(1979, Dir. by Ridley Scott.)
Why It's Here:
To be perfectly honest, I don't think I've ever listed Alien among my favorite horror films before today. I get caught up in the genre wars sometimes, and I used to argue exclusively that this film - which is really a slasher movie with an alien instead of a masked dude - was a science fiction film. Now that I'm older and less stupid (I hope), I kind of realize that there's no point to that silly argument. Alien is the kind of movie that makes me want to turn off all the lights and let it surprise me for the the rest of the night. And that's probably a horror movie. Am I rating it too low because I still think it's fringe to the genre? Maybe. But at least it's here.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
There are plenty of famous moments in Alien, led by one of the more famous shocks in the history of movies. But the moment in Alien that most impressed me when I first saw it - since Spaceballs had previously spoiled the big one - involves the motion detector that would be used so well in the sequel and a character traveling through some tunnels in search of the title character. It's a tense sequence with an absolutely perfect ending.
It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
I'm going to go against the easy pick and discuss a movie that didn't make this list for the same reason Alien missed previous lists....I'm just not ready to count it as a an all-in horror movie yet. And that movie is none less than Steven Spielberg's Jaws. Yeah, I know. But look, Jaws is so good that it doesn't need to be listed as one of my favorite horror movies. The point is that it would play well in an uber-tense double feature with Alien. So who cares if it's on the list? It's awesome!
What It Means To Me:
Alien is one of my favorite movies of any genre, probably ahead of some of the films that will rank higher than it on this list of horror films. I know, I'm a stickler when it comes to genre classification and am being slightly OCD here, but again - the point is that it's fantastic and a must see for anyone. Alien should be a key part of any conversation about shocking cinema, and I couldn't keep myself from talking about it on this list.
P.S. - Up yours, Prometheus. You broke my heart.