There are a lot of horror movies that have been recommended to me by friends, colleagues, family etc. As they all know I’m a major buff for all things spooky, gory or just plain crazy, and they love having a chat to me about the films that give them the heeby-jeebies. And because I try to be a nice person (most of the time!), I take on their recommendations with a big smile and the stereotypical “Ohh yeah, I’ve heard about that one…”.
I don’t like to make people feel bad, yet I can feel my eyes straining from trying not to roll my eyes when I get told just how unbelievably freaky ‘Paranormal Activity’ was.
So, needless to say, I only felt it was my honorable duty to create my own list of ‘must-sees’; these are the movies I feel any amateur to the genre should give a go. But please remember, these are MY recommendations, not according to ratings or popularity!
1. Cabin Fever For me, ‘Cabin Fever’ is everything I love in a horror movie. It’s ridiculous, it’s hilarious and it has a whole lot of blood and guts (and infection-ridden flesh). This movie encouraged the biggest crush on Eli Roth and really cemented my love for the genre. All of the main characters are stereotypical – the ‘nice’ girl, the ‘nice’ boy, the token douche, the semi-retarded guy, the resident skank.
So of course it’s even better when the infection starts to kick in. I love the cop (Giuseppe Andrews, who was by far my favourite in ‘Detroit Rock City’) and Dennis the pancake-loving kid was horror-comedy gold. It’s movies with this much randomness that make me want more. And more. And more.
2. The Evil Dead If Bruce Campbell is God then ‘The Evil Dead’ is the Holy Grail of horror movies. Pre-Spiderman Sam Raimi (come to think of it, mostly pre-anything Sam Raimi) basically invented horror-comedy with this cabin-in-the-woods film. While it is funny and extremely over-the-top, there are also legitimate scares.
I love that the effects are cheesy and even to watch this when it is over thirty years old, it still resonates with me the same way ‘Titanic’ resonates with others. Kudos to the tree scene; forests will never be the same.
3. The Strangers As strange (pardon the pun) as this might seem, this is the only movie that has really ever scared me. As in I-can’t-sleep-because-there-are-monsters-under-my-bed scary. You cannot watch this movie without a late night, no lights on and possibly a cushion to hide under.
Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman are pretty typical to watch as their house, and themselves, is abducted by masked strangers. It isn’t so much their acting that makes the film, it is the fact that stuff like this could actually happen. That’s always what scares me the most.
4. Ginger Snaps Low-budget cult hit ‘Ginger Snaps’ often flies under the radar when it comes to horror lists. It is such a smart, quick-witted movie with a lot of social relevance that I don’t understand how people miss it. Werewolves are quite often hard to get right (‘Cursed’ anyone?) but somehow this movie nails it.
Katharine Isabelle hasn’t really contributed much to anything since this film but I recently realised it is indeed Emily Perkins on ‘Supernatural’ lately (as Becky). But otherwise this is a fairly B-grade (C-grade? Z-grade?) cast – Mimi Rogers kills it as the girls’ oblivious mother. I would be pretty disappointed if anyone hated this film because it is extremely entertaining and shizzes all over some of those straight-to-DVD suckfests we ‘love’ so much.
5. Drag Me to Hell A lot of people I have spoken to about this movie hated it. Completely and utterly hated it. Me, on the other hand, absolutely loved it. I have watched it so many times; I think I’m just relieved there is hope for modern horror yet. Sam Raimi once again blends horror and comedy seamlessly to create my favourite movie of 2009 (is it really that long ago?).
Alison Lohman is extremely likeable as the lovely Christine and hot-geek Justin Long is his usually self as Clay, Christine’s boyfriend. The real star of the show (apart from the talking satanic goat) is Lorna Raver as the incredibly creepy and absolutely disgusting Mrs. Ganush. Never again will loan officers decline extensions to crazy gypsy ladies. Or wear buttoned coats.
6. American Psycho Ohh, Christian Bale. I don’t care if you rant like a loony on film sets or sound like a douche and get hurried along in your Oscar speech. I will never forget you as Patrick Bateman, young hotshot New York banker/crazy chainsaw-nail-gun-weilding lunatic.
If you’ve read Bret Easton Ellis’ book you’ll become even more immersed in Bateman’s world of success-at-any-cost. The best thing about this film is the questions it leads into at the end. Was it really all in his head? Can people be that obsessed with business cards? Please can I grate cheese on Bale’s abs?
7. Slither I think ‘Slither’ is kind of like ‘The Fly’ for the new generation. While I really enjoyed the latter, ‘Slither’ was a film in it’s own right, a diamond in the rough of gore-porn. Michael Rooker is amazing as Grant Grant who becomes infested with the alien plague taking over his town. I think the poster for this film sets it up completely.
Nathan Fillion is cool as the local cop while Elizabeth Banks rocks it as Grant’s long-suffering wife. This movie is as funny and cheeky as it is disgusting and creepy.
8. Freddy vs. Jason Although this is probably not my favourite of all the Nightmare movies (or Friday movies, for that fact), it is such a ridiculous piece of work that you can’t help but love it. The characters are horrific, the kills are hilarious and I’m pretty sure you’ll need to watch this on your 50-inch to ensure enough room for Monica Keena’s lips.
Robert Englund is gold in his usual Freddy pants and he makes a mockery of Jason throughout the whole film. I love that I don’t have to think while I watch; it is complete and utter junk food and anyone with half a brain (or less) needs to watch this.
I know, I know, I have left off quite a lot. But these are the ones I feel are most relevant for new-gen teenyboppers to start their love of horror movies – then we’ll get to Kurt Russell’s jeans in ‘The Thing’…