My Favorite Horror Films of All Time : Classics and Hidden Gems

It’s October. While I haven’t been watching as many horror films as I should be watching. Instead, I thought I’d take some time and share my thoughts on what I consider to be the essential and underrated horror films that I’ve seen. These films are in no order besides the order that I remember them. As a sidenote, I didn’t include Cache or The Night of the Hunter because I don’t feel they fit as true horror films. Enjoy and please let me know what I missed or goofed on in the comments.

We Are What We Are

I was blown away by this film when I first saw it. The ending shocked me and the acting and pace of the film created a perfect cloud of suspense. I like my horror films to be a bit crazy and this film managed to hit the perfect note on the crazy scale.

The Act of Killing

A documentary can’t be a horror movie you say? PSHHHHHHHH! If you watch this film and tell me that there isn’t an ungodly amount of horror in this film then your soul is black and void. The film scared the absolute shit out of me. The scariest part is that it is all real. This shit actually happened.

The Loved Ones

Batshit. Totally effin batshit film. It’s fun. It’s horrifying. It’s Australian. I can’t say enough about this one. Actually, saying any more than what I have already said will give too much away. Jus find a way to see this one.

Kill List

Easily the scariest final twenty minutes in a film I’ve ever seen. It threw me for a loop for fucking days. One of the few films that completely changes genre in the final twenty minutes. The film is brutal and provides, along with the ass clenching suspense, one of the most what the fuck endings ever. It’s a treat.

Rosemary’s Baby

Classic horror. You don’t need blood thirsty monster or ax wielding maniacs to deliver a truly frightening experience. Polanski may be an asshole, but the guy knows how a craft a truly creepy and unsettling film.

The Changeling

Perfect ghost story. It doesn’t get overly ridiculous and happened to cast one of the best actors working during that time George C. Scott. I inspect houses for a living. The big, old, vacant ones still give me the creeps due to this film.

The Shining

What can be said that hasn’t been said a thousand times. It is in my top five films of all time. It’s THE perfect horror film. Don’t agree? Maybe I should…correct you.

The Thing (1982)

Like The Shining, another perfect horror film. The special effects haven’t been done as good since and most likely will never be as good in a horror film. You ain’t getting Wilford Brimley’s blood and Kurt Russell sports the greatest beard ever committed to film. It’s amazing.

The Innkeepers

I love Ti West. He’s my favorite horror director working today. This is his slowest and creepiest. It builds perfect tension and features two characters who act like real people instead of horror devices. It’s another perfect ghost story and makes me want to work late nights in an empty hotel.

House of the Devil

Ti West’s homage to 80’s slasher films with a great twist ending. Tom Noonan should be cast in ever horror movie ever and the film also has probably the best and most alarming jump scare in film…twice…60 seconds from each other. If this film came out in the 80s it would be an instant classic.

28 Days Later

It took me YEARS to see this movie. The trailer scared the absolute shit out of me as a kid. The image above gave me nightmares for weeks. When I finally sat down to watch it, the most unique “zombie” film of all time opened my eyes. Alarming, horrifying, and loaded with emotional scenes. The empty London scenes are iconic.

Shaun of the Dead

Hilarious? Yes. Scary as shit and full of amazingly serious situations and acting from all involved? Also yes. I still think it’s the best traditional zombie film of all time. The fact that it’s hilarious only adds to its brilliance.

Psycho

What can be said? It changed the game forever. A work of genius.

Jaws

My favorite film of all time. Words can’t explain the amount of enjoyment I get from it. I’m still scared swimming in the ocean.

Alien

I love space horror, even the bad ones. This isn’t a bad one. It’s a brilliant one and among my most watched films of all time. The blu ray version of this is incredible.

Quick Review : Absentia (2011)

IMDB Score – 5.8
Netflix Watch Instant

Directed By – Mike Flanagan
Starring – Katie Parker, Courtney Bell, Dave Levine, Justin Gordon, Morgan Peter Brown, and Doug Jones

A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband.

First films are interesting. On the surface they are cheaply made with actors who range from promising to barely usable. Below the surface they are occasionally the early seedlings of talent. After finishing Absentia I was left both impressed and frustrated. The film didn’t make sense in some scenes, had bad editing, and some shoddy acting. Yet, the film is also unique with some seriously disturbing and frightening ideas. Although I haven’t seen it yet, I can understand why Mike Flanagan got the budget to make Oculus.

The film centers around two sisters. The oldest is finishing filing the paperwork to declare her husband, who disappeared seven years earlier, dead. The younger is reuniting with her older sister after a long battle with drug addiction. The typical horror tropes start to occur afterward. Strange thins start to happen and both sisters are starting to question what they see. The film features a cameo of sorts from the great Doug Jones and some seriously horrid acting from two horrid detectives.

Like many first features, the beginning of the film kind of ruins the remaining. This movie takes an eternity to get going and by that point I’m really just hoping to see some blood and guts. The acting from Parker and Bell gets better as the film progresses and the last twenty minutes showcases some pretty interesting and disturbing concepts. The end result is pretty much this…I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it. I’ll see if Flanagan improved on his first effort with his second effort soon.

2.5/5



Film Review : The Orphanage (2007)

IMDB Score – 7.5
Rotten Tomato Score – 87%

Directed By – J.A. Bayona
Starring – Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Andrés Gertrúdix, and Geraldine Chaplin

A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

It’s funny how full of shit I am. I told myself that I would be watching a horror movie a night because it’s my favorite month of the year, October. You know how many I’ve seen this month? Two, including this one. That’s pathetic. My viewing schedule has developed a case of the crazy and I take what I can get. Tonight I took a walk down to the library to find some interesting films to watch over the week. I wanted mostly horror films but I couldn’t help take out a few Criterion films which I’ll be watching over the weekend. I guess I’ll just have to dust off the old Netflix account and browse the horror selection there. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed. The Orphanage has managed to escape me for years so I decided to finally pay it a visit which actually turned out to be a wonderful idea.

I loved the film for the most part. You don’t get many horror films like this.

Slow. Detailed. Well acted.

It reminded me of Ti West in the way he lets the atmosphere and natural creepiness of setting scare the viewer. I haven’t seen his newest film (heard it’s on Netflix, I take back my statement above), but the guy just knows how to make a horror movie that appeals to all of my senses. He still likes to throw at least one jump scare in though, a tactic that I find tired and overused. This is where The Orphanage differs itself from the pack. I honestly don’t remember one single jump scare. Sure there were some quick camera movements and figures appearing from a spot where there was once nothing, but those just felt earned. There was no ROARING CRASH OF SOUND accompanied by a lightning quick edit to some deranged murderous face, or better yet a fucking cat that jumps out of a closet. This film was just plain old creepy. It’s also a ghost story. I love host stories. I’ve been telling, reading, and writing them since I was a kid and this ghost story satisfied me completely. I was into the overall premise of the film. There were some holes that I should have bothered me but somehow didn’t given the fact that the movie could exist without filling them. Actually, I’d say the story was the weakest link of the whole film. It certainly pulled me in but I was really hooked by the overall aesthetic feel of the film. I made sure to turn the lights out and crank the volume for this and the film returned my diligence by giving me a great atmosphere for a horror film. The acting was also top notch, especially from Belén Rueda. She’s a natural.

Like many, I had a problem with the ending. I just felt like it was a total cop out to what could have been a seriously disturbing and unique conclusion. Those who have seen the film will remember the basement scene. Credits should have rolled from that point. The movie was over. What came next was just a very easy way to end what was a totally original and uneasy film. I understood the reasoning behind it but I honestly didn’t care for what happened to the characters involved. I didn’t shed a tear. I wanted the disturbing option A.

The ending disappointed me but the film overall couldn’t have been more enjoyable. I loved the creepiness. I loved the acting from Belén Rueda. It was a good scare on a nice, windy, chilly October night. I should do this more often.

4/5

Suggested Viewing – The Others, The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, Tale of Two Sisters, Les Diaboliques (1955 version, fuck that shitty remake)



Film Review : Afflicted (2014)

IMDB Score – 6.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 79%

Directed By – Derek Lee & Clif Prowse
Starring – Derek Lee & Clif Prowse

Two best friends see their trip of a lifetime take a dark turn when one of them is struck by a mysterious affliction. Now, in a foreign land, they race to uncover the source before it consumes him completely.

Winner of the best feature award last year at Fantastic Fest, Afflicted gives us yet another movie where the characters feel the need to document everything for our amusement. They document their meals. They document their parties. They document themselves trying to cock block their friend boning a french girl. This film at least tried to set up reasons why this would be going on. Derek has a serious illness and wants to travel the world before he croaks. Clif is his best friend and amateur filmmaker and will accompany Derek and film fucking everything. I’m actually okay with this premise. It makes sense although if I was Derek I would beat the shit out of Clif for being so goddamn annoying. For the constructs of the film though, I’ll allow it.

Like most found footage films, the first third consists of attempts at building character development by showing our lead characters having a grand old time doing what they originally set out to do. The curveball is thrown and we as the audience are left trying to figure out what is happening along with our dumbfounded camera man. “WHAT IS HAPPENING TO YOU DEREK?” I share this mans bewilderment but I couldn’t help noticing small details that in hindsight are now glaring clues as to what was happening. I guess the film did a good job in covering up what that was but once the early twist occurs the film just starts to take the cliche train towards Boring Station. The fact that this also won a screenplay award is telling of what kind of competition was in the running. The script basically took a half dozen original ideas from the last couple years in TV and film and posed them as their own. It’s like Prowse and Lee saw Chronicle, *Insert Exorcism Movie Here*, and Dexter and decided to make a film with all three characteristics. The writing and story arc is nothing we haven’t seen before and unfortunately this is why horror films do so poorly at the box office. Originality is lacking but I understand how hard it is to come up with an original horror film when there are so many coming out that have good ideas but horrible production value. It’s hard to get both right.

However…

I will say there is promise behind this film. For a film that cost less than a million dollars to make, the special effects and camera work was actually pretty impressive. There were many scenes after Derek “changed” that were engaging and tense despite being something that has been done time and time again. If anything, the filmmakers have some promise.

Afflicted is a very flawed film that lacks originality in the writing department but the impressive special effects and camera work could mean something bigger for the two filmmakers. I didn’t like the film particularly but there was certainly some promise behind it. I just hope they find actual actors instead of playing the leads themselves because they’re better off staying behind the camera.

2/5

Related Films – Chronicle, VHS, The Last Exorcism, Open Grave, Grave Encounters



Film Review – The Hitcher (1986)

IMDB Score – 7.3
Rotten Tomato Score – 59%

Directed By – Robert Harmon
Starring – Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jeffrey DeMunn, and John M. Jackson

A young man who escaped the clutches of a murderous hitch-hiker is subsequently stalked, framed for the hitcher’s crimes, and has his life made into hell by the same man he escaped.

Shying away from the theater this week, I’m going to be doing some old fashioned movie watching from home, as I’ve just been in a bad state as it is anyways. It’s funny how one drifts towards the television in times of stress, as if to make realty seem less real by subtracting it with fiction. I won’t get into that, but rather get into a film I’ve been trying to sit down and watch ever since I realized I liked 1980s slasher films. That film is The Hitcher.

I think they made a really bad remake a couple years ago with Sean Bean, who was cast only because he is great at dying. Is that a spoiler? I’m sorry, this film has been out for almost three decades now so you’re going to have to deal with that. The film takes place in the asshole of America, the Midwest, in where a hitchhiker is picked up by Thomas C. Howell, who will now be referred to Ponyboy for the rest of this review. That hitchhiker is played by everybody’s favorite android, Rutger Hauer. Hauer immediately tries to thank Ponyboy for picking him up by trying to snuff him out but is unsuccessful as he accidentally falls out of the car. This sets up the theme of the film; “Is Rutger Hauer a ninja ghost?” The answer is a resounding yes. Somehow, Hauer manages to frame Ponyboy for all his previous and occurring crimes which leaves us watching Ponyboy try to get out of it. He meets Jennifer Jason Leigh along the way and we have a soup of 1980’s trivial pursuit questions to make up this movie.

I actually ended up liking the film. Most of this is because of Rutger Hauer. The man is just a screen menace that only Klaus Kinski can top. You want to scare the shit out of your audience without really doing much? Just stick Rutger Hauer’s face on the screen and let everything else fall into place. The mystery and creepiness he brings to his Hitcher character is worth seeing the movie alone. The camera work was surprisingly good for a 1980s slasher film as the slow pans really helped setting the mood. I never thought Ponyboy was a good actor evidenced by his over the top performance in everything he has ever done including this. His character seems to always choose a place to hide that is not open or is full of people who will die sooner than later, which brings me back to the theme…

Rutger Hauer is a ninja.

He manages to be in every single nook and cranny without anybody ever knowing he is there. He could have worked for MI6 but instead he has chosen to walk the roads in the middle of nowhere and stalk people who are just waiting to die anyway. He gets out of every single situation he is in, manages to wipe out a whole police unit and still manage to make it loo like Ponyboy did it, and also slips body parts into french fries with what I’m only going to assume is the magic of Cthulhu. He’s the real deal.

The film has some pretty great action/thrilling scenes like the gas station getaway, police car shootout, and let’s not forget one of the most gruesome off screen deaths to a likable character ever. Seriously, I can’t believe they were allowed to do that. I was shocked. Overall, it’s a pretty great 80s slasher that is highlighted by the one and only Rutger Hauer. I don’t want french fries at a diner ever again.

3.5/5

Suggested Viewing – Joyride (Just cause), Vacancy, Cellular