Honorable Mentions: Poltergeist, Gremlins, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, The Fly, Dead Alive, Audition, Stir of Echoes, Army of Darkness, Misery, Begotten
10. The Blair Witch Project - Like it or not, 'The Blair Witch Project' is a staple in the horror genre! Originally made for a mere $60,000, the movie ended up grossing nearly $250,000,000!!! Yes you read that correctly, 'The Blair Witch Project' is one of the most financially successful movies of all time. But all of this is thanks to its brilliant marketing campaign, it was so successfully marketed that many moviegoers actually thought the story was real and the actors were killed. They used the internet to post fake stories of the blair witch, fake sightings listings, used missing posters for its actors, newspaper articles, and much more to promote the film. As for the movie itself, it unfortunately kick started the dreaded found footage genre. That being put aside, the movie is extremely effective, coming across as authentic and eerily real. The movie will forever be remembered as the crown jewel of the found footage genre!
9. Friday the 13th - Probably one of the most famous horror movies of all time, 'Friday the 13th', helped develop our fears of cabins in the woods. Though the movie does not hold up very well in todays time (unlike fellow slashers like 'Halloween' & 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'), it still helped solidify the slasher genre and the series gave us one of the most iconic killers in movie history. What is most surprising about the movie is that most people forget or flat out don't know that the real killer in this movie is not Jason himself, but rather his vengeful mother. The movie does offer some of the more elaborate and brutal killings compared to other movies in its time period (axe to the face, arrow threw the neck, etc). It pushed the boundaries a bit and had a considerable higher body count that other slashers, something its sequels would take to the extreme! Not to mention it has a completely unforgettable soundtrack!
8. Re-Animator - One of the best black comedies of the 1980's. The premise is simple, a scientist develops a serum that can bring the dead back to life, but the real beauty of the movie lies in its execution. the movie is over the top in some aspects (acting & gore), but the movie remains grounded with its story. It doesn't try to make the movie sound plausible or waste time detailing the science behind the serum, it simply jumps right into the effects and its crazy outcomes. This certainly is one of those campy 80's horror movies, but 'Re-Animator' has a certain amount of charm that comes with it, which makes it totally enjoyable and surprising. This is the type of movie that fits perfectly in the 80's and certainly would not have an large appeal in todays age. This movie has an acquired taste (die hard horror fans or 80s horror fans), it is sort of like a Sam Raimi film, but shot in a slightly more serious manner. (Full Review Here)
7. Day of the Dead - Though this is probably considered the worst of the original Dead Trilogy, it still stands tall in the zombie genre. It lacks a bit of depth compared to the other two movies, but it makes up for that with its enhanced splatter effects. This time the movie tackles more of the advancements of the human race during the apocalypse and their search for a weapon to fight the undead. Romero has always said his movies were metaphors (and "'The Walking Dead' lacked metaphor") and this time around he tackles the military vs science conflict. It's one of the first zombie movies that really solidifies government vs the people during a zombie apocalypse (which is now very common in apocalypse type movies). He transitions away from straight zombie survival and adds a bit more depth outside of the decaying walkers, which might be why people tend to look down on it a bit more. And if you are still not convinced, Romero himself has said this is his favorite film he has made!
6. The Shining - This is probably the biggest surprise on the list (most people would have this easily in the top 3 spots). The reason I have it lower on the list is because it isn't the best movie to re-watch again and again. But that being said, this is still a masterpiece none the less (as with most Kubrick films). Jack Nicholson gives an Oscar worthy performance as the demented Jack Torrance who slowly loses his sanity to cabin fever and turns on his family. Stanley Kubrick creates a dense atmosphere of dread and growing tension like none other. He brilliantly shows Jack Torrance's spiral into madness in the isolated and haunted Overlook Hotel, slowly he begins to see ghosts and eventually they convince him his family is a problem . It's terrifying to see him fall deeper and deeper into insanity as his family tries to cope with his growing hostility towards them. If you are looking for a slow burn horror movie with a strong atmosphere and great acting, this is without question the best choice. It is quite surprising that regardless of the praise the movie has gained over the years from fans and critics, Stephen King still considers this to be the worst adaptation of all his books.
5. The Evil Dead - The only movie on the list to be rated NC-17 for excessive gore (though nowadays it is considered quite tame). But during its release in 1981 it was seen as diabolic and grotesque, critics panned it, nowadays however it has attained the title of being a horror classic. Though the movie is extremely campy and has terrible acting, but its strong story of possession and its claymation special effects make it truly unmissable. Sam Raimi makes the movie delightfully creepy with his unique camera work (POV shots coming from the demons), abstract sound effects, and crazy visuals (especially the makeup used for the possessed). This is more of a movie for hardcore horror genre fans, it certainly is polarizing in nature, you either love it and appreciate what Raimi was trying to do, or you hate it with a passion. Also, the remake/reboot, 'Evil Dead' takes out all of the silliness and antics, and tries for a serious take on the storyline. Outside of its practical effects (notice they stayed away from CGI like the originals), the movie isn't too terrible compared to other remakes being put out there. (Full Review Here)
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street - You couldn't ask for a better premise, a serial killer who kills people in their dreams....so simple, so effective! Again, this is another movie that gave us a classic horror icon, Freddy Krueger. Unlike other big baddies like Jason, Michael, and Leatherface, Freddy is given a bizarre, darkly humorous personality to makes him stand out (though it's taken to further lengths later in the series). The brilliance relies in its story and shooting style, Wes Craven makes it unpredictable in the sense that its difficult for the viewer to distinguish what we are watching is real life or a dream sequence. It's riveting having to decide what we are watching is real life or someones final minutes of life in the dream world, where Freddy is God. The movie is conceptually brilliant and Wes Craven adds the necessary steps to make the movie memorable and scary. It has its extreme moments or being bizarre (just like dreams can be), but it never goes too over the top to the point where it becomes ridiculous.
3. Evil Dead II - It isn't until 'Evil Dead II' that Sam Raimi cements himself as a horror legend. The story is sort of a sequel to the first, but also is said to be a remake of sorts. But one thing is for sure, 'Evil Dead II' improves on just about every aspect when compared to the original, action, humor, special effects, gore, acting, its all brought to new heights. Plus it isn't until this entry that the character, Ash, is truly brought alive as being the chainsaw wielding, demon slayer. Also, this time around, the movie embraces its silliness (it is far more hilarious than its predecessor) and certainly ups the antics that made the first film so exciting. It takes less than 8 minutes before the Necronomicon is already trying to claim Ash's soul, and once that starts, all Hell breaks loose. Sam Raimi perfectly blends reality and illusion to the point where the movie is so unpredictable that literally anything can happen. This is the crown jewel of cabin in the woods movies......undisputed!
2. Scream - The second and final movie from the 90's is one of the best of all time, 'Scream'. This movie alone kick started the horror genre back to life after the worst decade for horror movies ever. The movie does everything right, establishes mystery, creates a realistic setting, its funny, its scary, and most important, its payoff/conclusion is clever and surprisingly. The movie has been described as a 'smart horror movie' and that is exactly what it is, its self aware and self referencing and its brilliant. The movie has plenty of horror cliches (obviously done on purpose and plays them off in a hilarious manner), but it also has plenty of unexpected surprises as well. What sets this movie aside from a typical slasher is that we get a well established setting in the town of Woodsboro and fills it with witty characters. The high school students are spot on real compared to todays youth, not taking the gravity of the situation serious enough, poking fun at the dead, and of course being completely oblivious. Not to mention the movie opens up with one of the most heart pounding and clever scenes in movie history! (Full Review Here)
1. The Thing - Not only the best horror movie of the 80's and 90's, its also the best horror movie of all time. The movie does everything perfect, it features characters making smart decisions for once, strong graphics, and a perfectly ominous atmosphere/setting. Carpenter does not waste time trying to find the reasons as to why the alien is on Earth, but instead focuses on the fact that its too late and they may already be among us. The movie tackles its premise in a smart and logical way, offering plenty of science behind the madness, but also shows just how wild and unpredictable a mimicking alien can be. 'The Thing' perfectly captures the true human emotions that would come from this nightmarish situation, paranoia & mistrust, which would be through the roof high if this were true. In the end, the movie could not be more satisfying, plenty of shock value and gore, as well as fantastic pacing and tension that only grows stronger the longer the movie goes on. Plus the final scene in the movie is perfect and ambiguous......though John Carpenter recently spoke up about his intentions in that final scene. (Full Review Here)