Top Ten Horror Films from the Golden Age
Monster lovers are passionate about films from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, especially the classics from Universal Studios. Most everyone knows the unholy trinity of Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolfman but there are a lot more thrills and chills to be had from this classic era.
10. Son of Frankenstein (1939)
9. The Black Cat (1934)
8. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
7. Phantom of the Opera (1925)
6. Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
5. The Wolfman (1941)
4. Dracula (1931)
3. Frankenstein (1931)
2. Freaks (1933)
1. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein is one of the strangest horror films ever made. Put aside the relentless but beautiful religious imagery, the high camp sensibility gay director Whale brought to the film and the tiny people dancing in jars. The revelation of the Bride, Elsa Lanchester, as a weirdly beautiful art deco masterpiece, is one of the great moments in film history …. period.
Top Ten Cerebral Scare Fests
If you’re a history or science nerd who wouldn’t be caught dead watching a horror film, you’ll find some shocking surprises in these ten cerebral scare fests. They reference history, folklore, science and politics in ways that will both terrify you and make you reach for your Foucault, Gramsci and Jameson (the cultural theorist and the whisky).
10. The Washingtonians (2007)
9. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Part 2 (1986)
8. 28 Days Later (2004)
7. Zombies of Mass Destruction (2009)
6. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
5. David Croneberg’s Videodrome (1983)
4. Solaris (1972 version -please don’t watch the remake)
3. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
2. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
1. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Master monster maker Guillermo del Toro takes the top two spots with his beautifully grotesque tales of terror set amid the real terrors of the Spanish Civil War. Pan’s Labyrinth has a lush beauty and startling SFX, but The Devil’s Backbone has more spare horror and a final line that will haunt you to your grave…and maybe beyond.
Top Ten Slashers
Both fans and scholars love to argue over the slasher film — how do you define it and exactly when was its Golden Age? Here’s my list of the ten best tales of knife-wielding maniacs. And if any of these choices make you want to don a hockey mask and come after me, please ……. just use the comments section!
10. Urban Legend (1998)
9. Friday the 13th Parts 1&2 (1980-1 Hey, it’s a single narrative so this isn’t cheating)
8. When a Stranger Calls (1979)
7. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
6. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
5. Scream (1991)
4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
3. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
2. Psycho (1960)
1. Halloween (1978)
Halloween edges out Hitchcock’s masterpiece by a mere half a knife length. It’s no accident that John Carpenter’s tale of a babysitter in danger is filled with homages to the story of Norman Bates and his Oedipal angst.
Top Ten Creature Features
They are too big, have too many eyes, too many heads and just all around too much. These monsters range from the household fly perverted by science to big angry lizards. Most of these monsters were born out of America’s fears of atomic fallout or own bad relationship with the natural world. In other words, these are fears based in reality.
10. Them! (1954)
9. The Fly (1958)
8. Attack of the Crab Monsters (1958)
7. Tremors (1990)
6. It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)
5. The Fly (1986)
4. Jurassic Park (1993)
3. Jaws (1975)
2. King Kong (1933)
1. Gojira (1954)
The biggest, scariest, most destructive creature feature of them all is the original Japanese version of Godzilla. Far superior to the American release, it’s packed with social satire and a plea for world peace. Direct references to Hiroshima and Nagasaki never made it into the American version. I wonder why?
Top Ten Scariest Films of All Time
Turn out the lights, grab your popcorn and get on this roller coaster list of films. Before its over, you’ll be checking the locks, opening every closet door and turning on all the lights in the house. Some of them still scare me!
10. John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)
9. Hellraiser (1987)
8. Ju-On (2003)
7. Candyman (1992)
6. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
5. Alien (1979)
4. The Ring (2002)
3. The Sixth Sense (1999)
2. Halloween (1978)
1. The Exorcist (1974)
William Friedkin’s and Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist gave a whole culture nightmares in 1974 and can still shock and shiver. It barely beats out Carpenter’s Halloween with Michael Meyers, the expressionless, unstoppable killer known as “The Shape.” The Devil does win the top spot, especially in the extended release of The Exorcist, that gave us a possessed Regan spider-walking backwards down the stairs. YIKES! SOMEBODY GET SOME FREAKIN’ HOLY WATER!!