Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Films For 31 Days

      Look out your window right now! What do you see? Leaves. Where are they? On the damn ground. Why? Because Halloween is upon us! The only holiday that truly matters after puberty, Halloween is a time of fun, terror, and getting blitz with your bros. To me, the only way to rightfully capture the essence of All Hallows Eve is with a good horror flick. So today, our resident film buff IMDZ is here to bring you 31 films to watch during the 31 days of October.

Bonus Film: The Lost Boys 

Release in 1987 

Directed by Joel Schumacher 

Starring: Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Jason Patric, and Keifer Sutherland 

      Most people hear Joel Schumacher’s name and instantly want to strangle a puppy. The man who basically killed the Batman film franchise for a while couldn’t possibly be on my list you say. But here is the thing, before Batman and Robin, Schumacher made The Lost Boys which is one of the more fun and faithful vampire movies made. All of the classic Hollywood vampire lore stays intact and the movie is filled with a who’s who of actors from the 80s. The film gets credit for some classic one liners and some cool costume and set designs. The only thing that truly hurts this movie is that it is more funny than scary (in fact it is not scary at all) but still remains one of my favorite vampire movies to this day.

31. Misery 

Release in 1990 

Directed by Rob Reiner 

Starring: Kathy Bates and James Caan

      Misery is one of the more painful horror movies you will ever watch. The movie stars James Caan as famous writer Paul Sheldon who wrecks in a snow storm and is found by crazed fan Annie Wilkes (Bates in an Oscar winning role). Paul is locked in Annie’s house until he recovers from the wreck. Everything is innocent at first until Annie finds out Paul killed off her favorite book character. This brings on one of the most painful scenes you will ever see in a movie. Annie places a log between Paul’s feet and cripples him with a sledgehammer. I can’t even think about this scene today without cringing. The movie ends with two ideas. 1) Annie will do anything to make sure Paul character doesn’t leave her and 2) even if he does, he will not escape the horror of Annie Wilkes.

30. Shaun of the Dead 

Released in 2004 

Directed by Edgar Wright 

Starring: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost 

      While this may be an iffy pick for a horror movie list, Shaun of the Dead does just about everything right. Sure, the first hour or so of the movie is nothing but comedy with plenty of great shout outs to other horror films (We’re coming to get you Barbara!), but the last half an hour or so of this film completely changes gears. Whether it be the loss of the mom, the best friend, or the sheer fear of failure on Shaun’s face as a horde of zombies crash in around him and girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), Shaun of the Dead solidifies itself as one of the best horror movies of the 2000s. 

29. Scream 4 

Released in 2011 

Directed by Wes Craven 

Starring: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Pannettiere, Marley Shelton, Rory Culkin, and Erik Knudson 

      It is extremely rare for a horror franchise with as much notoriety as Scream to have a good sequel this far into the franchise. Most horror movie franchises stop being good after the second film, but Scream 4 came back with a vengeance in 2011. All the major players are back eleven year later and completely captures the essence of the original. Mixed with the perfect blend of horror, comedy, and cameos (Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody) Scream 4 is easily the second best in the series. The one thing that always worries me about Craven horror movies though is his conviction to kill a major character. We’ve seen Sid, Gail, and Dewey for four movies now and even though they all should’ve died at numerous times, they are still hanging around. 


28. The Strangers 

Released in 2008 

Directed by Bryan Bertino 

Starring: Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman 

      This movie is the story of James (Speedman) and Kristen (Tyler), a troubled couple who visits their country house in the middle of the night. What they encounter is a group of three masked strangers who revel in terrorizing the two lovers. What I love about this movie is that it completely builds off of people’s silly little fears like the noise down the hall or the feeling that someone is following you. Loosely based on a true story, The Strangers is one of those movies that makes you realize real evil does exist in our world and it is ok to feel uncomfortable when you are home alone. 

27. Frailty 

Released in 2001 

Directed by Bill Paxton 

Starring: Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, and Powers Boothe 

      Frailty was a movie that sailed under a lot of people’s radars. But, it gave proof to the fact that not everything McConaughey touches is crap. The movie stars Paxton as a single dad raising his two sons who receives a vision from God. God tells him the final battle is coming and it is up to Paxton’s family to start destroying the demons of the world. Paxton then starts with the killing saying he can see the crimes of the demons he kills but his son Fenton believes it is all a lie. The scariest part of this film is the fact that you never know whether or not Paxton’s character is downright crazy or whether he is the hand of God. The ending just accentuates the fear when you find out that God was actually protecting the family. Makes you wonder huh? 

26. Let The Right One In 

Released in 2008 

Directed by Tomas Alfredson 

Starring: Kare Hedebrant and Lena Leandersson 

      Another film that flew under everyone’s radars (because it is from fucking Norway!), Let The Right One In is the tale of a young bullied boy named Oscar (Hedebrant) who’s life starts to change when he meets Eli, his new mysterious neighbor. Oscar gains some confidence from his new found friend and even starts to show off some violent tendencies. After Oscar discovers Eli’s secret (little girl vampire), Eli disappears for fear she might hurt Oscar. However, when Oscar is put in real danger from his bullies, Eli returns in one of the most brutal scenes involving children you will ever see in a horror movie. The real thing I love about this film is the discussion of whether or not Eli is just grooming Oscar to be her new keeper or if she does love him and will turn him as well. It is all in the eye of the viewer. 

25. Invasion of the Body Snatchers 

Released in 1956 

Directed by Don Siegel 

Starring: Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter 

      Regardless what other film fans say, I still believe the 1956 version of Body Snatchers surpasses the 78 remake with Donald Sutherland and definitely the 2007 version with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. The film was made as a warning against the fears of assimilation from communism and McCarthyism in a typical American town so it is more historically relevant than most viewers realize. The main character Miles (McCarthy) is at first skeptical of the alien invasion but realizes the unfortunate truth. From that point forth, the fear and weakness never leaves his face. You can only run and stay awake for so long until horror catches up to you as is the case in any horror movie. 

24. Rosemary’s Baby 

Released in 1968 

Directed by Roman Polanski 

Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, and Ruth Gordon

      The story is about a young urban couple Rosemary (Farrow) and Guy (Cassavetes) who move to New York so Guy can work on his film career. Rosemary has problems getting used to major change of scenery while Guy takes to it with no problem leaving Rosemary alone most days. Almost overnight, Guy’s film career takes off and Rosemary is pregnant leaving her all alone with odd neighbors Minnie (Gordon in an Oscar winning role) and Roman to take care of her. But it is not the loneliness or the odd neighbors that haunt Rosemary; it is the demonic images that haunt her dreams. The movie ends with Rosemary finding out the truth that Guy’s success has come from him promising Rosemary’s unborn son to the devil (brought to you buy Minnie and Roman, leaders of the local church of latter day hell). The final confrontation comes when Rosemary gives birth and the son is being worshipped by the rest of the devil worshippers. Will Rosemary kill the son of the devil or will she raise him like the loving mother she is truly meant to be? 

23. The Shining 

Released in 1980 

Directed by Stanley Kubrick 

Starring: Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall 

      Based off of the book by Stephen King and directed by legendary Stanley Kubrick, The Shining features Jack Nicholson in one of the best performances off all time. Nicholson stars as Jack, who with his wife Wendy, (Duvall) and son Danny move to the isolated Overlook Hotel to be the winter caretakers. However, not everything is as perfect as it seems. The hotel is possessed with a haunted presence that has claimed numerous victims over the years and sets its sights on Jack. Jack slowly but surely succumbs to the evil of the hotel and loses all stability and sanity. Multiple disturbing images appear in this film including the ending where Jack attempts to kill both Wendy and Danny. 

22. The Silence of the Lambs 

Released in 1991 

Directed by Jonathan Demme 

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Scott Glenn, and Ted Levine

      Clarice Starling (Foster) is a rookie F.B.I. agent assigned to find a serial killer who skins his victims for his sick fantasies. To find the killer known as Buffalo Bill (Levine), Clarice is sent by her senior advisor Jack Crawford (Glenn) to psychopath Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) who is a manipulator of the mind and a noted psychiatrist. Lecter tests Clarice’s ingenuity throughout the film leading her to Buffalo Bill. While Clarice and Crawford are away, Lecter escapes from his cell and into society ending the film with the knowledge that Lecter is loose on the world again. Hopkins delivers one of the most chilling performances ever (which won him an Oscar) and the butterfly scene is still one of the most disturbing kills you will scene in a movie. This film continues to be one of the few horror movies to ever win the Oscar for best film. 

21. Psycho 

Released in 1960 

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock 

Starring: Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh 

      Psycho is still considered one of the greatest films ever made by critics and fans around the world. While Psycho has lost some of its gusto over the years, its influence on the horror field is unprecedented. Whether it be the music, the split personality twist, or killing the star early on in the film, Psycho will live on as the basis for all horror movies (mainly because of the shower scene). 

20. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 

Released in 1974 

Directed by Tobe Hooper 

Starring: Marilyn Burns and Gunnar Hansen

     Five friends visiting their grandfather’s old house have the unfortunate luck of running across chainsaw wielding Leatherface and his equally psychotic family. One by one the friends are hunting down and brutally murdered until just Sally is left. Sally is captured by Leatherface and tied to a chair to have ‘dinner’ with the family. The most gruesome moment of this movie to me is watching the decrepit grandfather wrap his hand around a mallet and attempt to bash Sally’s brains in. Regardless of whether or not Sally escapes in the end, there is no resolution. Leatherface is still alive and his reign of terror is allowed to continue. 

19. Let Me In 

Released in 2010 

Directed by Matt Reeves 

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Grace Moretz 

      The second remake on this list (The Strangers being the first as a remake of Them); Let Me In is one of the most faithful remakes ever made. What is awesome about Let Me In is that this remake wasn’t made to Americanize a foreign horror film. This movie was made because Let The Right One In was seen by so few people that Matt Reeves wanted to make sure more people saw the film. Almost nothing major is changed and some scenes are almost shot for shot from the original. The thing that makes this remake better than the original is the performance of Moretz as Abby. For only being 15, her performance completely overshadows performances of actresses three times her age.

18. The Exorcist 

Released in 1973 

Directed by William Friedkin 

Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, and Jason Miller 

      It really took me a while to get The Exorcist. I know people that saw it in theatres and claimed to not sleep for days. When I saw it for the first time I was probably around thirteen and thought it was stupid and overrated. I just recently watched it again and realized I was very wrong. Not only is this movie creepy and disturbing at points, it has influenced some more modern films (like Paranormal Activity). Watching Regan’s quick change from a sweetheart little girl to a tormented demon child is jaw dropping at points. The only thing that hurts this movie to me is that if you didn’t read the book, you won’t get any bit of the opening with Father Merrin in the desert. For some reason Friedkin decided to keep it even though the film is solid without it.

17. The Mist 

Released in 2007 

Directed by Frank Darabont 

Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, and Toby Jones.

      The only problem with The Mist is that way too many people hate it for the wrong reasons. The ending makes or breaks the film for all fans regardless of the rest of the movie. But, the ending was so good that Stephen King was upset that he didn’t come up with something so good. Fact! People get upset at the fact that Darabont killed the kid in the end but I give him props for having the balls to do it. The Mist features one of the best villains since Darth Vader, some awesome monster designs, and the typical Frank Darabont cast. As I’m sure HIXIIVII will point out, the entire film Mrs. Carmody calls for expiation, a blood sacrifice. It is only when the child is actually killed that the mist disappears.

16. Alien 

Released in 1979 

Directed by Ridley Scott 

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Ian Holm 

      In space, no one can hear you scream. Alien is one of the most frightening films of all time straight up. A space ship answers a distress call on a distant planet and runs into the one of the most vicious killers in the universe. Everything seems fine for a moment when the face hugger unlatches itself from Kane (Hurt) but all hell breaks loose when an alien bursts from Kane’s chest at dinner time. It is one of the more memorable moments in horror film history and also one of the more frightening. Also frightening is seeing Veronica Cartwright’s character Lambert possibly being raped by one of the giant aliens. 

15. 28 Days Later 

Released in 2002 

Directed by Danny Boyle 

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Naomie Harris, and Christopher Eccleston

      Fucking animal rights activists ruin everything. Even when there is a rage infected monkey trapped in a cage they still have to release it. And this was the downfall of England in 28 Days Later. Jim (Murphy) wakes up naked in a hospital and everyone is gone and the world around him is in shambles. Soon night falls and the real horror starts. Rage infected humans flood the streets. Jim finds other survivors to help him through the nightmare including Selina (Harris), Frank (Gleeson), and Hannah. The survivors make their way across a now desolate England to an army base run by Major Henry West (Eccleston). But as Jim, Selina, and Hannah come to find out, their human adversaries might be just as terrifying as the infected ones. 

14. A Nightmare on Elm Street 

Released in 1984 

Directed by Wes Craven 

Starring: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, and Johnny Depp 

      When a child murdering janitor is the victim of a local lynch mob, he comes back as a dream demon that stalks the children of those who killed him. To me, the thing that was always scary about Freddy Krueger is that there is literally no place you can be safe with him around. Your dreams will always be with you and as long as you are alive Freddy will get to you. Die in your dreams and you die in real life. The only problem is the characters can never really tell if they are dreaming or not making Freddy that much more frightening. 

13. Friday the 13th 

Released in 1980 

Directed by Sean Cunningham 

Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, and Kevin Bacon

      One of the masters of horror is born…kinda. One of the biggest misconceptions in horror movies is that Jason was always the killer (see Scream). In fact the first of an eventual twelve movies starred Betsy Palmer as Mrs. Vorhees, the true killer. After her son drowns at Camp Crystal Lake a few summers prior, Mrs. Vorhees comes back and kills the counselors who try to reopen the camp. While I think Jason is the best of the classic slashers, the original Friday the 13th is the best of the series and the movies were never quite the same once Jason made his appearance.

12. Saw 

Released in 2004 

Directed by James Wan 

Starring: Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell, Danny Glover, Monica Potter, and Michael Emerson

      I have a feeling the Saw mainly gets a bad rap because of all the sequels it spawned. Just like Nightmare, Friday the 13th, and Halloween, you shouldn’t judge the original on the basis of its sequels. The original Saw was everything that defines the current trend of horror movies. It is gory, brutal, unrelenting, and unrestricted. Main point is that Adam (Whannell) and Lawrence (Elwes) are tied to the wall in a bathroom. If Lawrence wants out he has to kill Adam. If Adam wants out he has to survive the time limit of the brutal game of Jigsaw. The film is widely credited with starting the gore porn trend. The twist at the end to this day makes my jaw drop, one of the few films to do so. If you are at all interested in the sequels, watch number two and then stop. After that, the producers are just cashing in on people’s curiosity. 

11. Trick ‘r Treat 

Released in 2007 

Directed by Michael Dougherty 

Starring: Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, and Dylan Baker 

      Trick ‘r Treat is a movie a lot of people haven’t seen but everyone I know that has seen it loves it. No one has seen it because it had a lot of unfortunate problems being made. Before even hitting theatres, the production company yanked it which was followed by the film sitting on the shelf for almost two years before director Brian Singer insisted it be green-lit. Then it was a straight to DVD release which dooms almost any movie. Warner Brothers should be ashamed they did this. Trick ‘r Treat mixes five short stories over the course of a single Halloween night. Most films that mix stories like this don’t do it correctly (fuck you Crash). Trick ‘r Treat does it so well that you will catch something new every time you watch it. Some of the major characters are overshadowed in the back ground so much in some scenes you doubt whether or not you even saw them. Also, for any werewolf fans, this movie features one of the best werewolf transformation scenes you will see in a film. 

10. The Descent 

Released in 2005 

Directed by Neil Marshall 

Starring: Shauna Macdonald and Natalie Mendoza

      This move straight up scares the shit out of me. It combines three of my biggest fears: the dark, small spaces, and being underground. The story tells of six friends who meet annually do to some sort of extreme adventure. The opening shows a white water trip where Sarah’s husband and daughter are killed afterwards. To get her mind off everything that happened, Sarah’s supposed best friend Juno sets up a spelunking trip, but fails to mention the caves they are in are unmapped. The cave collapses and the six are stuck underground. To their horror, they are not alone. A pack of savage humanoids are underground as well. The six fight to survive but are savagely killed off one by one until only Sarah is left. The physical and emotional descent Sarah goes through is portrayed wonderfully by Macdonald. 

9. Paranormal Activity 

Released in 2007 

Directed by Oren Peli 

Starring: Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat 

      The story of Paranormal Activity is amazing. Made for a mere $15,000, Paranormal Activity managed to rake in over $193 million worldwide. The demand it now feature was a brilliant marketing move. The acting is nothing spectacular but to see what the crew did with such a small budget is just unbelievable. The special effects are done better than a film with a large Hollywood budget. This film also features one of my personal scariest moments. This movie’s horror has a lingering effect on your mental state. You will never realize how many tiny noises your house makes until you watch this film.

8. Paranormal Activity 3 

Released in 2011 

Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman 

Starring Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Lauren Bittner, and Christopher Smith

      I personally think Paranormal 3 is the best of the series so far. Paranormal 1 was new, original, and brilliant. Paranormal 3 intensifies all of these things. Go back to where the story first started and see Katie and Kristi haunted by spirits as little girls. The first hour or so of the film do the typical formula: jump scares and creepy moments. However, as HIXIIVII puts it, the final half an hour of this film are life ruining. I yelled “oh fuck no” a lot in the theater during that half hour. The camera work was better this go around and the marketing was pretty brilliant as well. Most horror films have the problem of showing the best parts in the trailer. Paranormal 3 showed a lot of horrifying moments in the trailer and didn’t use any of them. Genius in my own opinion. 

7. Scream 

Released in 1996 

Directed by Wes Craven 

Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Skeet Ulrich, Drew Barrymore, Jaime Kennedy, and Rose McGowan 

      The opening is legendary. The voice is legendary. Ghostface was born in 1996 and instantly became one of Hollywood’s top slashers reviving a dead genre at the time. Craven pushed the envelope by killing of star Drew Barrymore in the first few minutes of the film. Scream made the rules of surviving horror movies household knowledge. Stu Macher (Lillard) is one of the best characters to hit the silver screen. Only Craven could make a scary parody.

6. Dawn of the Dead 

Released in 2004 

Directed by Zack Snyder 

Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, and Michael Kelly 

      Dawn of the Dead is one of the few remakes that surpasses the original and once again puts to rest the idea that all remakes are bad. Zombies were scary is Romero’s original version but Snyder made them scarier. At least with the slow lumbering zombies you could outrun them easily. Snyder gave his zombies the ability to run which ultimately makes them scarier. The movie is an all out gory thrill ride combined with just enough comedic moments to make the characters human. Quite possibly the best zombie movie made. 

5. The Cabin in the Woods 

Released in 2012 

Directed by Drew Goddard 

Starring: Kristen Connelly, Fran Kranz, Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford. 


      Another horror movie that parodies horror movies? Correct. This is the best horror movie of this year (not House At The End of The Street, The Possession, or Sinister). Five friends go to a cabin in the woods and encountered an evil mutant family that attempts to kill them. However, unbeknownst to the five, there is a secret underground facility where people and waiting to design their deaths. Building off of the predictability of horror films, Sitterson (Jenkins) and Hadley (Whitford) do everything in their power to make sure the five die. The show is stolen by Marty (Kranz) the group stoner (basically Shaggy) who realizes not everything is as it seems and is the comedic relief for the movie. We come to find out that everything being done is to please ancient gods that will rise and destroy the world if the best sacrifice is not presented to them. A great moment of this film is to watch as all the monsters break loose on the lab and try to figure out what movies they come from. Please read HIXIIVII’s review as well! 

4. The Hills Have Eyes 

Released in 2006 

Directed by Alexandre Aja 

Starring: Aaron Stanford, Emilie de Ravin, Ted Levine, and Robert Joy 

      The best horror movie remake to come out of Hollywood bar none, The Hills Have Eyes is the story of a family on a road trip who gets lost and breaks down in the desert. Unfortunately for them they are being hunted by a mutated clan of people victim of the nuclear testing in the desert. This film is violent, gory, and even hard to watch at times. With nowhere to run to and no place to hide, the members of the family who have not been mutilated are forced to fight for their lives. 

3. The Devil’s Rejects 

Released in 2005 

Directed by Rob Zombie 

Starring: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, and William Forsythe 

      Rob Zombie proved himself a good director with the release of The Devil’s Rejects. This film is one of the most obscene films you will ever see. It will also be one of the best films you will ever see. Played out against a southern backdrop and accentuated by a rocking soundtrack, The Devil’s Rejects is the story of a murderous family (Haig, Moseley, and Zombie) on the run from lawman Sheriff Wydell (Forsythe) whose brother was a victim of the families. As the story progresses, Zombie curiously starts to victimize the family and turn Wydell into the true monster of the movie. The movie ends in one of the best shootout scenes ever made. 

2. The Thing 

Released in 1982 

Directed by John Carpenter 

Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David 

      Set on the barren continent of Antarctica, The Thing is the story of a group of researchers who encounter a violent shape-shifting alien. Based on the short story Who Goes There by John Campbell Jr, the story was originally created at the peak of the red scare when Americans were worried that everyone was a communist spy, even their own friends and neighbors. That is the point of this film, paranoia. Paranoia is peaked almost the entire film because no one knows who is real and who is the thing. The movie ends with two survivors, still unsure of the other; sitting in the snow deciding the best thing to happen is for both of them to die so the world can’t be taken over. The movie features some horrifying graphics of the thing assimilating the other men and the dogs of the camp, creating some of the most frightening monster designs in movie history.

1. Halloween

Released in 1978 

Directed by John Carpenter 

Starring: Jaime Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance 

      Duh! The greatest horror film ever made and the must watch movie of any Halloween season. John Carpenter’s masterpiece was made for a mere $320,000 and as of the year of its release in theatres, had made $60 million. Given inflation and its continued success over time, Halloween remains the most successful independent film ever made. The audience is shocked from the opening minutes when an innocent looking Michael Myers in a clown costume slices up his older sister. Years later, Michael escapes from his mental facility and heads home. As Michael slices up the sex driven teens of the town, Michael’s doctor (Pleasance) and local law enforcement try to track down the psychotic killer. This movie made Jaime Lee Curtis the scream queen of Hollywood. Main character Laurie (Curtis) is stalked by Myers throughout the night and the two end up in some of the scariest predicaments possible (Laurie trapped in a closet with nothing to defend herself but a hanger as Michael bashes the door in). Dr. Loomis may shoot Michael in the end but everyone knows Michael can’t be killed. Michael’s white mask with black, shapeless eyes is the personification of evil and evil will live forever. 

If you would like to hear more from IMDZ, he's been featured on a few episodes of Project EAR.

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