By Will Camillo
Before we get this countdown started, I should warn you that this is not a list of the best horror movies of the 21st century. If you are a horror movie fan, you have probably waded through the dreck of modern horror to reach great scares like “It Follows,” “Sinister,” and “Cabin in the Woods.” So, once you have finished those, it may be time to go back to some bona-fide classics.
5. “Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn” (1987)
If you want a few laughs to go with your screams, the ‘Evil Dead’ series has plenty of both. Directed by Sam Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell, this trilogy follows the misadventures of Ash Williams, a down-on-his-luck store clerk who stumbles upon the Necronomicon, the book of the dead. The original ‘Evil Dead’ was a generic, by-the-numbers horror movie, but ‘Evil Dead 2’ is where the series turned from pure horror to horror-comedy, with Ash not only battling evil spirits, but his ghost-possessed hand as well. If you want to lighten the mood, add this one to your list.
4. “Halloween” (1978)
It would not be a proper horror movie countdown if I did not include the granddaddy of slasher movies. John Carpenter’s original “Halloween” is terrifying even to this day, bolstered by fantastic performances by Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut. There is not much I can say that has not already been said by horror fans and critics alike. Do yourself a favor and pop this one into the DVD player.
3. “Dawn of the Dead” (1978 or 2004)
Yes, technically this spot contains two movies, George Romero’s 1978 original and Zach Snyder’s 2004 remake. Both films fantastically exemplify all the trappings of the zombie genre. Romero’s film is a slower-paced satire on mall culture with slower, lumbering zombies that are only dangerous in groups. Snyder’s remake, on the other hand, is a frenetic, action-packed adventure with fast zombies. If you like slow zombies or the aesthetics of the 70s, go for the original. If you enjoy “28 Days Later” and video games like “Left 4 Dead,” watch the remake instead. Either way, make sure you get a bit of the undead in your marathon.
2. “Alien” (1979)
“Alien” holds a special place in my heart as the first movie that really terrified me. As much a science-fiction movie as it is a horror movie, “Alien” is a masterpiece of suspense and slow-burn terror. Like “Halloween,” there is not much I can say about “Alien” that has not already been said. It is number two on this list for a reason. If you somehow have not seen this movie, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Remember, in space, no one can hear you scream.
1. “The Shining” (1980)
You should have seen this one coming. “The Shining” is not only one of the best horror movies, it is also considered to be one of the greatest films of all time. Directed by master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, “The Shining” delivers one of the most pulse-pounding, paranoia-filled, unnerving experiences I have ever had watching a movie. There is a reason that “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!” and Jack Nicholson’s psychotic grin have woven their way into the fabric of pop culture.