Friday, October 28, 2016

The Six Best Horror Movies (if you're a weenie)

I don't mind Halloween, in and of itself. There are costumes, booze, it's fall. All great things. But then every show and movie list is a non-stop gore fest and, folks, I do not do gore. Event Horizon might be a great movie, but I watched it from behind a pillow.

That's how I spend most horror movies (also out: GoT, Walking Dead, etc), and thus, most of October. So, in the event you are a weenie like me who does want to watch something creepy, I give you: The Six Best Horror Movies for Weenies.

A quick note, though: This isn't a joke list, where I just pick crappy horror movies. I am going for legitimate creep factor here, just without gore.

1. Psycho (1960). Sometimes the obvious answer is the right one. While it gets credit for essentially jump-starting the gore-splattered slasher genre, Psycho is so much more than that. It s layers of creepiness, with one of the all-time great twists and, of course, brilliant directing from the master.

2. Alien (1979). Chloe has already written the definitive piece on why Alien is one of the best movies of all time. It relies on feelings of isolation and fear of the unseen to keep you on the edge of your seat, and your head spinning after the credits roll. It's okay, though, Aliens is also the best sequel ever, so you can keep the party going.

3. Predator (1987). Like Alien, Predator relies more on the feeling of being stalked by, well, a predator than sheer shock value. Gorier than the other on this list, what with flayed corpses here and there, it ends up being Arnie at his best vs on ugly mother... Also, Predators is vastly underrated, if more of an action movie than horror.

4. Sunshine (2007). If this belongs on a horror movie list is justifiably up for debate, but this isn't that horror movie list, so here we are. And just like its place on this list, there are people who love this movie, and those that hate it. It is certainly flawed, but the whole thing is beautifully nihilistic and claustrophobic. It is a movie that traps you right along with the crew and makes you feel completely hemmed in and hopeless. For that, I give it a spot on this list and almost forgive its stupid third act.

5. The Silence of the Lambs (1991). The best thing a horror movie can do, for my money, is stick with you and haunt you. This is that movie. A stunning film by any standard, with brilliant directing, acting and score, this movie haunts your dreams in ways Freddy can only wish for. There are no supernatural, immortal monsters or demons here, no inbred barely-human murder families, just a movie informed by real serial killers, and performances given by actors who studied the monsters they were imitating, and every bit of those shows and it's scarier than any made-up monster.

6. Les Diaboliques (1955) Editors note: This comes courtesy friend o' the blog E. Catherine Tobler, who told me about this movie, but I haven't seen it yet, but sounds too good to omit. Her words: I first saw Les Diaboliques when I was in junior high--every year, our art class was rewarded with a film we would probably otherwise never see. We knew nothing about it, so as the black and white images began to unfold, we could only imagine where we might go.

The story, set at boarding school on the outskirts of Paris, is one of horror, obsession, and revenge, the perfect thing to show junior high art students, right? Simone Signoret is flawless and cold, Vera Clouzot timid and hard. Wife and mistress conspire to kill the man who has overwhelmed their lives--but everyone is a devil and who may you trust in such a conspiracy? (Three may keep a secret if two are dead, thank you Ben Franklin.)

This film never shows you a thing all the way--the pool that shimmers in the school yard is a haze of sunlight, or a tangle of weeds and trash, never revealing what lurks beneath the water. That's always more frightening than seeing the monster, right--or is it? Because the monster in this film... Well. That'd be saying too much, and the film itself cautions viewers to not tell others what they have seen. A note: the 1996 remake is terrible, erasing all the wonder of the 1955 original. More Editors notes: remakes of good movies are always terrible.

Feel free to chime in with your favorite horror movies, gory or otherwise! And have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone.

Dean is the author of the 3024AD series of science fiction stories (which should be on YOUR summer reading list). You can read his other ramblings and musings on a variety of topics (mostly writing) on his blog. When not holed up in his office
tweeting obnoxiously writing, he can be found watching or playing sports, or in his natural habitat of a bookstore.