By category, sub-genre, branch, type—whatever’s under “Horror” and’s on the movie shelf, and not getting too granular. But, “15,” right? I know. I tried to keep it to a properly spooky “13,” but things happen. Though, if you take #11 and #15 out (which would shatter me), as they’re not really ‘categories’—”Scariest,” “Perfect”—then this does slide in more like “13.”
Some glaring-to-some omissions here, of course (Jaws), and some surely-baffling inclusions, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and these are those, for me:
Would have been cool to put a checkbox under each here, so people could mark the point at which they checked OUT. My guess? Quarantine. Most would grudgingly acknowledge Event Horizon as solid haunted house fare, maybe give me that, write it off to questionable taste, since everybody knows it’s The Shining or The Haunting. But a nearly shot-for-shot remake of an already good horror movie? I know, I know. But it works for me, man. Hundred percent.
And, The Ring: it just taps into every single thing I love about horror. Disturbing imagery, no real explanation, teens in the vic pool but ALSO a family in peril, a strong female lead, an opening that works every time and an ending that escalates, that seeps the evil out into OUR world. I think every horror thing I’ve written has, to some degree, been me trying to write The Ring. As for why the American version, I mean—I do dig Ringu, of course, but the American version burrows deeper into the reptile part of my brain, somehow, somewhy.
Glad I mentioned numbers of these up top, too. Maybe that’ll keep me from adding and editing. Though, I may sneak stuff into the comments, of course. No list is ever final, or complete. It’s the “in-process” part of compiling a stack of ‘Favorite Horror Movies’ that makes it fun, right? With horror movies, I’m forever in-process, am always ready for the next perfect thing to come along, scare me into leaving the lights on for one more night . . .
* it hurts so much not to have Return of the Living Dead on this list, as it’s untouchable, nearly perfect. but I think Club Dread is more ‘comedy,’ finally, and, in the end, just funnier.
† also, this is the first horror I ever saw, one Thanksgiving, lo those many years ago, back when we had to rent not just the tape from the gas station, but the whole VCR
✠ one of the bar-none best horror screenings I’ve ever been to (and I caught Grindhouse opening night at the Alamo Drafthouse): house was packed, and at the end everybody erupted in cheers. will never forget it. wish every screening was like that.
‡ should probably say, too, that cult horror is my least favorite of all the genres, so I probably don’t give a lot of it a quite-fair shake (Kill List, The Wicker Man, The Last Exorcism etc).