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It’s that time of year, when we all like a little scare – or attempt to prove to those around us that we don’t scare.

In that light, I’d  like to share and review — and maybe even re-view — my favorite horror films. Maybe this will give you a hint of the type of creepy stories that I love to write!
After perusing my list, take a look at “If I Can’t Sleep, You Can’t Sleep”, and see what I mean.
If_I_Cant_Sleep_v3

This is not a list of “the best”, nor is it meant to be comprehensive.
I have my likes and dislikes that may (or may not) match with your tastes. It is perchance a way to get know what I find scary, and how I think when writing. For example, slasher and gore-for-gore’s-sake films are low on my list. And I certainly make no claim that I have seen anywhere near the entire compendium of horror / creepfest /schlock films.
In addition, there’s a whole slew of new horror flicks out this season – some of them quite stylish. Sadly, they will not be included in this year’s list. One factor of a really good horror film is their timelessness, so I wait at least one year before making a judgment whether they have the necessary staying power.

With all those forewarnings, here goes.
In no particular order, I enjoy to dread (or is it dread to enjoy?):

The Thing (1982)
It is rare when a remake is better than the original.
But this Lovecraftian spin on the Campbell short story “Who Goes There?” excels in characterization, script, and special effects. Its faithfulness to the story’s original theme of “who do I trust” is visceral. After first seeing this film, I could not re-watch it alone for a full year.

The Exorcist(1973)
Atmospheric to the extreme, and due to Friedkin’s bag of dirty tricks (like shooting a gun during takes to make the actors jump), a compelling descent into a taut story was born.

Legend of Hell House
My favorite creepfest, written by Richard Matheson.
Not to be confused with he B&W “Haunting of Hill House”, based on the Shirley Jackson book. Roddy McDowall is perfect, directed by Michael Gough (who is also uncredited as the film’s baddie).
It is possible one of the reasons I like this film, is because most of the film crew earned their stripes producing British TV’s “Avengers”.

Alien
A magical if not fiendish combination of Ridley Scott at the top of his form, and the master artisans Moebius and HR Giger. Truly a classic gothic nightmare. From the very start, with the ethereal string chords (Curse you Jerry Goldsmith!) during the opening credits, I knew I was in trouble.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Though some would pooh-pooh this as schlock sci-fi, I still consider this horror, as it goes to heart of the human condition.
My favorite scene? The low camera angle traveling shot of the pitchfork in the greenhouse. Cinematic mastery, combining implied violence and tension.

Blair Witch Project
Glad I saw this in the comfort of my home. Shaky-cam makes me nauseous on the big screen. Nevertheless, a novel way of telling a unique story.

Cabin in the Woods
If you thought Buffy and Angel had a good mix of horror and humor, give this film a whirl. A interesting twist on the “pick off the kids” trope.

Ringu / The Ring
Both films are disturbing in their own way. The Japanese film had a few things that make perfect sense for its locale, but needed to be redone for the American audience. I was impressed how the American film does it justice, keeping every creepy atmospheric dread in tact.
But if you haven’t seen the Japanese version (Ringu), please do. The way the family resolves the problem of the deadly video is gut-chillingly dark.

Sixth Sense
I’m glad I saw this for the first time while at home. I blurted out in the restaurant scene, “Holy sh**, he’s {spoiler}!” I think the audience might have lynched me.

Nosferatu
German expressionism, and a “method” actor that has yet to be equaled.

Poltergeist (1982)
Despite Spielberg’s heavy hand throughout this film Tobe Hooper delivers a creepfest that builds incessantly. What starts out with innocent goosebumps leads (at least for me) to a jump-out-of-the-seat moment when finally face-to-skull with the monster.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Better than the first, which is rare for sequels. While exceedingly gory, I still like this movie, mostly because of the stellar dialog.
There are two exchanges between a human and a demon that, to this day, still chills my blood every time I replay them.
Doctor: (mewling) “Oh my God.”
Julia: “No – this one’s mine.”
—-
Doctor: (mewling) “I want to leave.”
Julia: “I don’t understand. You wanted to see. You wanted to know.” *crunch* “Now you know.”

 

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