HOLLYWOOD—When it comes to horror what is your go to scary movie? Is it a classic, something modern, something camp, an iconic villain, I think we can chat about this for hours if not days because everyone has their own cup of tea when it comes to horror. Some might like the supernatural, some might like ghost tales, the haunted house, zombies or wait, you might like the classic slasher that involves a madman going on a killing spree. Whatever your cup of tea, it’s time to examine some classics people.
If we truly want a classic monster movie, you have to go back to the 1930s and take a look at “Frankenstein.” It is the tale of a scientist who goes mad to create a monster and once that monster stops following the rules of the scientist it costs the creator greatly in the long run. Those horror flicks like “Dracula,” “Nosferatu,” “The Mummy” and countless others of the 30s-50s had more messages of morality tales.
We started to see a change in the genre in 1960 as a courtesy of Alfred Hitchcock and “Psycho.” Now some might argue it led to the slasher craze, but not quite, there was a film before that one called “Peeping Tom” that created that Point of View camera technique used by Bob Clark in “Black Christmas” (we’ll talk more about it later) and John Carpenter’s 1978 classic “Halloween.”
I love “Psycho” because it’s in black and white and forces you to get hooked onto the narrative, not other things. In addition, you have a focus on Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and the iconic Marion Crane (Janet Leigh). I mean, a major character dies half-way into the movie and that shower scene? It is just iconic America. We move into the 70s and we see horror really ramp up. There is “Black Christmas” that changes the genre as we know it. Christmas is supposed to be joyous, but not when you have a killer inside the house making nefarious phone calls and threatening a group of sorority sisters. The tension this movie builds is incredible and that scene where Jess realizes the killer is in the house and she screams for Barb and Phyllis to answer her, just chilling.
We cannot forget how scary the Devil and possession can be with the iconic and I mean iconic “The Exorcist.” A flick that should NOT be remade, but Hollywood is doing it anyway. I just cannot explain it people. There is “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” which made torture porn before it became a term. The filming technique used in that flick just sends chills because the realism is too scary. “Carrie” the 1976 version makes the audience empathize with the title character who endures terrible bullying until she unleashes utter hell on her classmates at the prom. The 1975 Steven Spielberg classic, “Jaws” made you afraid to get into the water, “The Omen” was all about bad children and the Devil and then we had “Halloween.”
This is my go to flick I can watch it multiple times during the month of October because the suspense is so amazing. Slowly builds and reaches a climax and ending that is just damn satisfying to say the least. Michael Myers is an iconic villain, we establish an amazing heroine in Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Donald Pleasance is just a gem and the dialogue of this movie is just phenomenal. There is another classic in 1979 helmed by director Ridley Scott, “Alien.” This is how you build suspense people. Scott is a masterclass at doing this and with a creature that has an epic defense mechanism and stalks the crew who understands the danger they are in. Sigourney Weaver proves women can be badass in space and that reveal that Ash is a robot, the alien bursting through Kane’s chest, talk about a gasp people.
The 1980s is just horror riddled on top of horror so there is no way I’m highlighting all just a few classics. There is the 1980 classic “Friday the 13th” that usher the slasher genre in terms of epic gore and later introduced us to hockey-mask fiend Jason Voorhees. There is the dream stalker Freddy Krueger from “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” I loved the sequel “Aliens” that proved a sequel can be better than the original. I adored the enchanting narrative of Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser” introducing the audience to iconic villain Pinhead. You have an evil doll in Chucky from the original “Child’s Play” from 1988, which is just like a My Buddy doll I had as a kid.
The 90s was truly the drag of horror until 1996 brought us “Scream” that poked fun at horror, but still managed to be horrifying at the same time. Another flick that doesn’t get the horror praise it deserves is the 1999 thriller “The Sixth Sense” that delivered the best twist in horror ever. There is NOT a single person in the movie theater who did not gasp when it was revealed that Bruce Willis’ character was dead all along. Has never been replicated and it never will be America.
The 2000s ushered in remake chaos and the only worthy one in my opinion was the 2003 hit “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” that was a massive improvement over the original. When it comes to supernatural the 2002 hit “The Ring” leaves utter chills with a smart narrative and twist at the end that will knock your socks off. “Saw,” the 2004 gore fest that it is, introduced fell fledge torture porn, but also delivered a satisfying ending with a smart twist. The last 10 years I cannot highlight many standout horror flicks because I would love to chat about a great haunted house movie, but they just don’t make it. The only one that comes to mind is “The Conjuring” and its 2016 sequel “The Conjuring 2” which I thought was an exceptional sequel and it found a way to make you question the home you live in and who may have lived their prior to you.
In addition, the 2018 remake/sequel “Halloween” was a hit because it introduced Michael Myers to a new audience and the narrative really worked its sequel “Halloween Kills” not so much. As we enter 2022, the only flick at the moment that might change the genre yet again is the one that changed things in 1996, as “Scream” returns for its fifth installment people. I know I will not be the only person indulging in a bit of a horror marathon this holiday weekend as we celebrate Halloween. That is no pun to the actual film people, but you cannot watch a scary movie without watching the movie that everyone feels defines the holiday in all of its classic glory. “I mean its Halloween; everyone is entitled to one good scare.”