Top 12 landmark horror movies

Published by siroutlier_tt2i6p on

Okay, I admit, I feel a little bad about going with a few remakes over the originals back in the top 12 horror movies. It’s not that I believe the remakes to be better, obviously they can’t exist without the OG, but they’re either dated or the remake improves/fixes certain aspects. But, to make myself feel better and try to earn back some cred with the horror community, here are the top 12 game changing horror films. (Just kidding about the cred, like my nana said, “smurf ‘em if they can’t take a list.”)

Bonus: Frankenstein (1931) – This progenitor of zombie movies came straight outta high literature, so you know it’s got the accreditation with a side of pizzazz. I’m choosing this over Dracula simply because Frankenstein’s misunderstood monster is more frightening than a nattily clad vampire… thanks a lot Twilight. Plus, Boris Karloff is the horror icon’s icon and was Vincent Price, Robert Englund, and Elvira (the man had legs for days) all rolled into one.

“The ironic thing is I hate berries, Halloween, and Alanis Morissette.”

12. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – Just when the market became saturated with slasher movies and everyone began chanting one, two, the subgenre is through, along comes Wes Craven to raise it to new, surreal heights. He also gave us a serial killer with some personality, cracking zingers like he was a homicidal Axel Foley.

“Come on Nancy, gimme a high five.”

11. The Blair Witch Project (1999) – Takes the idea of Cannibal Holocaust’s found footage and moves the story from the Amazon jungle into a suburbanite forest while stripping away all the exploitation and “illegal” gore. The rumor is the giant mechanical witch, lovingly dubbed Broom-Hilda, never seemed to function properly, so the filmmakers decided not to show her at all, but only show the annoying film students’ reaction to her. T’was a bold gamble that really paid off and, for better or worse, made found footage horror chic.

“You go in the tent, tent goes in the woods, witch’s in the woods, our witch.

10. Ringu (1998) – Obviously not the first J-horror flick, but the most significant. Also, the most distressing. The entire mythology of the story was levels above what anyone else was doing at the time. Say what you want about DVDs, this movie killed the VCR.

“Oh hell no, this is almost as bad as the Lifetime Network! Quick change the channel.”

9. The Haunting (1963) – The first great haunted house movie is the template for all the ones that followed. You start off with a pioneering filming style, add a gaggle of paranormal investigators that run the gambit of psychic to skeptic, toss them into a creepy mansion with a dark and sinister history and set that gothic horror instant pot to slow cook.

I mean, just look at it… there’s no way this house isn’t haunted.

8. Scream (1996) – Just when the market became saturated with unoriginal sequels and uninteresting horror stories and everyone began chanting one, two, the genre should bid adieu, along comes Wes Craven to turn it on its metatextual ear. He pitted some Jerky Boy wannabees against some Beverly Hills 90210 rejects in a whodunnit thriller that wasn’t afraid to put the laughter in slaughter.

“I’m sorry about Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Freddy Got Fingered, okay?”

7. 28 Days Later (2002) – Yeah, there were fast zombies before this, but 28 Days Later made them the new normal, along with igniting the post-modern zombie craze. Boyle’s leaning into the grain of the film makes this more realistic than its contemporaries, like say Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island. But it stays true to the whole ‘humans are way worse than any monster we can ever conceive of’ moral.

I’ll take a zombie apocalypse over another pandemic quarantine.

6. The Shining (1980) – More Stanley Kubrick than Steven King, this high art horror film is basically the Reese’s peanut butter cup of horror movies… two great tastes that taste great together (Sorry, Mr. King). Kubrick plucks what is cinematically relevant from the book while ignoring King’s personal alcoholism as a metaphor for evil spirits possession. Whether that’s for the better, I’ll leave it up to Twitter. But thankfully, he also ignored the topiary animals, which we can all agree work much better in Edward Scissorhands.

“Wait, maybe if I chop up Olive Oyl and my creepy, possessed son, I can overcome my writer’s block. I doubt it but might as well give it a shot.”

5. Psycho (1960) – The mother of all slasher films started with a unique idea, what if someone extraordinarily talented made a horror movie. The product, a groundbreaking movie that kept the audience guessing at every turn. In real life, I do think Hitchcock might have related to ole Norman Bates a little too much.

“Women… can’t live with ’em, can’t dress up in their clothes and stab ’em in the shower.”

4. The Exorcist (1973) – The gold standard of possession movies, this picked up what Psycho started all the way to a best picture nomination. Demonstrates that if you get A+ talent across the board, you can elevate horror to the same stratosphere as drama, historical biographies, or even porn. How effective was this film? I mean, many, many simpletons, to this day, believe this is a true story.

“I find her interesting because she’s a parishioner and sleeps above her covers. Four feet above her covers.”

3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – What Psycho started, and The Exorcist furthered, The Silence of the Lambs finished with a thunderous spike, sweeping the ‘important’ Oscar categories. Demme does the opposite of Romero by layering the horror underneath the story of a young, inexperienced FBI agent graduating into full on beast slayer mode.

“It puts the… oh, why do I prefer Vaseline Intensive Care Cocoa Radiant body lotion? Well, it really makes the skin glow.”

2. Halloween (1978) – Yes it borrows from prior movies, such as Black Christmas, but what movie doesn’t… except maybe Roundhay Garden Scene. What makes this a true classic is the combination of a simple, yet compelling plot, a stylistic young director and his keyboard, relatable teenage characters, and balls to the wall suspense.

“What did I tell you? No wire hangers evvvvvver!”
  1. Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Romero didn’t invent the zombie, but he sure as hell perfected them. Everything we love about those flesh-eating drones came straight from this movie. And he even cunningly fed us social commentary along with all the intestines and brains, kinda like slipping vegetables into our meat lovers pizza.
We all know that a zombie apocalypse is a redneck’s wet dream.


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