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October 16, 2005

Scary Monsters

Through a link with Facets Video I found a list of the top ten horror films of all time according to Total Film magazine. This list is as follows:

1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
2. Holloween (1978)
3. Suspiria (1977)
4. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
5. The Shining (1980)
6. Psycho (1960)
7. The Wicker Man (1973)
8. Rosemary's Baby (1967)
9. Don't Look Now (1973)
10. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

The BBC article pointed out that that a significant number of these films were made in the Seventies. I'm not sure if that reflects on the times when the films were made, or on the age and memories of those people who participated in the poll. Four of the films have been remade. There have been announcements of future remakes of Don't Look Now and The Wicker Man. I also read about a proposed remake of Suspiria. Holloween has had about a hundred sequels and inspired several holiday themes horror movies.

While I am an unapologetic fan of horror movies, I have to confess that I have only seen the first nine films listed. The one film that I have yet to see is Cannibal Holocaust, not to be confused with other films with a similar title. The closest I have come to the genre is Big Alligator River which I reviewed a while back.

While I've enjoyed Dawn of the Dead, I am not as obsessed as one fan. I thought The Wicker Man hardly lived up to its reputation, and I actually fell asleep watching The Texas Chainaw Massacre at home. I also like Rosemary's Baby, but Polanski gave me bigger jolts with Repulsion and especially, The Tenant.

The two filmmakers who should be represented on this list are David Cronenberg and Takashi Miike. I don't know if I could choose one film by Cronenberg. I know I wasn't prepared for Shivers, and even after that first date, I still wasn't prepared for The Brood, The Fly or Dead Ringers. As for Miike, he should have made the list with Audition, his most disciplined film.

According to my calendar, a Pagan/Wiccan holiday called Samhain is on the same date as Holloween.

Usually on that day, I make a point of seeing a horror movie, sometimes in a theater, but more often I'll catch something on cable or watch a DVD. I wanted readers to comment on the list, or what film(s) they plan to watch as part of their holiday celebration.

Posted by peter at October 16, 2005 11:09 PM


I often wind up disappointed in horror movies, but if I can get a copy I may try to watch "The Wicker Man" this year, since I have never seen it. I tend to prefer ghost stories with plenty of atmosphere to out-and-out horror, because, well, I am a wimp.

I do like a lot of the Hammer films I have seen, however. I like the costumes and the cinematography and the general sort of Victorian over-the-top atmosphere. When I was single and living by myself I would sit on my futon bed/couch with the cat in my lap and watch these on TV late on a winter night. Horror films are really made for chilly weather, in my view.

One film I would love to hear you expound on if you've seen it: Witchfinder General (aka Conqueror Worm). Man, that was a seriously frightening and disturbing movie. I was repulsed, but I had to admit it was well-made and I couldn't stop thinking about it for days.

Posted by: Campaspe at October 19, 2005 10:04 PM

It has been thirty years since I saw Witchfinder General. I have what is purported to be a more complete version on my Nicheflix queue. I saw it as Conqueror Worm twice. At the time of the initial release, I read about Michael Reeves in a serious film magazine. What I remember is the historical aspect which I assume was fairly accurate of that time of English history. My favorite Hammer is Brides of Dracula because of the use of color, even though there are no brides and no Dracula.

Posted by: Peter Nellhaus at October 19, 2005 11:32 PM

Make sure you see the complete version of "Wicker Man." I bought a copy at Suncoast a few years ago that was about 20 minutes shy, most of which were the nude scenes and shenanigans of the delectible Britt Eklund. Not that these scenes were gratuitous; quite the contrary.

Posted by: driveinjimmy at April 18, 2006 07:15 PM