Road to Halloween: Danielle’s Top 5 Horror Films Horror Haters Have To Watch

Written by Danielle Sing October 29, 2017

horror films

Why you hate horror films does not matter to me. Maybe you find them boring, predictable or maybe they just don’t scare you. I’m personally way too jumpy and not good with gore. As a massive film fan, I understand that there are amazing horror films, some so good that they’re even considered classics. Horror films do something that most films don’t: they make you feel something. And while I don’t enjoy feeling scared, it proves that the horror within horror films is achieving its goal. Horror films, while they seem to be a bit of a cash cow in the film industry, have made amazing advancements for the industry including special effects, make up, and pushing the limits on how far a franchise can go (Marvel has nothing on some horror franchises).

In this Top 5, we’ll be exploring five different categories of horror films and the top films within these categories. For full disclosure, I have yet to see some horror movie staples, so if I missed your favourite, it’s probably because I’m too scared to watch it.

1. Classics – The Evil Dead (1981)

horror films

When most people think horror film classics, they think of horror films from the 1970’s and 1980’s, during the boom of great horror films. Note how most horror films on this list will be from the 1980’s. And there’s good reason for that. Many of those films had original ideas and gave many young actors their big push into the film industry — think Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) with Johnny Depp. Some films were inspired by real life serial killers as America’s fascination with them grew, like “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” (1974) with serial killer Ed Gein. While everyone thinks of the classics, I think of the cult classics. There are many horror cult classics, but nothing is like The Evil Dead (1981) by Sam Raimi. The Evil Dead’s own sequel was a parody of the first film with the same cast and director. There was also a musical, and Bruce Campbell (who plays Ash Williams) had his own spin off television series Ash vs Evil Dead that debuted in 2015 and is going on its third season. On top of that, it’s a genuinely scary film. It’s very gruesome, has classic horror trope of demonic possession, and it was even rated ‘X’ and banned in several countries (trigger warning for  rape).

2. Cross Genre – Alien (1979)

horror films

In my opinion, horror is at its best when it is mixed with another genre as it allows for more creativity. Horror and fantasy go together hand in hand as many supernatural creatures exist in both genres, but some ‘dark fantasies’ are more unique with their creatures. Take Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), for example. Other than screams, laughter is a powerful reaction to get from an audience. While some horror films are unintentionally funny – the ‘it’s so bad its funny’ type movies –, some horror comedies get that balance of scary and funny just right. Think Shaun of the Dead and all of its glory. Though nothing is better than horror and science fiction. They both have similar pacing and use of suspense with a great sense of the unknown, and Alien (1979) is best. Alien is scary as it plays on our fears. Claustrophobia, nyctophobia, spacephobia or just a general fear of the unknown. Alien brings you somewhere you wouldn’t want to be, but with Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) by your side it may not be that bad.

3. Body Horror – The Thing (1982)

horror films

Body horror is my least favourite thing about horror films. Many horror films (if not all) have elements of body horror, showing something so gory and gutsy you might just vomit, but very few films are centered around body horror. But I cannot mention body horror without giving a nod to An American Werewolf in London (1981), a horror comedy which won Rick Baker the first ever Academy Award given for Best Make Up. If you’ve not seen the painful transforming scene from human to werewolf, you need watch it now.

Another gruesome transformation moment in body horror is the 1986 remake of The Fly. There’s not just one moment of transformation; the whole film is Jeff Goldblum melting away and being a human sized insect. But nothing is more amazing than the practical effects of The Thing (1982). While I hate gore and body horror, I am in love with practical special effects and special effects make up. I challenge you to find a better example than Rob Bottin and Stan Winston’s work on this film (other than work they were nominated and won Oscars for). I have watched hours of videos documenting their work on this film and it’s stunning. I’m amazed and as I am grossed out.

4. Adaptations – The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

horror films

Okay, let’s be honest. It’s hard not to fill this entire section with Stephen King adaptions, but instead, I’ll pick one. Misery (1990) is different from other Stephen King works as there is no supernatural elements at play in either the both the novel or book – such as ghosts in The Shining (1980) or telekinesis in Carrie (1976). Misery shows how terrifying human loneliness and obsession can be, and I’m still scared of Kathy Bates to this day. There are many horror films that most people don’t know are adaptations, such as Psycho (1960) or The Exorcist (1971).  But the best horror film adaptation is definitely The Silence of the Lambs. Thomas Harris wrote the novel of the same name, and it became the third film to win the Top 5 at the Academy Awards. The Silence of the Lambs isn’t just a horror film that happens to be good, it’s a brilliant film that just happens to be horror. This films plays with the audience’s mind in a way usually only novels can, and it’s been translated very well from page to screen. Not only is this one of the best horror film adaptions, I’d say it’s one of the best film adaptations of all time.

5. Post 2010s – It Follows (2014)

horror films

Okay, I think we’ve given the 1980’s enough love. Let’s focus on more recent horror films. In the last few years, horror has become great again as it finds new ideas (though we still love our remakes and franchises) and starts to mix more with thriller genres. Some great examples of this are Green Room (2015), about a band trying to escape a Neo-Nazi bar with Sir Patrick Stewart as the main villain, and Get Out, a film from earlier this year that uses racism as the main source of thrills. Personally, I love Cabin in the Woods (2012), though I know not everyone liked it. It’s as if every supernatural monster came to life and was having a twisted version of a battle royale with some college kids, but it feels like a massive parody of horror films as well. If you want an original idea that plays on horror tropes, then It Follows (2014) is the post-2010 horror film for you. An entity haunts people until it kills them or until the host transmits it to someone else, via sexual intercourse. Yeah, a ghost STD is just what I wanted. As strange as that sounds, the result is this terrifying feeling that someone is also watching you, a feeling that lasted with me for days. My friend didn’t have sex for three months after watching this movie, they were that scared.

While there are many more horror films that could be on this list, I’m probably too scared to watch them. So for all of you horror film haters out there who want to get a taste of what you’re missing, here’s five films to get you started. Good luck sleeping tonight.

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