I’ve mentioned before that I love lists. So when I saw #7favfilms trending, I had to jump into the fray and add my Top 7 Favorite Horror Films. Here they are in chronological order by release date (I simply can’t rank these movies):
“The Exorcist” (1973)
This is the O.G. of terror. It starts so softly, so slowly — with some scratching sounds in the attic. You care deeply about this mother and daughter, and the troubled priest who they turn to. Expertly crafted, the story is intense and realistic and the scenes are still shocking today.
True confession — I once stayed up half the night with the lights on after watching “The Exorcist.” I even called my now-husband, Dave, to try to get un-scared.
For the record, I like the version without the spider-walking Regan best — practically, it’s a good effect, but it is too much and it takes away from the intimacy of the confrontation in her bedroom.
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is a visceral experience. It punches you in the gut and then backs you into a corner for an all-out assault.
TCM is gritty. To this day, my most memorable viewing was on public access on my tiny dorm-room TV in college. It was so dark, I couldn’t even see what was happening in that chase scene through the woods, but the roar of the chainsaw and the desperation of the characters conveyed everything.
Ripley is a boss. Period. She is the perfect heroine — she’s relatable, she’s smart and she wants to survive. For anyone who ever said that horror movies aren’t kind to females, we can hold up Ripley as a shining beacon of all that is right in the genre.
We could argue classification all day with this one (it fits just fine in the sci-fi genre too), but the sheer artistry of H.R. Giger’s xenomorph and the incredible set design give it more than enough horror cred to make my list.
“The Evil Dead” (1981)
For being a lifelong horror fan, I came to know “The Evil Dead” rather late in life — I was introduced to it at around age 18 by my now-husband (I think I’m going to start call him that on the reg for fun).
The distinctly low-budget feel of “The Evil Dead” is precisely what makes it so scary — and it’s got this raw, weirdness to it that is very off-putting (yes, I’m talking about that assault-by-a-possessed-tree scene). All that being said, it is highly re-watchable.
“The Thing” (1982)
Like “Alien,” John Carpenter’s remake of “The Thing” is driven by the isolation of the protagonist. Also, Kurt Russell is everything — sexy, sexy, sexy.
“The Thing” is the gold standard of practical special effects, and it’s one of the few remakes that easily surpasses the original (Cronenberg’s “The Fly” is another notable exception). It also has a wonderful score that was a collaboration between Ennio Morricone and Carpenter.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
Do you remember the first time you met Freddy Krueger? This movie showed up on almost all the horror lists I read. And I don’t think that’s a coincidence — I think there is something transcendent about this monster — a killer of children who haunts our dreams with a glove of knives.
Time hasn’t softened the effect of the kills in “Nightmare” — Tina’s death is just as brutal today as it was in 1984. And although Freddy eventually became a rapping pop tart, repeat viewings of the first installment in the franchise remind me that he was first and foremost the stuff of nightmares.
Clive Barker’s masterwork, “Hellraiser,” is a deep well. It’s visually stunning and artfully shot, the acting is razor-sharp, and the story is something out of a fetishistic fever dream.
The first time I saw “Hellraiser,” I was terrified of the cenobites, and to be sure, they are still pure horror. But it’s Julia and Frank who are the real villains in this story — explorers in pleasure and pain, devoid of morality and grotesque in their pursuit of the flesh.
What are your #7favfilms?
Just for fun, I asked my friends to share their #7favfilms in the horror genre. Here’s a list from my friend, Jess Hicks: “The Shining,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Hellraiser,” “Suspiria,” “Candyman,” “Creepshow,” and “The Exorcist III.”
I asked Jess to add a little snippet of commentary (you can read more from her at Bloody Disgusting and Blumhouse, where she is regularly featured), to which she replied:
“Nightmare on Elm Street” will always be the first movie to scare the shit out of me. Pinhead is a little sexy. “Candyman” is proof the ’90s didn’t suck for horror. I will always feel bad for Shelley Duvall no matter how loud she screeches. “The Exorcist III” is the most underrated sequel of all time.
I also asked my now-husband, partner-in-life-and-crime, Dave, for his list. Here’s his Top 7: “The Evil Dead,” “Burial Ground,” “Ghoulies,” “Dolls,” “Terror Vision,” “Zombie” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon.”
This is a list of 7 of my favorite horror movies. It is most certainly not a list of horror movies I consider to be “the best.” Nostalgia’s a powerful thing.
“The Evil Dead” and “Creature from the Black Lagoon” were shown to me by my older brother sometime around 1987/1988 when I was 7 or 8. My brother’s taped VHS of “The Evil Dead” with the title hand-written in red magic marker was murky, dark and by today’s standards quite poor, but nevertheless stands as the best viewing of the movie I’ve ever had. It seemed scarier and more dangerous. We both wish that tape still existed.
Around 8 or 9 years old, I saw “Ghoulies,” “Terror Vision” and “Dolls” on “The Son of Ghoul Show” with hilarious sound effects thrown in. That VHS copy of “Ghoulies” that I taped was viewed dozens of subsequent times. I actually started recording it late so I always missed the first 5 minutes.
Want to join the fun? Share your own #7favfilms in the horror genre in the comments below.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that choosing just 7 was a painful process. If I could add 3 flicks and make it an even 10, I would add “Scream” (1996), “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992), and the aforementioned of “The Fly” (1986).