Monday, October 31, 2005


10 Most Memorable Horror Movies

Since it's Halloween today, I thought I do something to mark the occasion. I love horror movies - everything from the creepiest, jumping-at-shadows masterpieces of suspense to the low budget slasher flicks. So I present my Top 10 Most Memorable Horror Movies (remember, the key word here is "memorable", not "good").

The Blair Witch Project
Three film students head into the woods to do a doco on the legend of the Blair Witch, and end up finding more than they bargained for.

Probably the scariest movie I've ever seen. I'd been following the hype in the US for a while, and was lucky enough to score a few tickets to the first showing in Canberra (at midnight). Everyone in the audience was really keen to see the movie, so the atmosphere really helped. And I let myself get completely caught up in the story. Afterwards, a group of us stood around talking for as long as we could, since no one really wanted to make the walk to their car by themselves.

I've only ever seen it the once. I'm not sure if I'd be able to recapture the total immersion I felt watching it originally, and I don't want to ruin such an awesome memory.

The Exorcist
A priest is called in to help deal with a young girl. Turns out she's possessed.

I'd never seen this, so when it was re-released a couple of years ago, I grabbed a couple of mates and went to check it out one Friday night. There were a couple of guys in the audience who thought it would be amusing to make "witty comments" about how "scared" they were. Funny thing was, just as things started to get really freaky, they shut up and we didn't hear another word out of them. After 12 years of a Catholic education, nothing has made me want to go to church as much as the Exorcist did.

Friday the 13th: Part VII
Jason is awakened by a psychic girl, and goes on yet another spree of killing teenagers stupid enough to come to the most deadly summer camp in the US.

This movie makes the list for one reason. It's not because of the undead, hockey-mask wearing killer Jason Voorhees. It's not because it has a girl with psychic powers. It's not even because people are dumb enough to keep going back to Crystal Lake after 6 previous mass murders. It's because at one point Jason's weapon of choice is a whipper snipper. And he even has to take the time to start it before he lays into someone.

A Nightmare on Elm Street
A girl starts having bad dreams. Turns out a pedophilia her parents and some other oldies murdered a few years earlier is trying to get revenge.

While in itself this is an excellent movie, it makes the list for one tiny scene. Near the beginning, one of the characters heads into the backyard after hearing a noise. He just decides nothing is there, when his friend leaps out of the shadows and scares the crap out of him. It's very predictable, and certainly shouldn't make you jump if you're watching it at about 11am one morning. Unless you're me. My glass of orange juice went everywhere. About a week later my Dad was wondering why a table on the other side of the couch was sticky, and I had to explain the whole thing.
Honorable mention goes to Nightmare on Elm Street II, just because of the number of essays written about how it's really a story of someone coming to terms with their homosexuality.

Halloween II
Michael Myers still isn't quite dead, and so continues his killing spree.

Most horror movie sequels are set years after the original. Everything's had a chance to settle down, so yet again everyone is taken totally unawares by the return of the killer. You get to introduce a whole set of new characters and not have to worry about anyone from the original you couldn't be bothered getting back. And you can also do the whole "what do you mean [insert killer here] is back?" thing.
The cool thing about Halloween II is that it doesn't do this. The sequel starts about 10mins after the original finished.
Halloween III could also make the list, only because it has absolutely nothing to do with any of the other movies in the series.

A bunch of highschoolers are getting killed by someone in a scary mask. What makes this different is that the cast quickly realise they're in a horror movie.

It's probably pretty obvious why I'd pick this movie. It's a pretty good slasher flick, but when you add in all the horror movie references, it becomes pretty amazing. It's also really nice to finally see characters realise what the audience is screaming at them. Part two and three are good follow ups, but don't really come close to the original.

There's a video going around. If you watch it, you've got a week to show it to someone or you die horribly.

This is the Japanese version, not the US one. I was on a Japan-trip at the time, so I dragged a couple of mates along to a special screening just before the release of the sequel (there's a movie to make you go "what the?"). It was the first Japanese horror movie I ever saw, and it was really cool watching something where the standard Western cliches don't hold true. The end was really good, and the fact that they changed it remains my biggest disappointment about the American remake (not that the remake wasn't good, just not as good).

Interview with the Vampire
A writer who likes to hear people's life stories sits down with a stranger. Turns out the stranger is happy to talk, but he's also a vampire.

I love this movie. I've always had a thing for vampires, and this came out just as I was getting into that whole dark, angsty teenage thing (not that I was ever very good at it, but it was fun). It also fed into the whole White-Wolf roleplaying thing I discovered not long after I first saw the movie. Oh the woe. Oh the sorrow. Oh the angst. Plus it's got one of the best final lines ever:
Lestat: Oh Louie, Louie, Louie. Still whining after all
these years...
There's a lot I could say about Interview, but I should probably leave it at that.

Night of the Living Dead
A bunch of random people manage to get themselves trapped in a farm house while zombies roam around outside.

What can I say about this one. It introduced the concept of zombies to modern movies, it's been used as a metaphor for the black civil rights movement (it's not), and it was one of the first movies to have a black character in a leading (positive) role. I watched this movie by myself the night before my wedding. So make of that what you will.

Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness
After battling evil in the first two movies, Ash finds himself thrown back through time (and I guess space), where he has to deal with an undead horde.

While it probably should be on this list (it's not really horror), it's my list so I'm going to include it. This is a great movie to watch with a bunch of mates. It has fantastic one liners ("this is my boomstick!"), a cool story and lots of fun. Just don't bother watching the alternate ending - there's a reason they decided to change it.

I had to deal with loosing this post twice before I actually managed to finish it. So I hope you enjoy it.


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