'Tis the season for zombies and witches, ghosts and goblins, vampires and werewolves, and just about every other scary thing you can imagine. Yes, Halloween season is here, so it is time to dust off those horror films, pop some popcorn, and gather ’round the television set.
I thought I would share my list of favorite fright night movies with you, and as I was compiling this list I realized that there are so many movies that deserve to be on my list...so narrowing it down to 25 wasn't easy. My choices are heavily influenced by the way these great films scared the hell out of me. I also didn't include many of the earliest films like Nosferatu, King Kong, Bride of Frankenstein -- but we bow down to their greatness. No doubt your list will be different than mine, for instance, I know I like J-horror better than most people.
So please, put your favorites picks in the comment section, on Twitter or our C&L Facebook page. Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!
25) Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Don't fall asleep during this one! The remake was good too, but not quite as good as the original. It's paranoia on steroids.
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: They're here already! You're next! You're next, You're next...!
This is South Korea's entry into the horror genre. The plot focuses on two sisters who, after returning home from a psychiatric hospital, experience increasingly disturbing events involving both them and their stepmother.
Another hand held camera pic that is surprisingly brilliant.
IMDB: A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.
Ángela: It's nearly 2 A.M. and we're still sealed in this building that we came to with the firemen earlier this evening, to assist an elderly woman who later attacked a policeman and a fireman. They're both in critical condition. The police won't let us leave and are giving us no explanations.
Simply exquisite and beautifully shot. Brings the vampire genre back where it belongs. The US remake was great also.
IMDB: Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire
Eli: I'm twelve. But I've been twelve for a long time.
21) The Haunting
The classic haunted house tale that was perfectly crafted by Robert Wise, who directed Sound of Music and West Side story. He only used shadows, camera angles and sound to terrify you.
Mrs. Sanderson: The dead are not quiet in Hill House.
Evil Dead was a shocker that changed horror as well. Thank you Sam Raimi.
Mirror Ash: I don't think so. We just cut up our girlfriend with a chainsaw. Does that sound "fine"?
This has an ending that will simply rock your world and is Miike's finest horror movie.
Asami Yamazaki: This wire can cut through meat and bone easily.
Before Wes Craven gave us Freddy, he created Jupiter.
Mars: Baby's fat. You fat... fat and juicy.
I loved this J-horror flick from Japan. It ushered in a new wave of horror from Asia which was a most welcomed addition to the genre. Everything about this movie is eerie and off-putting.
Wes Craven continued to re-energize the horror movie and Freddy did just that.
Children: One, two, Freddy's coming for you. / Three, four, better lock your door. / Five, six, grab your crucifix. / Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. / Nine, ten, never sleep again.
I know some people don't consider this a horror movie, but I do. It's an unforgettable film experience with Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins winning Oscars for their roles.
Hannibal Lecter: A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
This is Dario Argento's masterpiece about an American ballet dancer being terrorized at a German school. Darren Aronofsky learned much from this film.
Helena Markos: You wanted to kill me! You wanted to kill me! What are you gonna do now, huh? Now death is coming for you! You wanted to kill Helena Markos! Hell is behind that door! You're going to meet death now... the LIVING DEAD!
13) The Omen
Brilliantly made and downright creepy. How would you cope knowing your child is the anti-Christ?
Young nanny: Look at me, Damien! It's all for you. [she jumps off a roof, hanging herself]
12) The Birds
Pure Hitchcockean mastery.
Lydia: [to Melanie] Why are they doing this? Why are they doing this? They said when you got here the whole thing started. Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from? I think you're the cause of all of this. I think you're evil. EVIL!
Tobe Hooper's classic was also co-written by the amazing Steven Spielberg.
Tangina: It lies to her. It tells her things only a child can understand. It has been using her to restrain the others. To her, it simply is another child. To us, it is The Beast.
10) Rosemary's Baby
Polanski pulls out all the stops in this twisted and very scary yearn about Satan's love child.
Minnie Castevet: He chose you, honey! From all the women in the world to be the mother of his only living son!
Ridley Scott crafted the perfect horror movie in outer space where nobody can hear you scream.
Ash: You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.
Aliens is also an excellent sequel that stands on its own and was made by the master, James Cameron.
8) The Shining
What can you say about Jack Nicholson that hasn't already been said?
Jack Torrance: Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.
The father of the zombie horror film that is responsible for making The Walking Dead the biggest cable show ever which owes its life to George A. Romero. It was heavily edited when it first came on television and we had to see it at a midnight show to check out its tasty good fun.
Newscaster: It has been established that persons who have recently died have been returning to life and committing acts of murder. A widespread investigation of funeral homes, morgues, and hospitals has concluded that the unburied dead have been returning to life and seeking human victims. It's hard for us here to be reporting this to you, but it does seem to be a fact.
Michael Meyers, the six year old boy who killed his sister on Halloween and is the myth John Carpenter created that is so powerful that it set the standard for serial killers up to this day. He also helped write the soundtrack that helped add so much suspense to the action. After watching it again, you'll be surprised to realize that hardly any blood was spilled in the movie, but the mere thought of Meyers coming for you was so chilling that neither blood or gore was needed. That's a true master at work.
Dr. Loomis: I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.
5) Thing From Another World/The Thing
The Thing From Another World (1951) is the benchmark for horror and alien films and was my favorite movie when I was growing up. An alien thaws out from a chunk of ice in the arctic at a research outpost and starts growing his own seed family by feeding it blood from the people he killed with the help of a mad scientist. There's a terrifying scene where scientists are tracking the creature's movements with a Geiger counter and they find him heading straight for them. James Arness of Gunsmoke played the creature.
Dr. Arthur Carrington: No pleasure, no pain... no emotion, no heart. Our superior in every way.
John Carpenter came along and remade it in 1982, but kept the movie closer to the original story "Who Goes There?" The special effects were incredible at the time and still hold up even in our world of CGI. Kurt Russell has never been better and there are scenes that will live on in your memory forever.
Clark: I dunno what the hell's in there, but it's weird and pissed off, whatever it is.
4) Texas Chain Saw Massacre
A huge dude wearing a mask (Leatherface) made of skin while chasing you with a freaking chain saw. Nuff' said. I think we all have a few weirdos in our families, but not like this one.
Franklin: Hey man, you ever go in that slaughter room or whatever they call it? The place where they shoot cattle in the head with that big air gun?
No movie had the effect on beach life or water skiing across this country quite like Spielberg's classic Jaws. To this day the SyFy channel is still making huge profits off campy movies like Sharknado and the Discovery channel makes a fortune from their annual Shark Week, all because of a big rubber shark that barely worked, a haunting theme by John Williams and Spielberg's master class in terror.
Quint: You know the thing about a shark, he's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white.
I kept flipping my first two picks around because no two films had ever rocked the world like Psycho and The Exorcist did. I was too young to see Hitch's macabre masterpiece in the theater, but I did see The Exorcist. When I was waiting on line in NYC, I'll always remember a woman yelling at us not to go in and see that movie!!!! after she just left the theater. Couples were hugging each other tight and crying as they left. It's not only a truly terrifying movie, but also an Oscar nominated one with terrific performances from the entire cast.
Father Merrin, Father Damien Karras: The power of Christ compels you!
Demon: Lick me, lick me!
There was nothing like Psycho ever made before Alfred Hitchcock gambled his own money on Robert Block's book about Ed Gein and turned it into an incredible low budget black and white production when Paramount rejected it because they wanted another North By Northwest. Only the genius of Hitch would come up with the idea to kill off his leading lady (Janet Leigh) within the first thirty minutes of the film. As a child my mother wouldn't let me see this movie when it aired on TV because it had terrified her so much. The shower scene is usually discussed as being the scariest of its time, but the toilet bowl flushing scene caused Hitchcock just as much grief from the censors because things like that weren't ever shown in film at that time.
Norman Bates: It's not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?