Top 20 Favourite Horror Movies
Plot: The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holds up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.
"There's something out there. That... that witch in the cellar is only part of it. It lives... out in those woods, in the dark... something... something that's come back from the dead."
Plot: The commercial vessel Nostromo receives a distress call from an unexplored planet. After searching for survivors, the crew heads home only to realize that a deadly bioform has joined them.
A benchmark in the science fiction genre, 1979's Alien is a simple "Jaws in space" idea which was executed with phenomenal filmmaking prowess. Alien arrived two years after the first Star Wars, and it served as a hard-hitting reminder that not all journeys through space will be heroic, exciting flights of fantasy. And on top of being a top-notch depiction of the mundane disposition of space, Alien is one of the most hair-raising horror films of its era. In fact, this is not strictly a science fiction movie - it's more of a skilful exercise in sheer visceral terror that happens to be set among sci-fi trappings.
"You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility."
Plot: Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.
Tagged as a loose remake of Howard Hawks' 1951 flick The Thing from Another World (itself an adaptation of a John W. Campbell novella), John Carpenter's The Thing is a seminal horror picture that hooks you in from the outset and never lets go. Although the production is now considered a cult classic and one of Carpenter's finest efforts, The Thing was not exactly well-received upon release back in 1982 - critics lambasted it, while other summer films like E.T., Poltergeist and Conan the Barbarian were also vying for box office dollars, thus restricting The Thing's gross revenue. Luckily, it was given new life on home video, resulting in the kind of attention it deserved in the first place. Carpenter has crafted one hell of a white-knuckle thriller here; an engrossing examination of paranoia and the repugnant nature of mankind's dark survival instinct. On top of being an impressively gory creature feature, The Thing dabbles in psychological terror, and is heavily imbued with the brand of tension that Carpenter is renowned for.
"I know I'm human. And if you were all these things, then you'd just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn't want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it's won."
Plot: A freak storm unleashes a species of bloodthirsty creatures on a small town, where a small band of citizens hole up in a supermarket and fight for their lives.
Who needs pseudo-horror movies like Hostel or the endless Saw sequels, with their cheap gore and a complete misunderstanding of the essence of the genre? Torture porn enthusiasts can enjoy them, but genuine horror connoisseurs can enjoy the likes of 2007's The Mist, a return to form for Frank Darabont and a brilliant reminder of what the horror genre can offer. The Mist is based on Stephen King's novella of the same name, denoting the third time that Darabont has adapted the man's works for the screen after the immense success of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Taking on his first horror-oriented project adapted from a King story, Darabont has hit it out of the park, creating an intensely unsettling old-fashioned tale of survival, using forgotten devices like tension, suspense and restraint to fashion one of the best mainstream horrors in years. It's a B-movie on the surface, yet there's sophistication and boldness underneath.
"As a species we're fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up ways to kill one another. Why do you think we invented politics and religion?"
Plot: A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.
To most horror aficionados, the words "found footage" will bring back memories of 1999's The Blair Witch Project and the insurmountable hype surrounding this low-budget independent picture. Due to the popularity and cult following of Blair Witch, the "found footage" genre was swiftly established.
[Rec] is a Spanish addition to the genre. It's a masterful mixture of Blair Witch and Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later... that, simply put, will scare the absolute hell out of you! [Rec] is a relentlessly scary, brilliantly conceived, marvellously executed and laudably effective horror film. It permits little respite, thus little chance for you to catch your breath. By the end you'll be gasping for air and begging for mercy. The movie is completely unyielding from the first frame 'til the last. It's riveting and utterly petrifying at a taut running time of about 75 minutes.
"We have to tape everything, Pablo. For fuck's sake."
Plot: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.
The Conjuring is 2013's must-see scary movie, following in the shadow of last year's Sinister and director James Wan's own 2011 flick Insidious. Written by Chad and Carey Hayes, this is a horror outing which favours tension and restraint over in-your-face bedlam, confirming that Wan is a master of the genre who's almost unparalleled in his ability to conjure pure terror. Wan is also notable for paying attention to one aspect here that's often neglected by his contemporaries: atmosphere. Horror movies can have jump-scares and bloodletting, but it's ultimately the mood and tone that matters in the long run, as such elements can transform bumps in the night into an experience that will haunt you for weeks. Add to this a handful of strong performances from an able cast, beautiful filmmaking and a sharp script, and The Conjuring deserves every bit of acclaim that it receives.
"The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges on which we decide to follow."
Plot: A true-crime writer finds a cache of 8mm home movies films that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose career dates back to the 1960s.
Let's not mince words here: Sinister scared the fucking shit out of me, and that is not an accolade I hand out lightly. It's rare to stumble upon a truly scary movie in this day and age; the horror genre has grown stale of late, with filmmakers constantly wasting our time with predictable jump scares and poor attempts at tension. 2012's Sinister is a diamond in the rough, an authentically terrifying low-budget horror gem that puts to shame 99% of horror movies released in the last decade. Directed in the classical style by Scott Derrickson - who made a huge impression in 2005 with his breakthrough chiller The Exorcism of Emily Rose - the film is of a rare breed that burrows under the skin and haunts you for days.
"The symbol is associated with a Pagan deity named Baghuul... He consumes the souls of the human children."
Plot: An insurance investigator begins discovering that the impact a horror writer's books have on his fans is more than inspirational.
With the horror scene of the 21st Century plagued by sequels, remakes, dumb teenage protagonists and predictable jump scares, it's refreshing to dabble in genre classics and see how real horror movies are done. And when it comes to classic horror films, those by director John Carpenter are often considered to be among the genre's finest, and for a damn good reason. After all, the horror luminary was responsible for such pictures as 1978's Halloween and 1982's The Thing, just to name a couple. One of Carpenter's most underrated films is 1995's In the Mouth of Madness; his H.P. Lovecraft-inspired horror picture which bombed at the box office before quietly developing into somewhat of a cult classic. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a proper horror flick which ticks all the boxes; benefitting from a strong sense of atmosphere, imagination, innovation and style, proving yet again why Carpenter is such an icon.
"Every species can smell its own extinction. The last ones left won't have a pretty time with it. In ten years, maybe less, the human race will just be a bedtime story for their children. A myth, nothing more."
Plot: When two bumbling employees at a medical supply warehouse accidentally release a deadly gas into the air, the vapors cause the dead to rise again as zombies.
1985 was a banner year for zombie films, as two "Dead" flicks hit cinemas within the span of two weeks. George A. Romero's third zombie effort, Day of the Dead, came first, closely followed by The Return of the Living Dead, which was written and directed by Alien scribe Dan O'Bannon. Return is based on the novel of the same name by John Russo, who worked with Romero on Night of the Living Dead in 1968 before the pair parted ways, leading Russo to desire a franchise of his own. Tobe Hooper was initially slated to direct the adaptation of Russo's book, but was replaced with O'Bannon, who in turn rewrote the script to change the tone to comedy-horror and retool the story to avoid similarities to Romero's flicks. It's hard to dislike the resultant picture; a completely unpretentious and devilishly enjoyable zombie comedy which delivers thrills and laughs in equal measure.
"I ain't in no mood to die tonight."
Plot: A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further.
Insidious represents a collaboration of the Saw creators and the producers of Paranormal Activity, and the result is one of the strongest horror pictures in years. While all signs seemed to suggest that a clunker was imminent - Insidious is a PG-13 horror film about a possessed kid, after all - director James Wan has defied the odds, overcoming a derivative narrative and the limitations of a PG-13 rating to craft a properly chilling and thoroughly riveting horror experience. For those who enjoy watching scary movies, you're in for a treat with Insidious.
"It's not the house that is haunted. It's your son."
Plot: Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods. The evil presence possesses them until only one is left to fight for survival.
Horror remakes justifiably strike fear into the hearts of genre fans, with bad remakes outnumbering the decent ones by a significant margin. A remake of Sam Raimi's 1981 cult classic The Evil Dead is particularly sensitive territory, as it had the potential to be a brainless PG-13 rehash made purely for easy box office returns. How surprising, then, that 2013's Evil Dead falls into the win category; it's an imaginative, chilling horror movie which retains its predecessors' proclivity for gleeful R-rated absurdity. It had the full support of both Raimi and star Bruce Campbell, showing that this is less of a money-grab and more of an attempt to continue the long-dormant Evil Dead series. Calling it a reboot or a remake is not exactly accurate; it can easily be considered the fourth instalment in the series, as it doesn't deny that the events of the prior movies ever took place.
"This thing is attached to Mia's soul like a leech. If I'm reading this right, it's become her."
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