Media-assault.com’s Top 10 Horror Films of All Time

It’s Halloween time and that’s the perfect excuse to post a list of what I feel are the top 10 horror films of all time.

What makes a horror film great?  In my opinion, it’s a combination of scares, imagination, and special effects.  So, feel free to share your own on our Facebook page.

Night of the Living Dead10.) Night of the Living Dead (1968) – This is the movie that started the zombie phenomenon that’s since taken over not only movies but video games, books, and TV as well.  Made for a small budget by independent filmmaker George A. Romero near Pittsburgh, PA, Night of the Living Dead was released on an unsuspecting public in October, 1968.  Audiences had seen nothing like it before.  It still manages to be quite unsettling.

 

The Changeling9.) The Changeling (1980) – Not to be confused with the 2008 Angelina Jolie movie with a similar name, The Changeling is a top notch ghost story that slowly builds to an effective and satisfying climax.  Featuring George C. Scott as John Russell, a grief stricken composer trying to recover from the death of his family.  When John buys a mansion, he finds that he’s not the only one living in the house.  The other is the spirit of a murdered boy.  This movie isn’t fast-paced but it does manage to be quite creepy.

The Mist8.) The Mist (2007) – One of the better Stephen King adaptations to hit the big screen, The Mist tells the story of a mysterious fog that settles over a small town in Maine.  Unlike 1980’s The Fog, which told a similar story, this cloud of terror contains something far more sinister than just dead people. The Mist also does a commendable job exploring how humans react when faced with such a dire situation.  The ending just might be the most unsettling and, dare I say, depressing endings ever seen in a horror film.

The Thing7.) The Thing (1982) – Although this is a remake of a 1951’s The Thing from Another World, John Carpenter’s version takes the horror to an entirely new level.  Where the original alien was a man (James Arness, in fact) in some make-up, the alien being in the 80’s version is a shape shifting enigma that can mimic the appearance of any living creature.  This adds a layer of suspense that the original lacked as the viewer never knows who is who or what is what.  Add in some spectacular practical effects by Rob Bottin and his crew and you’ve got a masterpiece of modern horror.

A Nightmare on Elm Street6.) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – Although the movie spawned a slew of sequels and eventually reduced the evil Freddy Krueger into something resembling a cartoon character, the original A Nightmare on Elm Street was a truly revolutionary and scary movie.  Combining nightmarish dream imagery with the fear of falling asleep, writer/director Wes Craven was able to ratchet up the suspense and then deliver shocking scenes of razor-fingered Krueger slashing his victims apart.  With a dash of dark humor added, it was a nearly perfect recipe for horror.

Phantasm5.) Phantasm (1979) – The fact that Don Coscarelli’s film was made for a limited budget actually gives it some of its creepiness factor.  Since everything looks a bit odd and out of place, this tale of a sinister funeral home and the mysterious tall man that seems to be its otherworldly guardian can play with your expectations of what’s real and what isn’t somewhat more subtly than you might otherwise expect.  Phantasm continues to be imitated, even by its sequels, but it’s never been duplicated.

Alien4.) Alien (1979) – Some may argue that Alien is a science fiction film but I beg to differ.  This is a classic horror movie in a sci-fi setting.  (Later films would edge closer to science fiction for sure.)  The pacing is deliberate and the scares effective as the crew of the USS Nostromo respond to a distress call that leads them to their eventual doom.  There are so many vintage horror moments that I will resist trying to pick a favorite.  Icing on the cake:  H.R. Giger’s creature designs are simply mind-blowing.

Hellraiser3.) Hellraiser (1987) – Hellraiser introduced us to a character who would later become known as Pinhead.  (In this first Hellraiser film, he is credited as simply “Lead Cenobite.”)  Clive Barker, who wrote and directed, presents a tale where an affair takes a brutally supernatural turn for the worse as a dead lover is resurrected by the blood of his former mistress’ victims.  This is all thanks to a little puzzle box called the Lament Configuration and it’s keepers: the Cenobites, creepy demons in leather and chains.  It’s graphic, bloody, and damn scary.

2.) The Exorcist (1973) – A young girl begins a relationship with an imaginary playmate named Captain Howdy, who turns out to be a demon that ends up possessing her body. Her mother turns to a priest for help and one of the blood chilling horror experiences ever filmed ensues. Linda Blair turns in a disarmingly menacing performance as Regan, the girl at the heart of the film’s spiritual confrontation. Seeing this cute child turn into a filthy-mouthed agent of Satan is an experience that you’ll never forget.

1.) Halloween (1978) – John Carpenter’s original slasher movie is probably responsible for more splatter-filled knock-offs than Star Wars spawned low-budget space operas, but this is a smart and effective little film. Although it was followed by increasingly less effective and intelligent sequels, it’s best to think of Halloween as a self-contained film. Michael Myers, the “boogeyman”, as evil personified terrifies a small town in Illinois and, without a motive, he’s completely unpredictable. Evil without limits is the ultimate horror.

Suicide Squad (2016) Review

suicidesquadAfter this year’s highly divisive Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Brothers and DC Studios keep the DC Cinematic Universe going with Suicide Squad. Picking up directly after the events of Batman vs Superman, the story finds the U.S. Government in the unenviable position of being unable to defend the country against attacks by what they call meta-humans. Meta-humans are, of course, humans with super powers or unique abilities. With so many meta-humans appearing, the government decides to recruit some unlikely assistants into their ranks.

Read the rest of the review here…

Ghostbusters (2016) Review

ghostbusters2016

I’ve never seen a remake refer to its source material so often and with such reverence that it felt like a two hour suggestion that maybe you should, in fact, be watching the original film. That is exactly what Paul Feig’s 2016 Ghostbusters reboot feels like.

At every opportunity, a cameo or wink-wink/nudge-nudge moment is trotted out and everytime it somehow refers to the original Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis script. There is nary a single original idea in Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold’s script. Everything from the origins of the Ghostbusters’ logo, their headquarters or even their advertising methods makes references to the original film.

Read the rest of the review here…

The Legend of Tarzan (2016) Review

legendoftarzanI grew up on a steady diet of Tarzan as a child.  Whether it was the old Johnny Weissmuller films from the 1930s and 40s, the Ron Ely television series from the 1960s, or the 1970s DC Comics version of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ character, I was constantly being exposed to him. The idea of a boy raised by apes and then growing up to become a guardian of the jungle and its animal inhabitants just struck a chord with me. The fact that he was also connected to aristocracy and had immense riches was just the icing on the cake.

I was skeptical when I heard that another reboot of the character was headed to theaters.  Recent attempts to modernize older characters, for the most part, haven’t fared very well.  (Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series, which was the inspiration for Disney’s ill-fated John Carter, immediately comes to mind.) However, the trailers for The Legend of Tarzan looked interesting enough so I decided to give it the chance to rekindle my interest in John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke.

The film opens with an explanation of Belgium’s King Leopold and his failed attempts to colonize the African Congo.  Debt-ridden and desperate for cash, Leopold sends Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz, in fine cartoony villain mode), into the jungle searching for a long-rumored source of diamonds. Rom finds that these diamonds are in a territory called Opar, which is controlled by Chief Mbonga and his warriors. Mbonga is willing to trade access to the diamonds for the capture of Tarzan.

Read the rest of the review here…

Jurassic World (2015) Review

Jurassic WorldNearly 22 years to the day of the release of Jurassic Park, a third sequel has hit movie screens. Jurassic World, almost as much a reboot as it is a sequel, begins with Isla Nublar – the site of the previous three films – having finally been turned into a fully operational and successful dinosaur-filled theme park.

Everything has been running smoothly for the last 10 years but attendance has plateaued. In order to spur renewed interest in the park, now named Jurassic World, inGen management has decided to begin creating new species of dinosaurs through DNA manipulation. Based on focus group research, which seems to indicate that the public prefers large, carnivorous dinosaurs, the company creates Indominus Rex, a 50 foot long predator that dwarves the first film’s big dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus Rex. The company, however, does not reveal the source of the new dinosaur’s genetic material. As one might expect from a Jurassic Park sequel, this does not bode well for the park’s guests.

Read the rest of the review here…

Tusk (2014) Review

tusk-movieHave you ever watched a film and thought afterwards that you’d just witnessed someone’s idea of a prank? That’s how I felt after watching Kevin Smith’s Tusk.

Wallace Bryton (Justin Long) is an American podcaster who, along with his assistant, Teddy (Haley Joel Osment,) brings his listeners “real and raunchy” humor every week by interviewing hapless individuals he finds online. When his most recent interview subject – a man who cut off his own leg imitating sword play from Kill Bill – dies from his injuries, Wallace finds himself in the middle of the Canadian countryside desperate to find someone interesting to interview for his next show.

While in the bathroom of a bar, Wallace spies a handbill from a man offering free room and board to anyone willing to come and listen to his adventure stories. Seeing this as an opportunity to save this week’s show, Wallace calls the number on the flyer and travels to meet Howard Howe (Michael Parks), a strange, reclusive man who lives in a large house in Bifrost, Manitoba.

Read the rest of the review here…

Paranoiac (1963) Review

paranoiacWhen most people think of Hammer Films, they’ll remember Christopher Lee as Dracula or Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Hammer Horror is practically a genre in and of itself. But, Hammer Studios made more than just updated (for their time) versions of classics like Frankenstein, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Mummy. They created a few psychological thrillers of note as well. Paranoiac is one of them.

Simon Ashby (Oliver Reed) is about to gain full control over his deceased parents’ estate. Frustrated that the monthly allowance he receives from the executor of the estate until he is of legal age cannot keep up with his love of fast cars, hard booze, and fast women, Simon becomes even more distraught when a man claiming to be his older brother, Tony (Alexander Davion), appears at the Ashby mansion. If the man is Tony, then he will gain control of the family trust and Simon will not be able to continue the lavish lifestyle to which he’s become addicted.

Read the rest of the review here…

Drinking Buddies (2013) Review

Drinkingbud5.JPGChris (Ron Livingston) and Kate (Olivia Wilde) are one of those couples that shouldn’t work. He is a socially awkward bookworm and she is an outgoing, social butterfly. Similarly, Jill (Anna Kendrick) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are equally mismatched. She’s an artist and he works in a brewery. Luke and Kate work together and they introduce their significant others to one another. Unsurprisingly, they hit it off. So much so, in fact, that a weekend getaway to a cabin in the woods starts a series of events that will leave them all changed by the end of the film.

Read the rest of the review here…

Man of Steel (2013) Review

MAN OF STEELWhen I heard about an updated version of Superman, directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and produced by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises, The Prestige), I thought, “This is going to be awesome!”

Sadly, the end product is not awesome. It’s entertaining to be sure but I wouldn’t count it as one of the best superhero movies ever made. Or even the best Superman movie ever made. (That title still goes to Richard Donner’s 1978 classic, Superman.)

First, I’ll list the good things.

Henry Cavill was a good choice to play Superman. He physically looks the part and he bridges the many generations of Superman in his appearance. He recalls Christopher Reeve as often as he does Tom Welling while still being an improvement over Brandon Routh. (Who really wasn’t that bad in 2006’s Superman Returns.)

Read the rest of the review here…

Skyfall (2012) Review

James Bond has been an iconic character for 50 years. To celebrate his golden anniversary, Bond returns to the screen in what may be one of the best films in a series that’s seen as many ups as downs.

Daniel Craig returns for the third time as the legendary Agent 007 and, as in his previous two outings, he makes for a great incarnation of the character. Although some fans thought he may have been too grim for the role, Craig lightens up a bit in Skyfall.

This time around, MI6 faces a threat from a cyber-terrorist who seems to have a personal vendetta against M (Dame Judi Dench). As usual, Bond is the only agent on the roster who can step up to the challenge. He gets some assistance from a new Q (Ben Whishaw) and a sexy assistant partner, Eve (Naomie Harris, 28 Days Later.)

Read the rest of the review here…