Top 10 Horror Movies

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Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street (Photo source: Movie Stills DB)

Everyone loves a good scare and these horror films are the perfect flicks to evoke quite the fright in the dead of night.

Bride of Frankenstein

This 1935 sequel to Frankenstein has Boris Karloff reprising his role as the iconic monster and remains the standard by which all others are judged. Here the monster speaks (something Karloff strongly objected to), and sees his creator Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) join forces with the evil Dr. Pretorious (Ernest Thesiger) to create a mate for him (Elsa Lanchester). The monster and his bride to be are introduced, she rejects him and he utters the infamous “she hate me, like others!” line and it all kind of falls apart from there. A memorable score, weird camera angles and creepy lighting helped make this perhaps the greatest horror film of all time. 

Salem’s Lot

Directed by Tobe Hooper, this 1979 TV mini-series based on the Stephen King novel stars David Soul (Starsky and Hutch) as Ben Mears, a successful writer who returns to his small hometown to write about the Marsten House—a reputedly haunted hilltop property there. An increasing number of locals are disappearing and dying, and the house’s evil persona centers around an ancient vampire and Richard Straker (a creepy turn by veteran actor James Mason) who both reside there. Ritual offerings, wooden stakes through the heart and a frightening vampire all make for a truly memorable mix of the haunted house and vampire genres. It’s an absolute classic.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Written and directed by horror master Wes Craven, this 1984 frightfest spawned a long list of sequels, but the original is the best. Welcome Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), who attacks young people in their nightmares. Young Nancy Thompson’s mom reveals that there in fact once was a child murderer named Fred Krueger who lived in their town, and was burned alive by the town’s vengeful parents in an act of vigilante justice. The nightmares soon turn to reality as the bodies pile up with Freddy in his burned, tattered clothes and blade-fixed work glove keeping us on the edge of our seats the entire time. A truly scary film, and, yes, there’s even Johnny Depp in his first, albeit minor, film role.

Halloween

One of Hollywood’s most successful franchises with 11 films, the original once again is not the only best of the series, but perhaps one of the most frightening films ever made. Directed by John Carpenter (who also composed the haunting score) finds Michael Myers, who murdered his sister as a young boy, escaped from a sanitarium returning to his childhood home of Haddonfield, Illinois and being pursued by his psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence). As Michael stalks and kills teenage babysitters on Halloween night, he zeroes in on Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and attacks her, she manages to fend him off long enough for Dr. Loomis to shoot him off a balcony, and we see his body lying on the ground below—at least for a moment—until Loomis looks down again and Michael is gone—off to start the sequel we suppose. 

The Exorcist

Based on William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel, follows the demonic possession of 12-year old Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) and her rescue by exorcism. After playing with a Ouija board, Regan conjures up an imaginary friend named Captain Howdy, and things begin to get very strange. Regan emits mysterious noises, obscenities, and truly bizarre behavior. After consultations and tests with a number of physicians, a psychological condition is what they think is the problem and an exorcism is recommended. Introducing Fathers Karras and Merrin who begin the ritual. What follows is Regan speaking in tongues, head spinning and of course the pea soup vomit scene. Father Karras wrestles the demon in Regan and it enters his body, killing him and the young girl awakens as her old herself. 

Psycho

The 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic that kept people sleeping with the lights on for years. Real estate secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) absconds with a client’s $40,000 payment and takes off to join her boyfriend and live happily ever after—except that she stops to spend the night at the Bates Motel. She meets proprietor Norman Bates and overhears an argument ensue between him and his mother about having a strange woman invited into their home,a foreboding old house on the hill behind the motel. Norman apologizes for his mentally ill mother. Next comes the infamous shower scene where we bid farewell to Marion. As the police close in on the missing Marion, we discover that Norman actually murdered his mother years earlier, and kept her mummified body in the basement and “assumed her personality,” killing any woman Norman began to have interest in out of jealousy. The final scene is chilling. 

Jaws

Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller kept folks out of the water for quite some time. A man-eating Great White Shark is dining on beachgoers at a New England resort town. The opening scene sets the tone where a young woman leaves a beach party to go skinny dipping in the ocean. We see her treading water from below the surface (the shark’s view), then we see her violently shaken and finally pulled below the surface. The village becomes panic-stricken, Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) hires shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) to help find and destroy the shark. Along with oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss), the three set out to hunt the shark. After a number of encounters, as the shark begins to hunt the hunters, Quint becomes shark food and Chief Brody kills the shark and he and Hooper swim towards safety clinging to the wreckage of their boat.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Another Tobe Hooper classic originally marketed as based on true events, the plot is largely fictional. Sally Hardesty and a group of her friends visit her grandfather’s grave after hearing of vandalism problems there and fall victim to a family of cannibals at the old family homestead. Upon their arrival they find lots of creepy stuff like furniture made of human bones, and of course the frightening Leatherface—a chainsaw wielding monster of a man wearing a mask made of human skin. Lots of butchery takes place, folks impaled on meat hooks and the like. Sally is the lone survivor and narrowly escapes Leatherface in the final scene as he gives chase with his chainsaw waving about. The film has an almost documentary feel to it and is guaranteed to creep you out.     

The Silence of the Lambs

FBI trainee Clarice Starling is assigned to interview the incarcerated Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter, former psychiatrist and serial killer in hopes of gaining insight on their pursuit of serial killer Buffalo Bill, who kills young women and skins them. Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) is cerebral and almost charming in their encounters, offering information to Starling that he says will lead to Buffalo Bill’s capture—on the condition he’s moved to another facility. Meanwhile, Buffalo Bill abducts a senator’s daughter and Starling, in a race for time, is engaged in a series of tortuous psychological twists and turns at the hand of Lecter as she tries desperately to save the girl. During his prison transfer, Lecter escapes and disappears. Starling discovers Buffalo Bill’s location and pursues him into his multi-room basement where the girl is still alive. In total darkness, Starling shoots and kills Bill and saves the girl. The final scene? Starling gets a call from Lecter, with the assurance he will not pursue her any longer announcing as he hangs up he’s “having an old friend for dinner.”

Alien

It’s 2122 and the crew of the spaceship Nostromo is in suspended animation heading back to Earth when a distress signal is heard from a nearby moon. They land, damaging the ship and while it’s being repaired, Capt. Dallas and crew investigate the signal which is coming from a derelict alien craft. As they enter it, they lose communication with the Nostromo where Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) deciphers the signal to be a warning. Inside the craft, Executive Officer Kane discovers hundreds of egg-like objects, and as he touches one it bursts open and attached itself to his face. They return to the ship, remove the creature from his face and head back to Earth. As they enjoy a meal together, Kane begins to convulse, and as the crew holds him down a small alien creature explodes out of his stomach, scurries and escapes into the ship. As they attempt to capture him, the crew begins the search and one by one they are killed off by the now fully grown creature. It’s decided they escape the Nostromo and self-destruct it, fleeing in their shuttle to safety.  Ripley is the lone survivor, and she blasts off only to find the creature is with her in the shuttle. She carefully climbs into a spacesuit and blasts the alien into space through an airlock door.

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