By Jonathan Popalis
The movie that contained the two words that will haunt me for the rest of my life:
“They’re here.” Without a doubt one of the scariest ideas ever thought up, Steven Spielberg proves here why he’s a master of all genres with his screenplay about a haunted house that literally comes alive to attack the family living in it. It’s classic Spielberg, in that he takes an old idea (in this case ghosts inhabiting a house’) and makes it new all over again.
Ridly Scott’s timeless masterpiece places an abandoned crew on a space ship trapped with a homicidal alien who isn’t just satisfied with killing them all in a giant massacre, but instead hunts them down one by one. It’s a classic horror movie formula, except it isn’t a fictitious super-villain chasing his prey; it’s a creature that plays on our fears that there really is something out there to get us.
A sort-of satire of our movie obsessed generation, it’s hard to believe this movie only came out eight years ago since it has already spawned 2 sequels and a legion of fans. What makes it all so believable and frightening are its characters, and how each one is developed enough to the point that when any of them die, you actually care, and are not just waiting for them to be picked off one by one like so many other horror films in the past.
7. Friday the 13th
Before the butcher knife, before the hockey mask, and before Jason himself& there was his mom. Just the name itself is recognizable to nearly everyone, but people tend to forget that the real horror started not when Jason was pushing invalids down stairs or tossing people in their sleeping bags against trees. It was when that first group of councilors dared set foot back at Crystal Lake for the first time since young Jason Voorhees drowned there, and mommy set out to take her revenge.
6. Ghostbusters Remember: Top 10 Halloween movies, not scary movies, and you don’t get much more Halloween than Ray, Peter, Egon and Winston. This science-fiction comedy about unemployed parapsychologists who decide to start a ghost catching business still remains one of the most popular movies of all time, and deservedly so with incredibly witty writing, stellar performances, and of course, Slimer.
5. A Nightmare on Elm Street
It’s an idea that is still bone-chilling, even today: What if when you fell asleep, someone could kill you in your dreams? The genius here is that there are no cheap scares that tend to plague horror movies. Instead Wes Craven uses the psychological threat that death could come as fast as a blink of an eye to always have you wondering what’s going to happen next and whether or not what you’re watching is a dream or reality.
4. The Shining
I don’t know how many more times it can be said that Stanley Kubrick is a genius without it sounding repetitive. However facts are facts, and when he turned those talents onto the horror movie genre, it was a given that a masterpiece would be born. The story should be enough to convey this movie’s insanity: A man, driven out of his mind, wants to slaughter his own wife and son. I still can’t tell whether it was Kubrick’s or Jack Nicholson’s talents that really put this movie over the top, with Kubrick handling every scene with extreme detail and having the patience to build the story slowly towards it’s terrifying climax and Nicholson’s hysterical and astonishing performance as father/husband Jack Torrence.
Either way though, this dark and brooding film still holds up almost 25 years later, and is one of the most innovative horrors ever made.
3. Halloween The last of the big three and not only the most appropriate for this holiday, but the scariest of the three as well. It was the first time that suburbia itself, the place where everyone thinks they are the safest, was the battleground against the unspeakable evil that is Michael Myers. Sure, this was Jamie Lee Curtis’ coming out party, but any fan of the movie knows it was Donald Pleasance, as Dr. Sam Loomis, who was the real star, or at least, the real star in front of the camera.
Fans will also know that the true strength of this movie’s terror comes from its eerie soundtrack, composed entirely by writer/director John Carpenter. Just the mere sound of it can send shivers down your spine, which is a good cross-section of what the rest of the movie is capable of.
Without a shadow of a doubt the scariest movie of all time, and just imagining that clown saying “It all floats down here” is enough to shock me into a fear-induced coma. People can name off any movie they want to me, but nothing is compared to Stephen King’s ultimate horror classic about an insane clown who terrorizes a group of children, using their own worst fears against them.
Scream may make you afraid of telephones, and Nightmare on Elm Street could make you afraid to fall asleep, but this one will start to make you fear everything. From showers, to sewers, to even balloons, this film takes no prisoners in its quest to scare the pants off you, and anyone who’s seen it will agree, this is the one that used to give you nightmares.
1. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn This is it baby, the Halloween film to end all Halloween films. The first installment was a straight zombie flick and the third was a balls out comedy. Here, though, you have the perfect blend of horror and humour all under the watchful and skillful eye of Sam Raimi. It is a movie that defies all genres and enters one entirely its own; where one scene the main character Ash, played by Bruce Campbell, is forced to saw off his own hand with a chainsaw, and the next he’s being chased around the house by the severed appendage and performing slapstick routines with it. There’s no way to amply describe it unless it is seen, and the only movie as of late that can be compared to it is Shaun of the Dead. If you have not seen this movie, you owe it to yourself to find it why it’s number one.
BONUS: You want to make this a serious Halloween movie? Then pop this in with your buds on October 31st and go for the classic Evil Dead 2 drinking game (works just as easily for the third one). Line up your shots, and every time Ash gets hit in the head, down one. It’s that simple, but believe me, he gets it enough that you’ll be on the floor by the time the movie’s over. Groovy.