The Top 5 Horror Movies of All-Time
Celebrate evil with these.
Greetings and salutations! It’s that time of the year when all of the evil is released onto the world and people dress up like Harley Quinn and go trick-or-treating. I’m not saying those two things are linked, but hey, if the shoe fits…
In honour of this spookiest of holidays, your boy at Flickmetic is going to drop dime on some horror flicks. Nothing makes the internet happier than a completely subjective list of stuff, so this should go over well. Welcome to the top 5 horror movies of all-time.
Suspiria is mythical in its gore. Praised as difficult to watch because of the excessive nature of its violence, it was always a film that I avoided because being a gorehound is not in my repertoire. Well placed blood can enhance a scene by giving the viewer a visceral and grossed out response, but it’s never been a selling point for me.
In a previous article, “13 Lightning Round Thoughts About Horror Movies,” I said that I “screwed the pooch on seeing Suspiria and it was a grave mistake.” What convinced me to invest the time into watching it was a screenshot; a solitary picture taken from the film that showed the attention to detail and brilliant usage of colour. Upon viewing it I couldn’t help but wonder if I was just stereotyping the movie with limited knowledge.
I was. It was dumb. When I finally got around to watching this movie that I’ve been avoiding I was treated to one of the best horror flicks of all-time. It uses such a beautiful and expressive colour palette. Dario Argento drenched the entire film in atmosphere and striking imagery. Then he added the brutality, which was certainly intense but not nearly as grotesque as one might assume from its reputation.
But the role of music cannot be understated as well. As one would expect, the music was sufficiently creepy, but then in some scenes Argento would strip it away and leave the tension of minimalist sound to do the rest.
It’s marvelous in every single regard.
Evil Dead was a more serious attempt at horror. I’ve seen people mention that it made them laugh but I can’t recall laughing once. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t great, because it was. It was hugely important because of what it set up, while being an effective movie in its own right.
Evil Dead 2 came along and it ramped up the series. It’s not as straightforwardly scary as the first one because it’s sillier and more insane. It’s a more entertaining romp. Ash becomes the badass that we know him as, cementing his catch phrases in the annals of history.
Image taken from IMDB.com.
This pick is a little stranger, I’m sure. It can’t be common. While choosing Evil Dead 2 and Suspiria makes logical sense, Parasite Eve is not known enough to command the same level of respect. It’s probable that the reason that it never caught on is because it’s foreign and it’s not that good.
But it’s good to me, damn it. I’ll be the first to tell you that a large reason for loving this is because I have a built-in bias for the Parasite Eve property. I discovered the Playstation RPG when I was younger and it became my favourite RPG of all-time. I’ve read the book that the movie is based on. I adore the central premise that a scientist loses his wife and he’s so consumed by grief that he does some dodgy science to try to bring her back. Since it’s a horror movie, the results of said science are… well, let’s say not favourable.
I can see the criticisms. The film looks cheap, for one. But if you can get past the low-budget effects it’s a rewarding and emotional tale about a descent into madness, brought on by grief that we can all relate to.
2: House (1977)
I referenced House briefly in this article about another film by the same director, but now I get a chance to talk about it more directly.
It’s not very scary, which I understand is a negative if that’s what you’re looking for. Which you should be, considering the genre that you’ve dedicated your time to. But if you don’t care whether you pee your pants or not, House is absolutely bonkers. It is by far the most unique film in this list, and it stands tall among some of the most unique films I’ve seen period.
The director wanted the special effects to resemble what kids would do if they were given the tools and ability to do special effects. Which means they are rudimentary and cheesy; glorious in how awful they are. But it was an intentional design choice.
That’s the thing about House. If you take it at its word, on the surface, then it’s a harder sell. It’s possible to market it as a “so bad it’s good” type of experience but that’s dishonest and cruel. Even with a cursory knowledge of the production, the choices that were made makes sense.
I mean, the movie doesn’t make a lick of sense, but who cares? It’s experimental and outrageous. It flings image after image at us without regard for linearity, but then sneaks in a beautifully crafted, foreboding scene.
On the way out I’ll briefly describe a scene and you can decide whether this sounds dull or not. There’s a disembodied girl and there’s a picture of a cat. The lower half of the disembodied girl kicks the picture of the cat. That’s not the strangest part of the film, it’s just one of many.
1: Alien (1979)
While House has the distinction of being the most joyfully fun horror movie–which sounds like a backhanded compliment somehow–that I’ve ever seen, Alien is the most memorable. It’s a classic for two main reasons, both of which have been discussed to death: the Xenomorph and Ripley.
Sure, there are all kinds of other reasons to enjoy Alien, these two elements are the most crucial. The Xenomorph is the greatest movie monster ever conceived from its design, to the terror it drags along with it, to what it symbolizes. A key component to its brilliance is how it ties into Ellen Ripley herself.
Ellen Ripley is arguably the greatest female character in cinema. There are many contenders to the title, but for my money she takes the cake. She is strong but caring, a Wonder Woman without superpowers. He drive, her talent, her intelligence–it’s all very natural and realistic, even though the film itself ultimately breaks reality. She exalts motherhood but the aliens are parasites who need to latch onto a host in order to hatch and burst out of said host’s chest. You can see what I’m saying and how they interlock with one another.
It’s also claustrophobic. Space is horrifying because of its vastness and it’s hostility towards humans, who shouldn’t really be exploring there anyway. When an otherworldly being threatens Ripley’s life, out in the void, it’s an upsetting and dreadful battle in the best way possible.
All five of the films I wrote about today are great, usually for different reasons. It took a little bit of pondering to determine which movies I would choose and where I would place them, but Alien’s place was always set in stone.
So those are the top 5 horror movies of all-time. Is Alien really the greatest horror movie ever? Let me know in the comments below, and for those who love Alien there may be a surprise coming up in the near future so tune in for that.
Oh my God, this is terrifying.