My 13 Favorite Horror Films

What’s good everybody. It’s me again, your friendly horror movie expert, back with yet another list of note worthy horror films that stand out from all the others. There are many proverbial horror fish in the sea, and that’s the reason I make these lists. You see, most people aren’t willing to just watch any 2 bit horror movie that gives them a wink and shows a little skin…But I am. I’m easy when it comes to horror movies. Some could say I’m a little horror slutty, but regardless, I consider it to be a public service that I sit in pain just to watch each horror movie that I start. I say in pain, because there are many really bad horror films in this world. This is why I get super stoked when I come across an awesome horror film, and it makes it worth all of the lame ones I sat through. This brings me to my next list. This is an exciting list for me to write about because these are my favorite horror movies I’ve ever seen. I could talk about each one of these for days without a water break, and I can’t imagine loving any human baby as much as I love these films. If you have seen all of the films on this list then you can sit back and consider yourself as having lived a good life. If you haven’t seen the films on this list then stop mid-date, mid-class, mid-family night, mid-Bar Exam, whatever you happen to be doing, and go Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon Instant Video, or otherwise rent these movies and start enjoying horror films for the first time in years or possibly your whole life. One important thing to keep in mind is just because a horror movie is amazing and envelope pushing, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to be “scary” in the classical sense of the word. That is a common misconception about horror films. A good horror movie is not necessarily good because it makes you jump a lot as you watch, or because you have to turn all the lights on after you finish it. A horror movie is successful if, as you watch it, your mind is taken to a new place, and you feel like you are not watching a movie at all, but you are vicariously living the experience of the characters in the film. You forget about how long you have been watching, and you can escape from your life for 2 hours and experience what it is like to fear for your life, and do things you never thought you would do or ever want to. A good horror movie is like a good drug that makes you not care about anything other than the situation in front of you, but you pay much less of price for a horror buzz. Here are some movies that will get you “horror” wasted; they will seriously make you trip “horror” balls. These are in order, not by which ones I think are the best in general, but instead in order by the movies that I enjoy watching most of all.

1) Event Horizon (1997)

Event Horizon, hands down, has had the biggest impression on me more than any other horror film ever made. It successfully creates a mix of genres including, but not limited to, torture, ghost, extreme gore, startling moments, monster, and slasher, all done using amazing actors, a breathtaking set, and the perfect setting of deep space to create a feeling of hopelessness that you can feel on a real level. I was 13 when I first saw the trailer for this film, and immediately I was drawn to it. 13 years later I still regard this as the number 1 must see horror film to someone who is bored with traditional horror movies and wants a truly unforgettable experience. Also, every time I watch it I am filled with the same emotions that I got the first time I watched it after my friend’s parents went to bed. It blows my mind that this was directed by the same Paul W.S. Anderson who directed Mortal Kombat, but for whatever reason the stars really came together for this one, and he was able to make a movie that earned it’s place in horror history. I think some people get turned off to this when they see the DVD cover, because they think it is going to be some random Science Fiction film, but in reality, Event Horizon is first and foremost a horror movie which a sci-fi setting. This is a must see, but be ready for some disturbing and truly haunting images.

2) The Shining (1980)

There is a scene in the movie Twister where people in a drive-in movie theatre are watching The Shining, and we get to see some images from it for a few seconds at a time. Ever since I saw that in Twister I knew I had to watch The Shining. Basically anytime there is any excerpt from a horror movie inside of another movie I have to see it. For example, in the movie Donnie Darko they are inside a movie theatre in one scene and we got to see a small cut of the movie The Evil Dead; I had to immediately go and rent The Evil Dead. But anyway, it is truly a shame that Kubrick didn’t make more horror films because he is the master of creative horror, and this is his masterpiece. The Shining has been time tested and it is considered to be flawless by many horror aficionados and/or horror hounds worldwide. It is fair to say that this is the single most inspirational horror film of all time. Each shot is haunting in its own way, and the lighting and music are consistently perfect throughout. One of the scariest parts of this movie is the idea of how easy it is to lose your mind and how dangerous one can become. This film inspired Event Horizon in many ways, most notable are the big sets. There is something generally freaky about people being in rooms or spaces that are larger than life; it really makes you feel how alone the characters are in this huge hotel with huge colorful rooms. Well-played Kubrick.

3) The Hills have Eyes (2006)

This movie shines in a world of crappy remakes. Alex Aja brought an intensity to this movie that the original lacked. I saw this movie FOUR times in theatres because I kept dragging my friends, family, and loved ones to see how awesome it is, and that is saying A LOT. This Wes Craven remake was directed by Frenchman Alexandre Aja who directed High Tension. This movie is the perfect horror film on so many levels because not only does it have a GREAT cast, and an amazing story with an insane amount of justified gore, but the antagonists are all people with huge physical deformities which basically turns them into monsters , and a lot of people are terrified by their looks alone. That’s why this movie hits so hard. Stay away from the Sequel to this, and the original is not all that spectacular, but this movie is a guaranteed gory good time. Watch it with the kids; they gotta grow up sometime…right?

4) The Last House on the Left (2009)

Wes Craven has come up with some very good horror film ideas, but I think in some cases he did not know how to adequately depict his ideas on film the way they should be to make the biggest impact. And, while the original Last House on the Left made a stir in the horror world and was realistic and brutal, it does not have the greatness of the 2009 remake. You really have to know what you are getting into before you watch this movie, however. The violence is intense, and there is a very disturbing rape scene that is hard to watch. The whole movie feels very very real, which I think is one of the keys to a successful horror movie. I must add that this is not gore for gores sake. There are so many horror films about a group of people who go around killing and terrorizing, and it takes a great crew, cast, and screenplay to create one that stands out from the others in a positive light. This remake does that and more. This is one of those movies you show to people who say, “I want to watch a F-ed up movie where people get all F-ed up.” That’s when I say, “I got you.”

5) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The mother of the modern slasher. Here is a horror game changer every bit as much as The Shining, but in a different way. Aside from creating the horror icon Leatherface that is every bit as recognizable as PinHead, Jason, or Myers, TTCM also took the idea of a family of terror to a new level that raised the bar to an extent never before known. There have always been films about crazy killers with serious psychological issues, but not like this. This film is so realistic, and the victims in the film are truly put through horrors that American film was not at all used to seeing. The remakes of Chainsaw Massacre are alright, but not near as good. Also, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 with Dennis Hopper is an 80’s horror favorite of mine.

6) The Ring (2002)

That’s right, a PG-13 movie made the list. I hate telling some people that this is one of my favorite horror films because in many people’s eyes this is just some teenie-bop, ghost movie, PG-13, peace of recycled trash. The reason they think this is because is because they hear about what it’s about, and to tell you the truth, the plot sounds pretty lame. Or they think this because when they watch it the first and only time, they were with 7 other people who were being loud and trying to make out the whole time, which there certainly is a time and place for, but not when trying to see this movie for the gem that it is. This remake of the Asian horror film Ringu was directed by Gore Verbinski who directed The Mexican and Pirates of the Caribbean among other things, and it really brought the creepy ghost with long hair that awkwardly walks towards the camera into mainstream. It is really super rare for me to turn off a movie and feel freaked out, but this one does that to me. Here is a dare for you… watch this movie some night when you are all alone, and have all the lights off. I guarantee if you pause it to take a piss, you will turn all the lights on that are between you and the bathroom. It’s really good that this came out when it did, because a DVD that kills you when you watch it just doesn’t have the same appeal to it.

7) Hostel (2006)

Eli Roth is the man. In my opinion he is the Tarantino of horror films in the way that he knows his horror so much that he can make films that pay homage to them without seeming like he is copying them like Rob Zombie does. I would do anything to work with him on a film, and I hope we see more movies from him. This came out when Saw was getting big, and inspired countless of other Torture Horror films. What I love about this film is that it pushes the envelope far enough to where it has your undivided attention but it doesn’t push it so hard that you get grossed out and sick to your stomach the way some Asian torture horror films will do. I love it when people talk about Hostel like it’s such a horrible movie, when in reality it has no more nudity or violence than any other horror film in its genre; it is just such a good movie that it made the genre popular. This film also shows that once you start viewing humans as nothing more than pieces of meat for your personal pleasure; this will be the end result. Notice how the halls of the whorehouse at the beginning look similar to the halls of the death warehouse at the end. This movie is a protest against human exploitation; it is done in a way that will shock you, because it should, and that is what gets the point across.

8) The Blair Witch Project (1999)

This is literally the most profitable film of all time. I like this movie for several reasons… first of all it was a game changer in the way that it showed thousands of film makers that it is possible to make a profitable movie on a low budget, and it really introduced us to the Point of View films, which where not very popular at all for feature length films at the time. Similar to The Ring, here is a movie that needs to be watched in totally silence, and in total darkness to really catch all the subtle sounds and images that are truly terrifying. The filmmakers do a great job of making the audience feel lost with the characters on the screen. A lot of people felt let down at the end, but I think they ended it in the most haunting way possible.

9) 28 Weeks Later (2007)

This movie rocks in so many ways. I truly think it is going to be hard for someone to create a zombie film that is as good as 28 Weeks Later. I love all the classics and I’ve seen them all, but this film brings something to the table that the others don’t. The first scene in this film is one of my favorite movie scenes of all time. It is amazing. This is also one of the few, if not the only, horror film that incorporates military people as the main characters, and isn’t totally lame. The Hills Have Eyes 2 remake, for example. This movie is hot fire.

10) High Tension (2003)

This film is the first to turn me on to French horror. I had no idea how amazing the French where at making horror films, but I’m glad I found out because now some of my favorites are becoming French films, such as Inside and Frontier(s). This movie is incredible; as if a lesbian slasher film wouldn’t be, am I right? (insert high five) High Tension, like other French horror is balls to the wall, realistic and in your face gory. There is no question about if you had been watching a horror movie when you are done; you know, and it’s like an adrenaline shot right to the left ventricle.

11) The Evil Dead (1981)

Before he made Spiderman, Sam Raimi made "The Evil Dead." This is a must see for horror fans. It’s so raw and gritty and perfect. It’s made demons attacking a house never look so good.

12) The Descent (2006)

I shot a horror short inside a cave and it is not as easy as you think it would be…at all. This is why I give this director mad props. He did a great job making it seem like they are in a dark cave without it seeming like they are using artificial light, or it being too dark. This movie does a great job building up suspense before we see the cave people who terrify on every level from their look to their sounds. This is always a fun watch.

13) Shaun of the Dead (2004)

I consider this to be in the horror genre because it’s only about 25-30 good laughs away from being a straight up horror zombie film. Zom-Com or not, this is one damn entertaining zombie movie, and it’s a love story, friendship story, untapped hero story, and zombie story all rolled into one hilarious and very gory film that demands multiple views.

Here some other films that are also near and dear to my heart. Check some of them out if you time. Alien (1978) Suspiria (1977) The Fog (1980) Pet Cemetery (1989) Friday the 13th (1980) An American Werewolf in London (1981) Demons (1985) The Exorcist (1973) Saw (2004) The Strangers (2008) The Signal (2008)

Always dream, always create,
Stephen Martin

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