The Horror Nerd's Favorite Horror Films
People ask me all the time, "What is your favorite horror film." I hate answering that question, but to not answer it seems like punking out. There are so many great horror films that, for me, it's almost impossible to narrow it down to one. However, if you put a gun to my head and forced me to answer, I would have to say.....
"The Exorcist", William Friedkin, 1973
This is the first film that ever scared me, and I think it still packs a punch today, even in the era of CGI and torture films. The atmosphere of dread is almost palatable, and I can feel the anguish that Regan, her mother, and all of the other characters are going through. Every time someone tells me that the effects are "dated", I want to punch them in the face. Of course they're dated. The film was made in 1973. That's what they had to work with then, and the filmmakers did an amazing job. What most people don't know is that William Friedkin kept the bedroom set at a freezing temperature, to increase the discomfort of the actors. When Ellen Burstyn is yanked backwards, she actually was yanked back violently and unexpectedly, which led to permanent injuries. They simply do not do things like that any more. There is not much more I can say about "The Exorcist", but it remains my all-time favorite horror film, and one of my all-time favorite films, period, horror or otherwise.
Here are some of my other favorite horror films:
"The Thing", John Carpenter, 1982
What can I say about this film other than it's a masterpiece? The acting, the direction, the sets, the dialogue, the overwhelming sense of terror. I could go on and on. I saw this film when I was was 14, and it had a profound impact on me. I had never seen anything like it, and I have never seen anything like it since. The practical effects still hold up after all these years, and this film set the standard for every horror film that followed. Please do NOT get me started on the 2011 "prequel".
"Freaks", Tod Browning, 1932
Let's face it folks, freaks make us uncomfortable. We can be politically correct all we want, but the fact is that we are genetically programmed to shun those that have some sort of physical defect. It's why freak shows have been popular for over 100 years. Tod Browning knew this, and took full advantage of it when he made this film, which, by the way, almost got him drummed out of the film business. Using real freaks was a stroke of genius, and the film still holds up today, 80 years later. You can say the words, "We accept you, one of us! Gooble Gobble!" in a group of people and it's virtually guaranteed that someone will know the reference. This film is one of the crown jewels of my horror collection, and I never get tired of watching it.
"Audition", Takashi Miike, 1999
This is a film that, during one scene, made me scream like a girl. It's kind of a slow build, but when it really gets going, it's time to fasten your seat belt. For anyone not familiar with Miike, I wonder how you can call yourself a horror fan. He is the Japanese master of gory, gruesome and disturbing horror, and this is one of his best. Even though I know what's coming, every time I watch this movie I swear it will be the last time.