It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of horror movies. Whether it’s ghosts and goblins, devils and demons, or slashers and…I don’t know, crashers?, the genre isn’t my jam. But it IS the jam of many a’Mad About Movies listener and since it’s October, and Happy Scare Time is upon us, I thought it prudent to lean into that Halloween feeling. Over the course of this month, we’ll be publishing several entries from both MAM hosts and MAM contributors discussing their personal five favorite horror movies. At the end of the month, we’ll also have a bonus episode available on our VIP feed talking to each blog contributor about a few of the films on their respective lists. Thanks for reading. -Brian
Halloween is just around the corner and with the incoming of brisk autumn air and stomachaches from overdosing on bite-sized Snickers also comes the thrills and chills of a well-crafted horror film. Horror has evolved from the Universal monsters of the 1930s to the Hitchcockian thrillers of ‘50s up to slashers in the ‘80’s and found-footage in the late ‘90s and into the 2000s. It’s hard to come up with a list of only five, but here are a few that I consider to be my personal favorites.
5.) Halloween (1978)
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre may have been the godfather of low-budget slashers in 1974, but the release of Halloween in 1978 evolved the genre with its haunting score by director John Carpenter and menacing villain in Michael Myers. Halloween would be the motion picture debut of the incomparable Jamie Lee Curtis as final-girl Laurie Strode, who would later reprise her role forty years later in the rebooted franchise.
4.) Scream (1996)
From one film that defined a genre to one that gladly poked fun at it, the tongue-in-cheek horror/comedy from director Wes Craven gladly shined a light on what made the slasher genre so great, as well as what made it so ridiculous. You probably owned one of the ghost-face masks and have been asked, in a crackly voice, what your favorite scary movie is, and you have this film to thank. Just make sure not to say you’ll be right back when you leave a room.
3.) Hereditary (2018)
Yeah, this is a recent one, but it’s just too good to pass up. Putting writer/director Ari Astor on the map as a director who’s not afraid to put his vision on the big screen, this is one of the most well-shot horror films from a set design and cinematography aspect of the last twenty years. It’s too bad that the Oscars rarely, if ever, give genre films their due because Toni Collette should have been nominated, at least, for Best Actress.
2.) The Descent (2005)
You know you have a great horror film on your hands when you can get thrills from the audience without having to show off your main monster until the film is two-thirds over. Creating a claustrophobic environment in a cave setting with six women trying to survive their predicament is nerve-racking enough, but once blood-thirsty albino monsters are added to the mix, The Descent in non-stop carnage.
1.) Suspiria (1977)
Dario Argento’s supernatural horror film about a young American dancer who embarks on a journey to a German dance academy run by witches is pure insanity from beginning to end. More unsettling than anything else, this is a different breed of horror film that many may find too out there but is well worth the investment.