Apparently I have an affection for the seventies, but I think they got it right in the fear department. The ability to overuse special effects wasn’t an issue, and good solid psychologically disturbing stories were the way they had to go. And it’s because of these horrific stories, these films have stood the test of time and abuse of technology. The reliance on it is evident in the recent years lacking on this list, with of course, exception to 28 Days Later. Enjoy the continuation of this spooky themed month and please and your input as well.
10. Alien (1979)
I feel like Alien was the first horror film to crossover into the science fiction genre and tackle it head on, but at the end of the day it’s a monster movie……….in space, which only adds creepy to the already frightening. The isolation from the rest of the world and bleakness of space is a huge part of what makes this movie so terrifying, but the performances of the actors, the brilliant direction of Ridley Scott, and something truly original makes Alien a classic in the terror department.
9. The Shining (1990)
If Jack Torrance is the result of uber boredom we are in for a generation of crazy people. Stephen Kings novel “The Shining” could not have been more aptly realized with anyone other than Jack Nicholson playing Jack Torrance. His slow trangression from caring family man into destructive violent killer is without question the worst case of cabin fever with a haunting ever displayed in film. Together Nicholsons performance and Kings creation make this a terrifying character and “The Shining” one of most bone chilling movies ever made. Redrum.
8. The Omen (1976)
What’s more terrifying than giving birth to a child that happens to be the son of the devil? Not much I would say, and as the infamous name Damien is spoken and as the child grows, the horror of the film does as well. With death scenes that stand up to todays special effects such as the death that the cursed photographer David Warner (Keith Jennings) suffered. The moment when a sheet of plate glass flew off the back of a braking truck and sliced cleanly through his neck decapitating him and sending his spinning head flying through the air is unforgettable and just a stepping stone in the moments of utter nightmare.
7. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)
If death by alien possession were to happen, the pod people is my nightmare of how I would go out. I’ve always envisioned the invasion of an alien species and the takeover to be something completely out of mans ability to see or comprehend. I didn’t always think Independence Day would happen (though it’s not impossible) but something more subtle and intelligent to disrupt our existence. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers unveils itself methodically to the very last scene which is probably one of the greatest moments in cinema. This film is unnerving in a very psychological way. GO POD PEOPLE, it’s your birthday!
6. Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Nightmare On Elm Street is so terrifying because of it’s villain: Freddy Krueger. With the perfect casting of Robert Englund as Frederick Charles Krueger this film is one that makes everyone afraid to go to sleep. The deep and twisted history and who he was and what he became makes him all the more fearsome, but also tangible. His twisted and masochistic back round coupled with his choice of victims and the way he haunts them, makes him top of the list of scary and definitely the best of the horror film bad guys and Nightmare On Elm Street Horrorific.
5. 28 Days Later (2002)
The concept of waking up to an empty hospital and a world gone is still one of the most daunting concepts ever made for a movie. There is an element of realism added into 28 Days Later, that makes the setting even more palpable. The eerie aspect of an incurable, highly contagious disease taking over London and literally making it hell on Earth is absurdly creepy, but taking the element of first person, and Cillian Murphy’s character, Jim, awaking to a world he doesn’t understand is the perfect creation for a sense of solitude and fear. Danny Boyle acknowledges the fact that in our busy bee world, silence can be the most terrifying sound of all. When the second half of the story does take place, we get a From Dusk Till Dawn feel, where suddenly our main character’s are thrown into a situation where the nature of man is reflected on and the infected aren’t the only thing to fear. At this point the character’s are important to us and their survival is what we desire most.
4. Jaws (1975)
Jaws was one of the first movies to ever really thrive on suspense and the imaginative curiosity of the human mind. Small, seemingly unrelated events all building up until it’s clear that a murderous shark is on the loose and it’s found a liking to the taste of man. The time the movie takes to actually build to the climatic scenes is necessary to drive in the mystery and suspense. The film is solely structured around ominous line droppings and events that allude to something dangerous, but seldom comes right out and says so. When people talk about movies not being made like they used to, Jaws is one of the movies they are talking about.
3. Poltergeist (1982)
For me this still is the most terrifying movies of all time. The special effects never go too far, yet there is an epic feel to it, still balanced by realism. The characters are full on tangible, and never do you feel like yelling at them telling them how stupid they are. It feels like a real situation, where human curiosity becomes the catalyst for the impossible, a nightmare that no one can wake up from. The creativity of Poltergeist, and it’s terrific writing and direction put it on this list without question for me.
2. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
New York postal worker Jacob Singer is trying to keep his frayed life from unraveling. His days are increasingly being invaded by flashbacks to his first marriage, his now-dead son, and his tour of duty in Vietnam. Although his new wife tries to help Jacob keep his grip on sanity, the line between reality and delusion is steadily growing more and more uncertain.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist may make you jump (though it might a lot), but the possession of an innocent little girls body is enough to continually disturb me each time I watch it. I’m not sure why a remake was ever necessary when the original is clearly perfect as is. The long story is perversely terrifying, and maybe it’s not “Boo” scary, but the mood and the depth of the story will affect you indefinitely. The Exorcist is a movie nobody forgets. It is widely recognized as the scariest film of all time and with good reason.
The People Under The Stairs
Fire In The Sky
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
From Hell It Came
Flowers In The Attic
Watcher In The Woods
Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining, Arachnophobia, The Blair Witch Project, The Blob, Dawn Of The Dead (2004), The Amityville Horror (1978), Salems Lot, The Mist, Saw, Silence Of The Lambs, The Changeling, Cloverfield, Halloween, Seven, Day Of The Dead, May, Identity, The Thing (1982), Final Destination, The Ring, Childs Play, House Of 1000 Corpses, Kiss The Girls, Psycho, and White Noise