The witching hour is still a few weeks away but this nerd is already getting in the holiday spirit. To kick off the month of October and the countdown to Halloween, I’m going to countdown my top twenty favorite horror movies. Each one of these films has made me jump at least a few times over the years and have left me with a lifetime of emotional scars. So, sit back, relax and prepare yourself for a horrifying trip down memory lane. This list is not for the faint of heart and should be read with the lights on.
20. Paranormal Activity:
Paranormal Activity is the perfect movie to kick off my top-twenty list. I was a little hesitant to add it, but I feel that it deserves its spot on the list for multiple reasons. The most important reason is because this movie is a throwback to classic ghost stories. Oren Peli didn’t have to use a lot of special effects to unnerve his audience. He went back to the notion that less is more in horror movies and used the found footage method to make his characters and their situation feel real. That’s what was so scary about this movie. It made you feel like this situation could happen and was unnerving all the way up to the terrifying finale. While Paranormal Activity has spawned two worthy sequels – with a fourth installment on the way – I”m worried that this series will grow tiresome long before the studios stop making them.
My number nineteen pick is one of the few decent Stephen King adaptations, Misery. Say what you will about Kathy Bates, but she was completely frightening as obsessive fan Annie Wilkes. Not as terrifying as her performance in About Schmidt, but almost comparable. Most know the story of Misery. After a car crash in the snowy mountains author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is rescued from the wreckage by his biggest fan Annie Wilkes. Unfortunate for Paul, Annie isn’t as sweet as she appears and she’s definitely not too happy with Paul’s latest book. What made this movie so terrifying was the fact that Annie was a ruthless as she was kind. This film did a great job of making you have that feeling of helplessness. I couldn’t help but look away when Annie puts that log between Paul’s legs and stands there with a creepy smile on her face just before she slams the sledgehammer into Paul’s foot. To this day I still cringe and look away when this part comes on.
18. Jeepers Creepers:
People can say what they want about Jeepers Creepers but the movie is a solid horror film and it’s a shame that it’s constantly overlooked. What this movie did so well was bring back a classic monster movie feeling to audiences. Jeepers Creepers didn’t depend on an abundance of gore to frighten the audience and the filmmakers created a truly creepy horror icon. I really liked the mythology behind the Creeper and the fact that the creature only came out of hibernation every ten years for three days added a light at the end of the tunnel. If the main characters could only last for three days they would be home free. This gave viewers hope, which made it that much sadder when a character bit the dust. One of my favorite scenes is in this movie is when the main characters are driving down the road with a police escort in tow, when the Creeper attacks. The characters in the front are driving oblivious to the fact that the cops are getting obliterated right behind them.
Insidious is one of the best ghost stories in recent years. Leigh Whannell and James Wan did a masterful job at crafting a chilling ghost story by using minimal effects and showing very little to their audience. They gave us the pieces and allowed us to create our own pictures of these frightening creatures. What I also loved about this movie is that Whannell and Wan instilled their trademark twist ending that threw everyone for a loop. While this movie definitely had its faults, it was still a truly unsettling movie. I still get chills when the mom takes the garbage outside, the music changes in the house and when she peeks in the window a young boy seems to be dancing.
16. The Ring:
Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it, kids are creepy. You can’t tell what they’re thinking and they have such tiny hands. Gives me the heeby jeebies just thinking about it. With The Ring I’m not really sure what was creepier, the tape or the girl. Gore Verbinski did such a great job with creating a scary tone and engulfing audiences in the mystery of the tape. Naomi Campbell raced against time to solve the mystery of this seemingly sweet little girl’s death, but unfortunately for Campbell Samara – the little girl – wasn’t as sweet as she appeared. There was a good reason that her mother shoved her down a well. The first time I saw this movie I had to cover my eyes when Samara slowly crept out of the T.V. I haven’t been that disturbed by a T.V. since Carol Anne uttered those fateful words, “They’re here.”
I hope I didn’t scare you too bad because there’s still so much to come. Make sure to tune in next week for numbers sixteen through ten and as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I always love to hear from you guys.
– Joe D.