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October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! The Mike's 21 Most Loved Horror Films

Before October began, Stacie over at the fantastic Final Girl blog asked horror fans to send in lists of the 20 horror films they love more than any others.  Most who know The Mike know that he is a big fan of lists, but I won't deny that this was an excruciating task.  When I finally made all the cuts I could, I got down to 21 films that I just had to list.  And now, since it's Halloween, I'm gonna share that list with you.  (In alphabetical order, of course.  I'd be thinking till Christmas if I tried to rank these flicks against each other.)

(Of course, I had to cut one of them for the list I sent to FG, but I'm so not telling you which one it was.)
The Blob (1958, Dir. By Irvin Yeaworth.)
My love for The Blob is the worst kept secret on this blog.  There's not much about the movie that's really scary, and yes it's old and cheesy, and yes the teenagers are 47 years old.  But I love it because it's so incredibly fun, because it's a neat fusion of sci-fi, horror, and teenage rebellion flicks, and because I love blobs.
Candyman (1992, Dir. by Bernard Rose.)
This is probably one of the films on the cusp of elimination from the 20, but a recent revisit reminded me of how haunting the film is.  And it goes without saying that Tony Todd provides one of the most iconic killers in horror history.
Dawn of the Dead (1978, Dir. by George A. Romero.)
Romero's sequel to Night of the Living Dead is the ultimate horror epic.  Its focus on social commentary mixed with fantastic gore and a ton of zombie action never gets old.  And I love the score by Goblin, I don't care what anyone says.
The Devil Rides Out (1968, Dir. by Terence Fisher.)
Though my recent revisit of Horror of Dracula reminded me just how much I love that Hammer flick which stars Christopher Lee, The Devil Rides Out edged it out for the Hammer spot on this list.  Christopher Lee as a hero fighting a Satanic cult, with creepy apparitions and strange rituals?  YES PLEASE.
The Evil Dead (1981, Dir. by Sam Raimi.)
Depending on the day of the week, I could put any member of Raimi's dead trilogy on this list.  I went with the first, despite the fact it doesn't feature the slapstick Bruce Campbell I love, because it's so inventive, gross, and creepy.
The Exorcist (1973, Dir. by William Friedkin.)
Do I need to defend the choice of The Exorcist?  Probably not.  But I assure you, this isn't one of those "Oh, everyone loves it, I have to list it" picks, because I don't think there's a movie (except maybe Vertigo) that I find this emotionally gripping.
Frankenstein (1931, Dir. by James Whale.)
I've talked a lot about my disdain for adaptations of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, but I'm more than willing to forgive the changes made by James Whale's film.  Karloff does much of the work to make this memorable, but the whole production is fantastic.
Fright Night (1985, Dir. by Tom Holland.)
Though it's not as popular as other '80s vampire flicks (The Lost Boys) or flicks by director Holland (Child's Play), Fright Night is the ultimate horror comedy of that decade in my eyes.  Roddy McDowell as Peter Vincent is the best tribute to classic horror ever put on screen.
Gremlins (1984, Dir. by Joe Dante.)
Speaking of '80s horror comedies, there's Gremlins.  Doesn't scare me a bit, but it's still wickedly entertaining.  And Gizmo is the cutest thing of...well, of anything that's ever been cute.
Halloween (1978, Dir. by John Carpenter.)
My favorite horror film.
The Innocents (1961, Dir. by Jack Clayton.)
One of the least known horrors that I love, and I can't figure out why.  I'd put it alongside the likes of The Haunting (also a great flick) as one of the greatest black-and-white creepers.
Night of the Living Dead (1968, Dir. by George A. Romero.)
I can't have Dawn of the Dead without Night, and I can't have Night without Dawn.  They're like Batman and Robin, only neither of them is lame and useless.  The original zombie masterpiece is still effective today.
Psycho (1960, Dir. by Alfred Hitchcock.)
I don't need to defend this one either, so instead I'd like to exclaim how surprised I am that more than a quarter of the films on this list come from the 1960s.  I've long thought of the '60s as one of my least favorite decades in film (I'm more of a '30s and '40s and '70s guy.), but the horrors of this decade obviously speak to me.
The Shining (1980, Dir. by Stanley Kubrick.)
Like The Exorcist before it, this one is an creepy, emotional epic.  There might be more scenes in this one that get under my skin than any other film.
Spider Baby, Or: The Maddest Story Ever Told (1968, Dir. by Jack Hill.)
Spider Baby plays like a schizophrenic, murderous version of The Addams Family, and I love it for that.  The cooky film, a swan song for star Lon Chaney, Jr., gets better everytime I see it.
Suspiria (1977, Dir. by Dario Argento.)
The nightmarish quality of the film, with rich colors and another haunting Goblin score, outweigh the flaws in plot.  The Citizen Kane of Italian horror.
Targets (1968, Dir. by Peter Bogdanovich.)
I've spent many moons trying to spread the love of Targets
 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, Dir. by Tobe Hooper.)
The ultimate grindhouse terror film.  Even if Franklin is super annoying.
The Thing (1982, Dir. by John Carpenter.)
Sci-Fi/Horror at its best.  Carpenter's paranoia-fueled film once grated me a small bit, but I've made peace with it over the years.
The Wicker Man (1973, Dir. by Robin Hardy.)
Easily the most subversive and unique film to make my list.  I've heard some say they don't even consider this a horror film, but there are few finales more haunting than this one's.  And, Christopher Lee.
The Wolf Man (1941, Dir. by George Waggner.)
To me, this is THE werewolf film.  Yes, I know An American Werewolf in London is amazing (Why isn't it on this list?  I honestly don't know.  Who made this list?  I want their head!), and it covers the same romantic/tragic ground with more action and comedy.  But I just adore Lon Chaney, Jr.'s turn as Lawrence Talbot and Claude Rains is irreplaceable.

There are about 8 billion films I wish I could put on this list too, but today this is what I've got.  Who knows what next Halloween will bring?

5 comments:

Emily said...

Totally agree about how Spider Baby grows on you with each viewing. I also highly recommend watching it with Jack Hill (and I think Sid Haig, if memory serves)'s commentary track. He somehow makes you love it even more

The Mike said...

The DVD I have has a commentary from Hill which is awesome. I know there's a newer DVD, so that might be the commentary you speak of. Either way, I love what Hill did here, and watching the special features on my DVD definitely enhanced this.

Thanks for readin'!

Emily C said...

Awesome list The Mike!!

I freakin' love Spider Baby, and The Innocents is absolutely wonderful too- it made it onto my top 20 list that I sent to Final Girl as well (unless it's the one you cut from the list :)), and I also included The Haunting - I'm such a sucker for haunted house flicks, and those are absolutely 2 of the best. My list contained quite a few others that you included as well- The Exorcist for one, which I think gets better with each viewing. There are only 2 movies on your list that I haven't seen- Targets and The Devil Rides Out which I must remedy asap!

The Mike said...

Thanks Emily! I felt kind of like a lame-o when I saw the final results at FG, since I have like the top 8 votegetters on here. I've never been accused of being surprising, that's for sure. But there's a reason the greats are called great.

Also, I just noticed that whatever I wrote about Targets after the ling got deleted while I was adding the posters! I remember it being very profound, too. Tragic.

Jinx said...

Brilliant list! If I was emotionally capable of committing to such a thing my list would most probably be just like yours.