Top Ten: Scary Movies

This entry is part 9 of 12 in the series Hallowe'en Horror Week

It’s only a couple of days now until Hallowe’en and like many other film reviewers I’ve been thinking about my favourite scary movies.  At first I was apprehensive, I seem to have spent a long time telling you that I’m not a fan of the genre so I really thought that it would take me ages to even come up with 10 that I liked.  Once I got started I realised that I was going to struggle to narrow the list down to just 10.

There may be some controversy over the inclusion of a couple of films in this list, but these are the scary movies I most enjoy and get the best reaction from – be it frights, laughs or just sheer enjoyment.

1. 28 Days Later

It’s been a few years since a housemate and I watched this together late at night.  It’s definitely time for be to revisit 28 Days Later to fully recall the story and the action.  The scares have stayed with me for a long time, as has the fantastic opening sequence where Cillian Murphy wanders around the abandoned streets of London.  My housemate and I were both so scared after we watched this so we turned on all the lights and sat up talking for about an hour before we dared go to bed.  Surely that’s the sign of any great horror?


2. 1408

John Cusack and Samuel L Jackson star in this 2007 film about a writer whose books debunk the myths of haunted hotels across America.  His cynicism is destroyed and he is thrown into a nightmare situation when he visits the Dolphin Hotel in New York and demands to stay in room 1408, a room that no guest has ever come out of alive.  Based on a short story by master of horror Stephen King, this is one of the very few films that utterly terrified me.  Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to leave the lights on that night!


3.  The Exorcist

One of the most famous horror films, this is the story of a young girl possessed by a demon.  After medical and psychiatric examinations fail to find a reason for 12 year old Regan’s strange behaviour, her mother turns to the Church to perform an exorcism.  Regan’s rotating head, violence and bad language are shocking and Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells give me the heebie-jeebies every time I hear them.


4.  Final Destination

This is a great scary movie about how Death will always get his victims in the end.  Following a premonition Alex and several classmates leave a plane taking them on a school trip to France.  The plane subsequently explodes, killing all on board.  The survivors are then picked off one by one by Death, who clearly doesn’t like to be cheated.


5.  The Lost Boys

As I said in my review of The Lost Boys earlier this week, it’s hard to know if this film can really be regarded as a true horror movie, but if not horror what other genre would it fit into?  This is a fun coming-of-age vampire story which is an 80s teen classic and a high point in the careers of all involved.  Some (like Corey Haim) much more than others.


6.  A Nightmare On Elm Street

Another movie that I’ve reviewed as part of Hallowe’en Horror Week on Louise reviews.  One of the the best horror films of the 80s A Nightmare on Elm Street introduced audiences to the terrifying Freddy Krueger.  This bad guy has stayed in pop-culture consciousness for almost 30 years, and I’m sure he’ll still be recognisable in 30 years time.


7.  The Omen

Let’s get something straight.  Children are creepy, the little so and so’s just can’t be trusted around normal (ie grown up) people.  Damian is the ultimate scary child.  Unlike Regan in The Exorcist or Carol Anne in Poltergeist he hasn’t been possessed or contacted by malevolent spirits – he is the evil one.  What seperates The Omen from other horror films is the brilliance of the acting from a stellar cast including Gregory Peck and David Warner.


8.  Poltergeist

More scary kids.  This time it’s angelic Carol Anne Freeling (played by the late Heather O’Rourke) whose home is invaded by a host of poltergeist.  Despite my sheer irritation at the idiocy of the adult characters I still find this a classic horror which delivers well on on the scare factor, thanks in no small part to the acting of 5 year old O’Rourke.


9.  Scream

Having terrified us in the 1980s with Freddy Krueger and A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven completely redefined the teen horror movie for the Noughties with Scream.  A funny, self-aware film which parodies earlier slasher flicks this nonetheless still delivers scares.  If the phone rings just after I’ve been watching Scream I will get a little jumpy…


10. Shaun of The Dead

In no way scary, this is the most joyous and entertaining film on my list.  The first movie to bring together Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this is an hysterically funny romantic comedy which happens to feature zombies.  Or is it a zombie film with a love story through it?  It doesn’t matter how you want to categorise it, Shaun of the Dead is one of the best British comedies in years.


In deference to one of my friends I’m going to give an honourable mention to Little Shop of Horrors.  It doesn’t scare me at all, but this particular friend has a fear of plants and to him Audrey II is cinema’s scariest monster – he hid behind the sofa (literally) when we watched it one Saturday afternoon.  I suppose much depends on your own perspective when judging what is an effective scary movie.

Are there any must-see horror films missing from my list?  What would you recommend for a spooky Hallowe’en watch?  Let me know in the comments.

Previous and next posts in this series:<< Shaun of the DeadSaw >>
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  1. Some brilliant horror films listed here, great work Louise.

    For me, The Exorcist is beyond frightening, it affects audiences in ways other films do not. I think today people have expectations of the film that it can’t meet – it is only a film after all – but it is a true classic of the genre and shows that horror film doesn’t haven’t to be b-grade.

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