Pop Culture Gadabout
Friday, November 21, 2008
      ( 11/21/2008 07:32:00 AM ) Bill S.  

FIFTY! FILMS! FIFTY! Belatedly following the lead of the estimable Johnny Bacardi and Tom the Dog and, I'm going over a recent UK listing of the "50 Best Horror Films" of all time and bolding the ones I haven't yet seen. When the mood strikes me, I've added a small comment, typically on the level of "what the hell were they thinking?" or "okay, I agree with that choice." Forty-four out of fifty? Not bad, but I clearly need to catch up on my J-horror.
1. The Exorcist. William Friedkin (1973)
As a raised Catholic, I should've been the ideal audience for this flick, but aside from little Regan's crucifix scene (a definite shocker when it was first released), this hot-button horror flick left me cold when I saw it in the theatre the year of its release – and has held up even less in the years since. Overrated, I calls it.
2. The Shining. Stanley Kubrick (1980)
This 'un has its supporters and detractors – me, I like its look and Nicholson's big mad blow-up – but in general consider it a well-mounted failure.
3. Alien. Ridley Scott (1979)
This I’ll accept: sci-fi horror at its best, it establishes an ominous Lovecraftian world and maintains it beautifully throughout the entire picture. Bonus points for Yaphet Kotto and Harry Dean Stanton's moment of proletarian grousing.
4. The Silence of the Lambs. Jonathan Demme (1991)
5. Saw. James Wan (2004)
I'm told that a later entry explains how the series' psycho trapper plays dead through most of the flick, but the first flick's big reveal was such a stoopid deal-breaker for me, I've never cared enough to check out the sequels.
6. Halloween. John Carpenter (1978)
Years of squandered half-realized movie projects have lessened Carpenter's reputation. But before he tried to turn himself into a brand-name like Disney, this tidy little gem set a standard for low-budget horror. Still love the jack-o-lantern in the bedroom.
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Wes Craven (1984)
Remember when Freddy Krueger was genuinely scary instead of the host of a dumb syndicated teevee series?
8. Ring (Ringu). Hideo Nakata (1998)
Put me down as one of those who likes the Americanized remake – but thinks the Japanese original superior.
9. The Wicker Man. Robin Hardy (1973)
Avoid the goddessawful remake: this is the horror flick to see if you want a thoughtful/scary consideration of belief and religious ritual.
10. The Omen. Richard Donner (1976)
Best thing about this picture for me (aside from Gregory Peck's pitch-perfect performance as the doomed patriarch) was the way it once prompted Harlan Ellison to write a ranting Comics Journal column about why Richard Donner was the wrong director for the first Superman movie.
11. The Birds. Alfred Hitchcock (1963)
12. The Thing. John Carpenter (1982)
13. Lost Boys. Joel Schumacher (1987)
I'm of the wrong generation to key into this very eighties teen horror flick, but I consider that my generation had schlock like I Was A Teenage Werewolf to contend with and I think, "This ain't so bad a choice."
14. Dawn of the Dead. George A Romero (1978)
I'd place the original Night over this in terms of pure horror, but I won't argue too long and hard.
15. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Tobe Hooper (1974)
16. Jaws. Steven Spielberg (1975)
17. The Blair Witch Project. Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez (1999)
18. An American Werewolf in London. John Landis (1981)
Until the excessive and pointless car crash sequence in the finish – part of a different movie altogether – I'm totally in line with this horror comedy. Best use of "Moondance" ever. . .
19. Se7en. David Fincher (1995)
This flick has a lot to answer for (its look has been endlessly copied), and while it's undeniably effective at what it does, on the whole, I'd rather watch a Doctor Phibes flick . . .
20. Poltergeist. Tobe Hooper (1982)
21. The Amityville Horror. Stuart Rosenberg (1979)
Oh, c'mon. How'd this get in here?
22. Candyman. Bernard Rose (1992)
I'd've placed this Barker adaptation above Hellraiser, but perhaps that because I've been in Cabrini Green.
23. Scream. Wes Craven (1996)
24. Carrie. Brian De Palma (1976)
I'd've put De Palma's adaptation of King's breakthrough novel up higher (certainly over Lost Boys), but that's because I remain in awe of Sissy Spacek's performance.
25. Friday the 13th. Sean S Cunningham (1980)
Strip monopoly! Now that's scary . . .
26. Final Destination. James Wong (2000)
27. The Evil Dead. Sam Raimi (1981)
28. Hellraiser. Clive Barker (1987)
29. Hostel. Eli Roth (2005)
30. Salem's Lot. Mikael Salomon (2004)
Saw the Tobe Hooper mini-series when it was first broadcast, but I haven't caught this yet.
31. The Descent. Neil Marshall (2005)
32. The Hills Have Eyes. Wes Craven (1977)
33. Wolf Creek. Greg McLean (2005)
34. Misery. Rob Reiner (1991)
35. Rosemary's Baby. Roman Polanski (1968)
36. Child's Play. Tom Holland (1989)
37. The Orphanage. Juan Antonio Bayona (2008)
38. The Entity. Sidney J Furie (1981)
39. Nosferatu. FW Murnau (1922)
Takes an awful long time on this list to get to some genuinely classic scares. I know: old-fashioned horror flicks aren't very scary blahblahblah; old-style storytelling techniques get in the way; they're too restrained, etc. Booshwah.
40. Night of the Living Dead. George A. Romero (1968)
41. House on Haunted Hill. William Malone (2000)
42. The Haunting. Robert Wise (1963)
Wise builds upon his Val Lewton roots to deliver one of the greatest examples of use-yer-own-imagination horror ever.
43. It. Tommy Lee Wallace (1990)
44. Audition. Takashi Miike (1999)
Only Miike I've seen to date is his un-broadcast episode of Masters of Horror. I need to correct that situation.
45. The Changeling. Peter Medak (1980)
46. The Mist. Frank Darabont (2008)
47. Suspiria. Dario Argento (1977)
48. The Vanishing. George Sluizer (1993)
49. Shutter. Masayuki Ochiai (2008)
50. Planet Terror. Robert Rodriguez (2007)
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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