I’ve been a lover of horror movies for many years, so I can think of no better way to spend Halloween evening, than with a selection of the scariest movies and a huge bag of popcorn (sweet and salty is my new favourite). Even as a fan of this genre, I have to admit that the quality of cast, sound effects and general storyline content is usually quite dodgy to say the least and the critics are rarely complimentary.
According to Wikipedia, horror is a “genre of fiction which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its readers or viewers by inducing feelings of horror and terror”.
As horror films are often just seen as slasher movies with nothing but blood and guts, I would rather raise my hand as a fan of ‘thriller’ movies; something to make you jump, fill you with anticipation and make you consider the possibilities of the narrative being based on a true story.
With Halloween fast approaching, here are my top 10 favourite films within the horror genre, in date order:
The Exorcist (1973)
When this film was released to cinemas back in 1973, patrons were issued with sick
bags and paramedics were on hand to deal with people fainting, such was the fear over the movie’s content. Based on the true story of a young girl who was believed to have been overcome by demonic forces, the church sends in a priest to conduct an exorcism and rid the girl of the evil within her. The ninth highest grossing movie of all time in the US/Canada, the Exorcist was the first of many films detailing this controversial topic.
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This is the first horror film I can ever remember watching. Released in 1984, directed by Wes Craven and starring Robert Englund in the lead role, this ended up as a series of 9 films in total, the first of which also starring a very young Johnny Depp. Englund plays Freddy Krueger, the badly scarred villain sporting his trademark black and red striped sweater and wearing gloves of blades for fingers. He hunts down and kills teenagers within their dreams, which actually kills them for real in a flurry of vengeance. Looking back at this film now, it really is a sad example in terms of effects and general cheesiness but considering that it’s over 30 years old, it still makes my list.
Blair Witch Project (1999)
I’m not really a fan of hand-held camera films but I have to appreciate the uniqueness of this movie. For this genre, telling the story of a group of students who are researching the local legend of The Blair Witch via their own footage which was found following their disappearance, is very clever. It lends itself to making the viewer question the reality of the video footage and the truths that the students had discovered. This aside, I haven’t managed to get around to watching the sequel yet.
The Others (2001)
This is more of a classical ghost story than you would expect from a film within the horror genre. Set in World War II, Nicole Kidman does a grand job of maintaining tension throughout the entire film, ably assisted by Fionnula Flanagan, Eric Sykes and a small role from Christopher Ecclestone. A modern horror film with an old fashioned touch and a distinct lack of unnecessary special effects, the only downside to this movie is finding out the major plot twist which makes watching it less fun second time round.
The Hole (2001)
A British horror movie based around four friends and the ‘fun’ they encountered in a World War II underground bunker. Are they more desperate to get in or more desperate to get out? With performances from some very young British talent; Thora Birch, Keira Knightley, Laurence Fox and Desmond Harrington, the film takes a tense turn as all is not as it first appears.
The Ring (2002)
An American psychological horror film series based on the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu. It sounds like just another urban legend; a videotape filled with nightmarish images leads to a phone call foretelling the viewer's death in exactly seven days. With plenty of effects, great make-up and an ability to keep you on the edge of your seat, The Ring is certainly up there in terms of one of the best.
Eden Lake (2008)
A loved-up couple head off to Eden Lake hoping for a secluded, romantic break. What they get is a sadistic game of survival as they run in to some of the locals. Starring Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender, this one definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted.
The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)
Based on actual events, this is a great haunted house movie telling the story of supernatural dark forces in a Victorian house which had previously been a funeral parlour. Knowing that before you press play makes it an even scarier movie and you won’t be wanting to turn the lights off when you go to bed. As is quite common with this genre, this film does not get great reviews from the critics but for me, it was definitely worth a watch.
The Woman in Black (2012)
The second adaptation of Susan Hill’s novella from 1983, The Woman in Black is one of those films that can constantly make you jump throughout its duration. A dark, moody atmosphere and a gripping supernatural storyline make this one of my all-time favourites. I have to say that as much as I loved him as Harry Potter, I thought that Daniel Radcliffe was far too young to be able to pull off the role of a widower and a father of a young son and as much as I loved this film, I still don’t think I’m wrong about that.
The Conjuring (2013)
In 1970, paranormal investigators and demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren are summoned to the home of the Perron family; a secluded farmhouse where a supernatural presence has made itself known. Though the manifestations are relatively benign at first, events soon escalate in horrifying fashion, especially after the Warrens discover the house's macabre history. This could be any horror story in truth until you discover that it’s based on a true story – then it really makes you think.
I have to admit that I haven't seen a good new scary movie for such a long time so any recommendations would be gratefully received...