It’s an interesting question.
As I’m sure you’re all aware, I love a good movie. I love a bad movie. And I love movies of all genres. With it being October and Halloween being just over a week away, I thought it would be interesting to figure out what my favorite horror movies are.
I do enjoy horror. It’s fun to get scared. It’s an adrenaline thing. It’s the same reason we ride roller coasters or go bungee jumping. It’s great to watch a horror film late at night with all the lights turned out. And you already know I’m a fan of Stephen King’s bibliography.
Lots of movies immediately come to mind: Scream, It, Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs… But how does one determine the definitive list of favorites? Same way I determined my Top 100 of all time… Flickchart.
Now, please remember that these are favorites based upon movies that I have personally seen and ranked on Flickchart. That does not mean that this is the be all and end all of Top Ten Horror Movie lists. For example, I’ve still never seen John Carpenter’s The Thing. As you’ll discover this Monday when I reveal the list, it is one of the Top 100 I’ve Never Seen. So I’ll see it eventually. It just won’t be on this list. Ready? Let’s do it…
10. Paranormal Activity – 2007
Say what you will about this franchise as it progressed, this original kind of terrified me. I mean, the whole found footage thing is only so successful, but the way they made this one was just neat. Shoestring budget that turns around and brings in millions? No wonder it spawned a disappointing franchise. I rewatched this one recently and still got creeped out.
9. Scream – 1996
I’m disappointed that this one isn’t higher on the list. But, as I’ve probably mentioned regarding Flickchart before, there are a lot of movies that got ranked early on and the algorithm just doesn’t bring them back up to compete again, so they’re left to wallow in mediocrity. But Scream is far from mediocre. Kevin Williamson wrote a fantastic script and Wes Craven brought it to brilliant life on screen. It breathed new life into the slasher movie and spawned a decade of copycats starring all the beautiful 20-somethings in Hollywood.
8. Alien – 1979
A beautiful blend of science fiction and horror. The slasher sub-genre is infamous for leaving us with a “final girl” who survives a face off against the killer against all odds. Alien is no different but presents us with Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley who isn’t just a final girl, but a final girl who is also a badass. And if you don’t believe it from watching the beginning of this franchise, check out the 1986 sci-fi/action sequel, Aliens.
7. The Cabin in the Woods – 2012
How many horror movies begin with a group of teenagers driving out to spend a few days getting drunk and/or high in someone’s cabin in the middle of nowhere? This movie takes that common horror trope and turns it upside down. It sends up the horror movie as a brilliant commentary on the genre but still manages to maintain its scary movie status.
6. Jaws – 1975
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water… I can’t help but question, would this movie have been as successful, as scary, as enduring if the mechanical shark had worked the way Spielberg initially intended? Since the shark was malfunctioning so often, we barely see the thing throughout the movie. And I think that makes it that much more terrifying because we’re left to imagine what kind of monster is lurking under the surface. Accidental brilliance at its finest.
5. Bird Box – 2018
Again, a movie that allows the viewer’s imagination to run wild. We literally cannot see the creatures that cause individuals to go insane. We have no idea what they looked like. The creators toyed with the idea of putting something together to give the audience a brief glimpse, but it was a much better idea to cut that out. Not knowing is always scarier.
4. It – 2017
I know Chapter 2 has its problems. That always seems to happen when filmmakers try to adapt the adult portion of this epic story. But when it comes to the Losers’ Club kids vs. Pennywise the Dancing Clown? Fantastic. And this version in particular felt like a great coming-of-age story. Maybe it was the ’80s nostalgia bit.
3. Get Out – 2017
Before this movie was released, who’d have thought that comedian Jordan Peele would bring us one of the most incredible horror films of the century? Not that his career needed a jump start, but it kind of branched off in a new direction thanks to Get Out. Without it, would we have gotten the latest Twilight Zone incarnation? Would we have gotten Us? What about HBO’s Lovecraft Country?
2. Halloween – 1978
When you think of the birth of the slasher movie, is it this or Psycho that comes to mind? It should probably be Psycho, since it was released more than a decade earlier. And, sure, Psycho introduced us to the rules of the horror movie (which Scream would handily point out many years later), but Halloween kind of put those rules in cement based on what we see happening throughout the course of the film.
1. Gremlins – 1984
Wait… what? How is Gremlins number one on this list? I don’t buy it. Yet… here it is. Maybe I ranked it high for nostalgic purposes at some point. I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, Gremlins is a good movie. I really do like it… But topping my list of favorite horror movies? When other films like Psycho, A Quiet Place, or The Blair Witch Project don’t even make the cut?
And The Silence of the Lambs doesn’t even show up in my Top 100 under the horror genre. The only thing I can figure with that one is that Flickchart just doesn’t consider that movie a horror film. Psychological thriller, sure… but not horror. Potato tomato.
What are your favorite scary movies? Let me know down in the comments what you plan to watch this spooky season!