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Friday, March 16, 2012

Rhiannon Irons' Top 13 Must See Horror Films

I don't expect everyone to agree with this list, but for me, these 13 movies combined scares with everything that I love most about horror movies.  13 movies. 13 reviews. 13…unlucky for some. So gather around and strap yourselves in. It’s going to get bloody as I reveal my top 13 must see horror movies.

13) Friday The 13th (1980) - Long before Jason Voorhees graced our screens as the Crystal Lake Killer, it was his mother, Pamela Voorhees, who kicked off the killing spree. While I have stated numerous time that I’m not a fan of the Friday The 13th franchise, I will go on record to say I enjoyed this film. It was fresh, fun, campy (literally) and starred a very young Kevin Bacon. (Fun Fact: Kevin’s death sequence went horribly wrong when the valve that was to pump the blood out of the wound in his neck broke. Tom Savini had to literally blow the blood out of the tube. When he and Kevin emerged from under the bed, they were both soaked in fake blood) The kills were impressive and what I loved most about this film was how the characters interacted with the killer, knowing who they were, before biting the dust.

If you haven’t seen this version, then I urge you to. See where the madness all started. Betsy Palmer’s performance as Mrs. Voorhees is truly outstanding and refreshing. It’s always nice to see what lengths a mother will go to in order to protect and take revenge for their son…

12)  Black Water (2007) - An Australian film that comes with mixed reviews, Black Water has its share of faults but overall is one of the best suspense filled movies I have ever seen. A group of tourists in Northern Australia go crocodile watching when their boat is capsized and they’re stranded in a tree. Now that sounds pretty boring and admittedly at times it is, but the boredom factor is vastly outweighed by the appearance of the real crocodile. You read that right. I said real crocodile. Now before you have a aneurysm, the croc itself was inserted by CGI into the movie, but just like the Aussie film The Reef (2010), the animal footage is real.

Suspenseful, horrifying, tedious in parts, Black Water is a must watch. Unlike Rogue, the actors are all Australian, so it’s safe to say no foreign tourists were harmed during the making of this movie. Of course, it’s probably not going to help our tourism trade…Still, I highly recommend it.

11) The Dentist (1996) - Who isn’t afraid of visiting the dentist? Well, after seeing this film, mine had to take out insurance on his fingers for fear I would bite. The Dentist is one of those movies that takes a real life fear and gives it a sinister twist. Dr. Feinstone has everything. A beautiful wife, a very successful dental practice and a beautiful home. Of course, his life goes to shit when he discovers his wife having an affair with the pool boy. Behind every gleaming white surface there is the foul stench of decay which slowly drives Dr. Feinstone insane, causing him to dish out cruel dental torture to his patients. (Fun Fact: On Boogeymen: The Killer Compliation, Robert Englund provides fun facts about each movie featured. When it comes to The Dentist, Robert admits he has to look away from the screen as he found the whole extraction rather unnerving)

A fear of the dentist is something quiet common. This movie takes that fear and runs with it. The Dentist hasn’t always gotten great reviews, but as a great way to kill a couple of hours, this film is highly recommended. Although, I should issue a warning. You will have the sudden urge to brush, floss and use copious amounts of mouthwash after viewing…

10) Wolf Creek (2005) - Not so well received outside of Australia, Wolf Creek certainly set pulses racing for all Australians. Loosely based on the killings of Ivan Milat (Fun Fact: The old mining location where Mick takes his victims is actually Ivan Milat spelt backwards Navitalim Mining Co.), Wolf Creek stars veteran Australian actor John Jarratt as Mick Taylor, outback serial killer. Basically the story is two British backpackers and one Aussie guy from Sydney are travelling through the outback, visiting a crater called Wolf Creek (Fun Fact: The actual crater is named Wolfe Creek and is located in Western Australia) when their car breaks down and they run into Mick Taylor, who at first seems like a good Samaritan. Of course, things go horribly wrong when they are all separated and held captive as Mick tortures them, and raping the women before killing them.

John Jarratt had a hard time becoming Mick Taylor, emotionally, and for Australia, it was hard to picture him in this type of role, considering we all know him as a ‘top-notch bloke with a heart of gold’. With Wolf Creek 2 currently in the works, it’s best to sit down and watch this to see where it all began.

9) Dead Ringers (1988) - Starring Jeremy Irons as identical twins, Beverly and Elliot Mantle, Dead Ringers isn’t exactly what I’d call a horror, however Jeremy’s performance is truly disturbing, and in my opinion, Oscar winning. The movie is based on two real life twins, Stewart and Cyril Marcus. The two were found dead in their apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Their deaths were due to withdrawal from barbiturate addiction. Directed by David Cronenberg, Dead Ringers is by far one of his deepest films and aside from Reversal Of Fortune in which Jeremy Irons won the Oscar, you will never see him in a more profound role as what you will in this. Jeremy is outstanding, diabolical, beautiful, loving and a little deranged.

Would I call this a straight up horror? No. But I wouldn’t call it a psychological thriller either. Nor is it a love story. It is one of those films that cannot be labelled as one genre or another. It is a must watch for it will truly disturb you.

8) Jaws (1975) - How can you have a must watch horror list and not include Jaws? This film is the reason why some of my good friends won’t go in the water. You all know the story. A big Great White shark travels to a small community and begins a feeding frenzy on the locals before a rather colourful character decides he’s going to kill it and sets out, with the chief of police, on what became one of cinemas most talked about sequences. (Fun Fact: When the shark kills Quint, he becomes the fifth human victim. Quint in Latin means fifth)

Jaws is a cinematic masterpiece and is, in my opinion, the best shark film to have ever been created. Everything that has followed hasn’t stood up to installing fear the way Jaws did. (and on a side note, the shark in the first Jaws film looked a lot more realistic than the other sharks did in its three sequels) If you haven’t seen Jaws – where the freakin’ hell have you been? Never mind. Just go and see it.  And remember to take a bigger boat with you, OK?

7) Last House On The Left (1972) - Wes Craven and Sean S. Cunningham bring us a tale of torture, rape and revenge. When Mari Collingwood and her friend Phyllis Stone head out to a rock concert, the last thing they expected was to be kidnapped, tortured and eventually killed. But what makes this story so gruesome is how these four killers take refuge in Mari’s house when their getaway car breaks down. When Mari’s parents find their daughter’s body, they seek revenge against the four that killed their daughter, stopping at nothing until Mari’s death is avenged. (Fun Fact: This film was banned in Australia for 32 years before finally being released on DVD in 2004)

This has to be one of the most disturbing films I have seen in a long time. For me, the remake didn’t do it any justice. It lacked the grittiness of the original. This film isn’t easily forgettable and after watching it, I often find myself still thinking about it a week later. By far one of Wes Craven’s best films, Last House On The Left is extremely haunting and, just like Mrs. Voorhees in Friday The 13th (Sean S. Cunningham directed Friday The 13th and, as mentioned above, worked on this), this film shows how far some parents will go to protect their children.

6) A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) - Another Wes Craven movie cracks the top ten. A Nightmare On Elm Street is one of horror’s cult classic films. Starring the king of horror Robert Englund as child killer, Freddy Krueger, A Nightmare On Elm Street warps the boundaries between dreams and reality. This film answered the question of what would happen if the bogeyman was a dream demon who came after you in your sleep? (Fun Fact: In the original movie, Elm Street is never mentioned and Freddy was only known as Fred Krueger)

This film is responsible for releasing an inescapable fear on the world because, let’s face it, we all have to sleep. With the lines between dreams and reality blurred, this movie was the cause of many people’s insomnia in the mid-eighties because it was hard to distinguish what was real and what was a dream. A classic by today’s standards, Freddy is not only a horror icon, but a pop culture icon, with his image found in tattoo stores the world over. And who could forget that children’s rhyme “1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you…”

5) Interview With The Vampire (1994) - Ahh remember the days when vampires were sullen and didn’t sparkle? Interview With The Vampire was based on The Vampire Chronicles of Anne Rice. The story revolves around Louis, a vampire who tells his epic life story of love, betrayal, lust, loneliness and hunger. With a star studded cast including Brad Pitt, Christian Slatter, Antonio Banderas, Kirsten Dunst and Tom Cruise as Lestat de Lioncourt, Interview With The Vampire is probably one of the best vampire movies going around.

Like Dead Ringers, this film can’t really be confined to the horror genre. It’s quite an arty film at times. Despite it being told from Louis’ point of view, Tom Cruise, as Lestat, and Kirsten Dunst, as Claudia, steal the limelight. (Fun Fact: Jeremy Irons was initially asked to play Lestat but turned it down citing that he didn’t want to do another film where he had to be in make-up for a considerable period of time - Irons went on to voice Scar in The Lion King which beat out Interview With The Vampire for the Oscar for best original score)

If you’re a vampire fiend and are sick of seeing sparkling vampires stealing the limelight, then check this movie out. Charismatic and humorous at times, this film sparkles with its cast, crew, and direction all based on Anne Rice’s words. To quote Lestat, “Evil is a point of view. God kills indiscriminately and so shall we. For no creatures under God are as we are, none so like him as ourselves.”

4) The Exorcist (1973) – When a child is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.  This has been voted numerous times as the ‘scariest movie of all time’ and they certainly don’t make movies like this any more. It ranks as number 4 on my list solely because I don’t believe it to be ‘the’ scariest movie of all time but rather ‘one’ of the scariest movies of all time. It starred Linda Blair as Regan, the girl possessed by the devil, and Jason Miller as Father Damien Karras.

The Exorcist wasn’t without rumours. Some people thought the set was possessed as ‘unexplained’ occurrences happened. Others think the film is haunted by a demon. Even Linda Blair herself was plagued by rumours over how much of the role of Regan she had actually played. Regardless of all that, I say it’s just one hell of a good movie and worth checking out.

3) Phantom Of The Opera (1989) - If you read my Horror Icon Of The Month report on Robert Englund, you will recognise this title. This film bares no similarities to the musical but rather is the horror story version of the novel written by Gaston Leroux. Robert Englund plays the phantom (also know as Erik Destler), who has a slight obsession with a young opera singer by the name of Christine Day. The phantom courts her, providing her with the opportunity to sing the lead part by killing for her.

When Erik first takes Christine to his humble dwellings beneath the playhouse, Christine begs him to play part of his unfinished symphony. Erik reluctantly agrees and as he begins to play, Christine begins to sing along, citing that she has heard his opera somewhere before.

A love story and a tragedy mixed with a case of blood, guts and gore. I highly recommend this film, not just for the storyline, but to see the extent of Robert Englund’s talent as an actor. It’s my favourite film of his and is the reason behind my tattoo of “Only love and music are forever.”

2) Psycho (1960) - Anthony Perkins. Janet Leigh. Vera Miles. John Gavin. Alfred Hitchcock. Fives name that made this story one of the greatest horrors ever. Anthony Perkins plays a shy innkeeper by the name of Norman Bates who takes pity on a lost traveller, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh). Turns out Marion has a secret of her own. She has stole $40,000 from her boss and is on the run, hoping that she can start a life with her lover, Sam Loomis (John Gavin). After having a lengthy conversation with Norman about private traps, Marion realises the error of her ways and decides to head back home to Phoenix in hopes of pulling herself out of the trap she stepped into. Cue the infamous shower scene in which Marion loses her life at the hands of Norman’s mother.

From there the audience follows Lila (Vera Miles) and Sam as well as a private detective in search of Marion who is now considered missing. Upon stumbling on the Bates Motel, the private detective loses his life when he tries to talk to ‘Mother’. Sam and Lila decide to check it out and that’s where the ultimate surprise, and one of horror’s biggest shocks, is unveiled.

Psycho is a gripping movie, and the fact that it’s filmed in black and white only adds to the sheer terror that surrounds it. My mother won’t watch it because quote, “There’s something very unsettling about it.” And that rings true. For it is the tale of Norman Bates that really drills home, “A boy’s best friend is his mother.”

1) Halloween (1978) - Hands down this is my favourite movie of all time. Not just my favourite horror, but favourite film. The story is unnerving when 6 year old Michael murders his 17 year old sister, Judith on Halloween night in 1963. (Fun Fact: Michael’s last name is never mentioned in the movie until the credits where he is listed as Michael Myers aged 6 and 23 which is incorrect as Michael would be 21 at the time of the ’78 attacks).

After being locked away for 15 years, Michael escapes on October 30, 1978 and returns to his home town, stalking three young women. It’s his obsession with one of these young women, Laurie Strode, that is the plot for one of the most invigorating slasher movies of all time. The only person who knew what Michael had planned was his psychiatrist, Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) and even then, he was too late to stop the carnage.

What makes Halloween such a fantastic horror film was the suspense teamed with the unmistakable score and the blue lighting. There wasn’t a lot of blood used, and only five victims (Judith, the mechanic whose body we see when Loomis is calling ahead to Haddonfield, Annie, Bob and Linda) but still Halloween sends shivers down people’s spines. Maybe it’s because of Michael’s mask, that unnerving white mask that shows no emotion what so ever. Maybe it’s because of the music that director John Carpenter created. Or maybe it’s simply because Halloween is known and often referred to as the birth of the slasher genre.

So there you have. My top 13 must see horror movies. Of course, I have many more favourites, but if I were to name them all, I would be here forever and this post would be 100 pages long. So, now I ask the ultimate question…what is your favourite scary movie?

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I hadn't thought of that version of Phantom for so long...