D. T. 's Top 25 Horror/Monster Movies... and again, why.

Posted by Dan Monday, June 13, 2005
I was sitting here thinking that I hadn't posted to this thing in a while. So in a half-assed attempt to keep up some fresh content I give you my top 25 horror/monster movies. There really are a few posts in the works; one on why I hate blog memes, one on disinfo.com... and my long delayed review of Revenge of the Sith. They're coming.

Look at it this way, at least I haven't resorted to putting up my poetry...yet. :)

25. Videodrome David Cronenberg's very first mind scrambler, and a casting coup with Deborah Harry and James Woods in the lead roles. This movie is scary and just too weird. Do not watch this while high.

24. Lair of the White Worm Like all Ken Russell films it has a tendency to go for the gross-out, but it's made that much more palatable by his excellent direction, and his superb taste in cinematographers, the incomparable Dick Bush.

23. Innocent Blood Not the best horror movie John Landis ever turned out, but it rates right up there. Anne Parillaud, sexiest... vampire... ever.

22. Halloween III Season of the Witch I don't care what anybody says about this movie, I thought it was brilliant. It didn't belong anywhere near the Halloween franchise, but it was undeniably scary and good.

21. Bram Stoker's Dracula I disliked this movie until I bought the thing on DVD and gave it a really close look. It has so much background detail that it's almost overwhelming. Francis Ford Coppola does things with shadows and light in this movie that defy imagination.

20. Hellraiser This film is a sensual and frightening study of obsession, and it's just grand. Clive Barker has yet to write a story that translates well to the screen, but this one comes closest. Doug Bradley carries this movie with the scariest performance of his career.

19. The People Under the Stairs The best haunted house movie ever made without a haunted house. It's a funny and brilliant story, and Wes Craven pulls some outstanding performances out of everyone involved.

18. Dracula In 1931, Tod Browning created a 75 minute masterpiece, and star Bela Lugosi found the role of his lifetime. It's creepy and excellent, and Lugosi can chew scenery with the best of them.

17. Night of the Living Dead George A. Romero's zombie tour-de-force. This movie is a no budget classic. It's claustrophobic and relentless, and it still gives me the creeps to this day.

16. The Mummy The year after Tod Browning came out with Dracula, his cinematographer Karl Freund, directed The Mummy for Universal Studios. Who knew he'd turn out a cinematic masterpiece.

15. Poltergeist Even though it sported the most obnoxious tag line ever (and arguably one of the most memorable), Tobe Hooper created a scary fright fest, while persevering through rumors of producer Steven Spielberg having completed most of the direction. I don't buy it. The camera work and the actors performances don't feel like a Spielberg film.

14. The Amityville Horror Bar none, the most frightening haunted house movie ever made. Disregard the silly notion that it's "based on a true story." (I've been to the house, it's so not.) It's just a plain good story.

13. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Tobe Hooper's second foray into moviemaking. With a story based very loosely on the Ed Gein murders, and a tweaked out William Shatner Halloween mask, Hooper created the slasher film sub genre.

12. Halloween If Tobe Hooper created the slasher film, John Carpenter certainly refined it with this movie. Sleek and eerie, Halloween is edge-of-your-seat tense. Jamie Lee Curtis is stellar as the beleaguered Laurie.

11. King Kong Forget the stupid 1976 remake, the original 1933 Kong is the one to watch. The biggest and best monkey of them all.

10. An American Werewolf in London This was the first John Landis movie I ever went to at the theater, and what an introduction. This movie is by turns funny and horrific, and the combination makes this the best werewolf movie ever made. That and Rob Bottin's groundbreaking special effects work.

9. The Scream Trilogy These three movies stand as the current pinnacle of both Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson's careers. A set of brilliantly written films that stand the slasher film on it's ear. All three films are must-sees for any fan of the horror film genre.

8. A Nightmare on Elm Street Here's Wes Craven again giving us the only movie that still occasionally gives me nightmares. The Scream Trilogy is technically better, but I like this one best, because of the dead on killer, way over the top performance by star Robert Englund.

7. Phantasm What can I say. There's just something about a movie set in a morturary, and starring a little flying spiky ball that appeals to me. There's really no stand out performances here. The acting is universally bad, and so is the directing, but the cinematography is pretty, it's fast paced, and a whole lot of fun. And fun is what it's all about.

6. Dawn of the Dead I know, heresy right? No way. This version blows the socks off George A. Romero's 1978 original. Team Troma alum, James Gunn (The man responsible for introducing Tromeo and Juliet to thousands of unsuspecting Shakespeare fans), and first time director Zack Snyder, crafted a labor of love with this movie. Ving Rhames and Mekhi Phifer are the standouts here, though props should be given to Inna Korobkina for going along with the zombie baby birthing scene.

5. The Creature From the Black Lagoon I have a soft spot for gill men and evil sea creatures. With one exception, this is the best of the best. I love this movie for no other reason.

4. The Exorcist The most flat-out terrifying movie ever made. It messed me up as a kid, and I still get the uncontrollable shivers every time I see it. I still can't look at Linda Blair without seeing Regan's full on possessed face superimposed over the top of it. *brrrrrrrr* Let's move on.

3. Underworld Kate Beckinsale as a killer uber vampire in a world where Werewolves and Vampires are locked in an eternal struggle. The visuals and special effects in this movie are just phenomenal, and the story is mythic.

2. The Bride of Frankenstein There are few horror fans familiar with the works of James Whale that would argue that this film is not his masterpiece. It was the first horror movie I ever saw, and I will always love it. It's a well acted, brilliantly directed, love story wrapped up in a classic horror narrative.

1. Jaws I will always consider this the best horror film ever made. This movie is groundbreaking on so many levels, and a tribute to what a brilliant filmmaker can do when he's hemmed in by production problems and forced to improvise on the fly. Jaws remains one of the few movies that I consider a masterpiece, and it's definitely the best of its genre.


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Im an essayist, critic, online blogger, short story writer and to borrow a descriptor from Peter David, "Writer of stuff." I love all things pop culture related: Music, Movies, Comics, Books, Politics... if you can label it I probably have an opinion about it, and I love to argue. All informed opinions are welcome here.
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