Tuesday, November 27, 2012

RIP Social Life 1983-2012

Ok last week was Thanksgiving and we all stuffed ourselves to the point of contemplating seppuku.  You may have also noticed that horrible music is playing everywhere you go now and like it or not Christmas is upon us.  Now some of you know that my day job has nothing whatsoever to do with film (degree be damned), and has everything to do with delivering mail.  So for all of you doing your Christmas shopping online, you’re the reason I will have no life for the next month.  My schedule went from 40 hours to 48 to 50, to 56, and god only knows what it will be starting next week when there’s no more penalty time (all hours over 40 are time and a half, no double time, etc.)  So there you have it, I’m taking some time today on what may be my last 8 hour day in a month to write a little because lord knows when I’ll be able to again.

So you can imagine the first thing I might do is start to make a preemptive excuse for not finishing my top 100 by the end of the year.  My goal still stands, and through some minor miracle I may pull it off, after all the week after Christmas and before New Years ought to be nice and easy.  I am tentatively giving up my chance of producing a top ten of 2012 by the year’s end, because despite my half-assed best efforts I am nowhere close to putting together a list like that and have consistently failed at getting to the movie theater.  I did however say I wouldn’t make the overall top 100 until I finished all the films on my checklist, so allow that to be my first warning.


Ordinarily I’d post about these films either in separate reviews (fat chance) or during my film journal section.  To save time on that post I’ll just write about the few films we watched this month.  As of 11/27/12 Kate and I have two films left, Lawrence of Arabia and Greed.  Both of these films are ridiculously long so we may or may not finish them by the end of the month.  Plenty of films on the list Kate slept through (a lot of them really) so you can make the argument that we should revisit Touch of Evil, Enter the Dragon, Godfather 2, and some others but well close enough.

Winchester ‘73 (1950)

The first of the Anthony Mann-James Stewart westerns that marked a turning point in the maturity of the Western.  We have dark psychological themes, anti-heroes, questionable morals, and a lot of casualties.  Now I’m personally a bigger fan of The Far Country and Man from Laramie, but I still have to tip my cap to Winchester.  The biggest flaw for an audience today is the stereotypical Indian attack that seems unprovoked and not without it’s share of racism.  This seems more of a side track and just seems to shoehorn some action in the middle of the film.  The sharp shooting near the beginning is ridiculous and is the stuff you’d expect more in a Sergio Leone film.  However in terms of plot and character I think it’s still a great film and this set up a growing trend of dark and slightly off balance “heroes” played by James Stewart peaking with cinema’s ultimate obsession Scotty Ferguson in Vertigo.

Battleship Potemkin (1925)

I’ve written about this film before during my breakdown of the last Sight and Sound poll (and by last I mean 2002).  Not much more to add considering my fourth (5th?) viewing of the film didn’t exactly reveal new depths.  I will say this is the first time I can recall staying awake for the whole film so that’s something to marvel at.  I considered doing a whole blog about this, The General Line, Zvenigora, Storm Over Asia, and Earth which when you see my film journal you’ll notice I watched all of these in a short period of time.  I consider this the “Soviet” section of my film research.  Eisenstein’s film was considered the high water mark of this from the time it premiered in 1925 until really this year when The Man With a Movie Camera rightfully displaced it from Sight and Sound’s top ten.  This is a film that survives more on reputation considering like many of Eisenstein’s films it’s far from subtle.  He would take his sarcastic intertitles much further in October, and then presumably tone it down for The General Line a film that I believe stylistically is his best.  I’ll admit watching it again that I found The General Line relatively free of conflict, something that Potemkin has plenty of.  However it’s still far from perfect.  I feel like the much obsessed over Odessa steps sequence seems to come out of nowhere and this may make it all the more horrific to some, but it somehow lessens the impact of the massacre because it’s not entirely clear why the hell it’s happening.  This still would probably rank as perhaps the greatest propaganda film of all time and will continue to be taught in roughly every editing class from here on out.

Landscape in the Mist (1988)

My first encounter with Theo Angelopoulos was one of my great revelations in cinema.  It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the comically long take, and Greece’s greatest director took his complicated camera movements to absurd heights.  Now I understand some first time viewers having a bit of apprehension for the film.  For starters it is slow paced, it’s also a depressing European art film, and it also has the second most pretentious title for a film (Story of the Weeping Camel is by far the king in that department).  I can’t stress enough how much this film is worth the effort.  Emotionally devastating, powerful, and expertly filmed it reveals more to me each viewing.  I may think Ulysses Gaze is his best now, but there will always be a spot reserved for the film that introduced me to him.

The Wild Bunch (1969)

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen this film, I’m guessing it’s around 5 or 6.  Point is I’ve always been a Sam Peckinpah fan and this is his masterpiece by a mile.  It’s bloody, dirty, and awesome.  The restored director’s cut that surfaced sometime in the mid-90s helped re-establish this as one of the true classics and the last great Western of the 60s.  For many the final sequence of this film was viewed as a last great hurrah not just for the aging actors in it, but for the genre in general which would never reach the heights of this or Leone again.  A lot more I’d like to say about it, but well this probably isn’t the last time I’ll blog about this film.

LA Confidential (1997)

Speaking of losing track of how many times I’ve seen a film.  When I discussed this book in a capstone class at DePaul my teacher scoffed at the inclusion of this film above all others.  He didn’t outright say it was a bad film but couldn’t fathom how it was an “essential”.  I’ll admit that there are tons of films that could have conceivably taken it’s place but few that would have been better.  Curtis Hanson would never come close to making a film this good again, and it’s amazing to look back at how extraordinary the cast is here.  It seems everyone is a seriously gifted actor.  You can argue whether Kim Bassinger deserved her Oscar here but she is pretty damn good and holds her own against everyone.  There is so much information here that I had to applaud the way that Hanson reinforces details and clues.  It might seem like he’s talking down to us reminding us of things we might not have been paying attention to, but it helps not only to make the film coherent a first time but stick with you long after.  One of those rare films whose characters are forever a part of my film consciousness.

If you ask Kate what Los Olvidados was about this would be her answer

Los Olvidados (1950)

Bunuel’s brilliant rebuttal to the sentimentality of Italian neo-realism is still a remarkable film today.  Brutal in it’s depiction of the underside of Mexican youth, it’s a film with no heroes only a few victims.  It seems everyone is a horrible person and as awful as the shiftless kids are, the parental figures are worse.  “Little eyes” is abandoned by his father, then abused regularly by a blind man who gets no sympathy, even after “Jaibo” and company beat him and ruin his bass drum.  Pedro’s mother seems to deliberately push her son away and when she makes a half-assed attempt at parenting it’s far too late.  There is an idea that not everyone is awful here but Bunuel seems to think the majority of poor people are.  The highlight (despite Kate’s fascination with the random dancing dog pictured above) is still Pedro’s dream sequence, which more than anything marks this as a Bunuel film.  For me this is his masterpiece and the best film to ever come out of Mexico.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Film Journal 2012 - October

Alright we’re behind schedule on this.  And I’m course speaking in the editorial, the royal we here, I write these things by myself.  Funny I should mention the “royal we”, because Top Hat features one particular manservant who is consistently tells everyone that “We are Bates”, but more on that film later. 

It’s nice to cross off that 100 Favorite Horror Films list.  I’m glad you all liked it, and if you didn’t then I’m not glad, I’m deeply saddened and hurt.  I realize I forgot a few films, particularly Near Dark and more importantly Possession which I fully intended on adding to this list, but well I forgot to write them down.  I may update it, or well now you know.

Getting this list crossed off allows me to focus more heavily on my all time top 100.  I’m thinking of sticking with the “favorite” theme rather than “greatest” for that list, because well I like keeping it completely subjective.  You’ll probably notice the majority of the films I watched this month are part of my research for that list, hence the reason for so many highly rated movies.  In fact a lot of the “new” films I watched were short films included as special features, so sorry if I didn’t expand my cinematic horizons as much in these 31 days.

There are a few new new films on this list.  I finally saw Cabin in the Woods and as you can see I liked it a hell of a lot.  In fact I enjoyed it probably more than Joss Whedon’s much bigger budget Avengers movie.  Not to say I disliked The Avengers, just think Cabin in the Woods might have been a better film.  By the way I also acknowledge that Drew Goddard directed CITW so don’t worry about it. 

I also got to see RZA’s directorial debut The Man With the Iron Fists, but I guess that’s for my November film journal.  A few things real quick about it.  I enjoyed it, the gore was comically funny, and the plotting was solid.  My main complaint was the unnecessary blatant cop out on nudity.  No idea why a film this gory couldn’t have some nudity.

Yes RZA punches someones eye out

I realize though that although the path seems clear to researching my top 100, there are a whole ton of films I need to see before making my year end top ten for 2012.  In fact to date I’m still about half way to my goal of fifty films, so there will probably be a mad dash to the finish line.  Especially when you consider how many films on that other list I still have to see.  It’s not impossible but well that’s my lot in life, so call it first world problems. 

Side note, I attempted to have shorter paragraphs from here on out, hope you noticed and appreciated it.

Failure on another front

Remember when I thought Kate and I could finish the National Society of Film Critics A-List in the month of October?  Yeah well we didn’t get there, in fact it seemed like we barely made any progress.  Well we did get 8 films done, but that’s about half of what I thought we could do, guess I just over thought that one.  So let’s see if we can’t wrap this up in November.  Anyways with the exception of Night of the Hunter and Trouble in Paradise which I already posted about here, I offer you an account of the other A-List films viewed in the month of October.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

Spike Lee’s masterpiece was a film I fully intended on blogging about intensively when we watched it at the beginning of the month.  I actually wrote, and later revised, a nice long essay on Spike Lee’s financing and marketing of his first five features.  I’ve seen Do the Right Thing multiple times and along with Malcolm-X I’ve always considered it his best.  Now there are plenty of people who aren’t terribly fond of Lee.  It was hard at times to like him in the 90s seeing him courtside during all those classic Bulls-Knicks playoff games, but well Chicago got the better end of that deal.

Over the years I’ve seen all his features minus one or two documentaries and there are a number of them I love.  In fact even his films that everyone hates I generally like more than I probably should, although The Miracle at St. Anna was a deplorable mess despite Lee’s well meaning intentions.  Do the Right Thing might be slightly dated in it’s fashion and pop culture references but I think the film still holds up remarkably well.  It’s fast paced, the dialogue is great, and the characters are all pretty well developed.  Sometimes the characters seem to react in unrealistic ways, but well when it’s well over 100 degrees outside you might be quick to snap as well.  It was fun watching this and Night of the Hunter in the same week because of Radio Raheem’s love and hate brass knuckle reference to the Preachers tattoos.  Stellar cast and incredibly well made this was in many ways the fulfillment of Lee’s prophecy.  It was a clear evolution and it’s still a mind boggling travesty how neglected this film was Oscar time, I mean when is the last time you heard someone say Driving Miss Daisy was a great film? 

Top Hat (1935)

One of my long standing favorites this is as good of an escapist musical as the 30s produced.  The Astaire-Rogers musicals began to get a bit formulaic as they went on and there are several plot devices that seem to repeat themselves even in this film.  For starters it is a cliché today to base a romantic comedy on some misunderstanding predicating from a mistaken identity.  Somehow in this film it’s charming and delightful, maybe because everything looks better in black and white and with Irving Berlin songs.  I still find the film pretty damn funny and it’s remarkable today how many gay or ambiguously gay characters are in the film.  There’s something that was always queer about Edward Everett Horton and he made a career of playing slightly effeminate stooges.  Eric Blore who played the aforementioned Bates seems gay enough to be a judge on Project Runway, and Erik Rhodes Beddini certainly adds to the campiness. 

I would agree with Danny Peary’s minor complaint that Ginger Rogers could stand to have a few more numbers here.  “The Piccolino” is the only solo number she has here whereas Astaire gets a share in all the songs.  However there are few more iconic moments in movie musicals than the pair dancing to “Cheek to Cheek”?  Admittedly I haven’t seen every one of their musicals together so calling Top Hat their best is a bit facetious of me, but well I might have a hard time believing they could top this.  A nice contrast to Trouble in Paradise when you compare this films Venice with a much more realistic rendition in the Lubitsch film. 

Children of Paradise (1945)

In the days immediately following WWII few international films seemed as symbolic of the allied triumph as Children of Paradise.  Seen by many as a triumph simply by being made it is a truly remarkable and monumental achievement.  True Jacques Prevert was known for his dialogue and his characters deliver some of the best lines in French film history here, albeit with characteristically unrealistic wit.  It is perhaps a testament to his abilities then that he would tackle a film with a mime as one of it’s major characters.  Based in part on the lives of some real life famous French people, it’s account of interweaving characters centered around a mysterious object of desire is remarkable.  Brisk, full of life, and at times literally bustling with activity it has always been one of my favorite films. 

This is the first time I actually watched the film in two separate installments.  Seeing it this way emphasized how different the two segments are.  We can look at the first part as a before story, where everyone is coming along and starting in their lives.  Perhaps the only character who seems established in any degree is Garance, whose life in the second part seems to be more of a kept woman.  She is the only one who seems to have found a false security in the second segment, the elusive object of desire that seems somehow past her prime later in the picture.  This might be due to the actress Arletty’s age at the time of filming, but her character seems to lose something in the second installment while at least the two actors who simultaneously courted her earlier have flourished and become champions in their respective careers. 

Raise the Red Lantern (1991)

The last of the Yimou films included on this list, this is by most accounts the best.  Again starring Gong Li one of the interesting things about this, along with Red Sorghum is how ancient the film at first appears yet how modern it is.  This took place during the early part of the 20th century and it seems like a historical fossil.  A fable that could take place anytime, anywhere.  There’s something about the decision to set the picture in the 20th century that makes it seem like an old antiquated tradition that would soon be wiped out.  It is as though you can be thankful for the communist revolution because it forever altered such ancient ideas of “marriage” and ended the reign of these sort of lords. 

Now I won’t get into how the class system has changed in China over the last several decades but in this film things are practically set in stone.  A servant despite sleeping with the Master has no prospects of ever being made the next wife.  The story however relegates the male characters to minor and supporting roles.  They play huge roles in the outcome and fates of the characters, but Yimou decides to primarily focus his attention on the various wives.  Gong Li’s fourth wife seems at first like she’ll be too pretty and too educated to fall into the somewhat silly games the other women play, but well when in Rome . . .

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Perhaps the ultimate screwball comedy and the film perhaps above all others that Kate hated.  The fast paced dialogue and the constant misunderstandings got on her nerves quick and I think she just quickly shut her brain off to it.  Now truthfully I wasn’t a huge fan of this film the first time I saw it, but I can’t say I have any idea why.  Maybe I thought it was annoying, or it’s plot was just too damn stupid, but well by the second time I saw it I loved it and well that’s the same feeling I’ve had the couple of times since then.

Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant teamed up several times over the course of their illustrious careers and just like Sylvia Scarlett this film was panned during it’s initial release, seems more people didn’t enjoy it too much the first time around.  Although I believe Sylvia Scarlett is an interesting failure, I can easily say that the trilogy of Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, and Baby are among the best screen comedies ever made.  I might lean a little more towards The Philadelphia Story because as good as this film is I can appreciate the more subtle and finer points of that film. 

Happy Together (1997)

The cinema of Wong Kar-Wai is one of those treasures that you never quite forget being introduced to.  His narratives are sprawling, the camera work is fantastic and they all seem to play on a similar theme.  Happy Together is an auspicious place to start if for no other reason than it’s rather in your face opening scene.  Almost immediately you have two dudes going at it in bed, and I mean going at it.  For those terrified folks don’t worry there’s no visible penetration, but man I don’t think Wong shot a more graphic sex scene in any of his films.   The story then lets us know somewhat haphazardly that there are two displaced guys from Hong Kong that are somewhat lost in Buenos Aires.  They have jobs and a place to stay but they always seem like transients, they’re at this point because they really don’t know what to do with their lives.  Their alienated in multiple stages, by being from Hong Kong they are alienated from China, in being gay they’re alienated from heterosexuals, and by living in Buenos Aires they’re alienated from their culture.  There is a telling line later in the film that sums up Wong’s filmography great when Tony Leung says “Lonely people are all the same.”  And how can you not love the ironic use of Frank Zappa’s “I Have Been in You”?  For what it's worth this is probably my favorite film of his.

Close-Up (1990)

The lone Iranian film on this list and one of the last foreign films we have left to see comes from the master Abbas Kiarostami.  Like so many of his films it blends that grey area between fiction and documentary.  It is filmed largely as a documentary and features several re-enactments done with the actual people involved in the case.  The notion of pretending to be a filmmaker whose making a movie that eventually gets to be in a movie playing that role has a sort of irony to it all.  Now feel free to cast the first stone at me but I’ve always thought Kiarostami was a tad bit overrated.  His reputation as Iran’s greatest filmmaker I’ve somewhat argued against because of the director who appears as himself in this film, Mohsen Makhmalbaf.  You’ll see that I also watched The Cyclist this month, the film that plays a large role in the movie here.  You’ll also notice I rated that film a little higher.

In fact that Makhmalbaf film was the first non-Kiarostami Iranian film I saw and also the first one I thought was an outright masterpiece, so maybe my tastes are just different.  I appreciate what Kiarostami does here, and it’s case is interesting.  I’m always fascinated by the judicial process of Iran, and this offers a rare look into a courtroom for what the judge thinks is a minor case, but enough to fashion an entire movie out of.  This film is exclusively Iranian by it’s premise.  Only an Iranian could impersonate a director like Makhmalbaf and convince a family that they would be the subject in his next movie.  Long after Italy’s celebrated neo-realist movement ended the tradition was long lasting in Iran, and Kiarostami has spent a large part of his career blurring the line between truth and fiction. 

Well hopefully we get through the rest of the list in November, here’s hoping.

She-Beast (1966) 3/10

Cabin in the Woods (2012) 10/10
Do the Right Thing (1989) 10/10

Gojira/Godzilla (1954) 7/10
Meet John Doe (1941) 10/10
The Burmese Harp (1956) 10/10

The Blue Angel (1930) 10/10

Cries and Whispers (1972) 8/10
A Propos de Nice (1930) 8/10
Taris (1931) 6/10
Zero for Conduct (1933) 9/10
The Grand Duke’s Finances (1924) 4/10

Top Hat (1935) 10/10

Night of the Hunter (1955) 10/10

Camp de Thiaroye (1987) 10/10

L’Eclisse (1962) 9/10
Mother Kusters Goes to Heaven (1975) 6/10
Another Way (1982) 8/10

Landscape After Battle (1970) 9/10
Ivan the Terrible Part I (1944) 9/10

Ivan the Terrible Part II (1946) 9/10
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964) 8/10

Children of Paradise (1945) 10/10
The Cyclist (1987) 10/10

The Last Laugh (1924) 9/10

Brief Encounter (1945) 10/10
Raise the Red Lantern (1991) 10/10

Last Tango in Paris (1972) 10/10
Bringing Up Baby (1938) 10/10
Trouble in Paradise (1932) 10/10

Jaws (1975) 9/10

I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932) 10/10

Dead Man (1995) 10/10

Oliver Twist (1948) 10/10
The Third Man (1949) 10/10

To Be or Not to Be (1942) 6/10

Interiors (1978) 8/10
Happy Together (1997) 10/10

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) 10/10
Close-Up (1990) 9/10

Aliens (1986) 10/10

Romeo and Juliet (1968) 10/10

Red Desert (1964) 9/10
The Navigator (1924) 10/10

Gente del Po (1947) 6/10
N. U. (1948) 5/10
Design for Living (1933) 10/10
The Big Heat (1953) 10/10

The Bicycle Thief (1948) 10/10
Lost Highway (1997) 10/10

Cure (1997) 7/10
Society (1989) 8/10
The Mirror (1974) 10/10

Best Film of the Month - Romeo and Juliet
Worst Film of the Month - She-Beast
Best New Discovery - Cabin in the Woods
For no reason, here's Buster Keaton having a sword fight with a swordfish

Thursday, November 1, 2012

100 Favorite Horror Films

Well a day late and . . . you get the idea.  Anyways as promised here’s my top 100 horror films.  You can call this my personal 100 Favorite Horror Movies list rather than any sort of objective 100 Greatest.  It’s a question of nomenclature, but whatever it is here’s 100 films that in some way shape or form fit the description of horror and they’re arranged in a somewhat random order as I saw fit.
Now I went into a whole definition of what horror is when I mentioned this list forthcoming some time ago.  I won’t rehash again what is a horror film and what isn’t.  In the case of a few films I referred to IMDB for clarification.  Granted I vocally despise that site, but for certain things it can help.  For this reason The Testament of Dr. Mabuse can be counted as a horror film, however M, Blue Velvet, and Lost Highway didn’t fit that bill so off the list they went.  There may or may not be more films on this list that don’t fit your definition of horror, or my brother’s for that matter but what of it. 

Somehow Lost Highway still isn't a horror film

Genre definition can be tricky and I wasn’t so hell bent on excluding a bunch of on the fence films to make room for others like my brother.  For that matter feel free to check out his list, I wouldn’t say it’s better, but he went through the trouble of offering film by film commentary, I’m far too lazy for that.  Likewise I didn’t create a whole blog for the sole purpose of this list like he did.  Excuses again, I also didn’t do nearly as much research as he did, so what of it.

I may revisit this topic a year from now and dedicate a good solid couple of months to research.  Hell I may offer a complete essay on every film to one up my brother.  For now I’ll just offer some commentary on the top ten as is my custom.  Considering we asked several friends and family to post their own lists we were the only two who actually did it on Halloween, so those people who shall not be named here are all proverbially fired. 

My Facebook friends should have noticed this list when it was posted yesterday, and if you didn’t then this is a more detailed version.  In my laziness I didn’t bother putting years so here you can find out which versions of which films are on my list.  There are two absolutes in horror films:  1) Every horror film will get a sequel and; 2) They will all be remade.  Typically when the sequels reach the saturation point, usually after they visit the ghetto, outer space, or turn into downright comedies of the straight to video variety, they get remade, or what’s politely called the “re-boot”.  It’s the reason Scream will probably get it’s own remake/reboot in a few years considering how much people hated Scream 4.  Although you don’t have to like or even acknowledge these sequels exist, I mean there are 5 Wrong Turn movies for example.  As for remakes even Day of the Triffids was remade, remember that?  Of course you don’t.  Point is these are the films that transcend the shit, or rather the films that eventually get their own sequels and remakes.  Feel free to question my sanity or complain as you see fit.

Many of these films have alternate titles so in most cases I used the title I saw the film under. 


Now the question of how I numbered them is worth noting.  There were a few strategies.  For one I could have listed these in terms of how scary they were.  Seeing how It traumatized me for weeks and will forever make me convinced that clowns are the most evil creatures in the universe, that should top the list, but take a good look it’s not even in my top 100.  When you consider only about three other films in my life have scared me, this would be a very short list.  Also take into account that no one born after 1935 has been scared by a Universal monster movie, even though a horror list without these classics could rightfully be discredited. 

Seriously fuck you Tim Curry

Next idea is to rank these films in terms of the best films that happen to be horror.  This would allow me to name this the 100 Greatest Horror Films, or more accurately “The 100 Greatest Films That Can Be Considered Horror”.  The second title isn’t quite as catchy and it poses some problems.  For one Psycho is probably the greatest film that can be called horror, but it wouldn’t be my favorite horror film.  Looking at my list there are plenty of five star films that are among my very favorites but place somewhat low here because well I chose not to number my list that way.  Simply put I didn’t think this would work.

The other theory is to number these films in terms of how they adhere to the horror genre.  Films that are quintessentially horror should get preference, and how well they employ the conventions of the genre, help define them and how well they execute their horrific ideas.  I may lean towards this, but well how about the genre bending films, this ranking would seem to reinforce the stereotypes which with few exceptions (Cabin in the Woods) usually are the mark of a formulaic and uninspired film.

So the result I went with is simply any god damn order I wanted.  Films I love get priority.  Films that actually scared me will get some consideration, but seriously fuck the movie It, I will never forgive that film for making me terrified of shower drains for the entirety of my childhood.  Likewise some of the films I really love that don’t adhere as neatly to horror conventions aren’t rated as high as films that may be overall inferior but are better “horror” movies.  In other words, this is my arbitrary ranking and deal with it, or send me a nice email/comment about how you beg to differ, I’m quite amicable to dialogue on this subject.

I should point out that if a particular favorite of yours isn’t on the list there are only four reasons.  First reason is that I haven’t seen it.  Keep in mind before I made this list I had never seen The Omen, Hellraiser, Re-Animator, and a whole lot of other crap.  The second excuse may be that I did see it and didn’t like it.  This applies to the entire Friday the 13th series, Rob Zombie’s movies that aren’t The Devil’s Rejects, The entire Saw series, as well as the Scream films.  The third reason may be I don’t consider it horror.  My brother and I disagreed on a few of these, and I wasn’t willing to call Twin Peaks:  Fire Walk With Me a horror film, although it wouldn’t have been nearly as high as he put it.  The fourth reason is that I never heard of it.  There are so many god damn horror films made every year and very few of these pop up on critic’s lists that they often go years under the radar.  So shoot some at me, and maybe I’ll check them out.  Oh there’s also the chance that I saw it, liked it, and didn’t include it because I saw and liked 100 other films more.

One extra note, I cheated with The Ring/Ringu.  I know these are two separate films and one is the remake of the other, but well I consider them pretty damn equal and even if The Ring was a faithful remake and didn’t really improve on the original, it did have Naomi Watts and I’d watch that women do her taxes. 

100. Martin (1976)
99. Viy (1967)
98. The Seventh Victim (1943)
97. The House of Whipcord (1974)
96. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
95. Interview with the Vampire (1994)
94. Cronos (1993)
93. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
92. Black Christmas (1974)
91. The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

90. The Others (2001)
89. Society (1989)
88. John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998)
87. The Wicker Man (1973)
86. The Innocents (1961)
85. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
84. Let the Right One In (2008)
83. Isle of the Dead (1945)
82. Dr. Terrors House of Horrors (1965)
81. Nosferatu:  The Vampire (1979)

80. Fascination (1979)
79. Rabid (1977)
78. The Old Dark House (1932)
77. Kwaidan (1964)
76. Bay of Blood (1971)
75. Candy Man (1992)
74. The Black Cat (1934)
73. The Wolf Man (1941)
72. The Crazies (1973)
71. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)

70. Day of the Dead (1985)
69. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
68. The Body Snatcher (1945)
67. Dead Ringers (1988)
66. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
65. Dracula (1931)
64. The Birds (1963)
63. The Sixth Sense (1999)
62. Repulsion (1965)
61. Night of the Hunter (1955)

60. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
59. City of the Living Dead (1981)
58. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
57. Carrie (1976)
56. Last House on the Left (1972)
55. The Host (2007)
54. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
53. Hellraiser (1987)
52. The Tenant (1976)
51. The New York Ripper (1982)

50. Horror Rises From the Tomb (1972)
49. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1972)
48. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
47. The Thing From Another World (1951)
46. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)
45. Freaks (1932)
44. Deep Red (1975)
43. Peeping Tom (1960)
42. Cabin in the Woods (2012)
41. King Kong (1933)

40. The Cremator (1968)
39. Les Diaboliques (1955)
38. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
37. Suspiria (1977)
36. Messiah of Evil (1973)
35. The Haunting (1963)
34. The Mummy (1932)
33. Nosferatu (1922)
32. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
31. The Unknown (1927)

30. Planet Terror (2007)
29. Videodrome (1983)
28. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
27. Funny Games (1997)
26. Vampyr (1932)
25. Antichrist (2009)
24. Dead Alive (1992)
23. Henry:  Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
22. The Fly (1986)
21. Frankenstein (1931)

20. The Ring/Ringu (1998/2003)
19. Alien (1979)
18. The Raven (1935)
17. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
16. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
15. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
14. Halloween (1978)
13. The Thing (1982)
12. Eraserhead (1977)
11. The Exorcist (1973)

10. Shivers (1975)

Cronenberg's first masterpiece

Yes this is also called They Came From Within, so in case you were wondering, consider that riddle solved.  I first heard of this film in a brilliant documentary called American Nightmare, which focused on six landmark independent horror films over a decade.  Those films were Night of the Living Dead, The Last House on the Left, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Shivers, Dawn of the Dead, and Halloween.  Take a look around they’re all on this list.  In the case of Shivers and Last House on the Left, this is the first time I heard of them.  This is long before David Cronenberg was a household name to me, and Shivers was the first of his films I saw.  I may now believe he’s possibly the best horror director ever, and Shivers could very well be his best film.  Unlike so many of his contemporaries he’s managed to stay relevant, even if he’s somewhat abandoned his horror roots.  The film can be somewhat described as Invasion of the Body Snatchers in a hotel with a lot of sex.  Sound like a winning combination for you?  Glad you’re on board.

9. Kill List (2011)

Here's where the Wicker Man references come in

Remember when I said “see this movie now” a few months back?  You should I said it a few times, and I didn’t tell you anything about it.  By now you should have seen it.  It’s on DVD, it’s readily available and although it came and went without notice in theaters it is that type of rare horror film that sticks with you for days/weeks/months.  There’s so much going on here, I couldn’t sleep after I saw it.  Not because I was scared but because there were so many thoughts going through my head.  If you like your horror films all wrapped up with a little bow this won’t be for you, but if you dig a bit of ambiguity and something open for interpretation this is as good a horror film as you’re likely to find.  I won’t break my silence regarding the details of the film, but for Christ’s sake see the damn film already.

8. The Invisible Man (1933)

Perhaps Universal's most evil monster

Awhile back me and Shawn Reilly got together and watched all six of Universal’s flagship films.  They’re all on this list, but even though I’ve seen them all more times than I can count, I never realized how psychotically evil Claude Rain’s Dr. Jack Griffin was.  Nearly all of Universal’s classic monsters were somewhat sympathetic.  They were victims of circumstance.  Dracula needs blood to live, The Wolf Man was changed by a curse, Frankenstein’s monster just wanted a friend, and well The Mummy was clearly fucked over in his previous life.  Griffin on the other hand discovered the secret to invisibility and decides he’s going to take over the world.  He kills randomly, reeks havoc, and is something a general anarchist.  We may think that the formula warped his brain, but I think he’s just evil.  He is a much more frightening monster than the others who may have had more gruesome makeup because as horror movies always point out we fear what we can’t see.  James Whale uses a nice blend of humor to balance the mood and this could easily be his masterpiece if it weren’t for another film made two years later.

7. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Yeah you're fucked

That rule about everything getting a sequel and being remade applies to Dawn of the Dead on both accounts.  It was one of the rare sequels that I feel far surpassed the original.  I’ll give credit where credit is due and I have no problem calling Night of the Living Dead the most important independent horror film ever made, but we’re talking my favorite horror films, not the most important.  For that I go with Romero’s sequel.  Sure this should have stopped as a trilogy because no matter how cool the deaths were in Diary of the Dead the film itself was still painfully unnecessary and well I haven’t met a single person who liked Survival of the Dead.  Here however we get awesome gore courtesy of Tom “Sex Machine” Savini, and as my brother said this has arguably the best setting ever for a zombie movie.  I mean who wouldn’t want to holed up in a mall during the zombie apocalypse?  Especially one with a sporting goods store and a grocery?  I’ve seen all three cuts of this film and they’re all fantastic, so go with the nice and long extended unrated cut, and think twice time you want to check your blood pressure during a zombie apocalypse.  

6. Masque of the Red Death (1964)

The face of the Red Death

When we started this project I would have been amazed to find I had a Vincent Price film ahead of my brother, and for that matter way ahead of him.  The man we can easily call the greatest horror actor ever, and one of the greatest people to ever live, is at his best here.  Teamed up with low budget exploitation master Roger Corman the pair adapt yet another Edgar Allen Poe story and take massive liberties with it.  Price’s Prince Prospero isn’t just evil, he’s gloriously satanic, delivering some of the screens most blasphemous and awesome lines in movie history.  Nicholas Roeg who went on to become an occasionally brilliant director in his own right shot the film, and I can’t think of a horror movie that makes better use of color than this.  In the subgenre of satanic gothic horror this is as good as it gets.

5. Return of the Living Dead (1985)


Before uninspired George Romero sequels and an unwatchable show on AMC made zombies officially passé they were pretty fucking awesome.  There’s a good chance I’ve seen more zombie movies than you and I’d like to consider myself something of an authority on the subject.  Most zombie movies are lazy, really lazy, like Walking Dead lazy.  There characters suck, there’s no backstory, and the zombies don’t pose any threat whatsoever.  So let me explain why Return of the Living Dead is the greatest zombie movie ever.  For starters we set up why there’s zombies.  Trioxin 245 is a chemical that we find out the government made.  Night of the Living Dead was apparently based on a real incident.  Two guys messing around knock the gas loose and before you know it there are some reanimated corpses in their warehouse.  Then you have the impossible to kill zombies.  After taking a pick axe to one, it doesn’t stop coming at them.  They have to saw off all of it’s limbs and they’re still trying to get some delicious brains.  Oh and did I mention these zombies run top speed and they can talk?  Oh yeah if the apocalypse happens and this is what we’re up against, we’re all going to die bottom line.  The characters are also awesome.  The outrageously 80s group that parties at the graveyard works together.  They don’t bicker and bitch like everyone in a Romero film does.  Oh and Linnea Quigley is responsible for probably the greatest nude scene ever.  If you watch this and still don’t agree with me, then clearly you and I don’t agree about zombies.

4. Psycho (1960)

The unblinking eye of Marion Crane

Whenever I get around to making my all time top 100 list, this will probably be the highest film from this list.  Some people don’t consider it even a horror film but it’s influence on the genre is undeniable.  1960 was a landmark year for cinema.  Michelangelo Antonioni showed once and for all that narratives need not have closure with L’Avventura, Federico Fellini ushered in a new age of sex and celebrity culture with La Dolce Vita, Jean Luc Godard showed that there were no rules for film anymore with Breathless, and Alfred Hitchcock set a new standard in screen terror.  After years of low budget schlock that needed gimmicks to give their audiences frights, Hitchcock showed that the scariest thing of all could be just some random stranger.  He flipped the script on the movie monster and made an entire generation terrified of the shower.  The film still can shock today and I envy anyone who doesn’t know of it’s twists and turns.  This is the film that inspired so many others, and it’s questionable if films like Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Masssacre, Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer, Se7en, or any film capable of creeping us out without any supernatural element would be possible without it. 

3. Paranormal Activity (2009)

The only movie where someone standing in a room is terrifying

Well here lies the scariest movie I’ve ever seen.  As sequels continue to be made on an annual basis they each take a little away from the original story.  Truth be told I have given up on the franchise and prefer to just stick to the original which was so undeniably creepy it made even the most hardened of horror movie fans freak the hell out.  Really since The Blair Witch Project, which I didn’t particularly care for, the found footage subgenre of horror has been more gimmick than anything else.  There have been some decent offerings, like Cloverfield for one, but mostly it’s been garbage like The Last Exorcism.  This takes everything back to it’s bare roots.  It’s shot on a microscopic budget and takes it’s sweet time building terror.  By the time things really start going you’re ready for anything and are just sitting in sheer terror.  I was convinced at the age of about 13 that films couldn’t do that anymore.  That people couldn’t be scared like they used to, that I couldn’t be scared by a movie.  This single handedly redeemed years of awful horror films and let everyone know that yes we still can have the ever loving shit scared out of us once in a while.

2. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The greatest sequel of them all

If you read my brother’s list you may have been baffled at the fact that the 1931 Dracula was his highest Universal film, and it didn’t even crack the top ten.  Well for shame on him, because the only film other than my number one that was set in stone was Bride.  It’s fitting that the greatest horror sequel ever made would come in at number two.  James Whale, who had four films on this list, was Universal’s best horror director, and you can argue their best director period during those shaky early sound years.  This was his best, campy, creepy, atmospheric, and featuring the most iconic movie monster in history.  Fans of Mary Shelley’s book have always taken these films with a grain of salt, but on their own merits they are as good as the Universal horror cycle ever got. 

1. The Shining (1980)

The only good creepy twins are dead creepy twins

This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, and well you can and probably have read my nice long winded review/essay on the film I posted earlier.  Check it out, and if you haven’t seen The Shining, then I can’t believe you even know me.  Chances are you don’t know me and you just stumbled onto my blog randomly.  I first saw this film at the age of 11 or 12, so if you’re older than that you have no excuse.  It’s simply the best horror film directed by the greatest director of all time, featuring my favorite Jack Nicholson performance.  It also happens to be based on my favorite Stephen King book.  King famously hates the picture, but well he might be the only person who doesn’t think this film is a masterpiece.  This is what happens when you put top talent together, give them a budget, creative control, and enough time to produce a truly exceptional film.  Unfortunately most of horror is simply up and comers dying to make a movie with a shoestring budget.  Everything about this film is brilliant from the steadicam work by John Alcott, to the creepy score courtesy of the transexual Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind, and the performances, particularly Nicholson.  King envisioned Jack Torrence as a man who is beaten by outside forces, driven to madness by things he can’t control.  Kubrick’s Jack is a little off center who finds his home at the Overlook and takes to his new role with relish, it’s a far creepier choice.  As King described it in his book the hotel burns, in Kubrick’s it freezes.  Either way it doesn’t get better than this.