My life is hard. It is a hard task to remember all the horror movies I’ve ever watched, and picking the five best. How can you compare Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010) to The Decent (2005)?! The answer is that they’re different films (neither of which made the cut). The point is that ‘Horror’ encompasses too much, so here is my best shot.
Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991) must be one of the undisputed top horror films out there. Cannibalism is made cool by Anthony Hopkins’s performance and iconic last line ‘I’m having an old friend for dinner’; and while a gimp-suit made of skin may sound ridiculous, this disturbing reality adds enough gore to keep those adverse to psychological thrillers entertained. Yet it is the uneasy, unspoken dynamic between Hopkin’s Hannibal and, Jodie Foster’s Clarice which haunts the audience, necessary for any good phycological horror. If that isn’t enough, it’s got an impressive five Oscar’s to boot.
But Oscar’s aren’t the only way to judge a film; John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is one of the defining films of the genre, even though it isn’t a ‘good’ film in most senses of the word, even Carpenter saw it as a failure. The characters aren’t memorable, and the CGI is overused. But it made a tiny profit at the box office, and dogs with octopi legs is what I imagine when someone mentions The Thing rather than the Fantastic Four. Not only is the ridiculousness entertaining, it was good enough for a 2011 remake and worthy of its now popular status.[pullquote]It’s an odd choice of genre to raise political issues, but addressing the marginalisation of Black Americans makes it more hard-hitting, and horrifies the audience with the real world they inhabit.[/pullquote]
Horror films aren’t always psychological scares or over-the-top gore, they can be a fantastic mixture of genres. Jordan Peele’s Oscar winning debut, Get Out (2017), combines a psychological thriller with moments of humour, in a horrific reality that can be identified with. It’s an odd choice of genre to raise political issues, but addressing the marginalisation of Black Americans makes it more hard-hitting, and horrifies the audience with the real world they inhabit.
While the final scene offers some light relief; Peele’s original ending, having Daniel Kaluuya’s character arrested, would have cemented this film even further.
Peele is making waves as a director, but the best horror movies cannot be discussed without Ridley Scott. Admittedly the Alien franchise has taken an ‘interesting’ turn, to some fan’s disappointment, but the original Alien (1979) is an indulgence of horror, action and sci-fi. The role of Facehuggers and Chestbursters cannot be stressed enough in the identity of horror and sci-fi. Although spawning eight films, none have quite recaptured Sigourney Weaver’s original portrayal as Ripley, and the fear the Xenomorph crated.
It cannot be said The Hills Have Eyes (2006) remake is a good movie, but for me it encapsulates horror. I was introduced to it by a connoisseur of horror films; and it instantly it became a favourite. It doesn’t take itself seriously, the gore is ridiculous, jump-scares make you laugh, and the plot is meaningless. This all shows the diversity horror films have and how they entertain. Serious or not, they're fantastic.