MikeyB's Movie Night Halloween Horror Picks: MikeyB's Top 10 Favorite Horror Movies
Its finally Halloween. After sharing some Netflix Instant Picks and Lesser Known Fright Flicks with you, I figured why not celebrate the holiday by sharing my top 10 favorite Horror Films with you all! Time for my disclaimer: In this list you will see some films that may not be anywhere near Top 10 material for other "professional" critics. The films you will see here are my own Top 10 favorites. Some have personal meaning while others I simply consider "good cinema", so lets dive right in.
#10: Trick 'r Treat - Michael Dougherty
A "horror anthology" in the vein of such classics as Creepshow, Tales From The Crypt, and Vault of Horror. “Trick 'r Treat” features five stories all taking place over one Halloween night. There are Werewolves, Vampires, Serial Killers, and Ghosts all woven together by the films little mascot Sam. “Trick 'r Treat” is one of the few films to really capture the feel and look of the season. Great performances, perfect atmosphere, and lots respect for the genre create one of the best "anthologies" of the genre.
A Fun Fact From IMDB for Trick 'r Treat:
The film was originally slated to be released in October 2007 for a Halloween release. Warner Bros., without explanation or reason, pulled the film from the schedule and no reschedule date was announced. One reason might have been that Saw IV was slated for release around the same time and Warner Bros. did not want to compete against it in fears of a big opening against them. Another possible reason the film was buried by the studio was that it was possible fallout from the box office disappointment ofSuperman Returns, which was co-written by Trick 'r Treat writer/director Michael Dougherty and both produced and directed by Bryan Singer, whose production company produced this film. There was brief talk that the film would finally be released around Halloween 2008 and possibly early 2009 but neither release ever materialized. The film was finally released straight to DVD in October 2009.
#9: Poltergeist - Tobe Hooper (In reality: Steven Spielberg)
The 1982 classic Poltergeist holds a special place in my heart, as it was one of the first horror movies I have ever watched. I remember my father sitting me down and for the film’s 114 minute duration, I was sucked into the world of the Freeling family who were being terrorized by a "poltergeist" that had taken up residence in their home. It still holds up today and while watching it you have to wonder how the filmmakers ever got away with the "PG" rating.
A Fun Fact From IMDB for Poltergeist:
Though on-screen directing credit goes to Tobe Hooper, a wealth of evidence suggests that most of the directorial decisions were made by Steven Spielberg. In fact, Spielberg had wanted to direct the film himself, but a clause in his contract stated that while still working on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Spielberg could not direct another film. Members of the cast and crew, including Executive Producer Frank Marshall and actress Zelda Rubinstein, have stated that Spielberg cast the film, directed the actors, and designed every single storyboard for the movie himself. Based on this evidence, the DGA opened a probe into the matter, but found no reason that co-director credit should go to Spielberg.
#8: Red State - Kevin Smith
Writer / Director Kevin Smith may be best known for comedies such as Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, but last year he released his first ever horror film and in my opinion, the finest film of his career. Set in the small town of Cooper’s Dell, the story follows three high school buddies who decide to hit up a Craigslist personal ad for a some hot “four-way” action. Unbeknownst to them, the lady who has posted the ad belongs to a “Westboro Baptist like church”, who use the ad to trap and murder “sinners”. Things get complicated when the FBI gets called in and lays siege to the group’s compound. Featuring electric performances by all involved, brilliant writing, and a knockout final act, not only was this my favorite genre film from last year; it was hands down my favorite movie I saw in 2011.
A Fun Fact from IMDB for Red State:
After a screening of the film in Kansas City, Kevin Smith interviewed two life long Westboro Baptist Church members (Shirley Phelps’ niece and son) who had defected a few years prior. They both enjoyed the film and even complimented Smith on how realistic certain aspects of religious fanaticism are depicted.
#7: American Psycho - Marry Harron
Before Christian Bale became The Dark Knight he was Patrick Bateman: a mild mannered stock broker in 1980's New York City who just happens to be a psychopathic serial killer. The film is darkly comedic in its satire of the "yuppie" culture of the 80's and Christian Bale gives, in my opinion, the finest performance of his career.
A Fun Fact From IMDB for American Psycho:
A Fun Fact From IMDB for American Psycho:
When Lions Gate picked up the rights for the film, Mary Harron was set to write and direct. Initially, she considered various actors for the role of Patrick Bateman, including Billy Crudup (who was offered the part but turned it down), Ben Chaplin, Robert Sean Leonard, Johnathon Schaech, Jonny Lee Miller, and Jared Leto. Eventually, Harron offered the part to Christian Bale, who accepted. The producers tried to talk Harron into casting Edward Norton, but she refused, and was ultimately allowed to cast Bale, but only on the proviso that she cast at least two other big name actors in supporting roles. To this end, Harron hired Willem Dafoe to play Kimball and Reese Witherspoon to play Evelyn. However, after they had agreed to appear, Lions Gate told Harron they were going to make an offer to Leonardo DiCaprio to play Bateman. Harron told them if they did, she would leave the project, which is exactly what happened. Oliver Stone was subsequently hired to replace Harron, working from a script by Matt Markwalder. Stone was set to cast James Woods as Kimball, Cameron Diaz as Evelyn, Elizabeth Berkley as Courtney and Chloë Sevigny as Jean. Stone also decided to keep Leto on the project as Paul Allen. However, DiCaprio left the project to shoot The Beach instead, and as the budget began to get out of control, Stone also left, prompting Lions Gate to rehire Harron, who returned to her original castings decisions, and decided to keep Sevigny on the project.
#6: The Funhouse - Tobe Hooper
Tobe Hooper's second appearance on my list is one of his lesser known films. Centering on a group of friends who decide to spend the night at the carnival funhouse, but witness a brutal murder and are stalked and killed one by one. With shocking makeup effects, great atmosphere, set design, and believable performances by all involved this is one of the stand out flicks of the "slasher" genre.
A Fun Fact From IMDB for The Funhouse:
Dean R. Koontz wrote a novelization of the screenplay under the pseudonym Owen West. The book contains a lot of backstory added by Koontz. Because of this, and the fact that the book was released before the movie due to a delay in post production, it is often mistaken that the movie is based on the book, but the book is in fact based on the movie.
#5: Freaks - Tod Browning
Released in 1932 to almost universal outcry and disgust and banned in the U.K. for thirty years and effectively destroying director Tod Browning's career, Freaks is now considered a classic. The story follows a family of circus freaks and performers. In particular Hans, a dwarf, and his normal sized object of affection Cleopatra, a trapeze artist. She is secretly planning with the circus strongman to rob Hans of all his money and run away together. The rest of the "freaks" find out and decide to exact their revenge on the devious couple. Filmed with actual circus "freaks", the film was just too much to handle for audience of the day but today serves as one of the true pinnacles of the genre.
A Fun Fact From IMDB for Freaks:
When MGM production chief Irving Thalberg gave Willis Goldbeck the assignment to write a draft of a screenplay based on Clarence Aaron 'Tod' Robbins's story "Spurs", the only direction he gave Goldbeck was that the script had to be "horrible". The writer completed his draft quickly and turned the script over to Thalberg. A few days later, Goldbeck was summoned to Thalberg's office, where he found the producer slumped forward on his desk with his face buried in his arms, as if overwhelmed. After a moment, Thalberg sat up straight and looked at Goldbeck. "Well," said Thalberg, "it's horrible."
#4: An American Werewolf In London - John Landis
In 1981 director John Landis was best known for his comedies Blues Brothers and Animal House so it was a bit surprising that his next film was a Horror / Comedy hybrid. The story follows two american friends, Jack and David who are backpacking their way across the english countryside when they are attacked; Jack killed by a large wolf. David is only wounded, but while he recovers he keeps having strange dreams and the restless spirit of Jack keeps returning to warn him that he is now a werewolf and needs to kill himself. Featuring believable performances, a great soundtrack, and groundbreaking special effects make-up work by Rick Baker, AAWIL is widly considered to be one of the best, if not THE best film about werewolf films ever made.
A Fun Fact From IMDB for An American Werewolf In London:
A Fun Fact From IMDB for An American Werewolf In London:
The scene when the werewolf runs riot in Piccadilly Circus was filmed at that busy intersection when police stopped the normal traffic and the public. Everyone took their places, it was filmed with multiple cameras and it was all cleaned up within the half hour. It was the first time in many years that filming had been allowed in Piccadilly Circus, due to lingering resentment over an unannounced smoke bomb which directorMichael Winner set off while filming a scene for The Jokers, after which he sped off in a taxi with the film magazine while other members of the crew were arrested; however,John Landis' cordial experience in working with the Chicago police on The Blues Brothers helped overcome official reluctance to approve the filming, especially as he had completely worked out a plan, using a scale model of the area, whereby traffic would be minimally disrupted.
#3: The Thing - John Carpenter
A remake of the 1951 Sci-Fi classic The Thing From Another World, John Carpenter's version is one of the very few remakes that actually tops the original. Set in the Antarctic at an American scientific outpost where an alien creature that can absorb and shape shift into any organism it comes into contact with is running amok. Tension is high and everyone is suspicious with paranoia and distrust thick in the air. The film still holds up today with all the actors involved giving their all, and Rob Bottin's classic creature effects are still mind-blowing to behold.
A Fun Fact From IMDB for The Thing:
Opened on the same day as Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. The similarities don't end there; both movies met with unfavorable reactions at the premiere, but became widely loved sci-fi classics in the years to come.
#2 Black Christmas - Bob Clark
Bob Clark may be best known for directing the holiday classic A Christmas Story, but nine years prior he directed what many consider to be the beginning of the slasher genre. “Black Christmas” follows a girls college fraternity that has started to get strange and threatening phone calls. The girls then start to go missing one by one. Predating Halloween by four years and featuring many of the tropes the the genre would later be known for: Point of view shots from the killer's perspective, a "final girl", and numerous "red-herrings". The film has stood up to the test of time and has some truly creepy moments. I watch it every year around christmas and enjoy it more and more with each viewing.
A Fun Fact From IMDB for Black Christmas:
Around 1986, Olivia Hussey met producers for the film Roxanne, who were interested in casting her for the title role, co-star Steve Martin met her and said "Oh my God Olivia, you were in one of my all time favorite films", thinking it was her classical performance in the phenomenal Romeo and Juliet, Olivia was surprised to find out it was indeed Black Christmas, Martin claimed he had seen it over 20 times.
#1: Army of Darkness - Sam Raimi
Well here its is. My favorite horror movie of all time. Army of Darkenss is the third film in the "Evil Dead Trilogy" and in my opinion the best of the three. The main character Ash has gone from cowardly loser to full-blown demon slaying badass, played to perfection by Bruce Campbell. The story follows Ash who has been sucked through a portal in time and space to the dark ages of England, where he must recover The Necronomicon to save himself and the people of the land. Growing up I was a huge fan of “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad”, “Jason and The Argonauts”, and “Clash of The Titans”, all of which featured the fantastic special effect work of Ray Harryhausen. In all three of the films the main protagonist fights against creatures that are brought to life with Harrhausen's signature stop motion animation. In both "Sinbad" and "Jason" the heroes fight against skeletons that have been reanimated to kill them. In AoD, Ash fights an entire army of the suckers and you can feel the love the filmmakers have for Harryhausen's classic work. I can only assume that this mutual love of mine and the filmmakers that inspired my father to show this R rated film to me when I was just 8 years old! I have long considered this very movie to be the one that inspired in me my love of the horror genre, and so it will always hold the number one spot in this list, and in my heart.
A Fun Fact From IMDB for Army of Darkness:
During the final battle between the Deadites and Ash's men, one of the Deadites lets out a war cry that is almost identical to that of Xena: Warrior Princess - a series in which Ted Raimi and Bruce Campbell both featured in, and was also produced by Sam Raimi.
Well here you go everyone. I hope you enjoyed reading this list as much as I did writing it, and please remember that this is one man’s lowly opinion and “Opinion =/= Fact”.