Horror Films I’ve Seen So Far…

Truth be told, when I was little I was never allowed to watch Horror movies.  By the time I was old enough, they didn’t really interest me.  It wasn’t until this list project that I really became interested in the genre and its history.  These are the films that prey off of our worst nightmares.  Vampires, Werewolves and Zombies – they’re all been covered time and time again over the history of film.  The editors behind “501 Must-See Movies” have selected 50 films that they believe stand out.

Seen to date: 11 out of 50

Nosferatu (1922)

Director: F.W. Murnau

Starring: Max Schreck and Gustav von Wangenheim

Hutter, a realtor (von Wangenheim) is sent to Transylvania to visit a prospective client –the mysterious Count Orloc (Schreck).  Orloc, who is actually a vampire, becomes infatuated with Hutter’s wife, eventually leaving Transylvania to pursue her. 

Nosferatu is easily one of the most influential and recognizable films of the silent film era.  The director was unable to secure the rights Bram Stoker’s famous Dracula.  As such he changed the names and kept the story similar, making this 1922 film represented one of the earliest adaptations of one of literature’s most feared characters.

My Rating – 3 Ticket Stubs (Out of 5)

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 98% (48 Reviews)

The Birds (1963)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Starring: Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren                                                            

Melanie, a socialite (Hedren) and Mitch, a lawyer (Taylor) meet randomly in a pet shop.  Afterwards, she decides to surprise him at his family home in a coastal town.  Shortly afterwards, strange bird attacks start to happen as Melanie and Mitch’s relationship begins to evolve.

Hitchcock only did two horror films during his career (The Birds and Psycho) and both make the “501” list.  The Birds feels like a romantic comedy as things start off, but quickly takes a surreal, terrifying turn.

My Rating – 2.5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 95% (41 Reviews)

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Director: George Romero

Starring: Duane Jones and Judith O’Dea

Ben (Jones) and Barbara (O’Dea), along with five others, are trapped inside a Pennsylvania farmhouse as they attempt to survive an attack of reanimated ghouls.

Night of the Living Dead is a true watershed film in the history of horror films and a personal favorite of mine.  George Romero paved the wave for an entire new sub-genre (zombie films) and was ahead of the curve politically by casting an African American actor as his heroic lead.

My Rating – 5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 96% (47 Reviews)

The Exorcist (1973)

Director: William Friedkin

Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow and Linda Blair

Academy Award Wins – Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay

An actress (Burstyn) begins to worry about her 12 year old daughter as she notices drastic changes in her behavior including cursing and blaspheming in a demonic male voice.  At first she believes that the changes are caused to puberty.  Then she is advised that maybe a brain lesion is to blame.  Eventually church involvement becomes necessary.

Some people’s all-time scariest movie, had its own horrific filming including two tragic deaths and a fire that burnt down the production offices.  Controversy followed the film to its release as church leaders declared it blasphemy.  Say what you will about its content, but The Exorcist has left and indelible mark on the history of film.

My Rating – 2.5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 84% (45 Reviews)

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Director: George Romero

Starring: David Emge and Ken Foree

Dawn of the Dead takes Romero’s Dead series to the next level.  It shows the zombie epidemic on a larger scale and its effect on society.  A group of survivors stop in a mall and eventually defend it against an unending parade of undead.

Some moviegoers have Dawn of the Dead rated more favorably than its predecessor.  Personally, I do not.  However, it is an outstanding follow-up.  Romero works on a much larger scale and his satirical look at consumerism stands up more than 30 years later.

My Rating – 3.5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 94% (36 Reviews)

Friday the 13th (1980)

Director: Sean Cunningham

Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King and Kevin Bacon

A young couple and a group of teenagers go to the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake to repair and reopen it.  They ignored the warnings of the locals who say that the Camp is jinxed and soon the teenagers start being attacked and killed.

Friday the 13th was inspired by the huge success of Halloween and became the first slasher movie to receive distribution by a major Hollywood studio.  Some people dismiss Friday the 13th as a rip-off, but it did as much to establish the slasher genre as any film before or after.  And, Jason has his hockey masked covered face on the Mt. Rushmore of horror film villains.

My Rating – 3 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 60% (47 Reviews)

Evil Dead 2 (1987)

Director: Sam Raimi

Starring: Bruce Campbell and Sarah Berry

Ash (Campbell) and his girlfriend are spending a weekend in the woods when they discover a recording left by a mysterious scientist who recites from the Book of the Dead.  A spirit then kills and takes over Ash’s girlfriend before hunting for him. 

Evil Dead 2 is one of the rare sequels on this list and even rarer, the original is nowhere to be found.  The first was more of a Romero tribute, but the second reestablishes the story then takes it in a different direction employing slapstick comedy.  Ash has a distinguished place among iconic horror characters as one of the genre’s most prolific heroes.

My Rating – 4 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 98% (42 Reviews)

Tremors (1990)

Director: Ron Underwood

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward and Reba McEntire

A female seismologist, two handymen and a group of locals are trapped in an isolated mining settlement where they are attacked by subterranean monsters.

Tremors is an obvious a grandchild of 1950s B-movie creature features.  It doesn’t try to be too clever or even too terrifying.  I would’ve excluded this particular film from the list.  It’s not one that exactly holds up after twenty years and seems misplaced between films like The Exorcist and Silence of the Lambs.

My Rating – 1.5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 88% (25 Reviews)

Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Director: Jonathan Demme

Starring: Anthony Hopkins and Jodi Foster

Academy Award Wins – Best Picture, Best Actress (Foster), Best Actor (Hopkins), Best Director (Demme) and Best Adapted Screenplay

AFI Top 100 – #65 (1998) and #74 (2007)

In hopes of seeking advice to help apprehend a serial killer “Buffalo Bill” (Ted Levine), the FBI sends trainee agent Clarice Starling (Foster) to interview incarcerated cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) with the advice of not revealing too much of herself.  However, in exchange for clues and insights she relays information about her upbringing to Lecter.  He eventually escapes and she pursues “Buffalo Bill.”

One of the most critically successful horror films of all-time, The Silence of the Lamb is one of only three films to win all five major Academy Awards.  Hopkins’ Academy Award winning portrayal of Hannibal Lecter became iconic and culturally significant. 

My Rating – 4 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 96% (53 Reviews)

The Sixth Sense (1999)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Starring: Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment

A child psychologist (Willis) is still affected by a failure on an earlier case, offers to help a boy (Osment) who “see dead people.”

The Sixth Sense contains one of the all-time great cinema twists of all-time.  Some people saw it coming, some didn’t.  But, by now almost everyone knows about it.  This multiple Academy Award nominated film announced the presence of M. Night Shyamalan in a major way.  This is one horror film that everyone should see once.

My Rating – 3 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 85% (127 Reviews)

Saw (2004)

Director: James Wan

Starring: Cary Elwes, Danny Glover and Tobin Bell

Jigsaw (Bell) is a psychotic serial killer who sets out to teach the value of life to people who he deems to be unworthy.  To accomplish this, he puts people into his ‘games’ and subjects them to physical and psychological torture with an opportunity to survive with a new appreciation of life.

Saw (and its seemingly countless sequels) is the most widely known participant in the emerging ‘Torture Porn’ sub-genre.  This film is absolutely not for everyone.  Some people are turned off by the no-mercy approach to exposing the audience to gore, violence and more.  I personally think that the acting is poor, but the concept is unique enough to hold a special place among 21st century horror films.

My Rating – 2.5 Ticket Stubs

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 48% (162 Reviews)

@D_C_Evans

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About DC Evans

I’m a long time film lover. For as long as I can remember, I’ve spent my free time going to multiplexs; renting tapes and building my own DVD/Blu-ray collection. I'll be blogging about my efforts as I watch my way through the history of film. For starters, I’ll be focusing on watching each movie in the book “501 Must-See Movies.” Follow me on twitter: @D_C_Evans
This entry was posted in Entertainment, Film, Horror, Movie Review, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Horror Films I’ve Seen So Far…

  1. CV says:

    Very nice and clear blog, shame that previously did not know about it.

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