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Editors Pick: Horror Movies

John Dillion, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Halloween is fast approaching, and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for my spooky movie marathon. I guess some folks are trying to do a 13-day movie marathon, but since I don’t have time for that, I’m going to select 10 of my favorite horror flicks and try to pick my favorite. Here goes nothing

 

  1. Young Frankenstein (1972)

Okay sue me, I like a little humor with my horror. This is my favorite camp horror and, while the legitimacy of that genre as true horror is debated, it still makes my list. I remember going to see this at the Fox when I was a kid and being delightedly scared. This movie is perpetually quotable, especially when I get on a roll with someone else who knows the film. Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman are fabulous here alongside Teri Garr and Peter Boyle. It will forever have a place on my list and a spot in my heart. Okay, now let’s get on to the real horror. Blucher! *horses whinny*

 

  1. Psycho (1960)

I love this movie, but it’s not necessarily horror. It’s a noir psychological thriller, and it has some horror elements, but it’s not what most people think of when they think of ‘horror’. Nevertheless, it deserves a spot on my list simply on the score alone. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s one of the only movies with a strings-only score which only sends more chills down your spine when you’re watching Janet Leigh drive her car down the highway towards the Bates Motel. Also, Hitchcock is a pretty good director, I suppose. He does capture the tension and balances the dramatic irony with suspense and audience discovery. Rewatch upon rewatch continually proves that this movie holds up nearly 60 years later.

 

  1. The Exorcist (1973)

Here’s the one you knew had to be on here. The Exorcist pioneered the supernatural genre of horror movies and is widely considered to be the best horror film ever made. While that’s all fine and dandy, I think there are some other movies that appeal to my sense of horror better. I do appreciate the score in here as well. It seems like the music helps make the horror genre what it is. This movie gave us some great scenes like when Regan crawls down the stairs or when her head does a great owl impression. This movie will certainly go down as one of the genre-defining classics of this generation.

 

  1. Get Out (2017)

This movie is a masterpiece. When I watched it last year, I had no idea what sort of movie I was going to go see, and when I got in the theater, my eyes never left the screen for a minute. This was the first feature film endeavor by Jordan Peele who wrote BlacKkKlansman which premiered this summer to great reviews. I chose this movie to put on here because it expertly holds suspense and the concept is creepy as hell. Bradley Whitford really let himself go after West Wing, huh? You don’t psychologically lock others away if you’re happy with your job.

 

  1. The Thing (1982)

Most folks I know would put Halloween on their list over The Thing in regards to John Carpenter films, but this one really grabs me. I feel like when I first watched Halloween, I already had an idea of what the film was, but with The Thing, I had no idea what I was going into. I was pleasantly surprised by a young Kurt Russell, and the slowness of the film. Of course, the special effects are fantastic, as they pioneered the way for more practical effects to be used throughout the 80s and early to mid-90s. When I first watched the blood scene, I about died. It’s so good. I love this movie.

 

  1. The Shining (1980)

Did Stanley Kubrick fake the moon landing? It doesn’t matter, because this is movie is better. I’m a huge fan of psychological thrillers (see Numbers 9, 4, and 2), so this film is pure gold when it comes to how to execute the emotions tied to that sub-genre. One of my least favorite parts of the movie is when it sort of dumps this really high-concept idea into the audience’s lap without really explaining it or its context. I’m talking about the Shining here. Much like modern superhero powers, it’s never really defined or given limitations, and that’s why it ranks at number 5. All work and no play, et cetera, et cetera.

 

  1. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

I don’t understand why everyone hates this movie. It’s SO good. So what if it has shaky cam? That trope didn’t exist before this movie, so get off its back. This movie invented a genre, what has your favorite movie done? Well, it’s not my favorite movie, it’s my fourth-favorite horror movie. Regardless, this ‘project’ was so well written and so well marketed that every October, it allures me into watching it again. It does take a watch or two to really sort of fall in love with it, but I’m glad I have.

 

  1. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

I had to pick a Nightmare on Elm Street movie. It’s my favorite horror series. Don’t ask me why: I won’t have a good answer. I remember falling in love with it after missing 2 weeks of school my freshman year of high school due to the flu and I watched all 7 movies on repeat all day. It’s so bad and cheesy, but that’s why I like it. I think it reminds me of a simpler time, so that’s why I gravitate toward it. The NoES series is also really good at new ideas. This was the first widely acclaimed horror film to have a dream-based threat. NoES 2: Freddy’s Revenge had one of the first gay characters in horror movies. It was a retcon, but nevertheless! I picked Dream Warriors because it has one of my favorite lines in it (a teen is smashed through a TV screen as Freddy says “Welcome to prime-time, b****”. A young Lawrence Fishburne is also in this movie), and it’s just so goofy that it’s hard not to laugh at it all.

 

  1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

It took a while to decide between this and my number one. This movie is so great and it really makes good use of both psychological tension, suspense, and good old-fashioned gore. Hannibal also pretty masterfully outsmarts the paramedics and the cops. I first watched this movie back in 2014 as part of my October movie-fest and fell in love with the acting, score, and premise. Jodie Foster is fantastic as Clarice Starling and plays a great foil to Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter. There are so many great lines in this movie (“Chianti”, “Having him for dinner”, “It rubs the lotion on its skin”). The score, composed by Howard Shore is fabulous. Shore also composed the music for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so as far as I’m concerned, he can tap out now and still be considered one of the greats. The only reason the movie was brought down to number two was simply because of the way it treats transgender people. Buffalo Bill’s relationship with himself is… interesting to say the least, but I’m sure this did some damage to the trans community’s fight for equality.

 

Honorable Mentions

The Ghost and Mister Chicken (1966)

The Cabin In the Woods (2012)

The Conjuring (2013)

Saw (2004)

28 Days Later (2002)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

 

  1. Scream (1996)

What a movie. This film resurrected an entire sub-genre of horror thanks to Wes Craven of A Nightmare on Elm Street (I’m not biased I swear) and Children of the Corn. The opening scene is probably reason enough to list it here. The music kicks in at just the right times, the actors have a perfect rapport for the situation, and the scene escalates perfectly. Just thinking about this scene is sending chills across my back. There’s a second-season-Friends Courtney Cox in this movie as well. This is my favorite movie because I love tropes, and this script has an open discussion about tropes. Wes Craven seems like he knew exactly what he was doing when he made the movie. He took the slasher genre that he helped cultivate and spun it on its head by acknowledging the genre specific tropes and simultaneously subverting and turning into them. My favorite actor in here is probably Matt Lillard and it’s simply because he plays such a great Stu. I also love him in everything else he does.

 

So, that’s my list! Hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. I sure liked writing it. Horror is one of my favorite genres simply because it serves as a time capsule as to what society was most afraid of at any given point. I hope I’ve helped give you a list of good movies to watch on Halloween, too. I know I’ll be watching Scream and Blair Witch. After my Comms class, that is.

 

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Editors Pick: Horror Movies