Hollywood has the terrible habit of taking the horror genre and turning it into a money grinding machine. A soulless, uncaring machine. Movies like Paranormal Activity and Saw, have great ideas, but were sadly just dragged and stretched into the point of no return. For me, the scariest thing about horror movies these days is honestly how far studios are willing to go to make some extra cash. So in honor of the truly great horror films, I present to you, some of the best horror movies of all time.
1. The Babadook (2014)
If it's in a word or if it's in a look, you can't get rid of the Babadook. I have to start fairly recently here, this film is so perfectly crafted. It's dark and suspenseful and it has such great psychological weight to it. You can't watch this movie once and have it all understood. After my first viewing I gave myself an hour to really reflect and piece together what I just saw. When the hour ended, I found myself watching it all over again. It's the perfect example of what a horror movie should be. It's not just about the 'monster', it has real drama and raw emotion. It's so creatively driven and sticks to it's way. Not once does this movie completely go over the edge and collapse on itself. It may take you to some dark places in your mind that you didn't even know existed, but this movie is definitely one of the best horror movies ever.
2. The Shining (1980)
Nobody does it quite like the great Stanley Kubrick. Although this movie is often criticized for not exactly portraying the source material exactly, it is by far the most psychological film on this list. It perfectly embraces and follows the descent into madness, an effect caused by the solidarity this family is exposed to. Jack Nicholson hits every single nail on the head with his unforgettable performance. It's far from the conventional horror film but it's eerie, suspenseful, and thrilling. It's also famous for it's continuity 'errors' that I personally believe were included on purpose. It makes you question the reality of the situation itself, what exactly is going on in this hotel? At it's very best, this film could make you question your own sanity. Most horror films these days are so filled with jump-scares, that people forget what real horror is. The terrifying suspense you felt as a child when you were afraid of the darkness under your bed. True, genuine horror stems from the mind and life of the effected, not from a sudden appearance combined with clever sound editing. Love it or hate it, this movie contains real fear.
3. A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Talk about classic horror films, and you can't help but mention this one. Wes Craven, the director that inspired me to pursue a career in film. Putting favoritism aside, the man was, and still is a pure genius. Scream, The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes (a remake), he's created such memorable horror flicks, it's hard to discount this man as one of the masters of horror. Some may consider this to be a slasher film, which may be true. But honestly, when was the last time you watched a slasher-horror movie that wasn't complete and utter garbage? At least do yourself a favor and watch this thrilling, entertaining, and original film. It may have spawned some less-than-liked sequels, but that's just a testament to how great it is.
4. Psycho (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho is not only one of the greatest horror films of all time, it's probably one of the greatest films of all time in general. It is truly unforgettable in every way. The dark, mysterious charm of our dear Norman Bates and not to mention that infamous shower scene. The score of this film is by far one of the most well done scores in all of film history, every single time the music hits, a chilling feeling rushes through the air. I may just be a sucker for a great classic film, but then again, this film is honestly just amazing.
5. Scream (1998)
Seriously Wes Craven was and always will be one of the greatest horror directors to ever live. For a movie that actually pokes at the cliche tropes of horror, it also provides a serious and well played out plot. It doesn't prod the genre to the point where it's own depth is stripped of value. This film is also known for having revitalized the entire horror genre in the 90's. It's got a good blend of mystery and slasher horror, the perfect popcorn horror film. If it wasn't for this movie being made we might not even have the horror genre in our films at all.
6. It Follows (2015)
Back to more recent films. This piece of film gold is one of the few films that managed to break away from Hollywood's evil touch. It takes the urban legend idea and turns it into a brutally terrifying, suspenseful, twisted film. I had such low expectations for this film, until I saw it for myself. The director (at the time) had only 2 directing credits to his name, so this was a huge shock for me. It Follows is a very dark, very 'urban legend-y' but very good film. If you're not a fan of older films, it's okay most people aren't, then this is definitely worth a watch.
7. Martyrs (2008)
Although not an English film, it takes the ever so popular (who knows why) torture aspect of horror, and shows how to do it correctly. Forget about the Saw franchise and the slightly better Hostel and enter a world of gut wrenching, blood curdling, terror. Most people are immediately turned off by the thought of a 'torture porn' film but this isn't that. It's brutal, yes. It's bloody as all hell, yes. But torture porn? Try masterpiece. Well maybe masterpiece isn't the word but you get the point. Foreign films are held to different standards on what's acceptable to show on screen. Just try watching the original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and then watch the american made version. I'm not saying that David Fincher's take on it isn't amazing in it's own way, I'm just pointing to the differences in what's presented to us and how. If you ever find yourself in the mood to watch something extremely gruesome and violent but don't want to subject yourself to things like The Human Centipede or Cannibal Holocaust, you should check out Martyrs before the remake comes in and destroys what's already been proven to be great.
8. Alien (1979)
My favorite movie of all time. It's everything that a horror film needs, mystery, suspense, isolation, darkness...you don't even see the creature itself until damn near the end of the movie! It's got the perfect formula for horror. Some may say that James Cameron's Aliens is a better film, and no doubt it is wonderful. But without the original, the sequel wouldn't have earned it's success.
What are your favorite horror films?