Off topic – My Favorite Horror Flicks

I know this is a music blog, but in the spirit of it almost being Halloween, and with the brilliantly marketed social network experiment Paranormal Activity being released wide this weekend, I figured it was a good time to take a look at some of my favorite horror films.

I like to consider myself a fan of modern horror film.  I don’t care much for the classics.  And while that statement may throw any expertise on the subject out the window, older horror movies just don’t do it for me.  While they may have been effective in their day, they simply come off as cheesy and funny now; they’ve unfortunately lost their edge.  In their time Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers may have scared those witnessing their rampages, I was too young to experience them.

That said, here is the list of my top ten favorite (read: effective) horror films:

200px-Theringpostere1. The Ring (2002)
While my list does not take any ranking order, this one is at the top for a reason.  This is my favorite horror film, hands down.  The atmosphere is super creepy and the cinematography is beautiful yet haunting at the same time.  The story, which was lifted from the Japanese movie, Ringu, which in turn was based on a novel, draws the viewer in and holds them tight.  Plus, it is one of the few films of the ‘Asian horror remake’ period that is actual better than it’s original.  Gore Verbinski did a steller job in bringing the story of a haunted video tape to American audiences.


200px-Blair_Witch_Project2. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
A marketing marvel, this tiny indie film caused a stir when it made over 2 million dollars off its tiny budget back in the late ninties.  It was one of the first movies to use viral marketing and the Internet to introduce it to audiences, and the end-product was brilliant as well.  It really delivers.  Of course many critics of the film complain that nothing really happens in the film and that the ending is a let-down.  But those same people can’t deny that they were freaked out for the ninety minutes leading up to “nothing”.  Plus, you have to admit you almost believed it was real when it first came out.  It was that good. 


200px-The_Eye_film3. The Eye (2002)
The Hong Kong movie directed by the Pang Brothers, not the new one starring Jessica Alba.  The remake was a dud, but this orginal features some very effective scares and use of sound to create an altogether frightening film experience.  Not too mention a very cool title sequence.  Skip the American version and watch this awesome film about an eye transplant gone awry.



200px-Rec_poster4. REC (2007)
Released in Spain and later on DVD in North America, this film uses a first person camera view to showcase its scares.  When a TV reporter shadowing a fire department for the night tags along to a mysterious call at an apartment building, all hell breaks loose.  The movie features excellent acting, alludes to biological and medical outbreaks, and makes effective use of its unique perspective.  The American remake, Quarentine, is almost a shot-for-shot remake and is also an excellent film.  I recommend either film.  But if subtitles don’t bother you, watch the original.


twenty_eight_weeks_later25. 28 Weeks Later (2007)
This is the rare case when a sequel is better than the orginal.  Danny Boyle directed the first movie, 28 Days Later, and it was a good zombie flick.  But the sequel ramps up the action and craziness, all without loosing any of the suspense and character development.  The British film, which takes place in an abandoned London, has amazing views of empty city streets and chilling images of super-fast zombies (aka rage infected victims) chasing the few inhabitants left in this post apocalyptic nightmare.  Plus, the last scene hints at a third chapter in which the virus has managed to cross the English Channel.

ju-on6. Ju-on (2000)
This popular movie, which is already featured on many top horror lists, was originally released in Japan directly to DVD.  It’s strange considering the effect it has had on Asian cinema and its enormous amount of remakes and sequels.  The images in the first film are so startling that the choppy plot can be forgiven.  Forget about the other films in this franchise, the one that started it all will have you squirming in your seat.  Dread is the one word that describes the experience of watching this movie.


200px-Saw_poster7. Saw (2004)
The Saw films are sure to the the new mellinium’s version of Friday the 13th and its high amount of sub-par sequels, but this first film stands out on its own.  Filmed in only 18 days, and premiered at Sundance, Saw saw the start of the “torture horror” fad that is only now starting to wean.  The premise was brilliant: 2 men awake in a dark filthy room with a dead body, each chained to one wall, and neither knowing how they got there.  The twist ending worked the first time you saw it, and regardless of the franchise’s recycling each Halloween, you still remember talking with your friends about that cool movie you “saw” back in 2004.

200px-Strangersposter8. The Strangers (2008)
The newest movie on my list makes it on the top 1o because of the its theme: What if a stranger came to your house late at night, broke in, and attacked you.  It’s a creepy thought.  And one that resonates with everyone.  The film didn’t have a whiff of a plot and it didn’t need one.  As the “Stangers” say in the movie when asked why they are doing this to the hapless victims: “because you were home.”


shining29. The Shining (1980)
Now to the oldest movie on my list, and one that I did not obviously see when it was first released, The Shining.  Based on the creepy novel by Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic interpretation of the story could be seen as more of a psycological thriller than a horror film.  Yet, the idea of being alone in a large empty hotel with your family works in much the same way it did in the book.  That isolation is scary, and the results that play out in this film are just as spooky.  Not to mention Jack’s “Here’s Johnny!”


200px-Shutterposter10. Shutter (2004)
Another victim of a terrible American remake, the orginal Thai film, Shutter, is another great example of the Asian horror at it’s best.  Creepy dead girl? Check.  Ghost story? Check.  Technology used to discover creepy dead girl and solve ghost story?  Check.  Again, skip the shoddy remake and check out the orginal.  The ending will send chills down your back, literally.

Well, thats my take.  As you can see, I like my horror international.  I also wouldn’t be surprised if the aforemetioned Paranormal Activity takes a spot on this list after I see it.  Shot for $15,000 dollars, the small film is being haralded as the “scariest movie since The Blair Witch Project, and it uses the same ‘caught on tape’ premise as well, except this time, the footage reveals what is in your house while you sleep.  Sounds creepy.  Check out the trailer below:


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