Five Favorite Horror Movies

Tis the season of spooky! As a horror film lover, you had to have seen this list coming. Keep in mind that these aren’t the best made horror films or the greatest horror films of all time. They’re my five favorites, ones that I’ll watch again and again and again (and again).

Also note that of the five listed here, three have remakes. I’m talking about the originals, guys. Also, none of the movies were made recently. I’m talking the “newest” one on  the list came out the year I was born. Not that I don’t like some recent horror flicks. It’s just that I’m old school like that.

My five favorite horror movies (in no particular order):

1. Halloween (1978). It’s simple, low-budget, and effective. The killer wears a white-painted William Shatner mask. The idea of that being scary is ridiculous, but the reality of it is terrifying. The slow reveal of that mask after Laurie finds her friends dead is always chilling. To this day, if I see someone wearing the now classic Michael Myers mask, it gives me pause. And the urge to run.

2. House on Haunted Hill (1959). Vincent Price is an angel in my world and I love his work. This movie was a William Castle special and when it was released, featured a skeleton on wires to appear during a key part of the movie.  But, even without the live skeleton, the low key creeps the movie provides are effective, particularly when you realize exactly what’s going on. The “ghosts” in this house have nothing on the humans.

3. Friday the 13th (1980). A young Kevin Bacon getting an arrow shoved through his throat? Who doesn’t like that? To me, this is the movie that really solidified the teen slasher flick, with the isolated location, the gorier deaths, the GOTCHA ending. The killer’s point of view was also a fun touch that kept the real killer’s identity a secret until the end.

4. Alien (1979). The isolation of space. The claustrophobia of the ship. The threat of sabotage from within. A monster that you only saw in glimpses. The classic chestbursting scene that’s scarred more than one kid for life. The tension build over the course of the movie is enough to have your palms sweating so that when the alien is finally revealed in full, screaming isn’t hard to do.

5. Jaws (1975). “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Indeed. This is one of those movies that I’ve seen so much that if don’t feel like sitting through the whole thing, I’ve got it timed so I can tune in to my favorite scenes. From the opening attack to the shark blowing up, the mechanical shark not working is the best thing that happened to this movie. Keeping the shark in the shadows just heightened the threat and the fear. Sure, there are several shark inaccuracies in the movie, but by the time the shark eats Quinn, you’ve pretty much forgiven them all.

Bad Movie Bliss

If someone invites me to the theater or over to their house to watch the latest critically acclaimed masterpiece that doesn’t feature dwarves, elves, and Andy Serkis, I’m probably going to take a pass to watch a cable chopped version of Alien:Resurrection. Why? Because bad movies are where I live.

I’m not a big movie person to begin with. I like movie trivia, but I was voted least likely to sit through one (if such a vote ever took place). I’m no end of frustration to my friends because when they ask if I’ve seen a movie, nine times out of ten I haven’t. That tenth time, the movie is probably horrible and I’ve seen it a dozen times. The only reason I’ve seen some of the more popular/critically acclaimed/so-cool-I-can’t-believe-you-haven’t-seen-it movies in the past couple of decades (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, American Beauty, Clerks, Fight Club, the list goes one) is because somebody MADE me.

This isn’t a recent phenomenon. I can remember being little and my beloved Papa making me watch The Princess Bride. I had absolutely no interest in seeing it. My attitude was not unlike Fred Savage’s in the film. By the end, I was hooked and wanted to watch it again. And again.

While most people’s guilty pleasures are the crappy movies I live on, mine are the opposite. Two of my favorite films are Delicatessen and My Dinner With Andre. At first glance, Delicatessen is right up my alley. It’s a black comedy. Why is it a guilty pleasure? It’s French. It’s a foreign film. I have to read subtitles. Just the fact that it’s from another country should automatically put it out of my league.

And My Dinner With Andre? It’s two guys sitting and talking for pretty much the whole film. That’s it. It contains nothing the movies on my shelves have going for them.

But this isn’t about the good. It’s about the bad.

Horror movies are my favorite. Naturally, I love the greats like Halloween, Psycho, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Jaws, Alien, Friday the 13th, and so forth. But I also love their sequels. I’ve been known to waste afternoons watching Friday the 13th movies that I even I think are crap just because I’m still watching Jason Voorhees and that beats anything else playing at the moment.

The SyFy channel was made for me. Those B-movie concepts are my cup of tea. I’ve been known to cancel plans for Pterodactyl, Sharktopus, and Mega Piranha. I can put those on and enjoy without being expected to think. If it’s possible to less than think, then that’s what I do watching those movies.

With Halloween approaching, my TV should soon be glutted with horrible delights, if I’ve got any luck at all. Between SyFy and AMC, I should get more than my fill of both the good and the bad. It’s something I look forward to all year.

And am always disappointed when they put the best stuff on at 3AM so they can show Constantine and Return to the House on Haunted Hill.

Some bad even I won’t touch.