Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dan's Top Horror Movies 10-1

At long last the top 10.  These are my ten favorite horror movies of all time.  If you missed the previous 40 you can check out 50-41 here 40-31 here 30-21 here and 20 through 11 here.  They may not be in the top 10, but they’re all solid horror movies and there are some real hidden gems in there.

10. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

I love zombies.  If you’re keeping score this is the 11th zombie movie on this list to this point.  Shaun of the Dead is both a comedy and a zombie movie.  What sets it apart from other zombie comedies or “zomedies” is that it’s really a blending of two genres rather than say a parody of zombie movies.  If you took out the zombies it would still be an excellent romantic comedy.  I hesitate to call the non-zombie portion of the film a “romantic comedy,” although it has romantic elements the term “romantic comedy” has come to mean bullshit movies like, “Ghosts of Ex-Girlfriends Past” and “27 Dresses.”  The people that made this movie loved zombie movies and it shows, the zombies look great and the special FX are really well done.  For a British movie it seemed kind of weird that no one ate any Jelly Babies in the entire movie.  What gives?  I thought that’s what they ate there, that and tea.  And why did the people all have relatively nice teeth?
"Would you like a Jelly Baby?"

9. Army of Darkness (1992)

Hail to the King baby!
As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten much better at not being a dick about my opinions, but if you don’t like Army of Darkness I’m just gonna come out and call you an asshole.  I don’t want to be mean or anything but if you don’t like Army of Darkness it’s kind of beyond me why you’d still be reading this list dickhead.  I still remember when my friend Devlin saw Army of Darkness, he was like, “dude you’ve gotta see this movie.”  There have been very few times in my life before or since that someone was so right about something.  Army of Darkness is about a regular dude that gets transported back to the middle-ages and has to fight the deadites with a chainsaw and a shotgun.  Army of Darkness combines horror with fantasy and Three Stooges style slapstick.  If that doesn’t sound like a movie you’d like, than you and I have very different taste in movies.  Maybe you should check out one of those blogs about Coldplay or traditional British style cricket or something.

8. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

A Southern Gentleman
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is definitely one of all time greatest movie titles in the history of the horror genre.  It’s a sweet movie too.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is shot in kind of a low budget documentary-esque style, this is a fitting choice as most of the deep South is full of inbred subhumans like Leatherface.  It’s one of the most notoriously violent horror movies of all time, which is kind of weird because the movie isn’t actually that violent. It’s such a shock to the senses that everyone remembers it being way gorier than it was.   I think that’s testament to how effective the movie really is.  I must warn you however that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre game for the Atari 2600 is fucking terrible, and I wouldn’t recommend it.  It’s so bad it makes me think they somehow time traveled and retroactively based the game on that god awful remake (a women hid a gun in her pussy?  WTF?!?  How did that get into an internationally released major motion picture)  In any case, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is so good the greatest band in the history of music wrote a song about it.

7. The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man is definitely one of the most original horror movies I’ve ever seen.  The central plot revolves around a police detective investigating the disappearance of a little girl on an island off the coast of Scotland.  The island is inhabited with modern (well, 1970’s) Pagans, and their carefree sexy religious practices rubs the ultra-Religious detective the wrong way.  The islanders’ sexy but admittedly strange religious practices give the film a creepy vibe that’s different from anything I’ve ever seen in a horror movie before, which is certainly a big part of the reason the film works so well for me.  The film is also well cast and very well acted.  Christopher Lee’s performance as Lord Summerisle is probably my single favorite acting performance in a horror film.  If you’ve only seen the Nic Cage remake you may be surprised to find that there isn’t a single scene in the film where the protagonist puts on a bear costume and punches a woman in the face.
That chick's about to get jacked in the face.

6. Aliens (1986)

Whenever I tell people that Aliens is one of my favorite horror movies they always say, “I think Aliens is more sci-fi than horror.”  I don’t know about that, the first movie Alien is almost universally accepted as a horror movie and I don’t think Aliens is any more sci-fi than that.  If anything there’s more tech speak and scientific gobbilty gook in the first one.  At the very least there are monsters in both movies and monsters = horror.  Anyway, I think it’s the blending of genres that makes Aliens so sweet; it’s a sci-fi, horror and action movie all rolled into one intense film.  Intense is an apt description, few movies match the intensity level of Aliens.  Every time you think the movie is as suspenseful as it’s going to get the director (James Cameron) ratchets the tension up a few more notches.  Aliens was good enough to be nominated for seven Oscars, snagging two.  As kind of a side note, Bill Paxton is awesome in this movie.  He has the best lines and one of the best deaths.  He’s one of my favorite parts of Aliens and comparing him to Bill Pullman is a fucking travesty.  (See also his performance in Weird Science, Club Dread, and True Lies.)
Game over man.

5. The Thing (1982)

A little Brimely for the ladies
Without a doubt The Thing is my all time favorite Wilford Brimely movie (sorry Cocoon fans!)  In The Thing Kurt Russell stars as a dude named Mac whom pours Scotch into computers.  He works at an Antarctic research station that becomes infested with aliens that look just like real people, and when they get dismembered the parts all grow their own legs and try to kill you.  Not a good situation to say the least.  Kurt Russell is left with the task of figuring out who’s a real guy and who’s an alien in disguise before the whole research station becomes overrun.  The movie is really tense and the special effects are second to none.  One question remains though, if someone with diabetes gets replaced by a The Thing does that The Thing have diabetes?  Does it like oatmeal?  Sadly, the film leaves these questions un-answered.  Rated R for extreme monster violence and oversized cowboy hats.

4. Halloween (1978)

Deranged killer Michael Meyers
Halloween set the gold standard for slasher movies and gave birth to the horror boom of the 1980’s.  Halloween is pretty much perfect.  The atmosphere, pacing, and basic plot have been imitated countless times over the 30 or so years since Halloween came out, but no slasher movie has come close to matching Halloween.  Jamie Lee Curtis stars as Laurie Strode, a girl being stalked by escaped mental patient Michael Meyers.  Unlike most female leads in a horror movie she has more than half a brain rattling around in her head and she fights back.  The film was a runaway success, grossing $60 million worldwide, making it the most financially successful independent film of the time.  Why is it John Carpenter has made so many hit movies, but he’s never moved to the A-list?  Usually when a director makes a no budget movie and it makes a ton of money they’re given the keys to the kingdom.  Right?  Anyway, to date there are 10 films in the Halloween franchise.  Halloween II and H2O are nowhere near as good as the first film, but they’re worth checking out.  Halloweens 3 is sans Michael Meyers and it’s pretty much unwatchable.  Halloweens 4, 5, 6, and Resurrection were all kind of just Friday the 13th rip-offs, which is kind of weird because Friday the 13th started out as a Halloween ripoff. Rob Zombie’s remake was kind of disappointing and pointless.  The only change he made that I liked was the addition of a lot more female nudity.  I’ve never seen Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, so you’re on your own there.  When you think about it they made 9 subpar (that’s being kind) movies on the reputation of the first Halloween.  That’s how good this movie is.  It’s on all the time, so watch it if you haven’t.
She was the little girl in part 4 and 5, and oddly she was one of the girls who took her clothes off in Rob Zombie's version.

3. Re-Animator (1985)

Re-Animator is one of the most violent awesome movies ever.  It’s based on the H.P. Lovecraft short story “Herbert West Re-Animator” and I think it’s pretty faithful to the spirit of the short story.  They change a lot of things to update it for a modern audience, but who cares.  As good a writer as Lovecraft was, most of his short stories read more like outlines for novels than proper short stories.  They also added a girl to the story, which is good because she takes her clothes off.  Anyway, Lovecraft’s stories are total sausagefest, and who wants to see a movie about a bunch of dudes?  To my knowledge Re-Animator is the only film that has a severed head eating a naked chick out.  That particular scene is referenced in American Beauty when Keyser Soze Kevin Spacey is smoking weed with creepy Ricky Fitts.  In fact “I want to borrow your copy of Re-Animator” is listed on urban dictionary as slang for buying weed, which reminds me, did any of you borrow Re-Animator from me?  I don’t smoke weed or anything, but I remember letting someone borrow that movie one time when I was really drunk. 
Barbara Crampton (severed head eating her out not included)

2. Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (1987)

This movie is never included on lists for the “greatest horror movies of all time” which makes all of those lists null and void.  I don’t claim that everyone should like Evil Dead II, quite the contrary in fact, but if you don’t like Evil Dead II you have no business boasting any kind of expertise or authority on the genre of horror.  This movie rules.  I still remember when I heard about Evil Dead II:  I was flipping through Roger Ebert’s movie yearbook (a collection of his reviews.  The only way to read old movie reviews in the pre-internet days.) and I stumbled on a movie that had the same director and lead actor as Army of Darkness.  Holy shit.  I rented Evil Dead II as soon as I possibly could.  Like Army of Darkness Evil Dead II is a blend of horror and slapstick comedy, except it’s way bloodier than Army of Darkness.   If you haven’t seen this movie, you should definitely check it out.  If you have seen it, check out the audio commentary on the DVD.  It’s definitely one of the best.
Bruce Campell likes it enough to smile

1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Best movie ever.

Dawn of the Dead is the only movie that actually scares me.  It has literally given me nightmares.  I can’t completely explain it but I think it has something to do with the whole apocalypse thing.  In Dawn of the Dead the zombies take over.  Usually in movies the end of the world happens pretty quick (Dawn of the Dead 2003) or off screen (28 Days Later, Resident Evil, The Road Warrior.)  In Dawn of the Dead the world dies slowly.  The film begins with the cities in chaos.  Zombies are everywhere, and most people deal with the situation by either looting or skipping town.  The main characters are four such individuals.  They didn’t like the way things are going so they stole a helicopter and took refuge in a shopping mall.  One thing you have to wonder about is what they talked about all day.  There were three dudes and only one chick.  Couldn’t exactly talk about women, except for the one, and she was pregnant with the one dude’s baby.  Awkward to say the least.  No sports either, or even VHS tapes.  I guess that’s why they seem so unhappy despite all their nice things (a delightful bit of social commentary.)  The movie is also really violent, so violent in fact that it was released unrated when it couldn’t get an R rating from the MPAA.  If all that doesn’t sell you on Dawn of the Dead I’ve got two words for you: zombie pie-fight.  There’s a zombie pie-fight.  Get on it.

These 50 movies represent my favorite horror movies, and while you may not agree with every movie on the list or the order in which they’re on my list they’re all endorsed by me personally.  Hopefully you’ll see something you like and check it out.  I guess that about wraps it up.  Feel free to leave a comment here or on facebook. 

Back to reviewing cheap beer.  Happy Halloween.
My favorite holiday

Oh, and Danzig still seems pretty serious about wanting your Skull. 

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