Top 10 Horror Movies

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A chill runs down your spine, you jump in your seat, the screen goes black. Horror movies are a staple of the Halloween Season and have permeated American culture throughout the 20th century and continue to be huge box office draws. Horror as a genre is something that has been part of films since the beginning, starting with silent films. Since then, it has evolved with films such as Nosferatu becoming the mainframe for modern horror films. I love horror movies because being scared is fun. A good horror movie should scare the crap out of you and at the same time keep you thinking about it days afterward. The special effects and the creativity that is possible in horror movies keep me invested in the genre, however, I do feel as if there are only a handful of good horror movies coming out every couple of years. The genre is filled with so many tropes that it can be tough to come up with new ideas and horror movies can be real formulaic and often use the same tropes over and over again.The below list of horror movies are some of my favorites and have broken the mold in the horror genre. If you like horror movies these are films you need to watch, and if you don’t, you should still check these out.

10. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven’s original Nightmare on Elm Street is a fantastic movie. The special effects are extremely innovative and the plot is the foundation for the many tropes used in subsequent slasher films. The plot is about a serial killer who kills teenagers in their dreams, and as a result, the teens are killed in reality. The movie walks the tightrope between dream and reality, causing the film to be a surrealist drama with blockbuster features. The film spawned the Freddy Krueger franchise but the original one is the only one worth watching. Fun fact: this is Johnny Depp’s first movie.

9. Mandy (2018)
Nicholas Cage puts on an amazing performance in this psychological revenge horror film about a man who decides to avenge his wife’s death after she is killed by a cannibalistic demonic biker gang in cahoots with a hippie cult. The movie has some incredible cinematography and action sequences and is one of the better horror films to come out in the last decade. It has the originality that makes so many of the classic 80s horror films work and Nicholas Cage’s nutcase performance gives this movie a fantastic spin. This is one of the better Nicholas Cage movies in the past 20 years and has an original idea that sets it apart from any other horror movie. If you aren’t sure what to watch, check this out!

8. Midsommar (2019)
Ari Aster’s 2019 folk horror movie Midsommar is one of the genuinely scariest movies I have ever seen in my life and everyone to who I’ve shown it agrees. The film has to do with a group of college students who believe they are traveling to a Swedish cultural festival celebrating the beginning of Spring, but instead end up trapped by a murderous sacrificial Scandinavian pagan cult. No other horror movie has even come close to having a plot like this and the acting is ridiculous good. It feels very realistic and has an open-ended ending. Warning: if you cannot stomach gore or shocking images, this might be one to skip.

7. Hellraiser (1987)
Hellraiser is an 80’s classic supernatural horror film based on a book by Clive Barker, who also directed it. The film is about a man who finds a mystical puzzle box that when opened released supernatural creatures known as Cenobites. The Cenobites don’t know the difference between pain and pleasure and try to kill the characters in extremely gruesome ways. The practical effects used in Hellraiser are extremely impressive and many of them hold up to this day. The acting is decent, but the uniqueness of this film lies in the plot, which has since been replicated many times and has spawned a franchise. However, the only one worth watching is the original.

6. Suspira (1977)
Dario Argento’s 1977 Suspira is an Italian supernatural horror movie in the Giallo genre, a unique horror subgenre from Italy where horror movies are combined with mystery stories. The movie is about an American girl who is invited to a prestigious ballet academy but uncovers a mystery about the school after a series of murders. The movie has to do with the occult and black magic and has an interesting twist on these subjects. The cinematography is highly stylized and uses bright colors in a unique way intended to evoke nightmares. This is unheard of in most horror films where the color pallet is black, white, and grey. The film is from 1977 so some of the effects are a bit dated but the acting and direction make it worth watching.

5. Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
This remake of the original 1922 silent film horror classic is one of the quintessential vampire movies and the horror still stands up. The horror in this Werner Hertzog directed film is more subtle and doesn’t necessarily use shock to scare you, rather it uses eerie ambiance, the soundtrack, and the color palette to create discomfort in the viewer. Be aware that this is a long movie and there isn’t too much action so if you have a short attention span this one could be tough to watch.

4. The Evil Dead (1981)
This is an amazing movie and should be a must-watch for anybody who enjoys horror movies. It has a standard horror plot about a group of college students staying in a cabin in the woods that is haunted by the supernatural after the kids open an ancient occult book. However, the greatness of this movie is in its creativity and ingenious low-budget shock and gore. The effects are a bit cheesy, but they are part of what makes this movie so fun to watch. The acting is really good at times, at other times it is wooden and not great, but it adds to the charm along with subtle humor in the writing. The black comedy and subversive film techniques add a uniqueness that isn’t really in the horror genre. P.S. The sequels to this are really good too.

3. Psycho (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is probably one of the most influential horror films of all time and certainly one of my favorites. I first watched this in broadcasting class,it has stuck with me since thanks to the ending and the acting. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away but it follows a woman on the run from authorities after she steals money. This movie has been imitated and millions of times but the horror genre wouldn’t exist as we know it without this. You need to see this movie if you haven’t seen it, regardless if you like horror or not.

2. Eraserhead (1977)
One of my all-time favorite movies ever is David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Unlike any other movie, this movie is quite literally a nightmare come to life. I can’t express how good this movie is from the plot, acting, effects, soundscapes, etc. It is unparalleled in its shock and surrealism, this movie may as well be from another planet. The story is about a man who has a child while living in an industrial, dystopian world reminiscent of our world. Keep in mind this movie is not for everybody. It is extremely experimental and deals with very uncomfortable situations and subject matter shockingly and is not for the faint of heart. However, if you really like horror and are looking for something interesting, I would highly recommend.

1. The Shining (1980)
Probably the best horror movie ever in my opinion and in the opinion of many others. Holds up well, has incredible acting (especially Jack Nicholson), terrifying special effects, and has subversive hidden themes throughout the entire film. The movie is about a writer who gets a job as a winter caretaker for a hotel during its “off” months. The writer and his family begin to feel the presence of the spirit of the hotel and the subsequent result is then seen. Everybody should see this; it is still very scary and could have been filmed yesterday as it doesn’t use too many effects that date it. The subversive themes about the film and social commentary about Native Americans is why I love this movie.