I see a lot of people doing top 10 best lists, but it’s always been impossible for me. So I’ve decided to do a series of articles outlining the most important horror films I’ve ever seen. This isn’t a ranking of films, but an examination of what’s formed a life long obsession. Feel free to provide any feedback, or share your own list of films you feel have impacted you as a genre fan.
Friday the 13th.
Sure, Friday the 13th isn’t an Oscar worthy film, but at the time of it’s release, it really felt fresh, especially for mainstream cinema. I was born in 1978, so I was only around 3 or 4 when my Aunt sat me down to watch this piece of horror history. I have vivid memories of my first horror experience, mostly from the (at the time) shocking ending sequence. I can’t quite remember if it was on VHS or Betamax that I was given my first slice of horror pie, regardless, I was hooked from that moment on.
A Nightmare On Elm Street.
For most of my childhood, I was absolutely addicted to the Nightmare On Elm Street series. My grandmother has a picture of me, at around 10 or 11 years old, and I’m passed out asleep on her couch, my chest covered with Nightmare on Elm Street VHS tapes. I remember being a kid, going to school dressed as Freddy Kruger for our Halloween costume party. Everyone else was dressed in normal, Saturday morning cartoon fare, and me, full mask, and Freddy Glove. The original Nightmare on Elm Street scared me to tears when I was young. I was afraid to go to sleep. Actually, I don’t know if I was afraid to go to sleep, or if I didn’t want to because I wanted to continue to watch Freddy, hack and slash teenagers all night long. I’ve always had a sick sense of humor, even when really young, so Freddy was a natural attraction for me. I’m sure my wife won’t agree with it, but I plan on sharing this gem of a film with my son, as soon as he’s old enough to enjoy it.
The Last House On The Left.
The Last House On The Left is one of the first films that literally made me sick to my stomach. Even at a young age, I could tell there was something very different about Last House On The Left. There was no supernatural explanation for the terrible things we were witnessing. It was just people, raping, killing, and humiliating other people. It was the first time I realized that the true evil was within ourselves. I think, at the time, the scene where they forced the girl to urinate on herself bothered me more than them ripping her intestines out and playing with them with such disregard for human life. It was clear that the antagonists in this film were aroused by human suffering. Not so much the murder of their victims, as much as knowing they have so much power over them, that they’ll literally do anything they tell them to, in order to make a plea for their lives. These are powerful things for a child to feel, even if Last House is a flawed film, it definitely left a lasting impression on me, and I credit it a lot for opening my horror horizons. Hollywood’s latest fare was no longer all I was interested in at this point, I would be hitting up my video store for any and all films of this nature that I could get my hands on. For that reason, this film holds a very special place in my heart.
Day of the Dead.
Day of the Dead is my favorite zombie movie. No other film matches it in my mind. It is the benchmark for which I compare all new entries into the sub genre. I feel it has the perfect tone, impeccable pacing, and some of the most beautiful practical effects in horror history. I rented Day of the Dead on VHS when I was a kid, simply because I liked the artwork on the cover. It forever changed my expectations of zombie films, and created a new obsession with brutally graphic special effects.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
I love The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s raw, and unnerving. It manages to disgust you, without actually showing much on screen gore. It’s the ultimate drive-in movie. Unfortunately, I missed out on seeing this film the way it was intended, but seeing it for the first time on VHS was powerful enough for me. I find the grittiness of this film extremely appealing. TCM created an entirely new sub genre of horror. To this day it’s used as a template, and sometimes well. There would be no Wrong Turn without the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
That’s it for now. Just a quick list of the films that molded my taste in horror films. I plan on doing further lists of important films, and the reason that they left an impression on me throughout different stages of my life. Till next time, let the blood flow.