Ghostface: Do you like scary movies?
Sidney: What’s the point? They’re all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl, who can’t act, who is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It’s insulting.
What Sidney (Neve Campbell, “Scream”) describes is the definitive example of what to expect in scary ‘slasher’ flicks, in the vein of the “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th,” and “Scream” series. Thankfully for everyone who enjoys a good scare over long chase sequences and mind numbing gore, there are plenty of other sub-categories within the horror genre. Supernatural thrillers, creature-features, torture porn, creepy-Asian-kid, etc.; they are all clichéd these days, but live on due to entertaining kill sequences.
While clever mutilations are always a plus for me, solid character pieces and a lurking sense of the unknown and/or uncontrollable are what define great horror movies. To help clarify this statement, I now present my Top 5 horror flicks of all time:
5) Final Destination 2
- After establishing the unique premise of malicious/unseen “Death” in the first “Final Destination,” the sequel stuck with the same concept, but got even more creative with the kill sequences. Similar to how slasher flicks capitalize on the reality that serial killers do exist, the FD series capitalizes on the unpredictable nature of freak accidents that can occur in our everyday lives. From a logging truck turning a freeway into Frogger’s worst nightmare to a falling glass window turning some helpless guy into instant Sloppy Joe mix, there is always a perfect balance of suspense and the “OH SHIT!” moments.
4) Event Horizon
- Even though “Alien” (which would be mentioned here, but it is more of an action/thriller than straight up horror) best captured the horrifying solitude of space, “Event Horizon” took it to new extremes by throwing Hell into the equation. While it does rely heavily on the typical jump moments, the imagery, as seen in the crew members’ hallucinations, is what makes this film stand apart from others. Also, Sam Neil (“Daybreakers”) is fantastic as a possessed a-hole. “Where we’re going… we don’t need eyes to see!”
3) The Shining
- The first of two Stephen King adaptations on this list, “The Shining” is what I consider both Kubrick’s (who I’ve never been a fan of in general) and Nicholson’s best work. Again, capitalizing on the idea of being isolated, mixed with quick shots of terrifying images and Nicholson’s berserk performance is what makes this an instant classic. Technically the best film on this list, it isn’t first because it tends to be more entertaining than truly terrifying. BTW, it took three days of shooting and 60 doors to get Nicholson’s famous “Here’s Johnny!” scene to Kubrick’s liking.
2) Paranormal Activity
- Hands down, the scariest film I have ever seen. The notion that we are completely helpless while sleeping is freaky enough without adding a supernatural element that is something we currently can not prove or disprove. While many found the first hour boring, it worked amazingly as a tension builder to the truly horrifying moments in the film’s final half hour. Katie Featherston’s tortured performance is also one of the strongest in a horror film since Kathie Bates in “Misery.” Not going to lie, when I got back from my midnight screening, I “slept” with the lights on.
1) The Mist
- A horror masterpiece. “The Mist” is frightening, insightful, engaging, and purposefully cheesy. It is a smart B-flick that not only brings the terror with foreign monsters, but also examines the human psych through how different people act to the same threatening event. Tom Jane ( TV’s “Hung”), the most underrated actor working today, grounds the story through his competence and logical actions, while supporting actors such as Marcia Gay Harden (“Whip It”), the religious crazed bitch, complicates the already f’ed up scenario of being trapped in a grocery store surrounded by the unknown.
The main reasons why this is my favorite horror movie are the monsters and the ending. First, the creatures are larger and creepier versions of some of the most disgusting insects. Insects in general put me in a state of unease. When the scene in which a brood of thousands of spider-like creatures explode from a guy’s chest, I seriously had a terror seizure. The second reason is the film’s heart-wrenching and polarizing conclusion. Easily one of the most screwed up Hollywood endings of all time, it is the main reason for people loving or hating the film. I think it’s brilliant and wish more movies would be as bold.
Nothing like a can of peas to the head to silence a “miserable buzzard!”
Honorable Mentions: “Drag Me to Hell,” “Jaws,” “Misery” and “Saw”
So what are your Top 5?
Trailer I’m Digging This Week:
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (“Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”) re-team for a movie that looks as fun as it does stupid in “Paul.”
I am getting sick of Seth Rogen’s voice though…
Quote of the Week:
Sidney: You sick f*cks! You’ve seen one too many movies!
Billy: Now Sid, don’t you blame the movies, movies don’t create psychos, movies make psychos more creative!
Feature image courtesy of Weinstein Company and all poster artwork courtesy of impawards.com.