Time to continue my geeky list of my top 20 favourite horror movies! As I said in part one, they’re not the 20 best, or 20 scariest, they’re simply the ones I enjoy the most, guilty pleasures and all, ranked in order. On to numbers 15 to 10!
15. TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.
And the award for scariest horror villain of all time goes to… Leatherface!
There’s something so simple and brilliant about this film. Its low budget, rough, raw and realistic feel makes it the perfect canvas to splatter with blood, meat hooks and chainsaws. As soon as the characters bump into Leatherface the horror is just savage, visceral, without reason, without explaination, just pure horror until the screen cuts to black at the height of the film’s manic energy.
I’m not sure any horror film has matched this feeling of unstoppable, relentless terror ever since (especially not the dreadful remake, though The Beginning is a guilty pleasure).
14. EVIL DEAD 2.
As a young aspiring filmmaker when I first watched the Evil Dead 2, it was so inspiring in its use of manic cinematography, rapid editing and bizarre mix of comic fantasy horror and extreme cartoon gore.
The film remains an insane and fun ride, improving on the effects of the original, and Bruce Campbell is hillarious fighting of a horde of strange Looney Tunes rubber monsters with his chainsaw-for-a-hand amidst fountains of blood. Although totally different in tone, I also love the Evil Dead remake, which is ultra violent, gross and gory.
13. THE CHANGELING.
If Poltergiest is the best haunted house film, The Changeling is the scariest and least appreciated. It has all the elements a great haunted house flick needs; the most cobwebbed attic of any horror film, the dusty possessed wheelchair, the creepy music box, the brilliant seance scene, even a bouncing red ball is made terrifying.
The scariest moment of the film comes when George C Scott listens back to the recordings of his seance and hears a bone chilling message from beyond the grave… an effective traditional ghost story told exceptionally well.
12. THE HILLS HAVE EYES.
A rare occassion where the remake really surpasses the original. I really love this film, it has a slow burning first half, but once those mutants strike its all out action-revenge-horror of the highest order till the final shot. Its the bloody action that sets it apart from other modern horror flicks, I can’t think of many other horror films that sustain a full half hour of brutality and blood shed in the way this film does in its final half hour.
11. BLACK CHRISTMAS.
I didn’t get to watch Black Christmas until much later on, long after I’d become a horror nut, and although I didn’t think any film ever could, it terrified me! Its hands down the scariest film I’ve ever seen, not only for the few effective shocks during the film (Billy’s eye in the door crack, the obscene phone calls) but for the lingering sense of unease it leaves you with long after the credits.
The ending, which I won’t spoil incase you’ve yet to see it, is at first very infuriating, but as it sinks in you come to realise how brilliantly terrifying and genius it really is. Its a masterclass in retaining mystery and the unknown.
Add to that the christmas setting, the horribly 70s decor which adds to its atmosphere, and a simple but effective horror soundtrack (mostly cuttlery being scraped across the strings of a piano) accompanied by eeire christmas carols.
Another one from the 70s, De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen Kings first novel remains a strong, classic horror flick full of impressive elements that make it still work today; the oddly romantic soundtrack,
opening in dreamy slow motion on a changing room full of naked girls, Sissy Spacek’s vulnerable performance as Carrie, her terrifying insane mother, and that wild memorable finale at the prom, edited in split screen.
Carrie’s return to her candle lit home for a final showdown with her mother is the most haunting part for me, with its slowed pace after the violence of the prom and its funeral-like organ music.
Continued in Part Three...