fright Night: Rear-window with a vampire. Plus, lots of 80s fun.

52. The Lair of the White Worm: Man, I didn’t realize how many vampire movies I have on here.

53. The Last Man on Earth: An effective adaptation of I AM LEGEND starring Vincent Price.

54. Omega Man: A less effective adaptation, but stylistically, presents a more believable 70s apocalypse. And Chuck Heston.

55. Dawn of the Dead: Probably, and objectively should be higher. But this is my likes list. So *sticks tongue out*

56. Ringu: I threw away my betamax after this flick.

57. The Legend of Hell House: Ectoplasm? Really?

58. Exorcist III: Some great shocks. And George C. Scott. I mean, George C. Scott!

59. Quatermass and the Pit: More nightmares of the ghostly alien thingy for me.

60. Creepshow: Pulpy fun.

61. Seven: Another precursor to SAW, this one with much more style and real menace. Kevin Spacey screaming for the officers in the station is a truly memorable scene.

62. Phase IV: Doesn’t exactly hold up to a viewing today (clunky dialogue), but the atmosphere and ending do hold up. Ants building reflector shields, man. Ants. No ants are voiced by Sly Stallone or Woody Allen.

63. The Butcher Boy: Neil Jordan, adapted from a fine novel.

64. Trilogy of Terror: This is only here for the “Prey” vignette. A scary-ass doll with lots of teeth. Then a scary-ass Karen Black with lots of teeth. Again, more nightmares for the kid-me. Why did I watch all these movies?

65. Shallow Grave: The Ewan McGregor flick. Yeah, this is a horror movie. I stood for the last thirty minutes, because I couldn’t watch it sitting.

66. Ils: Much better than the strangers, of course.

67. Lifeforce: Space vampires that suck your, well, lifeforce. This movie is more than Mathilda May. Really!

68. The Man with X-Ray Eyes: Wild camp until the truly horrifying ending.

69. Dog Soldiers: Aliens with werewolves

70. Pet Semetery: Solid adaptation of one of King’s scariest novels.

71. Cape Fear/Night of the Hunter: The Simpsons still do it better.

72. Pontypool: First 20 minutes are as good as any no-budget horror film can get.

73. Paranormal Activity: Yeah the characters were stupid tools, but they were believably stupid tools.

74. Horror of Dracula (or any other Hammer film really): Christopher Lee scares me.

Admitted holes in my horror viewing: Audition and a few other Asian horror movies (haven’t watched them because they look like they’d be too much for me to take, gore-wise). The Italian horror movies everyone loves. Gorgeous set pieces of kills does nothing for me however. It’s likely a reflection of my lack of critical muscles when it comes to film, but I prefer character over visual style, generally.


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6 responses to “74 (huh?) top Horror Movies

  1. Pingback: Demon Theory » Blog Archive » Seventy-Four Horror Movies

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  6. Pingback: 74 (huh?) Top Horror Movies part III: A New Beginning, sort of. | Paul Tremblay (the online version!)

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