Top Ten Favorite Horror Films Part 3: Slashers

In honor of my latest slasher-themed novelette, THE HORROR (click HERE to buy your copy), my Halloween Horror Lists feature continues with slashers!

I tried to go a little obscure(ish) with this list so we won’t see any repeats from other lists.

Please be aware that I change my mind often. The ability to change one’s mind on any subject is paramount for our culture’s growth and development. With that in mind, don’t be surprised to see another version of this list next year, with totally different books on it … what can I say, I absolutely love the genre.

Be sure to comment below and let everyone know which films are your favorites.

10) Midnight Movie

A surprisingly clever spin on the slasher genre. A similar premise to Demons (which may appear on another list). This low-budget indie manages to succeed where so many other recent indies have failed. Honorable mention: the Hatchet series.

9) The Prowler

A freaky slasher from Joseph Zito, who would go on to direct the best Friday the 13th film in that franchise. The final jump scare is a memorable one!

8) Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers

This hilarious slasher send-up doesn’t offer much more than some base thrills, but it’s a comfort food of mine. Pamela Springsteen is just awesome. I wish she would have done more horror films.

7) Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Friday 8 doesn’t get much love. It actually gets no love at all, which is a shame because it’s really quite good. It sports the best direction of the bunch, with clever set-ups and great pay-offs. The finale is a bit of a letdown, but that scene between Jason and the punk kids in Times Square makes it worth it.

6) Slumber Party Massacre

Not what you’d think from the title, Slumber Party Massacre is actually a pretty subversive, somewhat funny pro-feminist slasher, that also happens to be an exploitation flick. The first sequel is also worth a look, but don’t expect a film that’s anything like the first.

5) The Burning

Had Jason not taken off, The Burning would probably be the slasher everyone remembers from the 1980s. There’s a ton of great actors in this, and it features some fantastic gore effects, courtesy of Tom Savini.

4) The Hitcher

The original film, not the shitty remake. I’m not exactly sure this film meets the title of slasher, but I’ve always loved The Hitcher for its intense, moody narrative, and nail-biting suspense. Rutger Hauer is easily one of my all-time favorite screen villains. Great stuff, with a dream-like atmosphere that will surely get under your skin.

3) A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

I must confess, I absolutely adore A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, if only for the awesome pool party scene. But also for all the not-so-subtle sexual references and equally not-so-hidden homoerotic subtext. It’s a genre classic in its own way, and a great second outing for Freddy, critics be damned.

2) Black Christmas

This 1974 hit was the first real slasher, outside Psycho and Peeping Tom (both worth watching, BTW). Black Christmas is the perfect film to watch during the cold winter months. It was also the inspiration for John Carpenter’s Halloween.

1) Scream

Looking back, this series has probably influenced more than any other slasher out there. I just love it. Wes Craven crafts a perfect blend of horror and clever comedy in this send-up of the slasher genre. Ignore Scream 3 and 4 and stick with the first installment and the underrated sequel.

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Next week: My top ten favorite zombie films! So grab some brains and head back here next week.

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Top Ten Favorite Horror Films Part 2: Favorite Books

A new week, a new list! This time I’ll be discussing some of my favorite horror books.

Please be aware that I change my mind often. The ability to change one’s mind on any subject is paramount for our culture’s growth and development. With that in mind, don’t be surprised to see another version of this list next year, with totally different books on it … what can I say, I absolutely love the genre.

Feel free to list your own favorites in the comments!

Also, for more books, check out this list of 11 Creepy Novels.

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Legion - William Peter Blatty

10) Legion 

Legion is a sequel to William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. It’s a great follow-up, though not as haunting as The Exorcist. I included it here over The Exorcist because it’s a worthwhile sequel that fans of the series should seek out. While I’m on the subject, also check out the late Gary Brandner’s The Howling series. They’re also quite fun.

Zombie Survival Guide - Max Brooks

9) The Zombie Survival Guide

A lot of zombie fans loved World War Z, but I’m more fond of Max Brooks’ first zombie endeavor – a step-by-step guidebook for surviving a zombie apocalypse. It’s rather funny, but also extraordinarily helpful … if one were ever to come face-to-face with the walking dead, that is.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay

8) Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Dexter Morgan’s first tale is still his best. In fact, Jeff Lindsay’s book was so good that it got turned into an award-winning TV series (that later petered out and sputtered to a tragic death, but I digress). The book is a clever mixture of American Psycho and police procedure, with a reluctant anti-hero at the helm, steering the audience in the darkest, most macabre places. Gripping, tense and awesome!

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

7) Lord of the Flies

This one might not strike you as horror, but a book about a bunch of children who slowly succumb to the horrors of their own darker instincts is ripe material for horror, and no other book does it better than William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. You might have hated it when you read in school, but give it another shot. It’s outstanding.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

6) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I kept going back and forth about which book to include here: Dracula or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Both books are tremendous achievements in horror, and stupendous pieces of writing to boot. Ultimately, I went with Dr. Jekyll because never before, and never again, has a book so perfectly encapsulated the duality of man. For me, that holds more water than the first vampire tale. But read both books, please.

Sphere

5) Sphere

Michael Crichton’s Sphere is one of very few books I find myself reading every couple of years. The science behind the story is fascinating, but even more chilling than the sphere itself, is the manifestations of evil we hid within ourselves. A deeply terrifying book for anyone seeking something to get under the skin, with just a dash of science to back things up.

The Stand

4) The Stand

A great many horror fans might pepper a “favorite horror novels” list with Stephen King, but I’ve opted to include only one, The Stand. The Stand was the first “big” book I ever completed (I read it when I was about 10 years old). And, honestly, of all King’s books, The Stand really, umm, stands out as a mythical tale of Americana’s survival in the face of an apocalypse. Epic stuff … and very scary. I’d also recommend It (a close second) as well.

Scary_Stories_to_Tell_in_the_Dark_cover

3) Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark (Series)

I primarily grew up on two writers: Shel Silverstein, who crafted the beauty of my youth through poems; and Alvin Schwartz, who helped shape my nightmares. But the real winner of the Scary Stories series is the artwork from illustrator Stephen Gammell. His work on these books still scares the ever-loving shit out of me. There are (crappy) versions of the Scary Story books without his artwork, replaced with toned down “kid friendly” artwork. Boo! Skip them and seek out the copies with Gammell’s imagery. It’s perfect!

Frankenstein

2) Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s staggering nightmare of death, romance and reanimation is existentially rich and still quite beautiful, not to mention frightening. It also stands as one of the finest pieces of gothic writing ever committed to paper. The only writers who come close are Lovecraft and Poe, who are also (obviously) well worth reading.

The Demonologist

1) The Demonologist

Never has a book freaked me out more. You may think Ed and Lorraine Warren are a bunch of nutters, but after reading this book, I’m not entirely convinced. The horrors they walk their audience through is immeasurably terrifying and shockingly real. It might all be phooey, but it certainly made me want to hang some crosses up in the house, and that’s power no other horror book has ever conjured from me.

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Next week: My top ten favorite horror slashers!

Top Ten Favorite Horror Films Part 1: The Classics

Time for some lists! And since Halloween is nearing, I thought I’d start with a series of Halloween Horror Lists detailing my favorite horror films, starting with … The Classics.

Every week in October I will offer a different list outlining my favorites (four lists total, no repeated films). I’ll also do a list for my favorite horror/thriller books. Feel free to sound off in the comments below with your own horror favorites!

Please be aware that I change my mind often. The ability to change one’s mind on any subject is paramount for our culture’s growth and development. With that in mind, don’t be surprised to see another version of this list next year, with totally different movies on it … what can I say, I absolutely love horror films. It’s hard to pick favorites.

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10) The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

It might not be a classic yet, but just you wait. Drew Goddard’s horror send-up is a delightfully fun, funny and freaky spin on the “evil cabin” horror subgenre. In many ways, it’s a better follow-up to the Evil Dead franchise than the somewhat thin remake of Evil Dead we got in 2013. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor.

9) Evil Dead 2 (1987)

The original Evil Dead scares me a bit more than Evil Dead 2, but the second film delivers that fine blend of horror and laughs, while solidifying the B-movie icon status for star Bruce Campbell, and setting up director Sam Raimi for one hell of a career.

8) Friday the 13th The Final Chapter (1984)

If you only watch one Friday the 13th film, let it be this one. It’s not a masterpiece in the writing department, but the colorful cast, and equally colorful gore, make this one the absolute highlight of the series.

7) An American Werewolf in London (1981)

A tragic, scary, funny outing about a man who slowly comes to realize that he’s a werewolf. Every beat is stunning, and the film rarely ceases to surprise. The makeup effects are staggering, too. Many horror fans go back and forth as to which werewolf film is the best: The Howling or American Werewolf, but this one tops it for me. Always has. Always will.

6) The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg’s creepy creature-feature is easily one of the best monster movies ever made, rich with taught direction, clever characters and outstanding writing. I am completely invested in this feature from start to finish. Honorable mentions here: The Thing and Alien. Also classics. Perhaps I’ll include them on another list at some point. Best Horror Sci-fi, perhaps?

5) Halloween (1978)

I often credit Black Christmas as one of my favorite slashers, but let’s face it – John Carpenter’s Halloween is the true classic. It’s frightening. It gets under your skin. And it’s still really great more than 35 years later. You just can’t beat it.

4) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Gritty and fiendishly dreamy, A Nightmare on Elm Street feels like a soap opera that’s been invaded by a nefarious force of evil. Robert Englund is terrific as Freddy Krueger, and Wes Craven’s direction keeps things intense and scary as hell, even on repeat viewings.

3) The Exorcist (1974)

This is a freaky masterpiece of spiritual horror. I still recall watching it with my friends and family and feeling the room grow silent, cold and nervous as the priests performed the exorcism. To say The Exorcist is riveting cinema is a bit of an understatement. Now, I’m torn about which version to suggest watching. If I had to pick, I’d go theatrical cut first, followed by the altered Director’s Cut.

2) Jaws (1975)

To this day I am still terrified every single time Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) dips into the cage to go one-on-one against Steven Spielberg’s killer shark. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for this film, and I’m not alone. Jaws is often credited with inspiring more writing/filmmaking careers than pretty much any film ever made. It’s THAT good.

1) The Shining (1980)

Stephen King’s clever, but admittedly meandering book is tinkered and adapted into an absolute cinema masterpiece. It’s also one of the best horror films I’ve ever come across, and is mandatory viewing for any self-respecting fan of the genre. What Stanley Kubrick does, and says, with his frame is still studied to this day. Don’t believe me? Just check out Room 237. Note: there are two versions of this film available, a longer US cut and a shorter international version (or Director’s Cut, as it is sometimes called – it was Kubrick’s preferred cut). Both versions are terrific, but I tend to prefer Kubrick’s shorter Director’s Cut. The pacing and intensity is much tighter, but you can’t really feel the cuts at all.

Next week: My top ten favorite horror books!