I watch a lot of horror movies. I mean a LOT of horror movies. Whenever I’m looking through my Netflix queue, I’ll try to focus in on whatever I’m in the mood for, yet my mind will wander to other films somehow related to the ones I’m looking at; one’s I’d rather be watching at that moment. One moment, I think I want to watch ‘Dead Snow’, then I’ll be looking up a copy of ‘The Thing’. ‘Cabin in the Woods’ will be looking good one moment, but I’ll be watching ‘Evil Dead 2’ the next. When I realized I never saw ‘Muppets in Space’, I ended up seeing ‘Event Horizon’. It’s just what happens!
These are some of the horror movies that I can see over and over again, even when there’s other shit I should be watching. One day, I really tried to focus on the ones I actually do end up watching a lot. This list doesn’t hold up as well today (I failed to include the aforementioned ‘Event Horizon’, which I watch once or twice per year), but I was still surprised to see that I do in fact still watch these movies fairly regularly. So here you go. TheÂ 10 horror movies I’ll end up watching if I notice they’re on no matter what.
If you go to a haunted house, you may notice something. Everything is a knock off of some horror movie or another (or a bunch of bullshit bought at CVS tacked up to plywood). Horror movies are most people’s first exposure to fear (that, or daddy’s belt), and these experiences leave a lasting impression, especially when you’re younger.
There were always those movies that you and your friends would have to sneak around to watch because both of your parents would have a shit fit if they knew you saw them. I think I had that experience, but when I was around seven, my parents pretty much stopped giving a fuck and let me watch whatever I wanted. It wasn’t so much because they didn’t want to protect me and my brother from the evils of latex and cord syrup, rather it was mostly due to the fact that there was shit they wanted to see and two little kids shouldn’t ruin a good time, especially if it was just watching a bunch of washed up prima donnas screaming at a camera. Safely crossing the street so we didn’t end up as raspberry jam on the pavement, a real concern. Some asshole getting his hand cut open on a nail in Hellraiser, we got a warning that it was coming and that was about it.
While some horror movies still rattle me, they need to be pretty fucked up and really get into my head to disturb me. After the credits roll, no matter how jarred I may be, chances are that I’ll never see the movie again. It could be a really good movie, but there’s not a whole lot left to rewatch. Horror is about taking someone unawares and if you know shit’s coming, well, what do you expect? Am I going to jump again because I’m supposed to? No! I sit down and watch something like The Woman in Black, I get my thrills and, unless someone wants to see it down the line, it gets filed in my brain under Saw That Shit.
But there are horror movies out there that I can watch over and over again. They may have good stories, or deeper complexities that I may have missed before. Sometimes, I don’t understand something as I watch it and pick it up later, bringing the whole experience to a new level. Horror movies aren’t just about making you jump out of your seat, they’re fucking movies. They have to entertain as well. And these, while not what I may consider the ‘best’ horror movies of all time (that’s subjective and most people would yell at me for not favoring the pussy movies that scared them when they were ten…I’m sorry if Goosebumps made you shit your pants, it’s not scary!), these are the movies that I can watch again and again:
- Friday the 13th part IV: The Final Chapter
Okay, forget half the shit I just said. I watch this one over and over again because it’s the one Friday the 13th movie that has good pacing and balance. It’s over the top, but it doesn’t become a complete mockery of itself. That piece of business is left to Part 6 to deliver. It gets to the good shit quickly, stupid people are murdered in satisfyingly original ways, and at only 91 minutes, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
It’s called ‘The Last Chapter’ because that’s what it was supposed to be. There was a time when someone said “You know, maybe we should stop making these before they get stupid and it becomes a joke”, which was progressive for the time. This line of thinking only lasted until the very next year when some dickhead said “Fuck that guy. These things make money! Make another one, and make it really, really shitty just to fuck with him.” Despite every sequel that follows, this movie contains the iconic, machete wielding, hockey mask donning Jason Voorhees that everyone remembers and loves.
- The Devil’s Rejects
Rob Zombie’s movies can be hit or miss. You can tell he has a vision, but that vision is sometimes filtered through multicolored sandwich wrap and the garbage that gets stuck under cardboard boxes after a rainstorm. The Devil’s Rejects on the other hand has a great balance of story, character and thrills, something that makes it as disturbing as it is fun to watch. You never know who to root for. The bad guys get a bum deal, but you’re reminded that they’re also murdering psychopaths. The ‘good guy’ also loses his shit and becomes just as psychotic. This movie proves that in horror movie world, being unable to have a definable protagonist and antagonist makes for a good time (which is the exact opposite of what makes an Indie movie good, but they decide to do it anyway).
- Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight
This movie is a good fucking time. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but bad shit happens. The demon knight (Billy Zane…no I’m not describing his character in this movie, I’m describing him in real life) is so nice and seems to care, but he’ll fucking kill you. That’s terrifying and awesome. That’s terrisome, or aweiffying (or, like I said before, Billy Zane). Even though the story is just a bunch of people trapped in a house, the maguffin of the film can keep you safe, or destroy the world. And there’s a limited supply. That’s pretty tense when you consider that even those with good intentions can be led astray by Billy Zane (I’m assuming this power is also why he’s in Titanic). Don’t believe me? Watch it. You’ll have a metric shit tone of fun.
- Night of the Living Dead
The first entry into this series didn’t creep me out as much as Dawn of the Dead, but Night of the Living Dead I find to have more staying power. As the pioneer of the whole living dead/zombie thing, it’s interesting to see how much stuff is there that spits in the face of zombie fanboys. Zombies can run. The very first zombie you see is part of a chase scene. Zombies use tools. One uses a rock, another commits murder with a garden trowel. That stuff aside, it’s still tense and exciting to see how the outside world develops in between the drama being created inside the house. This movie is very close and very intimate even though there’s a much bigger world to it. It goes to show that killing zombies is entertaining, but the real good stuff is with the personal drama.
- Evil Dead 2
Not being able to get the rights to the first film was a blessing. Very quickly we see Ash and his girlfriend. We see him as a normal guy doing normal things. The original idea was to do a quick montage to get the audience up to speed, but without it, they essentially had to do a remake. I bring this up not just because it’s an interesting tidbit (it is), but rather because it’s the set up to my favorite part of the movie; a regular guy gets fucked with for an hour and a half.
Evil Dead 2 is funny, strange, gross, and off the wall, all within the confines on one man’s experience. A big chunk of it is basically a one man show. How would you react after watching the love of your life come back from the dead, then have everything (including the lamp) laugh at you? Then you’re sprayed with blood, forward and backwards. Did it happen? Are you insane? There’s not a better movie out there where a man is driven to the brink and makes the fucked up decisions that no one should have to…and laugh about it.
- Session 9
This film fucks with you. It sucks you in and fucks with you. Every time. Even people who didn’t like the movie get something out of it. You can’t help but get invested with these people. These aren’t heroes doing a heroic job heroically, they’re asbestos removers. There’s something about regular people that get to me, probably because I can relate to them, but these guys I can relate to a little more.
I’ve gone on jobs where I’ve gone into places lit by only a couple of lights to scrape pipes and paint walls, and it can be unnerving. Session 9 takes my experience and decides that it never wants me to do it again. On top of that, it decides that it needs a compelling story with interesting characters (played by equally interesting actors) to make you want to see it. I pop it in every now and again, saying to myselfÂ “It’s not as bad as I remember!” But it is…it is…
- Drag Me To Hell
There’s something about horror movies that are funny that gives them lasting appeal. Sam Raimi knows this. He also knows that different people get reactions from different things. Horror is a tough genre. To be successful, you have to tap into the part of the person that they don’t like. Drag Me To Hell goes everywhere and doesn’t apologizes for doing so. I’ll laugh at someone who thinks the vomiting is gross only to be laughed at when I’m disturbed that a kitten is murdered. That person is then laughed at when they jump at a demonic eye in the window. Then everyone laughs at something silly (which disarms us) and something else freaks us out. This is a movie that’s fun to watch and a blast to experience.
- Sleepy Hollow
This one tickles me on a few levels. First, I love the tale of Sleepy Hollow. Not so much Ichabod Crane (at least till this movie) because he’s kind of an asshole, but the whole idea of a spirit that you can witness, but can kill you, is tantalizing. You want to see it, but it could be the last time you see anything (cue spooky laugh).
Second is the atmosphere. It’s the dark, Gothic atmosphere you’d see in old Hammer horror movies. I grew up with those films and so didn’t Tim Burton. There’s something about those movies that remind me of a stage play. In a movie, you can do anything, but they stuck with the drama of the moment. Sleepy Hollow does this by creating a mystery behind everything. Even after the Headless Horseman is shown to be real, there’s still something deeper and more sinister at work. It’s compelling to say the least.
Third, a lot of heads get cut off. And that’s awesome.
- The Thing (1982)
When I first saw this movie, it scared the shit out of me. I never had nightmares from horror movies prior to this piece of work. The creatures were grotesque and horrifying, but I’d seen enough gore prior to The Thing, so that was just an added bonus to whatÂ really shocked me. All these people died terrible, terrible deaths and where was the alien? Inside them.
Inside their blood really. And there was blood everywhere. These creatures emerged in the most violent way possible, and if even a little got on you, you were done. In zombie movies, as long as their blood doesn’t get into a cut or your mouth, everything’s as nice as a 50s sitcom. The Thing goes out of it’s way to show you how fucked you really are. Even the blood itself is alive.
You never knew who was infected and who wasn’t. There was no escape. You couldn’t shoot it, stab it, or freeze it. You could only burn it. Coming across fire in Antarctica is like, well, coming across fire in Antarctica. You could always ‘opt out’. When it becomes a decision between slitting your wrists or having your head detach from your body and grow legs, suddenly suicide becomes a much nicer alternative.
- Dead Alive
I refuse to let Bunny see this one. She could probably handle the gore, but she’s squeamish at how injuries are inflicted, and Dead Alive (known abroad as Braindead) makes sure that every cut and blow is hard to watch. This is, hands down, the goriest movie I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen movies that have tired to be gory for gory’s sake. Blood is only shown because everything it’s the thing that’s inside all the shit that falls out of everyone. Organs, muscle, and sinew is more common. I’ve never seen so many insides on the outside before, let alone some insides that get up and walk around (yes, this happens). I credit this movie as being the reason I’m no longer phased by violence in movies. Let the teenie boppers jump and squirm when Jason or Freddy cuts someone’s throat. I saw a zombie feed by having her head moved off her neck and pudding spooned down her throat. It’s like the Vietnam of horror movies, one the images are in your head, you’re a changed man.
So, is that the only reason I like it? No. It’s also entertaining as fuck. As gross as it is, everything is caused by the decisions of a man who just doesn’t know what to do. Watching someone do the right thing and fail is always entertaining. Now add the undead. That’s what this movie is and that’s why it’s in my Blu-Ray collection.