It’s Halloween here at Flixist (and everywhere else too, we suppose) and that means we have to celebrate horror films. But how to do that in a way that’s clever, original and never been done before? Wait, we haven’t done a Flixist Faves horror movie list yet? Screw that stuff, time to list some movies! Below you’ll find our ten favorite horror films as decided through a very scientific and mathematical system somewhat akin to everyone yelling loudly until a decision is made.
Now, the genre of horror has so many sub-genres that its damn near impossible to make a list of the top horror that includes them all. There’s comedy/horror, action/horror, slashers, suspense, thrillers, psychological horror, sci-fi/horror, etc. Most sites cower at the challenge of actually naming ten favorite horror films that include every sub-genre of horror, but not Flixist. We’ve manned up and produced a list that covers everything from kid friendly to absurdest blood baths.
Check it out and let us know what horrible, terrible, unforgivable mistake we’ve made in our selections.
As if I didn’t write enough about this movie in my two features, FFS: A Primer to Art Direction and How to Do It: A Beetlejuice Sequel (shameless plug), now I get to once again gush about one of my Top 5 Movies of All Time. Beetlejuice broke every genre convention when it came out in theaters in 1988. A cool blend of comedy and horror, Beetlejuice (the eponymous character played by none other than Michael Keaton) manages to make you laugh as well as thoroughly creep you out. It made an innovative statement on the afterlife, speaking nothing of Heaven or Hell, but of a convoluted bureaucracy in which nothing really gets done. Perhaps the most original of all of Tim Burton’s movies, it practically begged for a sequel. Little did we all know one would be planned more than 20 years later. –Jamie Stone
Honestly, I feel as if I shouldn’t even have to write about how amazing Ghostbusters is. Granted, it may not REALLY be a “horror” film, but this is our list and we can make executive decisions on things like this. Despite the film leaning more toward the comedy side, there were definitely a few legitimate scares and spooks throughout the film. Just a few months ago, when I was re-watching this for the first time in years, I got more than creeped out by the Library Ghost. Also, come on, Bill Murray was (arguably) at the top of his comedic game with Ghostbusters. – Geoff Henao
The original The Thing is a truly special film. Through the use of ingenious special effects, its visuals are just as impressive today as they were in 1982. It is incredibly suspenseful, using both silence and a foreboding score to increase the tension higher and higher until the Thing itself finally appears to kill or maim at least one cast member in some awful way. Burning bodies, arms being bitten off, heads removing themselves from “deceased” bodies and then sprouting legs, and so many more moments are truly memorable and truly horrifying. The Thing has everything you could want from a horror movie and then some. The only thing missing was a Sinatra-esque musical summary. Fortunately, there’s one of those too. – Alec Kubas-Meyer
Shaun of the Dead
There was a point in time when Shaun of the Dead was probably my favorite movie. While I prefer Edgar Wright’s followup Hot Fuzz more, there’s still something about Shaun that makes it one of the few movies I could watch at any time. Whether it’s Shaun and Ed’s chemistry together, or how freaking brilliant the script is, I can always return to this movie. It’s also one of the most quoted movies around Flixist LA. I’m also notorious for sending out Ed’s “Alright…gay.” line in various staff emails. Let’s just say this movie is very influential to me.
But the absolute best thing I love about it, is how it works on so many levels. You could look at it as just a straight comedy. But then you could see it as a touching story of failed love, and the love between two friends. Or you could see it as a freaking awesome zombie movie, complete with some amazing kills. Whatever you want to make of the movie, Shaun of the Dead is one of the few horror movies to appeal to just about everyone. – Maxwell Roahrig
Whether it’s an irrational fear of hedge mazes, alcoholic writers, or furries, Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror masterpiece The Shining most likely has something to do with it.
Very rarely do we have a renowned, non-genre director tackle horror. I can only imagine the anticipation leading up to The Shining’s release and the surprise audiences must have felt upon viewing it for their first time. For me, I watched the film after seeing The Simpsons parody, inferior ABC mini-series, and witnessing the “Here’s Johnny!”-bit referenced in everyday life about a thousand times. Nevertheless, Kubrick’s sprawling, hypnotic film about a man on the brink of his sanity, who turns against his family, remains one of the most disturbing and beautiful horror films ever made. It’s the only horror film where I can go through memorable scenes in my head, despite not having seen it for at least five years. Kubrick had such a gift for establishing space in his films and making places feel alive. Everytime I get spooked when I turn a corner in a long hallway or enter an empty ballroom, I can’t help but think it has something to do with Kubrick’s horror epic. Also, I blame people’s irrational fear of furries due to seeing the “man-in-bear-suit blowjob” scene at an early age. Man, that messed me up! – Allistair Pinsof
Traditionally, Gremlins has been a Christmas movie for the Katz family. Yes, Virginia, Jewish families have favorite Christmas movies. That doesn’t change the fact that Gremlins is absolutely terrifying in the best classical sense. We have a slow hook, making everything seem nice and normal, that’s suddenly and violently interrupted when the little Mogwai spawned from the toy-worthy Gizmo move from “basic mischief” to “I’m going to stab a guy in the face now.” It gets ridiculous once more actual Gremlins show up, and other than the terrible Mrs. Deagle’s delightfully-deserved death, only the innocent are killed by the Gremlins. Also, the Gremlins themselves deserve to be included in ANY accounting of the classic movie monsters. The sequel, which I love equally, is less horror and more “live action Looney Tunes,” but that doesn’t take away the fact that Gremlins is one of the most deceptively-scary Christmas movies ever made.
Also, GIZMO IS SO ADORABLE I WISH I HADN’T LOST MY GIZMO PLUSH THAT I HAD AS A KID! – Alex Katz
My memory is hazy, but if I saw the original Alien before I saw Alien: Resurrection (my first theatrical experience with an R-rated film), I didn’t appreciate it due to my youth. If I saw it after Resurrection, I didn’t appreciate it because of my youth and because Resurrection had wall-to-wall action, horrific Ripley clones, and one of the more terrifying human-hybrids ever. The original Alien is considerably more subtle, and thankfully so. Now that I’m older and arguably wiser, I appreciate Alien a whole hell of a lot more than when I was in elementary school. The stark, spotless rooms above are in brilliant contrast of the dank, pipe-filled guts of their massive space ship. Ripley herself is one of the best female ass-kickers of our time. We barely even see the titular alien until the finale (and according to the deleted scenes, that’s a very good thing), leaving it as little more than terrifying flashes of teeth and tail.
This film started a legacy, for better or for worse, and after more than three decades and six films, Ridley Scott, the man who introduced us to Ripley, the Xenomorphs, and the answer to what’s inside a cyborg, will take us back to the beginning and finally (probably) show us what the hell a space jockey actually is with the forthcoming Prometheus, due out next July. – Sean Walsh
Dead Alive (aka Braindead) is easily one of the goriest movies ever made. At one point toward the end, 300 liters of fake blood splash on the screen every minute. I’ve never found this madcap zombie film too scary — it’s more of a gross-out slapstick movie; the Three Stooges on crack with rabies, hold the mayo. Regardless, it’s one of the most creative and memorable undead romps I’ve ever seen.
Dead Alive is more like a Jackie Chan movie than a George Romero movie, and not just because of the martial arts scene. Like a Jackie Chan movie, you watch Dead Alive for the inventive set pieces. It’s all about the choreography and the use of common household items to dispense of the living dead. This was only Peter Jackson’s third film, and in it he fine-tuned all of the mayhem, black humor, and energetic camera moves from his debut Bad Taste. Completists may want to seek out the original 104-minute theatrical cut of the film, which is available in Japan and sometimes shown at special midnight and retrospective screenings. The additional seven minutes is heavy on character development, but there’s some extra gore there as well for the kid in us all. – Hubert Vigilla
Evil Dead 2
While its predecessor, Evil Dead, was an amazing horror film that solidified the fact that Sam Raimi is an awesome director and its sequel, Army of Darkness, was a fantasy/comedy romp that is as original as it is awesome Evil Dead 2 is the perfect balance between the two and thus one of the greatest horror/comedy films ever made. The love for Evil Dead 2 at Flixist can’t really be overstated. It’s simply a brilliant masterpiece of horror/comedy/indie/slasher cinema that will forever be the king of whatever genre of horror you may want to put it into. Not only does the film star Bruce Campbell at what is possibly his most epic level of awesomeness, but it made the word groovy actually groovy.
Somehow meshing the comedy of The Three Stooges with the gore of classic horror films Evil Dead 2 delivers in horror departments you didn’t even know existed. Add to this the fact that its hero eventually has a chainsaw arm and blasts away evil with a double barreled shotgun while delivering more great one-liners than any movie deserves to have and you’ve got a perfect film. And while I know its not from this film I think Ash sums it up himself: Hail to the king, baby. – Matthew Razak
Lists of favorite horror movies are generally incomplete without a mention of The Exorcist, and with good reason. So much folklore surrounds The Exorcist, including stories of hauntings on set, audiences fainting and having heart attacks during screenings, and people rushing to the closest church in paroxysms of guilt and fear. But more than anything, the movie makes you feel vulnerable to forces outside of you. Reagan, that poor little girl played by Linda Blair, is thoroughly brutalized by the demon within her and the demanding enfant terrible behind the camera. (Both Blair and Ellen Burstyn suffered back/spinal injuries due to the physical demands of their roles.)
There’s so much hype about how terrifying it is, and it mostly lives up to it (though it helps if you are or were Catholic). To this day when I hear the theme song “Tubular Bells” (which should be an innocuously hokey new age jam), a sudden chill runs through me as I recall Captain Howdy’s ghost-white face emerging unexpectedly from the dark. – Hubert Vigilla