My Top Scary Movies

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Since it’s very close to Halloween, I have decided to list my favorite scary movies of all time. Please feel free to add some of your favorites that weren’t mentioned.

15. Saw

When Jigsaw first appeared on screens, he was an innovation. He gave method to most of the madness that is the slasher genre. And Saw is one of my favorite scary movies. It’s truly terrifyng and has a great script. Sure, Cary Elwes is overacting his butt off, but it thankfully does not mar the entire film. A-            

Fore more Saw, click here or here

14. The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece about birds attacking poeple for an unexplained reason is till shiveringly powerful. Viewer be warned: this is a surprsingly graphic and scary movie and somewhat unsettling to sit through. A

13. Seed of Chucky

No, it’s not scary, but it’s very funny. Chucky, that killer doll who has polluted the airwaves and the film reels for twenty years, comes back in not so much a black comedy, but a comedy with a lot of blood. Kudos especially to Jenifer Tilly, who looks like she’s having fun sending herself up as Tiffany and as herself!  B+

12. The Sixth Sense

M. Night Shamylan’s first hit was one of his best. This eerie tale of a boy who consults a therapist about seeing dead people is very memorable, and, in a way, bittersweet. Bruce Willis is wonderful as the good doctor and Haley Joel Osment (Emily’s big brother) is exceptional as the young boy. Still has the power to send shivers down one’s spine. The ending is particularly powerful. A-  

11. The Shining

Stanley Kubrick’s masterful adaptation of the Stephen King bestseller is probably one of the greatest modern horror films of all time. Jack Nicholson is still one of the creepiest fathers in film history. The hallway scene with the twin girls and the flood of blood is just as creepy as when it was first released. Not to mention “REDRUM”, which became instantly famous, along with Jack screaming “Here’s Johnnny!” while chopping into a door trying to kill his wife and psychic son. A

10. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Arguably one of the greatest stage-to-screen adaptations of all time (along with Cabaret, Chicago, etc.) Stephen Sondheim’s portrait of a serial killer remains relevant today. The lyrics “To take revenge may lead to Hell, but everyone does it and seldom as well!” is especially true today, when people can get revenge so easily as posting a nasty message on their Facebook profile. Johnny Depp is fantastic as Todd and Bonham Carter is diabolically wonderful as Mrs. Lovett. This film is full of blood, so I think that it qualifies as horror. Burton’s masterful directing pays is exhibited here. Depp was nominated for an Oscar and this is one of his best performances of his career. They may be “The Worst Pies in London”, but this is the best musical in years! A     

DVD Review, Stage Review, Theatrical Review

9. Pan’s Labyrinth

Whether this film actually belongs in the horror genre will begin some discussion between film buffs, but nevertheless, it’s powerful and frightening. But one of the most interesting parts is the fact that it’s an adult fairy tale. For adults. Not that many people make adult fairy tales; some may make kids tales with an adult spin, but this is one of the true fair tales for adults in a long time. Guillermo del Torro (Hellboy, The Devil’s Backbone) has a knack for creating mythical creatures in this film; from the flabby and creepy Pale Man to the wise and mysterious Faun, the creatures are truly fantastical. A

8. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

I actually never really cared for horror maestro Wes Craven’s original Nightmare on Elm Street. Sure, it was good, but it wasn’t really a film I loved. The sequels after that totally sucked, but that was mostly because Wes Craven had very little to do with them. It was worth the wait for Craven to come back with his original vision of horror, Freddy Krueger (Robert England). He’s just as frightening as ever, and in this incarnation, as the actor’s inner demon, even more so. The film is in a way an insider’s film, just like this summer’s Tropic Thunder and the soon-to-be-released Robert de Niro comedy What Just Happened?. The original Nancy, actress Heather Lagenkamp, is called by Craven for a new Freddy film, but she has her doubts…and her Nightmares. A

7. Scream

Another film from Wes Craven! The film, that digs deep into our fascination with horror films and then makes us even more fascinated, spoofs those idiotic and yet addictive slasher films of the 1980s. The tagline says it all “Someone’s taken their love of scary movies one step too far!”. A very clever movie with some nice humor. But, like most films these days, they didn’t let it die; Scream 2 was released in 1997 (which was pretty good) and Scream 3 was released in 2000. But that’s not all: there are rumors of a Scream 4 to hit theaters. What a shame! A-

6. Grindhouse

Oh, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez doremember the good old days of the “Grindhouse” era, where old drive-ins played raunchy “Women in Prison” flicks, Italian zombie films, and gear head movies like Vanishing Point. Together, they bring a piece of (get ready for snobby critics to cringe) modern artwork called Grindhouse, a double feature just like the good old days, complete with advertisements for unpalatable Mexican food, warnings that kids can’t watch this presentation, and, best of all, fake movie trailers. The fake trailers, which are a real novelty (but sadly left out of the DVD release), were created by some of the strangest films makers out there (that’s a compliment): Edgar Wright, who directed Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, directs a haunted house trailer called Don’t; Eli Roth, director of Cabin Fever and Hostel, directs what surprises me isn’t already a slasher film, Thanksgiving; and Rob Zombie, infamous for House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, directs what is probably the most controversial trailer, Werewolf Women of the S.S.  Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill) directs the second film, Death Proof, and Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) directs the first, Planet Terror.  A  

Death Proof, Planet Terror, Grindhouse

5. 1408

The short story originally collected in Everything’s Eventual is about a skeptical writer who goes to so-called “haunted” houses and disproves their “Haunted”-ness. When he decides to check into room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York, the manager tries to dissuade him to no avail. John Cusak, as Mike Enslin, is very good and brings a very dramatic sense to the film. Samuel L. Jackson is mysterious as the manager. The visual effects for the haunted room are amazing and terrifying! B+  More Stephen King

4. Dracula

The classic novel by Bram Stoker was brought to life by Universal Studios, but before this memorable tale of the vampire was on the silver screen, it was portrayed on the stage by a Hungarian actor who would recreate his role for the film. From then on, Bela Lugosi would be typecast until his dying days, even by his good friend Edward D. Wood Jr. Though not entirely accurate, the film still is very eerie and has engendered a million mimics and remakes, including one by Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola. A-

3. The Exorcist

This film would be higher on the list if it weren’t so darn scary! Though probably the best on this list, it’s not the kind of film that you want to watch any old time. Young Regan (Linda Blair) is possessed by an evil demon and starts to spew curse words and pea soup, all the while violating herself with the cross and making out stomachs revolt and her head turn (literally). Strange and graphic and totally scary. If, for one reason or another, you are looking at this list for something to watch to scare yourself silly, choose this film. It just may scare you senseless. A-                           

2. Bride of Frankenstein

James Whale’s second adaptation of Mary Shelly’s novel and it remains a classic still. The most emotional of the Universal Horror series, the Doctor creates a mate for the monster. When Elsa Lanchaster wakes from her sleep, she takes one look at her mate and lets out a scream that breaks the monster’s heart. “She hates me…” is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the horror genre and will forever be remembered for its heart breaking quality. A+ 

1. Psycho

The Master of Suspense based this film on the novel Robert Bloch and it remains the high standard for horror-suspense even to this day. With so many classic scenes (shower, staircase, etc.), it has been spoofed and lampooned a dozen times. Several films pay homage to it and it was even remade. But don’t watch that one; stick with the original classic. The shower scene still has the power to send shivers down your spine. A+  

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