I love horror movies. I know, that’s pretty obvious. But they’re a blast — the good ones, the bad ones (especially the bad ones). I don’t even find a lot of them scary, although it’s always nice when one sets up a gripping atmosphere or makes you think. I just love the iconography, the world where cool creepy things lurk around every corner and logic can’t save you. A lot of that probably dates back to my late friend Aaron, who introduced me to the World of Darkness roleplaying games, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and his dad’s extensive laserdisc collection (lol 90s). I had been terrified of horror movies as a child, wouldn’t watch them, wouldn’t even like to look at the posters. But then I saw Scream at his house, and for some reason everything clicked. Maybe it was because I was finally old enough, maybe it’s because that film broke down the mechanics of the genre while still being a fine example of the style itself. I then went home and watched Wes Craven’s New Nightmare on TNT’s MonsterVision with the great critic/host Joe Bob Briggs. I was hooked. It’s funny that I discovered the meta stuff first and worked my way back, but there you have it. Thanks Wes!
I have preferences, of course. I don’t find exorcism movies (with the obvious exception) very engaging — probably because they always try to pass themselves off as true stories but if you’re Jewish like me it’s pretty hard to buy into the theology. Greasy grimy post-J-horror American flicks like Insidious and such don’t do anything for me. And torture porn can go torture someone else. I tend to lean towards the 70s/80s/early 90s stuff. 50s and 60s flicks are mostly really slow and boring, more recent ones too slick.
Anyway, the impetus behind this article was my buddy Sean Aitchison of the Influenca podcast asking me to name my three favorite horror subgenres and my three favorite movies in those genres. I’m not gonna do that, but I am going to list my favorite horror films (most of which are pretty obvious and have had plenty of ink spilled about them already) and then next week give you guys a rundown of some great flicks that you might not have seen. So here we go!
JEFF’S FAVORITE HORROR FLICKS (In no particular order)
- THE THING (1982, dir. John Carpenter)
- SUSPIRIA (1977, dir. Dario Argento)
- THE HAUNTING (1963, dir. Robert Wise)
- EVIL DEAD 2 (1987, dir. Sam Raimi)
- THE SHINING (1980, dir. Stanley Kubrick)
- HELLRAISER (1987, dir. Clive Barker)
- A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: THE DREAM WARRIORS (1987, dir. Chuck Russell)
- PHANTASM II (1988, dir. Don Coscarelli)
- THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE (2001, dir. Guillermo del Toro)
- THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935, dir. James Whale)
Like I said, obvious (great is great). Tune in next time for some of my favorite obscurities.