Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reader Top Ten Greatest Horror Films (1960 - 2000): Roman Martel of Roman's Reviews and Musings

The great and incomparable Roman Martel of Roman's Reviews and Musings writes up his choices for the greatest horror films circa 1960 - 2000.

Roman writes: 

"How do you manage to pick such tough topics for these lists? Maybe it’s not your topics, but my personal problem narrowing down a list of movies I love. Still, it’s always fun to participate and I had to give this one a spin.

I took what I felt were the most influential horror films from this era, and then put them in the order that they frightened me the most, with the top two giving me some serious nightmares after the initial viewing.

10. The Exorcist
The film that launched the demon/devil possession subgenre, and one that has never really been topped. 

9. Halloween
Most slasher films wish they could be as lean and mean as John Carpenter’s opus. 

8. Night of the Living Dead
Zombies got a real make over with this film and it turned it into the iconic way to portray these fearsome foes. 

7. Scream
There is a nasty heart at the center of the story, and the 90s apathy and sarcasm give it a wonderfully dark sense of humor.

6. Psycho
The way Hitchcock’s brilliant thriller is shot and edited are really a marvelous exercise in how to craft a top notch thriller. And one more little thing – Bernard Herrmann’s musical score to the film is nothing short of genius. He gave us the stabbing strings in that film and it has become a legacy in the horror genre that continues to this day.

5. Alien
I had this flick in my top ten Science Fiction films too, but this genre straddler really deserves a place here as well. The horror of the unknown is perfectly captured here, with space evolving from a place of wonder to a place of predatory terror.

4. The Blair Witch Project
Some people don’t find this movie scary at all. But I love the way it builds the atmosphere, the loneliness and the fear of having no control of the world around you. 

3. The Thing
This movie deserves a place on the list for the amazing creature effects alone. Add to this Carpenter’s wonderful framing, editing and ability to create an atmosphere of oppression and you have a film that is one of the best examples of horror out there.

2. Ringu
The original Japanese film remains one of the most perfect examples of atmospheric dread I’ve ever seen captured on film. The movie oozes a fatalistic demeanor that eventually overpowers all the characters.

1. The Haunting
Robert Wise crafted one of the most perfect examples of atmospheric horror that I have yet seen. This is one of the most frightening films in which the main antagonist never actually appears on the screen. And yet you could argue that the antagonist is very much on screen the whole time – Hill House devours our protagonists and looms over them in nearly every frame of the film. “The Haunting” is still the king of that physiological horror that I find endless appealing.

Roman: You have a deep understanding of horror, as your outstanding blog attests to on a regular basis, and this is a fantastic list.  I' glad to see The Haunting at the number one spot.  The film has made many lists, but this is the first time it placed at the top.  Robert Wise is a great director -- Andromeda Strain, Audrey Rose, Day The Earth Stood Still, The Haunting, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and so on, and I'm thinking it's time for a retrospective of his work.  

Also, I'm glad to see Blair Witch and Scream make the cut.  Too often, 1990s horror films get forgotten or overlooked, and those are two outstanding ventures of the decade.

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