Thursday, October 22, 2015

Top 20 Horror Movies - #9) Halloween (1978)

One of the things that I'm doing this month as I celebrate Halloween here in the Land of Way is taking the time to rank my Top 20 Horror Movies and my Top 20 Horror Novels.

I want to be clear that I'm basing these choices on my own humble opinion.  I'm not trying to rank these movies in accordance with their place in pop culture, but I'm offering up my take on the best horror films that I have ever watched and enjoyed.  There are some familiar candidates that I consider to be great pictures that didn't make the cut because there wasn't room, and there are some films that are widely regarded as great pictures that didn't make the cut because I feel that they are overrated.  There are also a few instances where it was difficult to determine whether or not a movie belonged to the horror genre (I said "no" to Aliens but "yes" to Jaws), and it may also be worth noting that this is largely a modern list (as long as you're okay with my classification of modern as anything after 1960) that only features one lonely creature from the so-called "Classic Monsters" films produced by Universal Studios.

Thus far, the list includes:

#20) The Fly (1986) 
#19) The Howling (1981)
#18) Night of the Living Dead (1968)
#17) Alien (1979) 
#16) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
#15) Suspiria (1977) 
#14) Phantasm (1979)
#13) Evil Dead 2 (1985)
#12) Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) 
#11) The Descent (2005)
#10) Fright Night (1985) 

My favorite director finally hits the scene with the perfect film for the spooky season, Halloween.   

Top 20 Horror Movies - #9) Halloween (1978)

Simple but highly effective, John Carpenter's Halloween is a fantastic film that remains at the forefront of the slasher sub-genre.  This smash hit produced on a shoestring budget heralded the emergence of one of the genre's most celebrated directors and also signified the arrival of Jamie Lee Curtis, scream queen extraordinaire.  In addition to putting a spotlight on Carpenter's talent as a director and Jamie Lee's acting chops, Halloween gave us the perfect boogeyman in Michael Myers and laid the groundwork for one of the genre's most frightening franchises.  Donald Pleasance is also in the mix, and he shines in one of his signature roles as Dr. Loomis, the determined but panic-stricken shrink who couldn't keep Michael locked away and is thereby determined to shoot him dead.  Good luck with that.  The mood and the atmosphere are incredible; in addition to creating a wealth of suspense and dread with ample foreshadowing that makes the most of Michael's unnerving presence, Halloween also perfectly captures the essence of the spooky season.  The kills are shocking, the tension is almost unbearable at times, and I think this film benefits from one of the best endings the genre has produced.  It may not be all that complex and the deliberate pace and the lack of gore may disappoint some horror fans, but Halloween does everything right.  It's a classic film from a gifted director and it should be mandatory viewing for any respectable horror fan as the end of October draws nigh.

Carpenter scored big with this tense chiller that put Jamie Lee Curtis on the map.
How did it all go so wrong?  Little Mikey seemed like such a nice kid.

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