It’s October. It’s Friday the 13th. How could I not write about horror movies today? This is in no way an exhaustive list on either side, but here are five horror movies I love and five I should have seen a long time ago but still haven’t for whatever reason. I’m leaving the past few years out of this, which knocks a ton of great movies out of contention—including It Follows, The Babadook, and two of this year’s best movies: Get Out and It.
Let’s get down to it.
Love: 28 Days Later
Post-apocalypse + horror + hope = a movie made for me. Danny Boyle and Alex Garland’s 28 Days Later is terrifying both in the moment and after the fact, and it stuck with me more than most other movies of any kind after watching it. It breathed new life into the zombie subgenre while not really being a zombie movie, and its assured, frantic direction elevates the suspenseful story from greatness to excellence.
Shame: The Thing
This is, unfortunately, not the only time a John Carpenter movie is going to show up on the wrong side of this list. Everything I’ve heard and read about The Thing tells me I’ll love it whenever I finally get around to being a decent horror fan, but I’m a little worried my expectations have gotten out of control.
Love: The Cabin in the Woods
The Cabin in the Woods is lightning in a bottle. It’s a great horror movie and an even better deconstruction of horror movies. It captures all the good of slashers and amplifies it with the perfect dose of self-aware humor. It’s never really scary, but its perfectly paced shifts between horror and comedy make it immensely watchable.
Shame: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Tobe Hooper’s 1974 film helped shape nearly every horror movie that came after it, and it’s widely considered to be a classic. So of course I haven’t seen it.
Love: Paranormal Activity
There were several mid-to-late 2000s horror movies that could have gotten the nod here, but none affected me quite as much as Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity. It isn’t my favorite horror movie, but Paranormal Activity‘s masterful, perfectly paced escalation of tension and suspense is undeniable. The fact that it was done on almost no budget and led to a massive franchise is impressive, but it’s the superb build and payoff of this film that stands atop the franchise’s accomplishments.
Everything I’ve heard about Suspiria paints it as a must-see horror film. It’s thrilling, bloody, artful, and stylistic, and it’s completely unacceptable that I haven’t seen it. At least with this one I have the excuse that it’s not exactly easy to see in the US. Hopefully the impending remake will change that.
There’s no denying that Aliens outshines its predecessor in almost every way, but it’s impossible to replicate the tension and and isolation of Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece. It’s one of the best and most important movies ever released, blending horror and science fiction with a tremendous performance from Sigourney Weaver. It just might be the perfect horror movie.
So, uh… yeah. There’s no excuse for this. I know that. Modern horror movies wouldn’t exist as we know them without Halloween
Love: The Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project can get almost unwatchable at times. At most times, even. Heather, Josh, and Mike’s bickering is painful more often than not, but it’s also real. Put in the movie’s situation, I have no doubts that most people would fall into the same patterns of The Blair Witch Project’s characters. It’s tense and thrilling in its early moments, and there’s little out there that matches the all-out horror of The Blair Witch Project‘s third act.
Shame: Don’t Look Now
This one’s been on my watch list for a while, just waiting for me to rent it and dive in. There’s just something about the blending of horror cinema with unbearable grief that’s kept me from getting there, though.
Have a good weekend. Watch some horror. Let me know what you’re watching, and what I need to watch, in the comments.