July 11, 2013 at 9:55 am #1147
We’ve gathered a few friends to discuss the most difficult question. What is the best horror film. Maybe you’ll agree with our choices, maybe you won’t, and that’s what we want to hear.
Rashad’s Choice (@shizzle) – Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
When determining what makes a horror movie great you have to consider what you actually find scary. There are the simple and obvious answers; blood, gore, and violence. These are the things that we expect from horror. No one wants to be hurt and we don’t like seeing it. For the most part we as logical and sensible beings can avoid and prevent violence. Beyond that, the truly frightening things are the ones we can’t find a rationale in. That’s why people find zombies so terrifying, even if they don’t realize it, because you can’t reason with them. They want to eat you and nothing will stop them. I don’t doubt that some form of zombie movie will be mentioned as a potential great.
There is nothing worse than knowing something to be true and having everyone act like you’re crazy. That’s why Rosemary’s Baby is the greatest horror movie ever. It takes the concepts that we find comfort in and take for granted, such as home, and brings them in to question. Rosemary and her husband have moved in to a new apartment but something feels off. The building has a bad reputation, the neighbors are nice enough but kind of strange. Weird things start happening around Rosemary. Things that are nerve wracking are taken to their extreme. I am a man who is not a parent but I understand how anxiety inducing a first pregnancy must be. When Rosemary becomes pregnant she just knows, that there is something wrong with her unborn child. The doctor doesn’t see anything abnormal and everyone else just thinks it’s nerves. The connection between mother and child is a strong one. Rosemary doesn’t just know, she feels it. Mia Farrow’s beauty and perceived innocence endears her to the viewer. Polanski’s direction places us firmly in Rosemary’s point of view and doesn’t detract from it. This is the movies strong point. We are inclined to believe her but everyone else says she must be wrong. Maybe she is crazy. How do we know what’s true? When everyone dismisses you what can you do? This is isolation and there is not much worse than feeling helpless and alone. Up until the ending everything seems so normal, so plausible. While you may question some things during the film, the real dread sinks in later, making you question your own world. This is terror. This is a horror movie.
Angela’s Choice (@quaterican) – 28 Days Later (2002)
Danny Boyle and Alex Garland’s 28 Days Later is my pick for Best Horror Movie. The film’s creators are no stranger to nightmare inducing creepy situations as previously proven by the scenes I’ll refer to as “the baby scene” in Boyle’s Trainspotting and “you know exactly what scene” in Producer Anthony Dod Mantle’s Antichrist (if you really don’t know what scene, maybe consider keeping it that way if you’re squeamish). In 28 Days he manages to make a frightening zombieless zombie movie that introduces sprinting, brutal, violence.
In between being curled up in a squealing ball of terrorized tension, you’re given beautifully shot human moments with survival driven, relatable people given intense situations that push ethical boundaries accompanied by an amazing, and by far one of my favorites, score by John Murphy. The film manages to touch on political commentary, a power-tripping military, and resistance all while delivering blood and gore. They even throw in the Doctor.
Less importantly, I’ll argue that Cillian Murphy is ridiculously good looking.
Stephanie’s Choice (@brutalstephanie) – Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Pick your favorite horror movie you say? That’s not easy at all. It’s like having someone tell you to pick one pair of shoes to wear for the rest of you life. Well since I can choose only one, it would have to be George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead
Filmed in 1968, this low-budget independent film was the start zombie apocalypse movies. Black and white, raw and gruesome, the classic Night of the Living Dead remains surprisingly suspenseful as it mixes doom and gloom with 1960s social commentary. As you should know by now, the 60s weren’t all happy flowers and peace. Adding zombies honestly makes everything a little easier to take.
Let’s face it, zombies are stupid scary. Slow and moaning corpses, they irritate and scare you. But in this classic film it’s the humans, not the undead, that are the real scare. Our hero has made it to morning, only to be gunned down by humans. Mistaken for a zombie you say? No so fast! That’s where the social upheaval of the time kicks in. In any true apocalypse scenario, the humans are always the monsters.
No one gets out alive, there are no happy endings. That’s the way any great horror film should end.
Mike’s Pick (@pyrite) – The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter’s The Thing is my pick because it is a fantastic thriller that manages to incorporate aspects of both horror and science fiction into a suspenseful tale of increasing distrust among a small group of men isolated on an Antarctic research station. Part of the reason The Thing is so good is because of a common fear of the unknown among the crew and ourselves as the viewers. In a normal monster movie, you see the monster, and you know what to expect for the rest of the movie. Not here. This monster reproduces by replicating other living organisms. This where the movie becomes more than just another monster movie. It becomes a study on these characters and the nature of trust. “Trust is a tough thing to come by these days”. These men have to depend on each other to survive, but they know that there is an invader among them working to sow that distrust until no one is left.
In addition to the superb plot, the special effects were amazing for their time and while dated for today’s standards are still gut-wrenchingly gross. The amount of body parts that burst open only to reveal an even crazier aspect of the creature is astounding on a technical level considering there was no computer animation used for the movie. We are treated to a new disgusting metamorphosis with each attack more bloody than the last and each as unique as you would expect for a creature that never takes the same shape twice. I still have trouble watching the scene in the dog kennel…
Also, like a hundred bonus points for exploding Wilfred Brimley and for a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone (famous for his spaghetti western tunes among other notable works).
Dan’s Pick (@rottengeekcle) – Alien (1979)
Why Alien is the greatest horror movie ever and if you say differently you’re dumb and wrong. Seriously don’t argue.
When it comes to effective horror there are some key elements, plausibility, ignorance, atmosphere, isolation, and a very real threat. Its easy to make gore porn or just fill your stupid movie with “oh shit!” moments where jerks jump through windows or doors or some other portico, or are somehow secretly behind you when you close the medicine cabinet! Womp Womp. Also creepy kids are too easy.
Alien is a masterpiece, and regardless of that cinematic equivalent of being forced to listen to Fran Drescher and Gilbert Gottfried copulate on meth that was Prometheus, Alien stands alone. For the first 40 goddam minutes you don’t even know you’re watching a horror film, it’s that slow burn and the suspense built by an aging space ship, an unsuspecting crew, and the isolation of being light years away from safety. But once John Hurt explodes all over your face any illusions of safety are gone. As you watch the crew of the Nostromo being picked off one by one by an unseen killing machine, there is always the knowledge that even if the crew survives they’re probably still screwed like a prom date but not in the romantic way like you want.
There is nothing missing from Alien it’s terrifying, and it does it with perfect timing, and pacing. Its got a seemingly unstoppable force of nature, things bursting out of things, a giant penis-esque monster, and of course a creepy fucking robot that vaguely reminds you of a guy you once saw in a trench coat at a park who may or may not have had a van that had “free puppies” sloppily painted on the side, also H.R. Geiger designed face raping.
There you have it. Get in on the discussion!July 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm #1156
Interesting, we have 2 zombie movies and 2 alien movies. Rashad makes a good point in that we fear those that do not have a human rationale. Both the zombie movies and the thing seem to have a similar theme in them as loss of identity. The zombies are former humans and the Thing steals identities to propagate. Related to the topic of loss of identity, I find it interesting that no one picked a slasher movie like Halloween or Friday the 13th where a human is the antagonist. Perhaps even more interesting is that in both those movies, the Villain is a silent stalker with a mask, removing any human identity and making him more beast-like. Any thoughts on that?July 11, 2013 at 2:27 pm #1157
Mike, you make a very good point. While I do consider the first two Halloween movies to be a perfect experience when viewed together. I could assume that the reason no one has mentioned any slashers is because for a while they became kind of synomnyous with “horror movie” and that would just be too easy. Also because despite how many times they came back. The bad guys in those movies could always be defeated. Even though they were masked and therefore lacking identity, they were still human.
And while humanity is a major factor in all of these stories. I would say that the deciding factor, for our choices at least, seems to be in the endings. None of the movies picked have clean happy endings. 28 Days Later and Alien have the closest to happy endings but even then the world is still kinda fucked. *SPOILER ALERT* Rosemary’s Baby ends with her being right, The Thing ends with you not knowing if the last two guys standing are human, and Night of the Living Dead ends with the hero being blatantly shot. The dour ending is apparently what seals the deal. I think it’s cool that we watch movies to feel and I think that’s what makes horror movies so effective espeacially when they down have happy endings. It’s nice to leave the experience relieved but when it keeps you thinking clearly the movie sticks with you.July 11, 2013 at 2:57 pm #1158
I considered going the slasher route, and while those movies can be entertaining i think its the cheap terror, less psychology. That being said the idea behind nightmare on elm street is fucking terrifying. Not being safe in your dreams? that’s every childs nightmare. Also running zombies are still lame.July 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm #1160
The idea that the 28 Days Later rage zombies aren’t dead, they’re not rotting, jerky, slow to react zombies, and are still fully functional bodies that could chase you until one of you dies, is what makes them so terrifying.July 11, 2013 at 3:15 pm #1161
my problem with fast zombie-esque villains is that it misses the point of why zombies should be terrifying. Mainly that there are so goddam many of them it doesn’t matter, eventually they’re going to get you and you’re going to be ripped apart, and that awful fate is only one mistake away. A mistake most likely caused by the wildcard or heartbroken. There almost has to be that balance, you can feasible construct some sort of fortress and establish the semblance of a normal life, long enough that someone gets complacent. Its that building of hope that illusory that’s so important.July 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm #1163
While I agree fast zombies can be lame, 28 Days later actually did it right. It’s not mass hoards of them coming at you at least. The scariest part for me was the soldiers. I’d rather be bitten by the infected than get dolled up for a rape party.
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