Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Pick: Top Ten Creepy or Horror Films

10. The Amityville Horror (1979)

While most horror critics have given this movie low marks, it might best be seen as a slightly Exorcist-ish "dark" film, rather than the type of modern horror the public is used to with massive gore and/or a dystopian, industrial, post-apocalyptic feel (SAW, Hostel, etc.)

Best scene: Red eyes outside the window.

9. Dagon (2001)

Very few people have actually seen this bizarre, Lovecraft-derived, Spanish-made film. Aside from the creepy yet alluring Macarena Gomez playing a sort of tentacled priestess, the film also wields an impressive gore factor and multiple stomach-churning scenes.

Best scene: The old drunk dude gets a "close shave."

8. Black Moon (1975)

A very bizarre French film from the mid 1970s- Louis Malle manages to take elements of "Alice in Wonderland" and mix them into a strange, artistic film noir. The dark, creepy, dreamlike manner in which the movie was made makes it far darker than almost any actual "horror" movie I have seen.

Best scene: Dude chops an eagles wing off and his sister smears the blood on him.

7. The Ninth Gate (1999)

This Roman Polanski effort gets absolutely trashed by critics, but a few folks see the potential it has through the cloud of "it's too slow paced" nonsense. Properly understood as more atmospheric than thrilling, it follows Dean Corso through his quest for mystic enlightenment, following Il Club Dumas loosely.

Best scene: Sex with a demoness.

6. The Descent (2005)

One of the few mainstream popular horror movies I can appreciate, The Descent follows a group of cavers deep into the earth, where an atrocious array of gorey death befalls them. It's actually extremely well made, and the gore is very, very realistic.

Best scene: The blood pit.

5. Dracula (1992)

The only decent modern interpretation of Dracula, replete with Annie Lennox on the soundtrack and a cast of respectable actors and actresses. The film manages to add the original, sexual aspect back to the film after many butcherous but boring attempts which came for it, without becoming boring, or (as modern vampire films most often do) overtly dramatic.

Best scene: A not-yet-vampiric Dracula goes berserk and denounces christianity.

4. Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

A wonderfully made film, with (for its time period) state of the art animation. It follows, loosely, the story of the Beast of Gevaudan in France during the pre-revolutionary age, and mixes conspiracy with romance, horror, and, oddly, martial arts in the form of a Native American tribesman who kills at least 30 people in the film and beats on many more.

Best scene: Poison induced nightmare in the brothel.

3. The Wicker Man (1973)

A very disturbed, yet somehow beautiful early 1970s era film from the British Isles puts a police officer into a pagan community where orgies, group sex, and folk medicine are common. The movie itself is somewhat slow, and almost defies the horror genre itself: I always find myself rooting for the "bad" guys. Christopher Lee does a great job in the movie, playing a pagan lord.

Best scene: A girl invites the protagonist over for the night in a typical pagan fashion.

2. The Exorcist (1973)

A disillusioned priest ends up trying to exorcize a young girl who is possessed by demons, but things don't often go as planned. Full of blasphemy, gore, and terror, the movie was well ahead of its time and created a number of horror conventions which are often replicated but rarely to nearly the same effect.

Best scene: The ending must have shocked the good christians watching the movie.

1. The Evil Dead I (1981)

One of my favorite movies of all time- a brilliant yet unsung horror masterpiece with all elements of a perfect film: The lead actor is Bruce Campbell, the producer is Sam Raimi, there are no crappy modern effects, all the gore and blood is made in that intense, almost overly-shocking 1980s style; lots of gore, and some deranged scenes so over the top that even Raimi eventually had second thoughts about including them.

The odd part: The film did relatively poorly in theaters and only later became a cult classic because it had such distinct style and such enormous levels of grueling gore and violence. It may well be the most perfect horror film ever made.

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