Happy Halloween planet Earth. My usual summary is given a rest this month and to celebrate Halloween I have a summary of my thoughts on the horror genre. I consider myself a moderate fan of horror films, although recently I’ve grown fed up of them and currently I’m watching fewer horror films. Horror films, although repetitive and often mean-spirited, often bring out the best in filmmakers and as well as their brilliant ability to scare, can also be deep as well. Here are personal picks for the top 5 underrated and overrated horror movies, as well as my top and bottom tens (Excluding horror comedies). Enjoy! By the way, if you’ve read my posts you might know what’s coming.
Underrated: Insidious, You’re Next, Child’s Play, Cube, Trick ‘r’ Treat, The Hole, Halloween II, Piranha (1978), Carrie (2013), Sinister and Deep Blue Sea.
Overrated: Les Diaboliques, Triangle and The Awakening.
Worst: Paranormal Activity 4, The Pact, The Purge, The Village and Chernobyl Diaries.
Best: The Birds, Throne Of Blood, Scream and The Sixth Sense.
Top 5 Underrated Horror Films:
5. Let Me In: With 88% on Rotten Tomatoes maybe this is stretching underrated a bit, but there does seem to be some fan hatred aimed at this on the internet. This remake of the Swedish vampire movie is overly faithful, safe and unnecessary yet it’s almost as good as the original. Now that’s Scary.
4. The Reef: While dumb shark movies are a depressingly common thing, this is not one of those. It’s made by someone who understands thrillers, it moves along quickly and for once it actually uses a real shark. Probably the second best shark movie of all time.
3. Identity: With great visuals, a twisty Rubix cube of a plot and strong characters, this loose adaptation of And Then There Were None may have a lot of twists but it’s an awesome thriller and deserves a lot more attention.
2. The Mist: While certainly not a feel good movie, this mixture of haunting monster thrills, political commentary and strong acting is a devastating and breathtakingly powerful examination of what people do in impossible situations, and mist has never been scarier or more depressing.
1. Final Destination: My first proper horror and my guilty pleasure movie. The ultimate teen horror flick, this and its consistent sequels get a lot of flak for bad writing and acting but people forget that they are fun, the scripts aren’t that awful and while not scary (Neither is Carrie or The Wicker Man but they’re great) it is tense. Not so much a horror film as a gleefully fun, bonkers haunted house ride, this has one of the best premises of a horror film ever and while it’s underwritten and the performances are flighty, it is actually a decent movie and so are numbers 2, 3 and 5.
Top 5 Overrated Horror Films:
5. World War Z: OK so this was a little bit of fun but was it worth $190 million? That’s a resounding no. Brad Pitt is fine and there are some thrills but in general it’s a tension free and depressingly tame zombie movie except the zombies were mysteriously replaced mid production with a crowd of badly animated football hooligans. A zombie film with no terror or blood? How dare they?
4. Poltergeist: This one’s popularity is just a bit strange. This haunted house movie is more tasteful than many of its kind and has a good final 15 minutes but the rest of the time with its irritating kids, kiddy scares, ghosts which look like Jim Henson muppets and entire sequences consisting of objects flying around it could be a laughably bad Disney Channel Haunted house TV movie.
3. The Blair Witch Project: Overrated doesn’t mean bad; this is not a bad film just an average one hyped to absurd levels. It’s unnerving, clever and patient, but it’s not scary until the last 5 minutes. Repetitive, overly simplistic, illogical and deeply, deeply boring, this is one film no-one should see more than once. (Note from editor – If you’re into found footage, take a look at Studio Film School’s found footage film that Robin worked on: http://youtu.be/fr-Lr3GhhL4?list=UU97sm7wzLs53LB7zDryVSGg )
2. The Ring: Don’t even get me started on this one. This lame horror remake has some creepy visuals and deviates from the original in a good way, but it also deviates from what a horror film should have: Good pacing, a decent plot, scares and suspense. Also, they messed up the finale of the original with bad CGI. Comparing this to the Japanese version is like comparing the altitudes of a plane and a submarine.
1. Paranormal Activity: This awful found footage horror film is a lazy, cash grabbing and amateurish exercise in anti-climaxes and over hyping. It has a couple of scary bits, but aside from that it’s repetitive, it isn’t scary and has the most unlikable cameraman of all found footage horrors. I’ve been more scared in a Disney movie. That isn’t an exaggeration by the way.
Top Ten Worst Horror Movies:
10. Insidious Chapter 2: How did this happen? This had no right to be so bad. While the first was very scary, this one is like watching a bunch of incompetent film studies student doing a F grade film studies exercise in jump scares. Third one out next year. (Groan)
9. The Final Destination: I have been in many awkward conversations defending the FD movies over the years, but even I lost patience with this one. No-one was trying and it has the worst acting of any film on this list. That’s really saying something.
8. Red Riding Hood: The never especially compelling fairy tale gets a Twilight style makeover, which Gary Oldman is in. Why is he in it? Does anyone actually know? Boring, dreary, snooze inducing, badly acted and devoid of any chemistry this wolf has less bite than a toothless puppy.
7. The Ring Two: OK so the first was bad. Wait until you see this. This sequel, with the same cast and the director of the Japanese original, has nowhere to hide. With a scare kit consisting of bad jump scares, messy CGI, a Spiderman style finale, weird camerawork and most mysteriously a pack of poorly rendered CGI deer, the scare count is understandably low.
6. The Rage Carrie 2: Read the novel. Watch the original. Watch the TV film. Watch the remake. But don’t see this abominable sequel. Picture the original (sorry for mentioning the 2 in the same paragraph) with its story in the modern-day, minus the pathos, fear and emotion. Now multiply. You’re starting to get an idea of how bad this is.
5. Shark Night 3D: When you first see those sharks which are so badly rendered they could have come straight out of a Cbeebies cartoon chasing a bunch of dumb characters who are talking horrible dialogue in the terribly directed chase you realize it won’t be as bad as most shark movies. It’ll be even worse.
4. The Happening: There are no logical defences. No silver linings. No rays of sunshine. The Happening is a mind numbingly abysmal horror movie and everyone involved should be ashamed, especially Mark Wahlberg.
3. The Devil Inside: A bland protagonist. Washed out shots of gothic buildings. A misty eyed nun. A boring lecture on demons. Screeching. Possessed gymnastics. Random symbols. A camera with a broken zoom function. An incompetent editor. Boring characters talking about possession. Scares which have the same level of fear as an episode of Barney The Dinosaur. A car crash which represents the film. A web link.
2. Jaws The Revenge: Wow, what an awful movie. This one needs new words -no a new alphabet- to describe how awful it is. What’s really depressing is that Michael Caine couldn’t pick up his Oscar as he was working on this film.
1. The Wicker Man (2006): Here are a few things which are scarier than this movie: Butterflies. Bunny rabbits. Rainbows. Clouds. Scenery. Kittens. Thomas The Tank Engine. Every kids show ever made. Every kids film ever made. Smiley faces. Grass. Trees. Goldfish. Kids’ crayons drawings. Plants. Birds. Daisies. Harribo adverts. Jaws The Revenge. The Devil Inside. And of course, the original.
Top 10 Horror Movies:
10. The Conjuring: While hardly ground-breaking, this terrifying haunted house master-class has some of the most effective shocks ever and the basement scene is almost unwatchable. When I came out of the cinema my stomach hurt from the number of times I’d jumped out of my seat. Best American horror film of the 21st century without a doubt.
9. Nosferatu: Although it could seem a bit slow for modern audiences, this is the very definition of gothic and one movie which turns shadows in living nightmares. Count Orlok may give you nightmares, and this is a great antidote to Twilight.
8. Let The Right One In: Speaking of antidotes to Twilight, this vampire love story is beautifully shot and achingly human. It’s not really a horror movie, more a stunning, overwhelmingly beautiful drama. It doesn’t hold up brilliantly on a second viewing, but it is a masterpiece which deserves to be seen.
7. Ring: This Japanese ghost story might be the most creepy movie ever made. Despite having no gore or jump scares, it’s absolutely terrifying and the endlessly creepy imagery drop the temperature several degrees. Even though VHS isn’t around anymore it’s still scary and you won’t want to be in the same room as a TV for a week.
6. The Wicker Man: No jump scares. No screaming. No swearing. No violence. No gore. Yet this wonderful British horror is in a unique way terrifying with an ending so powerful watching it is like getting punched in the face by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Christopher Lee considers this his best film and he’s done over 200 movies. Best British horror film ever.
5. The Shining: A terrifying and haunting descent into madness by the genius Stanley Kubrick, this is the closest a horror film has ever come to being art. With great camerawork, a great setting, awesome acting and chilling yet restrained scares this is a great adaptation Stephen King should be proud of even though he isn’t. Worth seeing if only to see Shelley Duvall give the worst performance in a good movie ever.
4. Carrie: Another Stephen King adaptation, this is definitely one of the best. It will put you off Proms for life, but with the best acting in a horror movie of all time and amazing camerawork and a hugely powerful story, this might be the best high school movie ever. Despite what she does, the title character still managed to keep my sympathy better than say, Ferris Bueller, one of many examples of Carrie’s brilliant storytelling.
3. Halloween: The ultimate slasher flick. It isn’t nasty, or stupid or mean-spirited, instead being a relentlessly chilling and terribly effective exercise in sustained terror more frightening than any roller coaster. Jamie Lee Curtis is the ultimate horror movie lead, Donald Pleasance is awesome and Michael Myers is a great villain who makes a captain Kirk mask scary.
2. Psycho: The ultimate nightmare which never seems to end and you won’t want it to. Alfred Hitchcock shows he is the greatest director of all time, and he makes birds, motels, houses, sunglasses, staircases and of course, showers, horrifying nightmares. One of the most effective films of all time.
1. Jaws: The ultimate horror movie. With brilliant acting, great characters, awesome direction and a fine script, this relentlessly terrifying movie is a non stop thrill machine from start to finish. Be warned: It’s a terrifying movie so you’re gonna need a sofa to hide behind and a change of underwear. Don’t watch it before you go swimming. A masterpiece.
Thanks for reading!