It’s that time of year again, time to put away those shorts and T-shirts, and bring out the sweaters and jeans. Time to pack away the hammock and lawn furniture and bring out the autumn decorations … and it’s time to forget about BBQing, and think about warm stews and hot cider.
Yes, I’m talking about Fall, and a time for one of the most fun events all year, Halloween! It’s that one night we are allowed to dress up, be someone (or something) else, and scare one another half out of our wits . Some of us like to go out to celebrate, and some of us like to stay home watching Horror films. The Horror genre has changed so much over the past several years. From the old black and white Frankenstein and Dracula classics of the 30′s and 40′s, to the over the top anything goes films now, and everything in between, we all love to be scared from time to time. I personally love the Horror genre. This is the time of year I like to scroll through my DVD shelves and find a classic horror film that has stood the test of time. A film that after many many years still holds the scare factor and make me jump right out of my socks!
However some of us are not so sure about choosing the right film that keeps us hanging on the edge of our seat waiting for that next scream. Instead of the usual “Top 10 Best” that some people do, I am going to give you the,” Best”, in each catagory of Horror films, as it gives you a variety of choices. Some you may have seen and some not, but you can’t go wrong either way. So, here are my recommendations for Best Horror Films In Catagory Order.
SLASHER FILMS: In the late 1970′s through the 1980′s the, “crazed killer in a mask”, scenario had been played out in every possible way. Films such as FRIDAY THE 13th and APRIL FOOLS DAY, were never taken seriously and always fun to watch. I would say NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is one of the best in this catagory, as is the original first film of the series HALLOWEEN, and why? It’s the music. Watch it in the dark and see what I mean.
ALIEN FILMS: Sci-fi usually isn’t considered horror. With films like STAR WARS and STAR TREK, being scared never belonged in outer space. However one would say the 1979 classic ALIEN, is right up there when it comes to being scared. I would also recommend another scifi that has long been noted as one of the scariest in this catagory, John Carpenters: THE THING. I have seen this film at least a hundred times and it STILL makes me jump, plus, the effects have stood the test of time even though the film is 30 years old this year. I would highly recommend you put this on your to watch list.
BLACK/WHITE CLASSICS – MONSTER FILMS: In the very beginning of filmmaking it was Universal Studios that put out what is coined MONSTER FILMS, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and more. They might have scared folks back in the 30′s and 40′s,even the 50′s and 60′s, but for us now they seem rather benign. Still, there’s SOMETHING about those old creepy films that we enjoy. Even though DRACULA has been considered one of the best over the years, along with the original FRANKENSTEIN, I recommend THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. It was a REAL creature, not something from the dead like the others, and this film was very well made for it’s time.
BLACK/WHITE CLASSICS – HORROR: Towards the late 40′s and into the early 60′s, horror began to take a turn away from the monster type films and tried something new. They began dabbling with the really big SCARE FACTOR to draw the audiance into the theaters. Films such as HOUSE OF WAX and THE FLY, were the new rave. Although PSYCHO has always been considered one of the very best in this catagory, and is considered the first ever of its kind as a slasher film, there is another great film that introduces us to that over the top SCARE FACTOR type of film. HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL one of actor Vincent Price’s best ever roles. He ruled horror films back then and some of his best work shines in this film. It’s creepy, it’s classic, and it’s one not to miss.
BLACK/WHITE CLASSICS – SCIFI: The 50′s and early 60′s brought in the “alien invasion” films. People were scared that earth was going to be attacked by REAL aliens, the ” Atomic Bomb” scare, and Area 51 was the hot topic. So Hollywood jumped on the band wagon with films such as WAR OF THE WORLDS and BEAST FROM 20,000 PATHOMS, however I recommend INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. this film is not only creepy, but has that, “it could happen”, feel to it, and that’s scary!
POSSESSION FILMS: In the 70′s there were films that scared us not from outer space or under the bed, but by something unworldly that took over innocent things like houses and children. Films such as THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE were hot on the list to see, but it was THE EXORCIST that still to this day is considered by the film industry and many who have seen it as the scariest film of all time. However, there is another film that I consider right up there, it’s a little film called THE OMEN. The devil comes in all shapes and sizes…even little kids.
HAUNTED HOUSES: One of the cornerstones for a good horror film is the proberbial haunted house. There’s nothing like those creaky doors, shadows, sounds in the basement, and when a house tells you to, “Get Out”….YOU LEAVE! Even though POLTERGEIST is the ultimate classic haunted house tale, I also recommend a recent ghost story that is also a wonderful tale of haunted digs, THE WOMAN IN BLACK. It has been a long time since a film has scared me and made me jump. Watch this in the dark and see what happens.
LARGER THAN LIFE MONSTER FILMS: Going back to the old 1930′s, monster films have always been a BIG success at the box office. With the original KING KONG leading the pack, you could always count on major disaster when something bigger than a building was in town. There were countless films about GODZILLA, MOTHRA, and CLOVERFIELD, but there is one baddie of course that stands out from the rest, JAWS, our beaches would never be the same. There are so many good films about out of control species right from our very own planet, but one of my favorites is the film TREMORS, considered the “Jaws of the desert”. It’s not only scary, but a lot of fun.
VAMPIRES: We mentioned DRACULA already, who was the beginning of a genre or CHARACTER that would start a wave of future vampire films to come. I believe Vampires are meant to scare, not SPARKLE like todays blood-suckers, but that’s a whole new catagory on its own. With films like INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE and NEAR DARK, one of the best and my personal all time favorite is, THE LOST BOYS. Not only does it have the cool factor, but has some of the baddest vampires to hit the screen ever.
ZOMBIES: With the hit show THE WALKING DEAD at the top of the Television charts, the zombie craze has been doing quite nicely all thanks to one man, George A. Romero. In 1968 he started the whole LIVING DEAD genre with the Classic and Best Zombie film ever made, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Fiilms like DAWN OF THE DEAD (original and remake), RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, and THE CRAZIES are worth your time as well. However, in my house we watch zombie films A LOT, always looking for a worthy one. I recommend, THE DEAD. Truly the scariest zombie film since the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, without question. You can find it on Netlfix.
STEPHEN KING FILMS: He is the only man who can scare the pants off us by writing about cars, dogs, Prom Queens, children, monsters, vampires, werewolves, viruses, and clowns. If you want fun horror then watch something from King such as CHRISTINE, CUJO, CHILDREN OF THE CORN, or CREEPSHOW. However if you want to be scared…really scared, stick with the Classic THE SHINING. Again, music makes the film work and it STILL makes me jump after all these years. Another great King film to do the trick, or treat this Halloween would of course be that maniacal clown IT.
Here are some Honorable Mentions: THE DESCENT, THE STRANGERS, ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, CHILD’S PLAY, and TRICK OR TREAT. So, there you have it! Some of the BEST of the BEST in Horror. Next time you want to be scared, pick up any one of these films and you will be sure to have frightmares … Happy Halloween!