Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Top 10

Well it's Devil's Night. Halloween is less than 24 hours away. Unfortunately for me, I had neither the time nor the resources to concoct a movie-related costume this year, but I guess I can still dress up as Idaho (obscure Simpsons reference).

As many blogs and sites have been doing this week, I now present to you my 10 favourite horror movies (in random order). Yes, there are a lot of obvious choices (conformity isn't always bad), but I have thrown in a couple that you likely won't find on anyone else's list. Enjoy!

1. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
It's certainly not a "horror" as the title implies, but this zany musical romp is a wonderful seasonal tradition for me and many others. Tim Curry has never been better than he is here, probably because he's having so much fun (and man can he sing!). You haven't lived until you've seen a Halloween screening of this cult classic - don't forget to come in costume!

2. The Thing
I personally found John Carpenter's Halloween and The Fog to be overrated and underwritten, but The Thing is an outstanding achievement in mood-building and suspense. The Antarctic setting is only one way the film gives you the shivers, and the cliffhanger ending is perfection.

3. Pscycho
A true masterpiece of any genre, Psycho is still as terrifying and unsettling today as it was in 1960. Hitchcock brought together all the elements of this film as only Hitchcock can. Bernard Hermann's dizzying strings, John Russell's languid cinematography, and Anthony Perkins' brilliant performance as the infamous Norman bates are only some of the reason's Psycho stands as the greatest horror of all time.

4. The Exorcist
Who wouldn't be scared shitless by this harrowing story. Linda Blair gives one of the most startling and vivid performances by a child actor ever, and holding it all together is the excellent Ellen Burstyn as the helpless mother of a possessed girl. The movie doesn't require clever suspense; it's just raw unadulterated terror.

5. The Others
One of the more effective contemporary horror films out there, The Others puts a new twist on an old concept. Nicole Kidman is superb, and the dark production design keeps you constantly uneased. A intelligent and chilling tale, with one one of the best endings in modern movie history!

6. Jaws
Not as dark as most horror films tend to be, but every bit as (if not more) frightening. Perfect editing/sound design, unique camerawork, an unconventional but masterful score, and terrific performances all round (most notably Robert Shaw) give Jaws an unforgettable edge. Speilberg as made few films better than this one.

7. The Blair Witch Project
Utilizing the less-is-more approach employes by Jaws, this nerve-wracking movie makes a point of scaring you by not really scaring you. Made for less than $25000 and shot in eight days, The Blair Witch Project is a triumph of creativity and inventiveness over limited means.

8. The Silence of the Lambs
It comes disguised as a psychological thriller, but make no mistake; this is a horror through and through. Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster serve up two of the best leading performances ever put on screen. With the help of Jonathan Demme's direction, they manage to turn "talking heads" dialogue into scenes so engaging you could cut the tension with a knife.

9. Tremors
I've put this down because it's the first "horror" movie I ever saw. I remember watching it on TV one Sunday afternoon when I was eight. I normally shyed away from monster movies but for some reason, I couldn't turn away from this one. The use of bright lighting and lots of humour satirizing the old B monster movies of the 50's made this an easily digestible and an enjoyable watch. It's a perfect way to ease children into scary movies.

10. Alien
The most successful crossover from science-fiction to horror ever made. Ridley Scott put everything he had into crafting this exceptionaly suspenseful film. We don't get a good look at the alien until later on in the movie, but when we do, it's positively horrifying! One of the most nightmare-inducing special effects the movies have ever given us.

Honourable mentions: The Sixth Sense, An American Werewolf in London, Deliverance, The Birds, Gremilins, Fatal Attraction

Please feel free to tell me your own favourites, and have a Happy Halloween!

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