Halloween and horror movies come in a lot
different forms. Here's a list of my favorites within (and
Alien (1979) - I was such a
junkie as a kid that I never thought about this one in terms of it
a horror movie until years later, but the elements are all there.
I don't care how far in the future you go, horror will never be
either as an emotion or a genre that exploits it.
Aliens (1986) - Even though
is more of an all-out action film than the first one, there are still a
lot of moments that are straight out of a horror film. Rather
one "bug" this time, we have a hive full of them. There are great
moments when Ripley and company are literally swarmed by these giant
and it's as many times creepier than they are bigger than anything in
real world that could climb all over you.
The Blair Witch Project (1999) -
hate this one. I think it's because it worked too well. If
you've ever been lost in the woods, this movie will make you
Changeling (1980) - This is a
suspenseful film that never relies on special effects to be
If you've seen "The Ring," you're going to hate that movie for having
lifted chunks out of this one.
Children of the Corn (1984) -
of getting lost into a town controlled by a cult already has terrific
That there's more to it than that is just bonus.
Dawn of the Dead (1978) -
other relatively plotless films in the original trilogy, this is such a
great concept and is effective as both a horror and an action movie.
Edward Scissorhands (1990) - I
the humor Burton found in the juxtaposition of a horror film character
(albeit a sympathetic one) into a suburban context, but the beginning
ending of this one have some beautiful gothic sets that distill all the
best features from nearly a century of horror films.
Event Horizon (1997) - The set
is terrific, but the second they start delving into the supernatural,
lose credibility. Much the way religions do.
Hellraiser (1987) - Although
wasn't nearly sufficient to make this a fantastic movie, the underlying
mythology and a concise setting (i.e., almost everything occurs in one
house) make this a damned fine film.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) -
like with the "Alien" series, the second one shifted from horror to a
more action-oriented story, but it still employs great horror elements
to make this a classic.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
If you could distill a pure emotion and bottle it, this would be the
equivalent of freshly squeezed paranoia.
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie
(1966) - I hated this one when I was a child. The reason is
It isn't for children. When I was a kid, I was as anxious to see
"The Great Pumpkin" as Linus was. He built the naive youth
up for it the same as he did Sally. Adults get this. They
disappointed at what kids see as a cruel anticlimax. Grown-ups
the joke. Kids think one has been played on them.
Jacob's Ladder (1990) - I'm not
to try and explain it. It's a good one. The deleted scenes
are great and for the most part should have been left in, however.
Jaws (1975) - Possibly one of
monster movies ever made, and one that continues to generate fear to
The Nightmare Before Xmas (1993) -
I think it's a little bit short of a classic, but it's such a near-miss
that it has grown on me.
The Omen (1976) - Great horror
work best with great casts, not great special effects
This is an example of a great recipe.
Phantasm (1979) - This movie
an odd premise that it manages to be very original while still
a level of creepiness that keeps up your interest. I don't want
give too much away here, but there are some terrific surprises in this
The Shining (1980) - It is
to find movies that establish a certain creepiness for the appropriate
scenes. This one does so and never, EVER lets up.
Sixth Sense (1999) - Oh, you've
this already, so I'm not even going to bother.
The Thing (1982) - John
version of this story is incredibly effective.
28 Days Later... (2002) -
the best zombie movie ever. The second act of the film sort of
from a lack of where to go next, but overall I enjoyed this one a lot.
wrong with horror series?
In general, if it's a film series, you
can skip it. It's less a horror film than a horrible film.
These series increasingly depart from the elements that made the
work and typically forego continuity or any other aspect of consistency
in the process.
Child's Play - What can they do
drag out this series beyond it's one-joke appeal? How about add
Friday the 13th - Can you tell
different between any of the first handful? Out of desperation we
ultimately end of fighting Freddy and sending Jason to the far
Even then the gimmicks were transparently just that.
Halloween - I'm probably the
who thought Part III was any good. That was only one without the
incredibly boring Michael Meyers who throughout the series doesn't even
do his trademark Scottish accent or Austin Powers character.
Nightmare on Elm St. - I
you to name the plot of any two movies in this series and tell me how
Hellraiser - The first couple
in the series are great (and the fourth one wasn't bad either), but the
rest are a joke that have little to do with the mythology of the box or
the Cenobites other than to capitalize on a (now-tarnished) brand name.
Phantasm - Once again,
in the quest for something original to put on the screen. In
I think these movies are more interesting than average, but the series
does go downhill pretty quickly.