Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Roll 'em! My Top 10 Horror Films

It's Halloween once again, but as usual, I haven't seen a single trick-or-treater. Because I have nothing better to do, here's a quick rundown of some of my all-time favorite horror movies. Watch them all . . . if you dare.


(Was that over the top? I can never tell . . .)

The Crazies (2010)
-This was the first film to ever make me jump out of my skin in the middle of a theater. I'm serious here. The scene with the deranged father--so full of red herrings--is disturbing and awesome at the same time, and the morgue scene is absolutely terrifying. The ending is a little cliche, but it's still an excellent film that I recommend to anybody in need of a good scare.

-Oh, baby. This M. Night Shyamalan-produced thriller does the impossible: it makes a compelling story out of a small group of people stuck in an elevator. There aren't any known actors or classic horror tropes, but what you get instead is a very unique film with a very unexpected ending (but from Shyamalan, could you expect any less? Good or bad, you're going to be surprised). What a twist!

Drag Me to Hell
-Wonderfully trashy, this is a Sam Raimi film through and through. Alison Lohman embraces her inner Bruce Campbell in this one, going from her normal, prim self to a leering, grave-digging madwoman as her demon tormentor keeps screwing with her life. The gore is ridiculous but also quite epic, and the film features the absolute most incredible parking lot brawl ever shown on camera. I hope (WWE chairman) Vince McMahon was taking notes. 

-This one flips the classic "haunted house" story completely upside down, primarily because the film's protagonists aren't idiots. When they realize there's something wrong with the house, they don't decide to suffer through it; they get the heck out of there! Unfortunately, the ghost comes with them, which leads to the startling revelation that it's not the house that's haunted, but . . . eh, go watch it yourself. It is, in the words of one Ned Flanders, spine-tingly-dingly.

Storm of the Century
-"Born in sin . . . come on in!" Stephen King films are kind of a mixed bag. More often than not, he'll have a great idea, run with it as hard as he can and then tucker the f*** out at the home stretch, leaving everyone in the audience wondering what the heck just happened. Seriously--that's what his movies are like; if he can't come up with a conclusion, he settles for confusion.
Storm of the Century gets it right, and it keeps the audience in a vise-like grip from start to finish. This is no easy task, considering it's four freaking hours long, but it's absolutely brilliant. Plus, mega props to Colm Feore's bone-chilling portrayal of antagonist Andre Linoge. Linoge is smug and perpetually cool as a cucumber, providing an excellent foil for Tim Daly's character, Michael Anderson, who is the brave, honest sheriff who stands against him. And as film climaxes go, this one is excellent. 

The Invisible Man
-I do love the classics, particularly Dracula and the rather goofy Phantom of the Opera starring Claude Rains. But it's Rains' performance in The Invisible Man that stands out as the most chilling of all '30s horror films. Why? Because he's not a monster. He's not a soulless bloodsucker, nor is he a stitched-together, id-obeying corpse. Jack Griffin is a human being, and he is seriously unhinged as a result of being invisible for too long. Rains plays the role for campy laughs at times, but he's stone cold when he needs to be. The scene in which Dr. Kemp is driving away and realizes he's not alone is absolutely superb, and it shows just how creepy an invisible adversary could be. This is my favorite old-school horror film, bar none. 

Sleepy Hollow
-My favorite Tim Burton film (yes, even above Batman), Sleepy Hollow perfectly mixes gruesome violence with gallows humor to create a stylistic masterpiece. Johnny Depp is perfectly cast as the quirky police inspector (as opposed to schoolteacher in the original tale) Ichabod Crane. He's methodical, arrogant and prone to fainting, but his sharpness as a detective makes him an engaging character to watch. Better still is Christopher Walken (plus the wonderful Ray Park in fight scenes) as the Headless Horseman. With teeth filed down to points and his trademark hair greased up and wild, he's a frightening sight even in the pre-decapitation flashback scenes. 

Cabin in the Woods
-Joss Whedon, you've done it again. This movie takes literally every horror movie trope we've ever loved (or hated) and crams them all into one truly original horror/comedy experience. Now, even though I said "comedy," don't watch this movie thinking it's all laughs. It is dark. It is brutal. It is unfair. It will make you jump. But it also has that trademark Joss Whedon charm about it--that snarky wit driving the plot along and keeping your eyes open when you'd ordinarily be scrunching them tightly shut. Easily the best horror film I've seen since . . .

Jeepers Creepers
-I loved this movie as soon as I saw the trailer. It's fun, it's thrilling and it's extremely gory. It also features very strong performances from its two main protagonists, played by Justin Long and Gina Philips. From the license plate game they play at the beginning to the self-sacrifice at the end, they come across as authentic siblings. Also of note is "The Creeper," a truly loathsome movie monster who is nonetheless enjoyable to watch, especially due to his awesome truck and even more awesome license plates ("BEATINGU").

Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn
-"I'll swallow your soul!" Or, better yet, I'll watch this movie again and again. I'm watching it right now, actually; it's that good. Evil Dead II is campy to the point of being epic, and sharp-chinned leading man Bruce Campbell chews the scenery and spits it back out like a pro. The first Evil Dead was so bad it was funny, but this one? This one is just plain funny. And gory. Very gory. "You bastards--give me back my hand!"

Honorable mentions: Psycho, Pet Sematary, Halloween (1978 AND 2007--don't judge me), 1408, Red Eye, 'Salem's Lot (1979), The Mist, It, Let Me In, Alien . . . these are all great movies, and it was hard cutting them out of my top 10. But, alas, it had to be done. I heartily recommend any of these films, fo'shizzle.

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