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*Oh bum, wrong cat, I'll get it moved shortly!* I suppose I'd have to admit that my favourite movie genre has to be horror. Despite the proliferation of sci-fi movies in my all time top 10 list the other day, the films I look forward to the most tend to be those that look deep into one's most basic fears and take the viewer on a white knuckle roller coaster ride that sparks similar emotions to those experienced at the height of ecstasy (?). Alternatively, I just like seeing folks get bumped off. So...in no particular order: Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Wes Craven has something of a vivid imagination. Often centred around dreams and the blurred boundary between what is real and what isn't, he managed to isolate most people's primary fear of a boogie man that will get you whilst you're asleep. In this particular ditty, Heather Langencamp stared at the oft chased Nancy with Johnny Depp picking up an early teen role in his career. Needless to say, Robert Englund stole the show as Freddie Kruger, he of the red hooped jumper and razor fingered mit. NOES went on to generate numerous sequels whereby the audience was made to believe that the evil Freddy would get his comeuppance. He always managed to bounce back somehow making the studios even more spondoolicks in the meantime. Hellraiser (1987) I know I mentioned this in my previous op but it simply has to go into any top 10 horror flick op. Based on the macabre mind of Clive Barker, Hellraiser takes the viewer into the deepest depths of depravity helped along the way by the ghoulish recreation of Uncle Frank (brought back to life by the blood of several murder victims) and his ongoing battle with the Cenobites. These are a trio of creatures from hell, headed by Pinhead who typify the wonderfully gothic imagination of the inspiration behind this movie. For me, Clare Higgins steals the show as the irrepressible Julia who lures her victims back to
a house straight out of the Fred West mould only to murder them in a number of different ways to fuel the restoration of her lover, Frank (Sean Chapman) The Exorcist (1973) Banned in Britain for many years, mainly for it's effect on impressionable teenage girls, apparently, The Exorcist is the screen adaptation of William Blatty's amazing book. Linda Blair achieved notoriety in the lead role as the little girl, Regan who becomes possessed by an evil demon. Max Von Sydow spends most of the movie trying to cast the demon out whilst confronted by a string of abuse including the innocent girl vomiting all over him, watching her head turn 360 degrees and watching her do unmentionable things with a crucifix. The effects in the movie stand up well today although the deleted scenes are just as fascinating as the actual frames that made the final cut. Braindead (1992) Peter Jackson is more renowned for his work with the Middle Earth trilogy but he did make a rather curious piece back in '92 called Brain Dead. This takes horror to a new, bizarre over the top level that will leave audiences repulsed and laughing at the same time. Based on the notion that an infectious bite from a certain monkey will leave the recipient brain dead but still alive, this movie utilises a small budget to engage the craziest of special effects. When Timothy Balme's mother gets bit, the most lunatic of scenarios ensure with her turning into a helpless zombie whilst her son tries to cover up her affliction by carrying on as normal. Friends call only to be engaged around the dinner table with the now decaying mother making little sense and parts of her falling off regularly and into the guest's meals. The most enduring image I have of Braindead is the lead character's totally ridiculous apocalyptic assault on an army of zombies with, amongst other things, a lawnmower! This is not a movie for the squeamish but
it's so mad it's funny and well worth a watch. Dracula (1992) Dracula is one of the most famous of gothic horror creatures spawned from many a local gypsy tale. Most famously portrayed in Stoker's classic book, Gary Oldman was charged with bringing the mythical vampire to life in Ford Coppola's epic tale of love and betrayal. I seem to recall this film got a lot of criticism on its release and it does have it's flaws (notably the seemingly rushed closing frames). However, an all-star cast including Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves and Richard E Grant do stay reasonably faithful to the book with lavish sets and more than a dash of romance making the film an enjoyable affair coated in Hollywood gloss. Bad Taste (1987) In a similar vein to Braindead, Bad taste is another low budget zombie romp made a few years earlier Peter Jackson. There is more than a hint of tongue in cheek as once again, New Zealand is the setting for a farcical yarn that will leave it's audience laughing if you get the joke. Based on the story of four dim-witted men from the National Air and Space Defence League arrive in a small New Zealand fishing town to investigate a report of landing UFO's. There they encounter and take on an army of aliens who have massacred the town's population as part of their plans to use humans as part of their main ingredient for their intergalactic fast-food chain. This movie is complete madness with a totally ridiculous finale but well worth a spare 91 minutes and I'm sure it will leave you smiling. Night of the Living Dead (1968) George A Romero made his name with zombie films and the inception of this grand institution took place in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead Originally black and white with a suitable low budget, Romero conjures the daft notion of the dead coming back to life and eating the living. Several people barricade
themselves inside a rural house in an attempt to survive the night. Outside are hordes of relentless, shambling zombies who can only be killed by a blow to the head. NOTLD inevitably went on to spawn several Zombie epics including Dawn of the Dead but, here again, the director utilises a tongue in cheek as the cannon fodder of zombies moving conveniently slowly so as to give them plenty of time to be shot, hacked, blown up or whatever it takes to rub them out. The zombie genre played on the idea of one of these monsters turning up just when you weren't expecting it, hence, making the viewer jump and this is now a classic of it's kind and well worth watching as a homage. Dawn of the Dead (1978) This is a totally enjoyable voyage into the crazy world of zombies. 10 years after the original, this is the story of four people's escape from an urban nightmare to a suburban one. The main characters barricade themselves in a shopping mall only to find that their new world is full of marauding zombies and malicious bikers. Shot mainly outside Pittsburgh, this movie is a lot of fun with a comical finale. The Evil Dead (1981) Another movie banned for many years, the Evil Dead saw Sam Raimi and a low budget string together one of the most notorious of horror movies. Bruce Campbell became synonymous with the movie and it's inevitable sequels. Basically, the plot revolves around Five friends going up to a cabin in the woods where they find unspeakable evil lurking in the forest. They find the Necronomicon and the taped translation of the text. Once the tape is played, the evil is released. One by one, the teens become deadly zombies. With only one remaining, it is up to him to survive the night and battle the evil dead. Infamous for the scene where a tree root indecently assaults one of the characters, Evil Dead has become part of movie folk lore although it's not that great a movie. A lot of t he scenes were ground breaking with the director physically pushing the came ra through a wood set to make it look as though an evil spirit was heading for the cabin. This technique was employed mainly because of the low budget but is one of the most striking features of the film. Halloween (1978) It would be difficult to miss off the John Carpenter classic - Halloween. Starring the Queen of scream, Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween tells the morbid tale of the insane Michael Myers. Having killed his family a number of years before, he escapes a mental institute, hotly pursued by Donald Pleasance, with the intention of murdering his sister on the anniversary of his previous atrocities. Made famous by the musical score, Halloween was the archetypal stalk and slash film with the evil Myers only ever found wearing his fashionable ski-mask. Yet again, numerous sequels came as a result of the original along with the Jason saga just in case anybody couldn't get enough of teenagers being systematically murdered by stalk and slash psychos. Oh well, I've droned on for long enough again. All of these movies are on video, DVD etc if you fancy a watch. Alternatively, Carry On Screaming's quite cool. Marandina
'Tis Halloween - nearly - and ghosts and ghoulies gather in the chimneys, ready to steal your sweeties like the naughty anti-santas that they are. It is time to rent a horror video for sure, but which one? Here's some ideas, with a helpful little Recommeded/Not Recommended thing to help you decide which one's for you. 'Cos thats the kind of wolfman I am. 'Shivers' - David Cronenberg, 1975 David Cronenberg's obsession with the body and our uneasy relationship with it has resulted in some tremendous films over the years. 'Crash' is perhaps his best, 'Fly' his most touching, but this, his debut, is his most uncompromising. Its satirical yet horrific depiction of the occupants of a luxury apartment block (children included) turning en masse into violent, single minded rapists makes for unsettling viewing. An intelligent, compelling reminder of what lies beneath the veneer of our material trappings, its one of those movies that creeps its way under your skin, and wriggles there for the rest of the week. Recommended: If you want a film that makes your plastic skeleton seem kinda pathetic in comparison Not recommended: If you read the Daily Mail 'Most Dangerous Game' - Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1932 Also known as 'The Hounds of Zaroff', which is a much better title, I'm sure you'll agree. Filmed back to back with 'King Kong' and utilising many of its sets and actors, this is an absolute gem of a film. The plot, in which a shipwrecked crew discover the true depths of their saviour's obsession with bloodsports, is based on the book of the same name. And a ripping good yarn it is too, a kind of cross between 'Hound of the Baskervilles' and 'King Kong' itself, told with the old fashioned charm that has people philosophising on the nature of hunting while dangling above the jaws of a doberman. At little o
ver an hour long, it is also a reminder that the best stories are kept short. One for Saturday mornings, with a cup of tea and the gas fire blazing. Recommended: If you find most horror movies just too scary Not recommended: If you think entertainment is measured in minutes 'The Omen' - Richard Donner, 1976 Here for sentimental reasons. I was about 12 when I saw it first, and so struck was I that within a few months every desk I sat on in school had '666' scrawled all over it and I was being blamed for all manner of things, including spontaneous fish deaths (don't ask). The plot is lots of fun - antichrist is born in Italy, and is dumped on the British Ambassador and his wife. Damien's subsequent growing up in England results in lots of creepy moments and some imaginatively staged deaths (which became the series' trademark). I actually loved its satanic sequels (say what you like about the third one, but I say any film where Jesus turns up to save the day has got to be worth a look). The made-for-TV fourth installment really is diabolical though - some of the demonic girl's acts (eg. setting fire to a New Age festival) seeming more laudable than satanic. Recommended: If you just want some spooky fun. Don't forget your crucifix Not recomended: If you're easily possessed 'Freaks' - Tod Browning, 1932 A tale of a circus sideshow, and how the 'freaks' on show take revenge on their sadistic employers. It sets out to represent the sideshow stars as people like "the rest of us" - an obvious assertion to most of today's audience, but not perhaps in 1932. Beautifully filmed and full of compassion, yet some still believe the director uses his actors with the same cynicism as the sideshow itself, particularly in the film's climax. But instead of undermining the film's message, I believe the climax underlines it - by showing the
ir capacity for vengeful cruelty, the 'freaks' seem more like everyone else than ever. Opinion is divided on this one, but don't miss the opportunity to decide for yourself. Recommended: If you want this Halloween to be one to remember 'Night of the Living Dead' - George Romero, 1968 The best of Romero's zombie trilogy by far, and better even than his bold slant on vampirism 'Martin'. An outstanding film, not just for its sharp commentary on the racism and class divides of '60s America, but also for its several moments of shocking violence. The violence in this film is senseless, unjust, and comes out of nowhere - in short, like violence in real life. Very few films achieve that, because most films' violence is either superficial and driven by aesthetic, or is in some way necessary for the progression of the plot. The violence in 'Night of the Living Dead', however, could easily be from a news reel. Recommended: If you fancy a bona fide classic Not recommended: If you don't fancy being reminded what a terrible world it is 'Don't Look Now' - Nicolas Roeg, 1973 As well as being a very frightening movie, it is also an incredibly romantic one, boasting the most tender, impassioned love making scene I can think of (except for the one I had last night, but I didn't film that, so ner). The story follows a couple's trip to Venice, after the tragic death of their daughter. Their attempt to come to terms with their grief is shadowed by ominous premonitions, and an atmosphere of dread pervades the entire movie, until its horrific climax. A beautiful film, and a sad one, where love is portrayed as the uniquely precious thing that it is. Recommended: If you watching with your lover Not Recommended: If you're recently bereaved. Or maybe recommended, I don't know. But this is harrowing stuff. 'Hands of th
e Ripper' - Peter Sasdy, 1971 Its starting to occur to me that a number of these are quite hard to find. Never mind. I had to have one Hammer film here, even if most of them are rather tediously toothless. But this one is a real cracker, drawing on the Jack the Ripper legend with great imagination and style. The plot, which involves the daughter of the Ripper carrying out grisly murders around London, makes great use of psychoanalytic mumbo-jumbo and London locations (like St Paul's whispering gallery). Clever and enthralling, its Hammer at their best. Recommended: If you want a good ol' fashioned Halloween Not Recommended: If it isn't as good as I remember (its been a long time) 'The Devils Backbone' - Guillermo del Toro, 2001 Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's best film, using the ghost story as a device to explore themes of greed, revenge and comradeship. Set during the Spanish Civil War in an orphanage, its central characters are children, portrayed with a refreshing and often moving lack of sentiment, being both the perpertrators and victims of violence. It is dark film, one that reveals the depths to which men stoop for their own gains, and would be depressing if it wasn't handled with such sensitivity. It is stunningly photographed, and uses reccurring morifs (such as the unexploded bomb and the well) to great metaphorical effect. Recommended: If you like ghost stories, and if you think films should look good For Halloween though, I have to recommended 'Candyman'. Its not the best horror movie ever, but its the best bogeyman movie. And if Halloween isn't about bogeymen, then I'll be damned... 'Candyman' - Bernard Rose, 1992 I love films that concern themselves with that hazy area between fact and fiction. Films like 'The Last Broadcast' (mock documentary on Jersey Devil related murders), 'Capr
icorn One' (about a fake Mars Mission), 'The Legend of Boggy Creek' (Bigfoot re-enactments)... all of them get me very excited, rolling around going "ooh yes!" 'Candyman' is one of my favourites - on the surface it is a slasher movie, but it is also a story about about horror stories. The central character, the Candyman, is a physical maifestation of an urban legend - the more he is spoken about, the more real he becomes - but his reality is always vague, intangible (there is a great line "can you imagine what it is like, to be spoken about on every street corner, to feared every night, but never to have to exist"). Its full of very nice touches (like the copycat killings, and the Candyman's elaborate rejuvenation of his own myth), and it also works extremely well on the jump-out-of-your-seat level. Slick, stylish, boasting a haunting Philip Glass score, and with an almost Hitchcockian harrassment of its protagonists, this is a real treat. Recommended: If you haven't seen it Not recommended: If you don't like being scared in a 'behind you' kind of way Also recommended: Ring King Kong Nosferatu The Haunting Witchfinder General The Wickerman The Shining Psycho Possession And loads, loads more. And even if you don't see any of these films, have a Happy Halloween. And let the bed bugs bite.
Horror films. Slasherflicks to the most classic classics of all time. Urban Legend & Urband Legends:Final Cut: Urban Legend was a typical cliche slasherflick, but I very much enjoyed it, I thought it was brilliant how each urban legend was incorporated into the plot. A good watch! Sequel proves just as good! Halloween, 1,2 & H2O: Michael Myers, all round psycho in the evil white mask. I think the Halloween movies are excellent. John Carpenter is the master of suspense and Jamie Lee Curtis' acting is superb. These films are must-sees. The Scream Trilogy: Wes Craven's horror comedies are extraordinary. The first starts as a hairraising horror, a disturbing murder that makes you paranoid in the safest of homes, but by the end you're rolling on the floor with laughter. The next two are both great whodunnits and keep you guessing until the end. Friday the 13th & Sequels: Mrs/Jason Vorhees are two of the first killers in horror time, the Friday the 13th movies spanning out from the 70's to present day, all with the same background: Jason died at Camp Crystal Lake > Jason wants revenge > Jason gets revenge
Horror is and probably always will be my favourite of all genres. I've loved the genre dearly since I was about 12 (I'm now 17) and in those 5 short years I have tried to see the most scariest and goriest horror flicks made. I have notched up quite a few horrors and have seen all the classics (Exorcist, Halloween, AWIL, Evil Dead etc) as well as the obscure and obscene but even though I've seen my fair share of the crappy horror films still love horror. The only disadvantage to my passion is that after my first two or three horror films I stopped getting scared, not to say I haven't seen films that have shocked and disturbed. So here is my top ten horror films. Number 10 - An American Werewolf in London My all time favourite werewolf flick is a classic horror film. I like it because it is a horror but also has that slight comedic element. I would call it a horror with a bit of comedy. It has some call stalk sequences, the bit in the subway is cool. It has the ability to make the audience jump with it's boo type scares. The film also has some amazing makeup from Rick Baker. The transformation sequence proves that CGI is not always the best. I also like the characters because they are all likable. The films ending is also brilliant and ten thousand times better thanthe climax of American Werewolf in Paris. A must see. Number 9 - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Quite an infamous video nasty in Britain due to the fact it was banned for about 20 years. However it was rereleased in the UK to good reviews and I finally saw it. There are many things I like about this film, firstly the villians are all creepy, the cook, the hiker and who can forget Leatherface. The teens in this film are completely innocent unlike most slashers when the killer is usually doing the killing because of what the victims did, no matter how insignificant. I like the way that no explanation is really given and the ambiguous ending with a freaky last s
hot. The low budget not only gives it the feel of an exploitation flick but also a grainy documentary feel and the fact it is marketed as a true story is clever. Number 8 - Audition Only saw this recently because of the reports of people walking out of the cinema and being sick because of the film and wanted to see it for myself. This Japanese flick at first seems like a slightly twisted romantic film but the last half hour descends into darkness and obscurity and subjects the audience to some very uncomfortable and sick scenes that are certainly memorable. I like the way it pulls the rug out from under the audience and leaves them open to extreme brutality. The only bad thing about this film is that because of the subtitles and the fact it's foreign many will feel reluctant to watch it but give it a chance. Number 7 - Last House on the Left If someone said Wes Craven to you you'd probably think Scream or Nightmare of Elm Street but his first film was a lot darker than those and is still banned today in the UK. I managed to get hold of the region 2 dvd from Holland (which is one of the uncut versions) and watched it. What I saw was a weird, but freaky slasher/revenge exploitation flick. The film is in two parts 1st half two teenage girls go out for a concert and try to score some grass, however they are lead in to a trap and end up getting raped and murdered in the woods. The second half sees the killers seeking refuge in a nearby house, which happens to belong to the parents of one of the girls they killed. When the owners find out they get revenge. I like this film because firstly it seems quite real, the first half anyway also the villians, Krug inparticular are very freaky and chilling. Wirth seeing. Number 6 - Firday the 13th The first horror I saw and it freaked me out. Firstly the killer is very cool and is funny as well as a psycho bitch from hell. This is really your average slasher except 80's style with
Tom Savini gore. I like the end, that kicked ass. I also like this film because it makes you jump and although it is cliched and predictable there is something about it that makes it freaky. I'll never go camping again. Number 5 - Braindead My favourite Peter Jackson flick sees a weedy mama's boy and a spanish shop assistant do battle with the undead. This film is a comedy as well as a horror but is also on of the goriest films I have ever seen. Ever seen a room full of zombies get chopped up into small bits with a lawnmower and blander, or intestines attack people. I love the over the top style and the films ability to not take itself seriously, like Jackson's previous two films Bad Taste and Meet the Feebles. Forget Romero's dead films this is the ultimate zombie film. Number 4 - From Dusk Till Dawn I love Tarintino's work and I love Rodriguez's work so when the two kings of the ultra cool combine the result is this kick ass vampire film set in a seedy mexican strip bar. Two bank robber brothers flee the US as stow aways on a preachers holiday. They get to Mexico and the dark forces get pissed off by the two and all hell breaks loose. I love the preformances in this one. George Clooney breaks his heart throb role to play a bastard who is driven by his love for money. I also love the fact this film starts as an action then descends into horror and both sections work well on their own but are brilliant when combined. Number 3 - The Lost Boys I love this film. Vampire films have always been my favourite and this was my first one and totally got me hooked. The vampires are basically rebelious teens who can fly, suck blood and can kill anyone they want. What makes this film even better is that the only defence against these leather clad,bike ridding vamps a couple of geeky kids who work in a comic book store. Their weapons, water pistols full of holy water. This film also charts the transformation of the ne
w kid Michael and how his brother, Sam tries to help him. Usually Joel Schumacher is a crappy director but he works that MTV style angle well to make the vamps cool with their underground lair. This film perfectly mixes horror and comedy. Number 2 - The Blair Witch Project Fortunately this film totally worked for me and freaked me out. I love the mockumentary style and the way the film was advertised made it more effected. I love the fact that this film very much relies on the viewers imagination to get themselves scared and the ending is classic and had everyone talking. The fact this film looks well and filmed mostly on video camera makes it authentic and the black and white shots of the stones etc and the end was very effective. The only unfortunate thing is that this film seemed stupid to some people but I could watch it again and again. Number 1 - The Evil Dead Trilogy Okay, I know I have three films in one spot but they go together and are all brilliant. The first film was unsettling and showed that a low budget film, with the right director can be scary. The second had a slightly higher budget and went with the comedy and horror element and was really good and also Ash's character was really born. The thrid went in a completely different direction but is still an excellent and funny film. I love Raimi's directing because he use kinetic camera work and weird angles to make a stylish and intelligent film. Role on Evil Dead 4. This series is a must see for all horror fans. There you go my top ten horror.
My Dad has always loved the horror genre, both books and film and this interest filtered down to me at an early age. As a teenager when the wonders of the video recorder finally hit our house (as well as the confusion on how to work the damn thing), Sunday afternoons became filled with the blood-curding screams of women in peril, salivating monsters and all manners of evil personified. I think in some ways I became used to it all - no longer was I shocked by bloodthirsty slasher movies and low budget vampires but then there were a few films that really got to me. The sleepless nights, the rising fear, the sense that somehow the world wasn’t perhaps a nice place afterall. I may have discarded many horror movies from my mind but when I reflect back I think that the ones that scared me did have a profound impact. The impact comes from the fact that I probably have had enough real life up close and personal experiences to write my own horror movie (well I might as well put them to some use!). The horror films that tormented my sleep tormented me because they echoed things that I sensed around me, touched upon realities that I knew I would experience. I’ve been the girl on the stairs frozen with fear at the shadow moving towards me, I’ve been the one who’s dreams slip into the waking world. Good horror to me isn’t about the bloodthirsty and the gory. I’ve seen Cannibal XXX - it made me a little sick but it didn’t frighten me. I also saw the Exorcist when I was 15 and though it was well put together, something in it seemed a little too far fetched to really scare me. I guess I do enjoy having my nerves jangled on occasion but I tend not to watch or read horror now because some of it is too closely related to the world I live in - i.e. dealing with dreams and other spiritual matters. If I am doing a reading or healing I don’t really want my spider senses tingling because I’ve seen some 8ft hairy dem
on manifest during such a session in a movie. I don’t really want those thoughts intruding - I have a vivid imagination that can take a simple thought or memory and make it like a cinema screen in my head! That said I think horror as a genre is incredible and important. I have huge respect for those writers and directors who can take a situation and twist it into the horrific. I love a writer who can reach into my mind and tap into the absolute primal fear. To me it is an art. Fear is the great leveller amongst us and I believe that there are times when we need to be confronted with our fears - if only through film. So here is my homage to the horror movies that made me think, made my skin crawl, made me lay awake at night and keep every light on in the house. THE SHINING I’ve seen this film about 4 times. Now I can’t even watch the trailers for it because it freaks me out so much. Rarely do I move faster than when I am reaching for the remote as soon as I hear the wonderful Jack Nicolson utter those words ‘HEeeerrrrre’s Johnny!’ Written and directed by Stanley Kubrik, The Shining is based on Stephen Kings novel. Apparently Stephen King hated the adaptation. Usually I much prefer the book to the film but this is one of the rare exceptions to the rule. The story centres around writer Jack Torrance, his wife and son as they become over-winter caretakers to an isolated hotel. Little Danny is psychic (he ‘shines’) and soon the hotels history makes itself known... Jack Nicholson is one of my favourite actors and his portrayal of the slow decline into madness in The Shining is exquisite. The story as a whole tunes into our darkest fears that the one we love we eventually harm us. Probably all of us have been on the receiving end of a relationship that has gone wrong - where suddenly our friend or lover no longer seems to be the one we know. The hardened eyes, cold heart and cruel words canno
t possibly be coming from the person we loved...This is the theme played upon in the film but played to an extreme as Johnny succumbs to the madness of writers block and to the dark malevolent spirits of the manner in which they are staying. The whole movie exudes tension - the isolation is oppressive. But the thing that gets me reaching for the remote are those creepy children! If you’ve seen the film you’ll know exactly what I mean - if you haven’t, well I leave it for you to discover. Lets just say I’ll never see horseracing and twins in the same light! The idea of children and evil really frightens me. Not wanting to offend all you parents out there but children can be extremely unnerving at the best of times and sometimes downright spooky. I’ve had lots of nightmares about evil children haunting my home, demonised babies and coupled with a friends experience which left her refusing to babysit ever again after the children simply sat and stared at her for 2 hours... *shudder* Um...no I don’t plan on breeding! AUDREY ROSE Okay so there’s a bit of a theme going on here I know - I told you children make me jumpy! Can you imagine what you would do if a stranger walked up to you and tried to convince you that your child is in fact the reincarnation of someone their daughter? The stranger is Elliot Hoover the child in question Ivy Templeton. Elliots daughter was called Audrey Rose. Elliot is played by the fabulous Anthony Hopkins - I will watch anything he’s in! Little Susan Swift who played Ivy was only 13 at the time and she is terrific little actress. There are some genuinely creepy moments in this film but the overriding emotion is frustration. Hopkins is like a bomb ready to go off at any minute and all the way through I feel great sympathy for him whilst at the same time sensing the Mother’s distrust of him. This is a wonderful original story concerning reincarnation full of tension from
the outset. I won’t give away the ending but each time I see the feel I still feel traumatised by it. The shocks pull no punches. PAPER HOUSE I know a lot of people don’t think much of this film but I absolutely love it. Perhaps because it again calls upon a child’s eye view of the world and how they deal with nightmares. The story centres around a little girl and the dreamworld she discovers and creates whilst sick in hospital. What I love about the film is the way the writer has such insight into the world of dreams and dreaming and the deeply symbolic nature of the film is very appealing. There are a couple of unsettling moments and a lot of disturbing imagery that I find quite hypnotic. The film works on several levels - subplots and themes abound but are neat and tidy and don’t get in the way. This is a film that works from dark to light, from horror to understanding but I still find the denouement upsetting. Some stunning cinematography and nice acting from youngsters make this good viewing. ROSEMARY’S BABY There’s something about this film even though it is perhaps a little dated. Director Roman Polanski creates an eerie tension in a film that has been hailed as one of the best of its genre. Mia Farrow’s portrayal of main character Rosemary is captivating. Initially the viewer is on the outside of Rosemary’s world but gradually we are drawn into her mind. The tension of the film lies in her internal conflict - ’ Is she just being paranoid or are the over friendly neighbours Minnie and Roman really poisoning her? Just how did her husband ’suddenly’ land his best role in a film? What are the strange noises coming from next door? What are the terrible nightmares all about? Polanski creates a very normal environment which in itself becomes unnerving when it contrasts against the fear of what might really be going on. I love the way he constantly makes us question Ros
emary’s sanity. I have never found the film shocking as some have suggested - just quietly unsettling and brilliantly written. STIGMATA Well my friend only had to mention that Gabrielle Byrne was in this film and I had to watch it! Stigmata is the story of what happens when an ordinary woman named Frankie(Patricia Arquette) begins to experience stigmata (the wounds of Christ). This has long been a subject I am fascinated by and the film examines the reaction of the Catholic Church. Gabrielle Byrne plays the priest sent to investigate ‘miracles’. There is of course love interest between him and Frankie giving the film that extra spark. Stigmata makes many pointed comments about the Church - namely it’s political undertones and desperate need to keep control of the Divine. Throughout the story the issue is raised over the Church's suppression of the Gospel of St. Thomas. Hardly surprising since if they took it to heart the Church was it is would not be able to continue - bang goes the priests salary. There are many spooky moment and good special effects but those pale in significance for me - it was the story itself that kept me hooked. The film subtly and overtly criticises the Church - ramming home the paradox‘s, conflicts and hypocrisies it exudes. A breath of fresh air and a fabulous movie. URBAN GHOST STORY A few months ago my mate invited me round for a movie evening. Urban Ghost Story was one of the films on the agenda. At first when I read the blurb I wasn’t particularly impressed. I noted that Jason Connery was in it (who of course could NEVER take the place of the lovely Michael Praed!) and sighed. Oh well I thought - it’ll pass an evening. Boy were my initial thoughts wrong. Urban Ghost story is probably the only low budget horror movie I have ever seen that actually succeeds in being scary - downright scary! The film is set on a rough council estate in Scotland - cert
ainly a far cry from haunted gothic manors and lush Hollywood boulevards. Somehow the setting really brings the creepiness of this film right home. Lizzie Fisher (played brilliantly by young Heather Ann Foster) knows that there is something in the house. She’s a troubled teenager who’s mother looks after her and her brother on her own. The film reeks of poverty and anxiety throughout and succeeds in raising issues concerning social problems of those ‘at the bottom of the pile’. Jason Connery plays John Fox - a local journalist who begins to investigate the haunting that seems to focus on and around Lizzie. I thought he suited the part and made the character very believable. Weaved into the story is a deeper theme of madness and self-acceptance. Lizzie’s world is frightening - her inner world more so. It’s difficult to say much more about the film without giving it away. All I will say is just watch for the moment Lizzie’s mother realises there IS something spooky going on - I jumped a mile! DUEL This is one of director Spielberg's earliest films and oh I just love it! I have no idea about budget but it strikes me as a reasonably low budget movie. It’s brilliance is the simplest of storylines weaved into a tense ball of a film. Main character David Mann (played by Dennis Weaver) is your typical business man - married, stressed out and seriously needing to get to a meeting. When he overtakes a frustratingly slow and smoky truck on the the backroads all hell breaks lose... The beauty of this film is the simplicity - little dialogue, a handful of actors, an isolated back road. Spielburg plays on one of our greatest human fears - the unknown. Spielberg makes the audience do all the work for him by keeping us guessing throughout the film. There are no explanations as to why the truck driver declares war on David - we never know if the driver is even human. All the viewer is given is the reac
tions and internal responses of Mann - his growing panic seeps out of the screen. Not perhaps a horror movie in the typical sense but certainly an horrific concept if you imagine what if this were real? What would you do? ALIEN I could have all 4 of the alien films in my top ten - I think every single one is brilliant. The third film tends to be the one that most people think didn’t quite hit the mark but I enjoyed it even if Sigourney Weaver did have a terrible time filming it. The original film though is just that - original. Yes there have been many films over the years that have concentrated on ‘mankind meets the evil alien monster from hell’ scenario but Alien just seemed to take the whole thing one step further. With the beast itself designed by HR Giger this alien could not fail to fill the viewer with absolute horror. Director Ridley Scott manages to squeeze out fear from every pore of the cast. The excellent special effects are striking and horrific. The premise is again simple - you’re stuck on a planet with the deadliest of aliens and these things have no interest in channelling great messages of love from the sky Goddess. Sigourney Weaver plays main character Ripley with sheer brilliance - hard and uncompromising, Ripley represents the basic instinct in all of us - to survive. . It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it, whenever I watch I still experience the same dramatic build up of tension. My spine still tingles when I look into the face of the alien. SALEM’S LOT Based on yet another of Stephen Kings novels, Salems Lot has that genuine creepy factor despite being a made for television movie. I have noticed in many of Kings novels the theme ‘facing your childhood fears’ comes up a lot. This story is no exception. When writer Ben Mears (David Soul) moves back to his childhood town he is haunted by the memories of what happened in the Marsden House. I
n a bid to break writer’s block he decides to write about the house and his experiences. His research unearths a terrifying problem. This is in many ways a typical story of vampires taking over the town but Kings twists and turns and atmospheric filming keep the viewer involved and on the edge of their seat. Once again we have ’creepy child factor’ that keeps me away from watching this again - tap, tap, tap on the bedroom window *shudder* THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER I just had to include this - the 1960 version with the greatest of horror actors Vincent Price. I am a huge fan of both him and Edgar Allen Poe. I just love the dark gothic tales. Tales of madness and murder, women bricked up alive behind walls, family curses, creepy manors - these are the original horror stories that have become tongue in cheek nowadays but they deserves a mention. Occasionally the film is spooky but I love it more because of Price’s hilariously over-the-top performance. He goes all out with the startled eyes, exquisite robes, velvet queens-English and eccentricity. This is in no way a criticism - it is part of the charm of this and all of the following series of Poe films that came after (The Masque of the Red death, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Raven - to name a few). Price is brilliant in his portrayal of the Roderick Usher; the man ravaged by the family curse that makes the senses so acute the sufferer will succumb to madness and death. His desperate attempts to keep safe his sister Madeleine are thwarted by Madeleine's fiancé who’s having none of the creepy goings on. This is the downfall of the House of Usher... Symbolism is overt and exaggerated both in Poe’s literature and within the films. Whilst not being a carbon copy of the original story, director Roger Corman makes a fine adaptation. Even if horror has never been your thing I would absolutely recommend this film. These are my top ten horror
movies - well for now anyway. Jacobs Ladder is one that should be on the list and isn’t - simply because I’ve already written an opinion of this film The Wicker Man isn’t on the list because I think it is so utterly fantastic it deserves an opinion all of it’s own and will write one soon. Other films I have thoroughly ‘enjoyed’ (or been scared silly by) in this genre are Don’t Look Now Psycho 2 Gothic (1986) The Sixth Sense (1999) Amityville Carrie Company of Wolves Bram stokers Dracula Interview with a Vampire The Omen Sweet dreams everyone...
These are the movies that creeped me out, moved me away from doors and windows, and had me huddling breathless next to who ever was watching the film with me at the time. Most of these I do not attempt watching by my self. Some warped me at an early age (the 1st film I remember seeing was Bela Lugosi's Dracula-I snuck out of bed and hid behind the chair for that one!). Some had me jumping at shadows for a few days, but all of these are flicks I can watch over again and still get the chills!I love tales of madness and obsession too, being an Edgar Allen Poe fan. In no particular order, since limiting to just ten is hard enough... 1.INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS: I watched the version with Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nimoy. The earlier version was good too, but I have yet to see the newer version, so do not have an opinion of that one. A strange alien life form spreads it's seeds on our world and is slowly taking over. Watch out for those plants you have never seen before! Don't sleep, cause that is when they get you! Are your neighbors, family, or friends acting suspiciously unlike themselves? Perhaps they are not who you think they are! Their identity may now belong to this eerie Invasion force! Who do you trust? How long can you go without sleep? The ending is the scene that REALLY creeped me out! 2.THE EXORCIST: Do you believe in God? This is the story of a little girl being possessed by a demon. An exorcist is sent by the church and he ,along with a younger less experienced priest, and the girl's mother fight for the life and soul of this young girl. There are a lot of graphic scenes and language here, especially considering when this movie came out, so be warned. This poor girl is tormented with sores, severe bodily contortions that will creep you out, as well as any thing else the demon can think of to torture not only her, but everyone else around her! Aside from th
e classic struggle between Good and Evil, and all the demon's evil antics, I think what REALLY made this movie so scary for me was the idea of being trapped inside your own body while the evil entity does what it pleases. The scene where words are raised upon the girl's flesh, showing that she is still there, still gives me uncontrollable shivers! 3.THE SHINING: (It's a given that the book is almost always better.) A family of three have their lives disrupted by the father's alcoholism,and eventually he loses his college professor position. He decides to turn over a new leaf and begin again. The father takes a new job as caretaker at a huge old hotel high in the mountains, where he hopes to finish his novel during their winter-long seclusion. However, hotels are places where bad things have happened, and memories linger... Especially THIS hotel. The son is recognized by the hotel chef as having "the shine", esp abilities of great strength in fact. He warns him as best he can, hoping he will be able to make it through what he fears may happen in this murder-soaked, ghost-riddled place. There are so many excellent scary scenes here, I couldn't name them all. The ghosts of two little girls who were murdered here, and the scene in the maze with the topiary animals are two of my favorites. I don't what was scarier, the father's decent into madness and his possible possesion by the evil lurking here, or his wife and gifted son having to deal with all of this! Wonderful cast too! 4.POLTERGEIST: Typical family moves into a new housing development. It isn't long before the new house is showing signs of supernatural activity which quickly becomes a nightmare! Another gifted child taken hostage by the supernatural, and a family under siege. I love the diminutive psychic as well as the crew that comes in to study all of the bizarre occurences. There are some excellent humor
ous inclusions in this creepy movie. What scared me? That darn clown (my aunt had one just like it in the hallway), and the idea of living over unmarked graves ALWAYS freaks me out! By the way, that preacher from Poltergeist 2? We had an exact double living in our area in 1988, and he scared the heck out of me by knocking on my door one day to preach to me about the Baptist faith. No, sorry, couldn't even bring myself to open the door! 5.MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN: Robert DeNiro, Kenneth Branagh, Helena Bonham Carter, Aidan Quinn, Tom Hulce, Ian Holm, AND John Cleese?! Got to love this cast! This classic tale of obsession, madness, revenge, and hubris was wonderfully done. The road to Hell is paved with GOOD intentions, remember? Lush,vivid,and moving, this version did justice to Mary Shelley's masterpiece of horror. The two things that grabbed me the most both came from the Creation. When he speaks of how either his great love or great hate must be fulfilled, could their be a more ominous veiled threat? The other is when he tells Frankenstein that he knew how to play the recorder- "Which part of me did that come from, Doctor?" Shivers! The horror of Frankenstein's entire tale is not nearly as frightening as the idea that so much harm can come from such good intentions! 6.PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS: A bizarre little tale from Wes Craven. The main character is nicknamed Fool by his sister, and the movie begins with her doing a tarot reading for him. The entire movie centers around the "weird" people in the neighborhood, you know, the house that kids always talk about ,and dare each other over? You could not even IMAGINE what Fool finds lurking inside! Wealth and In-breeding can have some pretty disturbing results! One of the other characters, Roach,moves and lives in the forgotten corners of the house; between floorboards, and walls. I think this thought was the most
unsettling for me. I will admit that this is not the most frightening of films. Most of the scares are the 'jump out and scare you' type, and after the first viewing they just don't work. It is very entertaining though and I included it on the off chance that you haven't heard of it before this. 7.NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3-DREAM WARRIORS: The whole idea behind Freddy Kruger is pretty spooky anyway, but THIS one is the one that totally destroyed one of my best false-safety-comfort tricks when watching a scary movie! Until watching this flick, I had been able to watch ANY movie alone or even alone in the dark, simply by having my back completely covered by like a wall or the chair back, and not being by a window or doorway. Sounds trite perhaps, but hey, it worked for me... at least it did until I saw this movie! Freddy of course, can not only reach right through Walls, but he can reach from his realm and pull you from your nice safe world into his! Again, it is not safe to sleep. They love using that in horror films! The scene where one of the characters goes to simply sit in a chair, and instead falls right into Freddy's demented dream plane is the one that did it to me! Thanks, Freddy. 8.IN DREAMS: Annette Benning and Robert Downey Jr. were great in this film. (I love Annette) A small town is evacuated and covered by the rising waters created by the new dam. Except that some one left a young boy chained to his bed.That thought alone is pretty scary, can you imagine being trapped like that? Any way this story has a little bit of everything. A crazy murderer with psychic powers who feels he has some connection to Annette's character begins destroying her life in bits and pieces, which eventually leads to a showdown. The scariest thing from this film, for me, was that she gets locked up in the mental ward in the very room that used to be HIS! eek! She may not make it through to
a typical happy ending, but he doesn't get away with his deeds! The end had me evilly chuckling for days! Such a unique revenge by the victim! 9.STIR OF ECHOES: Fabulously written, this one had a bit more horror me than 6th Sense. Perhaps because they are all such ordinary people, or perhaps because seeing such extraordinary things happening through the eyes of such a determined skeptic was a bit more frightening. He was more confused and frightened because he had never accepted that such things were possible than someone with a more open mind may have been. Again, there is that whole body-in-the-house/unmarked grave thing that always gets me. 6th Sense was Very good, but you don't realize how good until the end. What seemed like questionable writing during the movie suddenly became GOOD writing. Stir of Echoes' writing can stand by itself throughout. 10.PAPER HOUSE: One of my best lucky finds and favorite movies! Two children share a world where what they draw comes to be...So,what happens if the child is angry?Or scared?Or not facing something in their life? This had some real nightmare qualities to it that were done very well. I can't reveal the ending, and the film has to be seen to be believed! The truth about the girl's friend and the pursuit by the scribbled-out faceless man were my favorite pieces of this film. So, there you are, my little Chamber of Horrors. Rent one tonight,use the Buddy system, turn out the lights, and remember...you still aren't safe! SOME THAT DIDN'T MAKE IT BECAUSE THE BOOK WAS SO MUCH BETTER: The Stand, Firestarter, It, The Dead Zone, Carrie, Interview with a Vampire HONORABLE MENTIONS: Eyes of Fire, Sleepy Hollow, Dead Calm, Night of the Living Dead, American Werewolf in London, Snow White a Tale of Terror, 6th Sense, Haunted, and the Scream trilogy.
There are loads of different types of horror films. From slasher/stalker films to the supernatural, from monster flicks to religious depictions of Satan. Most of them are not very scary, the most they are intended to do is make you jump. People want a thrill out of the film, they want to feel bearably tense because the genuine feeling of being horrified is not pleasant. Horror is a crossover genre, the films always include elements of other types of film. Probably my favourite brand of horror film is the comedy gore flick, or even the unintentionally funny gore film. Anyway everyone has their own favourites and mine are a mixture of genuinely chilling efforts to downright hysterical gorefests. I didn't have room for Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is kind of silly in places anyway. I also would have included Zombie Flesh Eaters as it features great gore and the only fight ever between a zombie and a shark. 10) Scream - Wes Craven revamped the old slasher films and made horror acceptable again for a new generation. Unfortunately he also spawned a huge load of totally appauling copies in which the only real storyline is the murder of annoying American teens (which can be entertaining). Scream was funny, the sequels are a sign of Craven disappearing up his own arse as he blatantly breaks his own rules and cops out by never killing the main characters (this is a problem he had before with Freddy). Still this was a slick, funny and slightly jumpy film when it came out and I enjoyed it. 9) Friday the 13th - The first one was great, all the horror you would expect from a slasher movie with murdered teenagers galore and they remembered to have a good twist at the end. The sequels degenerated but do gain points for being full of really ridiculous ways to kill people, party hooter in the eye anyone? 8) The Exorcist - An attempt at being genuinely scary, this film succeeds in places and does at least make you feel unsettled. Great charact
ers and a moody, claustrophobic style with really creepy sound. It is the best portrayal of demonic possession and exorcism I have ever seen and using a young girl was a clever way of making the audience really uncomfortable. 7) Dawn of The Dead/ Day of the Dead/ Night of the Living Dead - The ultimate zombie trilogy from Romero. Dawn of the Dead is probably the best, with our heroes hiding in a huge department store and watching the zombies gather with growing fear. The zombies are slow and stupid and like to eat people. Great effects, good make up and some interesting settings make these films highly enjoyable. Romero even has a dig at popular culture with his zombie shoppers. 6) The Thing - The Thing was brilliant, who could it be, the suspense was great and the idea was genuinely creepy. Kurt Russell trapped with a bunch of guys on a remote ice station under attack from a morphing alien thing which can replicate anything. The script is good, the sense of claustrophobia comes across and the usual Carpenter music adds to the tension. Not to mention the Thing being terrifying, scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. 5) Jacob's Ladder - Tim Robbins is the central character and this film is really hard to talk about without giving away the ending so I won't say much. I thought probably one of the best endings ever and the dreamlike imagery used during the film was terrific, really scary, especially the fast flickering face (you'll know what I mean if you have seen it). A criminally under rated film. 4) A Nightmare on Elm Street - Wes Craven with his original and best creation. Freddy Kreuger the child killer with razor fingers and that stripy jumper. Brilliant film, very inventive with some genuine jump out of your seat bits acheived with cheap effects. The idea sounds daft, he can kill people in their dreams, but it works well in the film and allowed them to play around with the boundaries of reality. The scene wh
ere the girl is murdered, dragged onto the ceiling and carved open by the invisible Freddy was especially memorable. 3) Hellraiser - Classic from Clive Barker, an atmospheric horror made on a shoe string budget. The cenobites led by the infanous Pinhead come from hell to claim souls. Barker creates his own stylishly scary universe, and with little screen time, the cenobites still manage to steal the show. The film looks great, has a good script and is full of stylish details, like the design of the puzzle box. It is a shame that the sequels never really lived up to the promise of the original. 2) The Shining - Jack Nicholson's finest performance as the unhinged writer who goes crazy. Set at the remote Outlook hotel the family are caretakers and get snowed in for the winter, it isn't long before things go wrong. Written by Stephen King the film far surpasses the book and is one of the few examples of a film being far superior to the book version. This is an example of what happens when you get a skilled director (Kubrick) and a quality cast in a horror film, something which doesn't really ever happen. Which is why this is a horror classic. Atmospheric and very chilling, who can forget the lifts full of blood and those creepy little twin girls? 1) Evil Dead II - Essentially a remake of the first film this is the best comedy horror ever made. Bruce Campbell is amazing as Ash, the one part he was born to play. Sam Raimi directs and the action is frenetic, non-stop gore and freaky happenings are made hilarious by Campbell's crazy acting. His facial expressions are truly incredible and the scene where he goes mad in the cabin on his own is one of the best scenes of all time. Really gory and really funny, the dead are jealous of the living and want life, they appear in a variety of forms and are always hideous. The action never lets up and the film doesn't outstay it's welcome at only 80 minutes, leaving you feeling breath
Horror films are the cornerstone of movies, they combine the best elements of action, drama, suspense and often a little humour in one film. There are many great horror films, but there are some that have helped define or redefine the genre. So here they are in no order whatsoever. Halloween The masked maniac known as Michael Myers goes on the rampage after Jamie Lee Curtis, one of the all time great horror films, its masked villain has been often imitated but rarely bettered. Sad to see it spawned so many sequels that have for many devalued the original. Nightmare On Elm Street No kid slept after a glimpse of Freddie Krueger, truly Robert Englund?s claw fingered monster is among films legendary bad guys, and the suspense added with the film makes it a horror legend. Again ruined by so many sequels. Scream Totally redefined the horror genre in 1997, and set the way for teen slasher films. A marvellous ,mix of mystery, suspense, humour and drama ? Scream eventually became a great trilogy and provided they don?t get silly and make a few more it will go down as a classic series. Paved the way for the ?whodunnit? style of recent films in the genre as opposed to knowing the killer ala Freddy. Blair Witch Project Love it or hate it the BWP was certainly original, and if you saw it without seeing the hype (as they in the US did) I believe it was truly scary. Superb concept and some excellent acting, also spawned as strange a sequel as ever was made , personally I liked it but I think I?m the only one who did. Alien Set the style for sci-fi horror films, with Sigourney Weaver excellent as Ripley, battling the ultimate creature. Spawned a stunning firepower driven sequel and then 2 poorer films, Alien 5 is on the way. Nosferatu Old but classic, the story of the vampire may not be as scary nowadays but the acting and quality at the time was amazing. Day Of The
Triffids Mum told me to put this in, says it scared her witless when she saw it so I?ll settle for that. Psycho Everyone knows Psycho, the music, the shower scene and the Bates Motel. Classic slasher horror which still outshines its recent remake. The Shining One of Jack Nicholson?s finest and a truly scary film taken from the Stephen King book. A great performance and a real sense of suspense make this a great horror film. It remains one of my favourite films. The Exorcist Not so much pioneering as pushing back the boundaries. Scenes of blasphemy and so forth were unseen in the cinemas before this film, and despite its hammering from people who felt its morals were bad this was one of the scariest films ever. It may not have the same effect today but some scenes are still as bad as ever.
Okay, this is kinda subjective… and will probably change by this time tomorrow… but I think these 10 are all worth checking out, if you’re a fan of the genre. Just to make something clear, though, these are my 10 personal favourites – I’m certainly not suggesting they’re the best ever, or anything. Also, I tend to go for vampire flicks more than other types of horror – the list reflects that. And before anyone asks, there are plenty of ‘classics’, such as ‘The Exorcist’, which aren’t on there for the simple reason I never got round to watching them. 10. FROM DUSK TIL DAWN Never a big fan of Quentin Tarantino, I was talked into watching this by a friend, but found it surprisingly enjoyable. Basic premise – kidnappers take their victims to a bar, but quickly have to join forces with them as they become they prey of the somewhat ‘unusual’ locals – is original, at least compared to most horror standbys. And the cast, particularly Juliette Lewis, are outstanding. 9. TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT A somewhat camp entry into the genre, the ‘Tales From The Crypt’ name is hardly a byword for quality, and this is another film which I watched somewhat reluctantly. But despite the creaky plot – a demon is after a powerful artefact, so the artefact’s guardian takes shelter in a boarding house, much to the chagrin of the other inhabitants – there are some genuinely scary moments. The special effects are brilliant, and the acting is a notch above what you’d expect, particularly from Billy Zane, of Titanic fame, as the demon, and Brenda Bakke, from American Gothic, as the obligatory beautiful young woman. 8. FRIDAY THE 13TH The only decent slasher film in all the ‘Friday’, ‘Halloween’, and ‘Nightmare’ series, this has been tainted by its assoc
iation with the others. Unlike the rest of the films in both this series and its two counterparts, though, this has real thrills and chills, and a half decent plot, as Camp Crystal Lake (nicknamed Camp Blood) reopens years after some terrible accidents… but the killing hasn’t stopped yet. 7. TWINS OF EVIL There are about 20 Hammer horror films languishing just outside this list, but this is my favourite piece from the somewhat corny, but always entertaining, studio. As in most of their best films, Christopher Lee plays a vampire, while Peter Cushing is the vampire hunter – in this case, a witchfinder general type hunter who’s almost as dangerous, and scary, as the vampire himself. As Lee seduces one of Cushing’s twin nieces, and her sister tries to save her, this is a wonderfully kitsch, but sexy, tale of bloodsucking. UPDATE: Uh... this makes me feel stupid, but if we're getting picky, Lee isn't actually in the film - I always thought it was him, but it's little known Egyptian actor Damien Thomas. Oops... Thomas gives a very 'Lee-like' performance, which is my sole mitigation for making that rather major mistake. Thx to Hogsflesh for pointing it out. 6. ARACHNOPHOBIA It probably helps that I’m scared of spiders, but this is, to me, one of the most chilling films I’ve ever seen. The production, as you’d expect from Steven Spielberg, is top notch. And Jeff Daniels, as the guy trying to work out if a spate of deaths in his town are spider related – which of course they are, since a tarantula has somehow been let loose and started to breed with normal spiders, creating a new strain of super arachnids, is a brilliant star. Even better, though, is John Goodman, who’s hilarious as the town exterminator. 5. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON One of the first horrors I ever saw, this is another less than serious treatment of
terror, but is definitely my top ‘wolfman’ flick. Jenny Agutter is brilliant as the nurse who falls in love with an American tourist, only to find out that he can be an animal at times (apologies for the pun), and Griffin Dunne is brilliant as the other American, while David Naughton, in the title role, has some of the most impressive transformation scenes around. 4. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE I’ll be short here, in the hope that you’ll go and read my full review of this film (grins), but the adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel is a true masterpiece. Following Brad Pitt’s Louie through centuries as a vampire, as he tells his story to journalist Christian Slater, the film is a true horror classic, jumping from place to place but never losing its thread, as it follows Louie’s relationship with his creator Lestat (one of horror’s all time great performances by Tom Cruise) and the little girl they take as a vampire, wonderfully played by the incredibly young Kirsten Dunst. 3. FRIGHT NIGHT Another comedy/horror, this is a riot, with teenager William Ragsdale becoming convinced that the tall dark stranger next door is a vampire. Unable to get anyone to believe him, he calls in ‘Fearless Vampire Hunter’ Roddy McDowall, whose TV show has just been cancelled… but McDowall is somewhat less fearless than he’d have us believe. Both of them, alongside Chris Sarandon as the bloodsucker, are brilliantly funny. 2. DRACULA (1931) The original, and (almost) the best, vampire film (excluding the silent movie Nosferatu, at least), this is a brilliant adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel, far better than the terrible 90’s remake by Francis Ford Coppola. Director Tod Browning does a sterling job, while Transylvanian Bela Lugosi plays the role as if he was born to. Sadly, the role became almost an albatross for Lugosi, with him always being th
ought of as the Count, despite the fact he played the role only once more. Dwight Frye makes Dracula’s lunatic henchman Renfield almost as scary as the title character, and the script is fantastic, with some of the most famous lines in horror history – such as ‘I bid you… velcome.’ And ‘I never drink… wine’. More than just a straightforward horror, though, Lugosi invites pity for his condition in many places, such as when he tells Mina ‘There are far worse things awaiting man than death.’ 1. LOVE AT FIRST BITE Another comedy, and shamefully underrated in the pantheon of great British cinema, this is laugh a minute all the way. George Hamilton as Count Alucard, and Susan St James as the reincarnation of a woman he has chased through the ages, and needs to bite just once more to claim her for his own, are a wonderful, if unusual, romantic pairing, while Arte Johnson as Renfield and Richard Benjamin as a descendant of Van Helsing, and rival for St James’ hand, are fantastic supporting actors. The script is pure genius, especially as luckless Benjamin tries to kill off Hamilton unsuccessfully at regular intervals, once producing a silver bullet - ‘That’s for werewolves’, chuckles Hamilton – and as St James tries to persuade Hamilton to leap into bed for a few minutes – ‘With you, never a quickie, always a longie.’ he replies. As I said, these probably aren’t the 10 best of all time, but I’m confident that you’ll enjoy all of them if you’re a horror fan.
Where do you start? A couple of months ago, I wrote a series of opinions on Top 10s. I covered books, games, songs and films. By far the hardest was the films. I have been a film enthusiast all my life (rather than a 'buff' - I actually watch films to enjoy them rather than analyse them) and to pick 10 films that cover all categories is nigh on impossible. I decided to split my choices down, and do ops on my three top categories - Action / Sci-Fi / Horror. This is my top 10 horror films, done first as my choices are clear-cut. In no particular order... Day of the Dead. George A Romero, the undisputed international zombie maestro, finally reached the end of his walking dead trilogy way back in 1985. At this time, as a spotty 16 year old, Saturday nights invariably resulted in hanging round at a mates house with a couple of 4 packs of Mayfield Bitter (24p a can - and tasting like it) and a video watching session. These always involved an action movie (The Warriors, The Terminator, and Mad Max were pretty much the standard fare), a rather dodgy movie off the top shelf which nobody really wanted to watch but didn't dare to be the first to suggest so, and a horror movie. The problem with horror movies in the eighties was their attempts to be funny. If they were genuinely funny then fair enough, but toilet humour and bad acting combined with unrealistic effects can make for a very bad movie indeed. Day of the Dead contains little humour. The deadpan script is wittily plotted and acted with an enthusiasm way above par for a 'splatter' movie. There is actual character development, and you even at one point feel an affinity for the poor zombies and their plight. The effects are astoundingly sickening, and rarely resort to comic overuse. The final death scene where the commandant is literally torn apart apparently features genuine screams as he is struggling to breath due to the stench of the r
otting pigs intestines which were pouring out of the bags attached to his belly. I was tempted to include Dawn of the Dead, which is of a similar calibre, but has less shock value, but came down on the side of its sequel, and its shocking finale. Brain Dead. Years and years ago, New Zealand director Peter Jackson liked to shock. One of first efforts - Bad Taste is a true video nasty, with exploding heads and puke eating. His follow up, i.e. Brain Dead is of similar fare, only with a budget. The story follows the infestation of unsuspecting people with a virus from the Sumatran rat monkey. This encourages frankly bizarre behaviour involving violence, subnormal eating patterns, and sexual depravity. The film is famous for classic scenes such as: Mutant baby in frying pan tennis (you have to see it) Copulating Vicar/nurse who were killed 20 minutes earlier and impaled together. Extermination using a hover mower (The hero uses his lawn mower and a food processor to eradicate his little problem. Apparently over a thousand gallons of fake blood were used - hence my title) How can you dislike a film with lines like - 'You're mother ate my dog......yeah, but not all of it', and 'I am Father McGruder, and I kick arse for the Lord' There are no Oscars to be won for acting or scriptwriting, but the film is actually intentionally hilarious. Those of you who have seen it will know why I will never eat custard again. We can only hope that his next project is as extreme.....Oh bugger - its 'The Lord of the Rings' ! Pet Semetary Like most Stephen king adaptations, this isn't very strong. I have included it for one reason and one reason alone. Ever since I watched it years ago, one particular scene has stuck with me. Its imagery returns to my mind time and time again and has me wincing in anticipated agony. Whilst writing this I am squirming at the thought. Basically, a d
octor, played by Fred Gwynne (of Herman Munster fame) is crawling under a bed to search for a young child. The kid is actually behind him, and reaches into the doctor's bag and removes a scalpel. The camera switches to a view of the doctor's exposed Achilles tendon. What follows is graphically portrayed.... For a scene to affect me like that, even after 10 years or so, must be effective. It achieved what every horror film tries, and usually fails to do. Society. I was initially very wary of this film, mainly due to its casting. It starred Billy Warlock, who was currently starring in Baywatch as the first of a string of young male actors brought in to show off their bodies once David Hasselhoff got too old to take off his clothes. The story revolves around a kid who lives amongst the rich and privileged, and suspects that they are all something different. The whole film is a metaphor for the rich leeching off the under-privileged in America, and catches you quite by surprise when the subtle digs at society suddenly become very literal and quite gruesomely graphic. The effects were designed by ‘Screaming Mad George’ - who is famous for outlandish far out creations, and this is no exception. The finale - an orgy scene involves the whole party melding into one another, and sharing their limbs and organs. The ‘Shunt’, where an unwilling victim gets literally turned inside out is grossly spectacular. The Omen It used to signify Old Spice, but since this film’s release, the music is now synonymous with the personification of evil. This was an almost word for word adaptation of the book of the same name, and was equally chilling. The Biblical references are made to seem entirely relevant, and add an almost believable element to the proceedings. The air of menace is maintained throughout, and you are kept perched on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next plot development t
o unfold, and the next murderous twist to occur. The actors are top notch, with Gregory Peck forsaking his desire to play only ‘bad guys’ in the twilight of his career, and David Warner once again laying in with a heavyweight character portrayal (he even managed to star in the first ever believable screen decapitation!) The film is scarily insightful, and spawned 2 high quality sequels charting the adolescence and adulthood of Damien the Antichrist. (Forget any further sequels - they are all derivative trash). This is an intelligent thriller, which nearly beat the Exorcist to the crown of ‘Horror film of the decade’. Scanners. David Cronenberg released many low budget movies in the late 70s / early 80s to much critical acclaim, but little commercial success. This was one exception, and unfortunately all the hype revolved around one infamous scene. This was an early outing for Michael Ironside - and he effective sneers in his Nicholson-esque manner all the way through the film. The scene mentioned earlier involves Ironside causing the exploding head in the lecture theatre which was amazingly convincing considering the calibre of special effects available at the time. Apart form the head scene, the film had a clever plot, and plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing, and was full of the paranoia that was evident in so many films of the era. It is a film that has aged very little (apart from the size of the collars and ties) and it is a shame that it is rarely remembered for more than the head scene alone. The Fly. This is the second Cronenburg film I have included, yet strangely these are probably the only two I have really enjoyed. Most of his work is a little strange, and somewhat contrived (did anyone understand either Dead Ringers or ExistenZ?) Jeff Goldblum is perfectly cast as the eccentric scientist who perfects teleportation and mutates himself through self experim
entation gone wrong. His normal appearance as a bug eyed, slightly mad individual must have made him Cronenburg’s only choice for the role. Geena Davis also stars in an early role, bringing a sophistication to the role which could have approached ridiculousness (love affair with 6ft fly????). She also gets to utter one of the most quoted lines out of any horror film ever - ‘Be afraid...be very afraid.’ The film is quite shocking, but never scary. The gruesome scenes at the end are played with almost a degree of tenderness for the mutated fly/man/machine hybrid. It is played as a lesson in what can go wrong when modern science is left unchecked to meddle in matters beyond our comprehension. We never learn... Evil Dead II. This is virtually a rehash of the original Sam Raimi shocker, but with better effects, a funnier script, and a sanitised version of the originals forest rape scene. Bruce Campbell overacts to the fullest of his abilities, causing mayhem with his sawn-off shotgun, and wrist mounted chainsaw. With chants like ‘Groovy!’ accompanying demon despatching (I can’t work out whether this was extremely naff or incredibly cool) he works his way through all manner of demonic incarnations all assuring him he will be ‘Dead by Dawn’. Some of the crazier scenes include Campbell beating himself up with his own possessed hand, which he promptly severs and chases around the house (finally trapping it in a bucket weighted with a copy of Hemingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms’ - very droll) At the time, the BBFC tried to ban it due to an eyeball being fired across a room and into a screaming woman’s mouth, but scenes like that are tame today, and all add to the camp nostalgia of the movie. The effects still look to be made of plasticine and rubber, but the movie wins you over - you end up ignoring the cheesiness and enjoying the movie. Final Destination Blimey - a modern film! I remembered seeing the trailers or this where they were pretending to show genuine audience reactions, and then showed some of the worst acting ever. The trailer really put me off actually seeing the film, until my wife hired it from the local store. This is in fact a very well crafted suspense movie rather than a horror. It only counts as a horror due to some of the more gruesome death sequences. The long and protracted kitchen death scene, where the character dies via just about every object in the room is simultaneously scary, fascinating, and hilarious. For a modern ‘teen’ film (I unfortunately stopped having any affinity with my teenage past a while ago - which pleased my wife immensely) I found myself drawn to the characters, and becoming involved in the film. The script is tight, and well acted, and the ending is one of the most abrupt and effective I have seen. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Just look what this film started. Wes Craven’s finest moment featured the hideously burnt, razor fingered Freddy Krueger as the villain. Originally, the Elm street idea was that Krueger could enter the dreams of people when they slept, thus killing them in real life. Krueger was a scary, nasty piece of work, who had deserved his current place after he had been burnt to death by the local parents for molesting their children. Why the sequels thought they could glamorise the character, and actually make him the hero of the piece, and his victims just plot incidentals I do not know. For 15 years, the razor glove was the most popular Halloween toy in America (only replaced by an Evander Holyfield mask complete with half bitten ear!). These things have tarnished the reputation of what was one of the scariest films around. It did not just rely on buckets of blood, and non-funny put down lines, but cranked up the atmosphere with the suspense, lighting and sound. Out of the 8 Elm street fi
lms made, only the ones helmed by Craven are worth watching. I have list in front of me with another 4 films which I could have included. These are for the record: The Exorcist - I left this out as, although it scared the bejesus out of me, I never could enjoy the film. Class of Nuke ‘Em High - Classic Troma entertainment, ie stupid, gross, cheap, yet strangely funny. The Re-Animator - More zombie madness, a great film, but not good enough to displace those above. Return of the Living Dead - as above From Beyond - From the makers of the Re-animator, this explores madness through stimulation of the pineal gland or ‘Third eye’. This is a truly disturbing film which leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. My title was based around the volume of blood required to film one scene in Braindead. I dread to think how much was used across the entire list above. I don’t think these are everone’s cup of tea, but if you haven’t seen the older ones, they are worth checking out. Thanks for reading.
I was searching around Dooyoo, being a relatively new member and found this top ten horror section so I thought I'd make my little contribution. I'd just like to say that horror is my favourite genre, as you'll see if you've read any of my reviews. Although this is my top ten horror this is not my all time favourite movies. At number 10.... Dawn of the Dead Part of George A Romero's dead series. It's about four people, trying to escape the infestation of zombies by flying to canada. On the way they land at a mall and decide to stay there, but when looters come to raid the mall, the zombies are let in. I actually liked this better than Night of the Living Dead (I still think night of the living dead is an excellent horror film)I thought the story was better and I also like gory films so I tend to like this one more. Number 9.... An American Werewolf in London John Landis's classic werewolf movie, about two american's on a trip to Britain who get attack by a werewolf. One (Jack) dies but David survives. He starts having horrible nightmares about werewolves etc and his dead best friend appears and tells him that on the next full moon he will turn into a werewolf. So he must kill himself. David ignores this and the next full moon he transforms. An excellent werewolf film with a surprisingly good sequel. This is a classic of the horror genre and I like the way it mixes horror and comedy. I think the funniest bit is when the ded people are giving him suicide suggestions. Number 8.... Ravenous A recent film about a group of americans at fort spencer who get a visit from a man saying he has escaped from someone who ate everyone he was with except for himself and another woman. They go to investigate and get attacked by the man who came to him who has become addicted to human flesh and made the whole story up. Only one returns from the trip and no one believes him. The cannibal then re
turns desguised as an officer of the army to feed again. I love this film. It has some really good effects and also is funny. Is a welcome film to the cannibal genre, unlike the shocking and horrific cannibal holocaust. Number 7.... The People Under the Staris Wes Craven film about a little boy who goes in a house to rob it and discovers that the people in there have loads of children trapped under the stairs, one also lives in the walls. He discovers the the couple are brother and sister, they kidnap children to find the perfect boy child. When they were naughty they cut the bad parts out and lock them in the basement, where they become cannibals. I really like this film. I like the story and despite what people say I feel it is a intresting film. It makes you jump a couple of times. Again this isn't a serious horror film but I still like it. (Check out my full review of it) Number 6.... Friday the 13th About a camp called camp crystal lake. It was closed after a series of strange events, murders, a drowning, fires ands bad water. The camp is opened again and the teenagers start to die again. First the cook, who gets her throat slit, then Ned, then Jack, who gets a spear through his thoat etc. This film has a great ending. This was the very first horror film I saw and because I was not used to scary films or excessive gore it scared me. I still think this film is quite freaky after watching it a few times. Another horror classic with some disappointing sequels. Number 5.... The Frightners An excellent Peter Jackson film. Frank Banister can see dead people and uses this to con people. He gets his ghost friends to haunt peoples houses and then pays to get them out. Frank starts seeing numbers in peoples head and later they die. He discovers a serial killer, Johnny Bartlett has returned from the dead, he then chooses his victim, writes his current score on their head and squeezes their hearts till they
die. Frank is then accussed of doing this by weird FBI man Milton Damers. Peter Jackson is one of my favourite directors and I think he has succedded in creating another wonderful film. This film has been described as his second respectable film, the first being heavenly creatures. I would recommend it to any genre fan as it mixes comedy and horror well adn is a very good and original story. Number 4.... The Lost Boys Michael and his family are new to Santa Carla, the murder capital of the world. Michael befriends a local gang, who tells him to drink some wine. One of the gang, star who michael fancies tells him its blood but he doesn't listen. The next day he can't stand the sun, sleeps in the day and almost kills his brother. He also has no reflection. HIs brother knows wht has happening adn enlists the help of the Frogg brothers, comic shop employees in disguise. To help him kill the head vampire and free Michael. This is the first vampire film I saw and I think it's really good, you don't actually see any vampires until half way through. The Frogg brothers are hilarious and so is the film. The head vampire is quite a surprise. A must see. Number 3.... From Dusk Till Dawn Seth and Richie Gecko are on the run from the law. Richie has helped Seth escape from jail. After blowing up a liquor store. Richie rapes and kills the hostage so they have to find another way to get into Mexico, the only way they will be safe. The take a family hostage and get to mexico, where they go in a bar, the titty twister to wait for friends. They picked the wrong bar to meet in because this one is infested with vampires. Now they have to fight to survive. This is the best vampire film I've seen. It is quite funny and there is no hint of what's to come because the first half of the film looks like a typical Quentin Tarintino film (the screenplay is by him) two robbers on the run. However when they get to the bar, watc
h out. There is lots of gore. Watch this film. Number 2.... Braindead The second Peter Jackson film in my top ten is about a man called Lionel who lives with his over protective mother. One day he sneaks out to the zoo with the local shop keeper Pakita. His mum follows him and when hiding gets bitten by a Rat Monkey. The next day she is falling apart and Lionel calls a nurse. She dies and rises again to kill the nurse. The both become zombies. The make a few more zombies who Lionel keeps in the cellar but when his uncle has a party they escape and attack. This has to be the goriest film I have seen. If you want to see hundreds of people getting chopped up with a lawnmower or attacking intestines then watch this. It is my favourite Peter Jackson film, along with Meet the Feebles. I would recommend it to gore hounds or anyone with a strong stomach. This film is also incredible funny like the kung fu priest "I kick ass for the lord". Check ut my full review of the film Number 1.... My favourite horror has to be Evil Dead 2. It is about Ash, who survives the first Evil Dead(which I haven't seen) and tries to get as far away from the woods as possible. However the bridge to get away has been destroyed so he is trapped. He chops up his zombie girlfriend with a chainsaw and then his hand gets possessed. He chops this off with a chainsaw as well. He is then joined by Annie, her boyfriend, who have pages from the book of the dead, which ressurected the dead and Bobby Joe and Jake who hepled them get the the cabin. Annie thinks Ash killed her parents so the lock him in the cellar with Annie's dead mother who is a witch. The let him out and slowly the die. Jake then throws the pages in the cellar before he is eatne by the witch. now Ash has to go in the cellat to get the pages from the book of the dead to send the evil away. I love this film. It is a comedy horror. It is directed by Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell. If y
ou like gore this film is for you. It makes you jump at points and delievers genuine scares. It is also very funny, like when Ash gets beaten up by his hand. It is my all time favourite Horror Film. Check out my full review So there is my top ten list. Most of them are comedy horrors and you'll be happy to note there are no trendy (Scream, I know what you did last summer) horrors on them.
Until recently I’ve never given much thought to which was my favourite movie genre. It’s only after joining DooYoo that I had to think about. If you have ever written an opinion about a film then you will have noticed that you are given the option to select your favourite genre after the review. On completion of my first opinion I automatically select Horror and thought nothing more of it. Later on I examined my DVD/video collection and was actually surprised how dominant the horror genre was among them. Even horror itself can be split into further genres with many types of films coming under the horror banner, from ‘exploitative’ titles such as ‘Cannibal Ferox’ to Giallo’s (thrillers) like Dario Argento’s ‘Tenebre’. The top ten below is just a snapshot of some of the horror films I’ve enjoyed over the years and it was not an easy task to select just ten. Titles I have marked with ** are ones which I have already written opinions for at DooYoo. The Exorcist. (1973) ************* The horror film that has probably had the most impact on its audience is ‘The Exorcist’. The film deals with the demonic possession of Regan MacNeil a young 12 year old who lives with her mother in Georgetown, Washington. The film is based upon William Blatty’s 1971 novel and was directed by William Friedkin. There’s no denying that this is a very powerful film and one which has made an lasting impact on many who have seen it particularly devote Catholics. It features some quality acting and the fact that its plot was firmly based in the real world meant that it had a strong influence on the people who saw it. Despite a few strong scenes it was wrongly banned for many years. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie.(1974) ************* Until fairly recently I wasn’t familiar with this film, then I noticed that it was to be released by Anchor Bay in a ni
ce metal tin and limited to 5000 copies. Having already bought a few titles by them in tin format I decided to find out more about it. After trawling through many reviews I took the risk and pre ordered it from Amazon. After seeing the film it proved to be decision well made. Directed by Jorge Grau ‘Sleeping Corpses’ is a wonderful film which does have a certain charm to it. Considering it’s age the film stills looks good and compares well to many more modern horror films. The plot is well written and Grau’s direction is quite fantastic. Although the film was set and in part filmed in England it is in fact an Italian/Spanish production. ‘Sleeping Corpses’ also contains some quite graphic scenes even by today’s standards and was one of the first films to feature such gory detail. I can’t recommend this film enough and it deserves to be part of any respectable horror collection. Dawn Of The Dead.. (1978) ************* Another zombie flick this time directed by George Romero in which a group of people hide out in a shopping mall and try to stay alive while keeping the zombie horde at bay. Ludicrous make up and a dodgy music score all add up to quite an enjoyable romp. I saw this many years ago and while it hasn’t aged as well as other films I do have a soft spot for it. Some of scenes inside the mall are quite amusing and it’s a great fun film. Zombie. (1979) ************* No top ten would be complete without a Lucio Fulci film and I have to admit he is one of my favourite horror directors of all time. If you ask many people what their favourite film by Fulci is many will quite rightly say ‘The Beyond’. In fact ‘Zombie’ is often less well thought of and is often scorned among horror fans. Made in 1979 the film is better know in the UK as ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’. While its original title in Europe was Zombie2. This
was to cash in on the success of Romero’s zombie flicks. I truly love this film and have seen it on numerous occasions. Unfortunately it’s not that easy to get hold of these day’s. The US uncut version on the Anchor Bay label is now out of print but I think it can be picked up in Europe under the title Woodoo. Just stay away from the UK version which is heavily cut and anyway who would want to miss out on one of the films highlights such as the eye scene featuring Olga Karlatus. Friday The 13th . (1980) ************* Another film and yet another sub genre this time it is the ‘Teen Slasher’. An extremely popular form of horror and one that spawned many characters such as Michael Myers, Jason, Leatherface and of course Freddy Kruger. I could have selected the first ‘Halloween’ or ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’ but I’ve always had a soft spot for the original ‘Friday the 13th’. This film also has the honour of making me jump the most. I first watched this by myself late one night many years ago and towards the end there is the scene on the lake when your basically waiting for the credits to roll. Of course being tired myself I was half awake when the big shock occurred, now whether it was down to the situation I don’t know but I’ve never jumped so much in my life. Sadly a lot of these films were spoiled by having far too many sequels and in many of them the main killers became almost caricatures of themselves. To be honest Freddy etc were far more scary in their earlier films than in there countless sequels.. The Beyond (1981) ** ************* Arguably Director Lucio Fulci’’s greatest piece of work, ‘The Beyond’ is truly a horror classic. The story is a simple one, Liza played by Catriona MacColl inherits an old hotel in New Orleans unknown to her it is actual built upon one of the seven gateways to hel
l. With plenty of gore and a quality storyline it is one horror title not to be missed. It’s only let down by a rather poor scene involving some dodgy looking fake spiders. The Evil Dead. ** (1982) ************* First instalment of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy and if I’m honest the best. It strred the fantastic Bruce Campbell and remains a cult favourite. For a more detailed review on this film check out my other opinion of it.. The Thing. (1982) ************* This film is a remake of the 1951 film ‘The Thing From Another World’ directed by Howard Hawks. Basically ‘The Thing’ is ‘Alien’ set in the Antarctic. A group of scientists are isolated and come into contact with an alien life form able to shape shift. Interestingly the original was featured in John Carpenters earlier film ‘Halloween’ This is a real gem of a film and one which featured some superb special effects especially for the year it was made. Featuring an all male cast John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ still looks as good today as when it was released and stands alongside ‘Halloween’ as one of his best films. Fright Night. (1985) ************* Not all horror films are meant to be taken seriously. ‘Fright Night’ is one such film and stars the late Roddy McDowel as the rather camp Peter Vincent, Vampire Killer. Who is in fact an ageing horror actor now hosting a late night tv show introducing horror films. When Charley Brewster realises his neighbour is one of the undead he seeks help, of course no one believes him so he turns to the only person who can help him. That person of course is Peter Vincent. I’ve watched this film on numerous occasions and it’s still as good as ever. Fright Night doesn’t take it self too seriously and remains one of my all time favs. From Dusk Till Dawn. (1996) ************
* Ok so only half of this film could actually be called a horror but what a great film it is, I won’t spoil it for you but if you haven’t seen this yet then I suggest you do as soon as you can. George Clooney teams up with Quentin Tarrantino as the Gecko brothers who are on the run from the law. Directed by Robert Rodrigues there’s plenty of action and laughs to be had in this high octane adventure. -------------------- If someone asks me this time next week what my top ten Horror films are I’ve no doubt that a few of these will have changed. In general this list is pretty mainstream and many titles just missed out. There where quite a lot of older films which I could have added but I decided to concentrate on the last 30 years. A few other titles deserving a mention are : Halloween. The Curse Of The Werewolf. (1961 film starring Oliver Reed) An American Werewolf In London. Salems Lot. The Fog. Return Of The Living Dead. The Lost Boys. Nightmare On Elm Street.
When thinking about my Top Ten Horror Films, the first thing that struck me was the sheer number of truly *bad* horror films there have been. Sure, there are bad films in all genres - but horror really does seem to attract the turkeys. Why is this? I believe it's because in recent decades the emphasis has been on gore and special effects. These are piled on at the expense of the fundamentals of filmmaking: writing, direction and acting. The result is technically superb films that look good yet are simply not frightening. If you notice the special effects then it reminds you that you are watching a film, that it's all just a story. The way to scare me is to drag me in and get me to associate with a believable experience. As the old cliché goes, it's what you *don't* see that scares you. This explains why most of the films below are old ones. I desperately want to be scared by a modern horror film, I really do. So I applaud The Blair Witch Project as a brave step back in the right direction; it's just a shame it was such a bad film! +++ Number 10: Gothic (1986) Ken Russell at his over-the-top best in this story of the weekend Mary Shelley created Frankenstein. Byron, the Shelleys and Dr. Polidori spend a weekend getting high on laudanum and experiencing very weird goings-on. +++ Number 9: The Sixth Sense (1999) Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is a child psychologist who meets up with a young boy (Cole - brilliantly played by Haley Joel Osment) who sees dead people, everywhere. It's not an original film, in fact it's a very, very old idea. However it is done with such style and is so engrossing that I didn't spot what should have been a predictable ending until half way through. In particular the *writing* of The Sixth Sense is superb. After watching the film, get a copy of the script by M. Night Shyamalan just to see how these things should be done. +++ Number 8: Carry on Screa
ming! (1966) OK, hardly scary, however we need a bit of light relief. The "Carry On" films were always a mixed blessing, this is one of the best. Pure unashamed silliness which the cast seem to be having great fun making. It's also a treasure trove for the lover of bad puns. +++ Number 7: Alien (1979) Classic SF/Horror crossover with the immortal tagline "In space, no one can hear you scream". A film that works by its use of suspense and shadows rather than buckets of gore - meaning that those moments when we do see blood are all the nastier. None of the sequels come close to the oppressive claustrophobia of the original. +++ Number 6: Eraserhead (1977) Now this one's just plain nasty. Some people can't sit through it and I understand why. David Lynch's masterpiece of black and white industrial nightmare. I'm not going to try to explain the plot because I don't claim to understand it - it's a surreal nightmare. Like Alien it is pervaded by an oppressive, claustrophobic feeling. When it finishes I always feel the need to go and have a shower. +++ Number 5: Quatermass and the Pit (1967) Arguably this is an SF film, indeed it'll probably appear in my top ten SF films. However it is also one of the scariest films made. In the London underground a Martian relic is uncovered, awakening a powerful psychic force. Writer Nigel Kneale and director Roy Ward Baker build the tension wonderfully and in places it is very, very scary - in particular its depiction of the hatred of "others". One of the few examples of a film being better than the TV series on which it was based, the film has a better pace. +++ Number 4: Curse of the Demon (1957) A British film, "Night of the Demon" was retitled as "Curse of..." for the US market and the opening changed. For once, the American version is superior to the original. The plot - based
on "Casting the Runes" by M.R.James - revolves around a cursed parchment. Anyone receiving this parchment must pass it to someone else or die horribly at the hands of the demon. What is especially nice about this film is the dualism, the way that most of what happens could have a perfectly natural explanation, if you believe in coincidence. +++ Number 3: The Evil Dead (1982) Is it a horror film or a comedy? Well it's both. Mixing those two genres is an incredibly dangerous feat, yet this film manages it. It is both very funny and also scary. The plot is classic B movie stuff. Five friends visit a deserted cabin in the heart of a forest. There they discover an ancient magical tome with which they accidentally conjure up evil forces. Said evil forces then proceed to destroy them one by one. Yes, it's a lousy plot yet it's a brilliant film. +++ Number 2: Don't Look Now (1973) Following the drowning of their daughter, John (Donald Sutherland) and Laura (Julie Christie) travel to Venice. There they meet an elderly psychic couple and are troubled by sightings of what might be their dead daughter. The image of the little girl in a red anorak disappearing around a corner has become a film classic. As a bonus, Roeg's trademark crosscutting is used to create one of cinema's most erotic sex scenes ever. And finally, the number one horror film of all time. I have no hesitation in declaring it to be... (drum roll)... +++ Number 1: The Haunting (1963) If you've seen the 1999 remake then you have my sympathies - try to forget it. It's a different film. The original 1963 version - based on "The Haunting of Hill House" by Shirley Jackson - is one of the most frightening, understated films of all time. The plot is simple: Doctor Markway (Richard Johnson) brings a group of people together to study a reportedly haunted house. Things happen, people get scared, it all
builds up to a horrible climax. What makes this film so good is that nothing is explicit. There are no special effects, no latex masks, just noises-off and shadows along with some ominous camera work. There are also superb performances from the female leads. Theodora (Claire Bloom) is gay (in the book she appears bisexual) however this was 1963 so they couldn't say it; instead Bloom has a great time suggesting her sexuality. Eleanor is brilliantly played by Julie Harris as a woman on the edge - possibly over it. Yes, it's dated, yet it's still one of the few films that literally makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. If you can get hold of a copy, watch it alone at 2AM with the lights turned way down.
Admittedly, I have yet to find a horror film I would consider scary. Most horror films have me dissolved in hopeless giggling fits, because they are so funny. Others have me drooling, because they are sexy (mostly due to the one or other good-looking actor wearing fangs). Preferably, a horror movie should be both sexy and funny. Okay, ten of my favourites, in no particular order: 1) CAT PEOPLE (the remake) Gorgeous film! I already wrote an opinion on this one. It's very stylish, with Nastassia Kinski and Malcolm McDowell playing the wonderful brother and sister pair, some fun shapeshifting into panthers going on, and a title track by David Bowie. 2) THE HUNGER Uhm, yeah, I wrote an opinion on this one as well! If you like stylish, classy, beautiful vampires, then David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve are for you. Based on the Whitley Strieber novel of the same name, we here have a perfect piece of casting, accompanied by a great soundtrack made up of classical pieces and atmospheric instrumental music, plus Bauhaus making an appearance performing "Bela Lugosi's Dead" at the beginning of the film, and Iggy Pop's "Fun Time" being featured, as well. 3) THE LOST BOYS More vampires! I love this one. A cool, fun '80s flick starring Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patrick, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Billy Wirth, Jamie Gertz, and some other '80s icons. It has everything a teenage flick must have: Great music, some good-looking actors, cool jokes, vampire stereotypes, a gratuitous sex scene in the middle of all that action and danger, a Jim Morrison poster in an underground cave, and pretty, Californian settings. 4) THE FLY (the remake) Watch Jeff Goldblum turn into a 6-foot fly! Cackle maniacally as he spews on his food to pre-digest it! Laugh hysterically as he walks across the ceiling! Giggle dementedly as his body parts drop off all over the
place, accompanied by suitably squishy sounds! Drool in amazement when he does a handstand on a chair! Okay, the drooling about Goldblum takes place before he actually becomes the fly. :) Goldblum plays a scientist who discovers a method of teleporting himself, not noticing the housefly that got into the teleporting pod with him. Fly and Scientist are promptly fused on a molecular level, and Goldblum's transformation begins. Most people I've talked to about this film find it gross. If you find squishy, slime-covered body parts dropping off people gross, don't watch it. Otherwise, grab the popcorn, and join me in front of the VCR. Let's have a giggle. 5) INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE Okay, it's not as good as the book, but it has become a modern classic in its own right. I already wrote an opinion on this one as well. I was one of those devoted Anne Rice fans who were outraged when it was announced that Tom Cruise was going to play the Vampire Lestat, but in the end I found myself drooling quite happily, after all. Amazing what some special effects make-up, fangs and long hair can do to transform an average guy into a gorgeous vampire. ;) Oh, and it's funny, too. Watch out for the scenes when Lestat sings and dances, dragging Claudia's dead mother around, and the one with the rat, and most notably that hysterically funny scene with the poodles! (The latter had me in giggling fits for about ten minutes) 6) SILENCE OF THE LAMBS Does this count as a horror film? In any case, Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter is just the sexiest thing you'll ever see. My favourite scenes have to be any that Hopkins is in, sniffing and throwing Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) evil smiles, and doing his now infamous "Clarice..." in that growly voice. Yum yum!! I once spent an afternoon down the pub with a bunch of sexy actors, including the wonderful
Nigel Bennett (PSI Factor, Lexx, Forever Knight), and the guys were doing the "I had his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti" impersonation. Truly droolworthy. And no, I didn't throw myself at Mr. Bennett's feet and promise to be his slave forever, hehehe. :) Unfortunately, some of the best parts of the book were left out of this film. I remember being in fits of laughter at Lecter's dissertation on "recreational flayings", but none of that made the movie. Shame. 7) THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS I've already done an opinion on Roman Polanski's parody of the Dracula legend. An incredibly funny film, noteworthy also because Polanski and Sharon Tate were both in it. Of course it is dated now, but still hilarious. 8) THE WOLFEN Another one based on a Whitley Strieber novel - I see a pattern developing here... This is great. Starring Albert Finney, the story begins like your average murder mystery when a rich couple have been killed in New York's Bronx, and Finney, playing the cop, goes out to investigate the crime. However, he soon finds out that these people were, in fact, killed by a race of intelligent wolves, who have lived alongside humans forever in our own cities. These 'Wolfen' prey on the weak and the discarded of our society. Now some young pups made the mistake of killing two people whose disappearance will be noticed - but they had their reasons, as their habitat was threatened. The coolest part of this film is the 'wolf vision', when you get to see things through these Wolfen's eyes. 9) WARLOCK Yes, I admit it, purely because of Julian Sands. :) I still think Mr. Sands would have made a great Vampire Lestat, but there you go. 10) STEPHEN KING'S 'IT' What can I say - Tim Curry, the man with the sexiest voice ever, was in it. :) And... Wel
l, it's based on a Stephen King novel! Some more favourites, briefly mentioned... Although I reviewed several of them for dooyoo already. :) Communion (Mmmh, more of a science fiction film, perhaps?) Bram Stoker's Dracula Razor Blade Smile Gothic (sort of a horror film, I guess) Warlock II - The Armageddon Flatliners (ooohmygosh, it's Kevin Bacon!) An American Werewolf in London (very funny!) Pet Sematary (Ramones!) The Shining (me, a Stephen King fan? Why, yes...) The Company of Wolves (Is this horror? Science Fiction? Fantasy?) The Exorcist (hilarious, watch Linda Blair spewing pea soup all over a priest) Angel Heart (great film, but I might review this one in more detail sometime) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the 1979 version) Love At First Bite (very funny!) Videodrome (weird and funny) Poltergeist (weeell, it's a laugh, even if it's full of sentimental kitsch!) Theatre of Blood (if Shakespeare is involved, chances are I'll love it) Hellraiser (what can I say, Clive Barker is great!) and all Hammer Horror films. Peter Cushing was wonderful. :) As you can tell, I have a thing for vampires. And for films based on my favourite books. Surprisingly, considering I am such a horror movie buff, there are also lots of horror films I find incredibly boring. These would include any kind of teenage horror films along the lines of 'Halloween', 'Gremlins' or 'Nightmare on Elm Street', or anything with zombies in it. I know I shouldn't say this, but Romero's films literally send me to sleep. ;) I also hate films where the ending is totally predictable when it's not supposed to be, like in 'Seven'. That one had me yawning and impatiently glancing at my watch all the way through, anyway, despite cute Brad Pitt being in it. But generally speaking, give me vampires, blood
, gore, gratuitous violence, sexy serial killers and a large dose of macabre, morbid humour any day, and I'll be a happy bunny. :)
I am not what you could call one of life's most courageous people. In fact I am really a devout coward. I should really have my own military regiment, The Queen's Own Deserters. We would even have our own regimental motto, something along the lines of 'Bugger this for a game of soldiers, I'm off!' So why am I writing an opinion about my top ten horror films? Well, it's quite simple. Even though I do not enjoy watching the horror films of today, I do enjoy watching the horror films of yesteryear. The problem for myself is that the modern type of film tends to leave very little to the imagination. I feel that it is indeed more effective to leave the shocks to the imagination. Which is more effective- to be confronted with the image of people being ripped apart, or to be left to imagine what it looks like? And anyway, why on earth is every modern horror film about serial killers? A horror movie is not necessarily a slasher movie, and the sooner the filmmakers realise that the better. If I want to see a horror movie, I would like to see a film that is shocking but which also has a story. As always, you may not agree with my choices, but they are my personal choice of horror film, and they are in reverse order... 10- Freaks (1932) A film that was banned by its producers. A circus performer marries the circus' dwarf and proceeds to attempt to kill him to gain access to his wealth. When the other performers find out, they exact a grisly revenge, turning the once beautiful woman into the most hideous freak of all. You may think this sounds innocuous, but the sight of a man with no arms and no legs crawling through the rain with a large knife in his mouth is genuinely creepy. A wonderful film and one that is all too rarely on the small screen. 9- Death Line (1972) Another rare film, with some genuine shocks. It focuses on a 'lost tribe' who live underneath the streets of London and who have be
come totally feral. In addition to their lax morals and cleanliness, they have also turned to cannabilism, preying on passengers on the London Underground. London Transport was so worried about the storyline that it banned all advertising of this film, fearing that it would drive away fare-paying passengers. Still it is a fun film to watch after a curry and a night at the pub. 8- Theatre of Blood (1973) A great film. Grand guignol and very camp. A failed shakespearean actor exacts a grisly revenge on the critics who laughed at him, using a different play for each murder. Vincent Price is brilliant and Diana Rigg does a good job as his daughter. 7- To The Devil A Daughter (1974) The last true Hammer Horror film. An good adaptation of the Dennis Wheatley novel, starring Christopher Lee, Richard Widmark, Anthony Valentine and a young Nastassja Kinski (the most beautiful woman in the world in my humble opinion). A really good supernatural thriller that delivers some genuine shocks. 6- The Beast Must Die (1975) An interesting variation on the werewolf theme. Calvin Lockhart is a hunter who invites a number of people to his home, knowing that one of them is a werewolf. The really fun thing is the 'Werewolf Break' at the end, where the action is suspended so that the viewer can make up his or her mind as to who the wolf is. Enjoyable hokum that is now on Channel 4 from time to time. 5- Witchfinder General (1972) An atmospheric shocker about Matthew Hopkins, a historical character. There aren't too many real shocks, and Vincent Price plays it well and reasonably straight. Ian Ogilvy gets his revenge at the end, though, with the aid of an axe. 4- Frankenstein (1931) The original and still the best of the early monster films. A brilliant cast, Colin Clive, Dwight Frye and Boris Karloff as the pitiful creature. i might have put in the sequel, 'Brid
e of Frankenstein' in, but I thought I would attempt a bit of variety. 3- The Abominable Dr Phibes (1972) Vincent Price up to his old tricks yet again. A disfigured surgeon avenges himself on the doctors who left his wife in a coma, in all manner of weird ways. I tell you what, I'm not going to a fancy dress party dressed as a frog! 2- Christine (1982) Okay, many of you will say that there are better Stephen King adaptations out there, but I quite like this one. I like cars, particularly classic ones, and a story of a car that looks after its owner is quite spooky. An enjoyable romp! 1- Alien (1980) Yes, this film was a remake of a 1959 B-Movie (It! The creature from beyond space), but it was so polished and is so creepy, shocking and thrilling that it has to be the best modern horror film. The sequel was more of a space action film. Whenever my wife starts coughing at the dinner table I think 'I wonder...' 1B- An American Werewolf in London (1981) I'd totallt forgotten how much I enjoy this film. But having seen it at the weekend on Channel 5 I thought I had better put it in. great acting, not too serious, wonderful soundtrack (Sam Cook, Creedance Clearwater Revival and Van Morrison), plus Jenny Agutter is in it. What more could you ask for? So there you go. A list of ten enjoyable films. Films that I can quite happily sleep after watching them. I don't want to be scared so much that I become frightened of my own shadow, and so there are one or two films that you will probably say should be here that cannot be, because I haven't watched them at all! So you could call this the top-ten horror films for wimps.