For as long as I can remember, horror films have been a part of my life. I was exposed to iconic horror franchises such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th so early in my life that I can’t actually remember a time when I didn’t know what those movies were. I have always been fascinated by the things that are meant to scare us, and the adrenaline that comes with watching horror films is one that I constantly seek. With that being said, there are a few films that have made a significant impact on me. These are films that have managed to elevate the genre to new standards of horror. I hope that by the time you have finished reading this list, you will seek out at least one of the movies that I have selected.
- Director: John Krasinski
- Released: 2018
“Who are we if we can’t protect them? We have to protect them.”
Released in April of 2018, A Quiet Place is the newest film to enter my top 5, and deservedly so. John Krasinski’s horror debut was the type of film that elevates an entire genre. Krasinski uses sound (or lack thereof) in order to elevate the tension in ways that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud. The film is packed with incredible performances all-around, and carries so much emotion that by the end you might be left in tears. A Quiet Place truly is a horror masterpiece and deserves to be treated as such.
- Director: John Landis
- Released: 1981
“Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors.”
As far as werewolf movies go, few are as excellent as An American Werewolf in London is. Most people know this film because of its iconic werewolf transformation, which to this day remains the very best transformation ever put on the screen, but it is so much more than that. It is wonderfully charming, having plenty of comedic moments spread throughout the film. It is also equally terrifying in the moments when werewolf’s kills are shown from the first person point-of-view. An American Werewolf in London is a landmark in monster films, and should be seen by all.
- Director: Wes Craven (1996)
- Released: 1996
“Movies don’t create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative.”
This is the film that is responsible for my love of horror, but more specifically, for my love of slashers. Scream starts off with one of the very best openings I have ever seen on a movie, regardless of genre. Right away, it shows what type of movie it’s going to be: a smart and terrifying deconstruction of the horror genre. Scream is the movie that teaches the “rules” of a horror movie, and it rewards its characters for following those rules. It is fun and inventive, and holds up perfectly well even 22 years after its original release.
- Director: John Carpenter
- Released: 1978
“Death has come to your little town, Sheriff.”
As much as I love the Scream franchise, Halloween is hands down my favorite horror franchise. Halloween popularized the term “scream queen” thanks to Jamie Lee Curtis’ phenomenal performance as Laurie Strode. This film also started the “final girl” trope, which put women in the spotlight of many horror films thereafter. John Carpenter’s original Halloween revolutionized the horror genre and kicked off the slasher craze that would overtake the genre in the 80s.
- Director: Alfred Hitchcock
- Released: 1960
“We all go a little mad sometimes.”
While Halloween popularized the slasher sub-genre, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was the trailblazer that paved the way for every other slasher that would come after it. It is the story of Marion, played by Janet Leigh, who steals $40,000 from her boss and runs away in an attempt to have a better life with her lover. While on the run, she is forced to stay at the Bates Motel due to the harsh weather. What ensues after that is pure horror, including a twist unlike anything that had ever been done up to that point in history. Psycho’s legendary shower scene, its iconic villain and its bravery in pulling off one of the greatest twist in film history are the things that make it my favorite movie of all time, regardless of genre.
There you have it, these are my 5 favorite horror movies. In the spirit of Halloween, I would highly recommend giving these all a watch. I guarantee you will not regret it.
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