The film industry is going through an era of creative collapse. There is a lack of ideas for films, stories and generally how to scare people anymore. Almost everything is a remake or a sequel. So during this Halloween season, instead of going to see another shaky-camera, cheap-thrill horror movie, look to the past for the greatest horror movies of all time.
Though the debate will always rage on what movie is the scariest, which one holds the throne? The 1970s and 1980s were the golden era of horror films. Many of the classics from that time frame have been remade in recent years for a quick cash-in, but remakes don’t instill the same fear that shocked millions of people. This list isn’t set in stone, but here is my top 10 for the Halloween season.
10. “Cujo” (1983) was based on the Stephen King novel and is so terrifying because it plays off a simple and primal fear of dogs. Cujo is a classic movie monster and will destroy all memories of cuddly Old Yeller as he rips through people.
9. “Alien” (1979) set up a huge franchise and helped kick-start the careers of legendary filmmakers Ridley Scott and James Cameron. But none of the sequels are scarier than the original classic that bore the infamous tagline, “In space, no one can hear you scream.”
8. “Pet Sematary” (1989) is another story based on one of master of horror Stephen King’s novels about an Indian burial ground and death. It’s truly horrifying because this is a very nihilistic film that has no happy ending.
7. “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) is the pinnacle of zombie films. Today zombies have exploded in the pop culture world and are everywhere now, but it was George A. Romero’s film series that set the stage for zombies to take hold of America and our brains.
6. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) took something as simple as a chainsaw and made it completely terrifying. The movie was said to be based off a true story, and despite its name is actually far more psychological than graphic gore. The movie gave us the iconic Leatherface and a beautiful yet terrifying chainsaw spinning dance scene.
5. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984), despite many corny sequels, is the original film that struck terror in people and kept people awake at night. Freddy Krueger and his knife wielding hand, which came from filmmaker Wes Craven’s nightmares, bent and destroyed the rules of the horror genre.
4. “The Shining” (1980) isn’t just a great horror movie but an amazing movie as a whole. Based on another Stephen King novel brought to life by director Stanley Kubrick, and featuring a legendary acting performance from Oscar winner Jack Nicholson; it is one of the most suspenseful movies ever made.
3. “Halloween” (1978) created the “slasher” genre. From director John Carpenter came a villain with a blank white face who was simply and purely evil. The movie helped launch Jamie Lee Curtis’ acting career and created many of the horror movie tricks that filmmakers still use today.
2. “The Exorcist” ( 1973) won the Oscar for Best Screenplay and was nominated for Best Picture in 1973. It’s a movie that dares you to watch it as you slowly see a little girl become more and more evil as the film goes on. The film is mesmerizing because at no point do you question it—you
believe that the little girl is possessed.
1. “The Thing” (1982) is the perfect mix of gore and suspense. John Carpenter used traditional special effects instead of computer generated images to create a monster with no shape or form. The movie makes you sit on the edge of your seat never knowing what will happen because no one is ever safe.
People love to be scared; it makes you feel alive and people want to have something to be afraid of. Though many of the films on this list have been remade in recent years none of the remakes could capture the original terror. It will be up to modern filmmakers to raise the bar and scare us once again.