Confessions of a Film Junkie: Das Film Junkies Top 25 Favorite Horror Films.
By: Brian Cotnoir
Hello Friends and Loyal Readers, this week I am bringing you perhaps my biggest—solo—project to date. It takes a Special kind of person to review straight-to-video/DVD Horror from 2000 to today, and in that time I’ve reviewed so much crap, a few mediocre and I’ve even to find a few films I like along the way. So today am here to share with you my top 25 Favorite Horror Films, now to save time and space, I will only give a few brief sentences on what I thought of each film. If you haven’t seen any of these films and you’re a Horror fan then I highly recommend you check them out.
25.) The Black Cat (1934)
I’ve always been a fan of the Universal Horror Films of the 1930’s and 1940’s; my favorite film from the Universal Horror Franchise has got to be the 1934 version of “The Black Cat”. The film stars Horror movie icons Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff—it’s actually the first collaboration the two of them ever did together—and they both play off of each other so well. Also the content of this film is so dark; it’s one of those films that makes me say; “I can’t believe they got away with this in the 1930’s”.
24.) The House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
This was actually my favorite horror film when I was a teenager. When my parents found out I saw this film and how violent and vulgar it was, I was actually forbidden from watching Horror movies until I was 18, but fortunately for me I found ways to watch them without them knowing. Rob Zombie really captures the magic and grittiness of what Horror films used to be like in the 1970’s, and also introduced us to a slew of interesting and memorable characters. The Firefly family is probably my favorite Horror movie family. I was a fan of Rob Zombie as a musician, and I think I like him even more as a director. I like his sequel film “The Devils Rejects” as well, but “House of 1000 Corpses” will probably always be my favorite Robe Zombie film.
23.) Ginger Snaps (2000)
I have never really been all that interested in werewolf films, but that all changed after I saw the 2000 Canadian Independent Horror “Ginger Snaps”. I’ve always thought that the Fitzgerald Sisters were really cute; they actually remind me of a lot of the girls I hung out with in High School. Not only is this my favorite Werewolf Horror film and film that I don’t think that gets nearly enough attention.
22.) Someone’s Knocking at the Door (2009)
One of the Top 5 Most Disturbing Films I’ve seen to date. This film is a mindf*ck from beginning to end. I would describe this as the “Refer Madness” for the Pill-Popping Generation. This film contains a number of grotesque and horrifying images, so it is not for everyone. In fact the DVD cover boasts that “Someone’s Knocking at the Door” is “The Most Depraved Film of the 21st Century”...I think that’s a pretty accurate description. If you’ve got a strong stomach, and you think you can handle it, then you should definitely go and check it out.
21.) A Serbian Film (2010)
I swear I am the only person in North America who would list this as one of his favorite films. I’ve already talked about this film to death, so I’ll just say that I think it’s a good film and that the violence—while excessive at points—still held relevance and was not just mindless violence for the sake of mindless violence. If you’re a true fan of Horror, then you owe it to yourself to check this film out at least once.
20.) Dear Mr. Gacy (2010)
This is probably the Best Serial Killer Biopic film out there. It is based on the true life story of a college student named Jason Moss who wrote letters to American Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy while he was on death row, in an attempt to get information for his criminology thesis paper. Actor William Forsythe is absolutely terrifying in his portrayal Gacy. I got to talk to him at Rock N Shock in 2014, and I asked him how he prepared for the role and he told me (please, keep in mind that I’m paraphrasing) that “[I| met with and talked to anyone who knew him...I learned things about him that nobody else knows; things that they don’t talk about in the books about him...and that made it very difficult to portray him because he really was a despicable man”. The fact that this is film is all based off a real life story makes “Dear Mr. Gacy” one of the most chilling Horror films of this decade.
19.) The Woman (2011)
Based off of a novel by Horror writer Jack Ketchum, “The Woman” is the story of a man named Chris Cleek who captures a mysterious feral woman living out in the woods. Cleek chains the woman in an old cellar and tells his family that they are going to clean up and domesticate the woman, but Cleek’s actual intentions involve torturing and raping the woman. The combination of Jack Ketchum’s screenwriting, Lucky McKee’s directing, Sean Spillane’s music direction, and the intense and graphic violence make this film an absolute guilty pleasure for most Horror fans.
18.) Dead Silence (2007)
This is a film that you’re all probably surprised to see my put on this list, but I actually did find it to be scary. I am a huge fan of the Australian screenwriting and directing combo James Wan and Leigh Whannell; if they are both linked to a film I will see it. Now from a performance standpoint, “Dead Silence” is what many people consider to be their weakest or worst film. I’ve even read interviews with Wan & Whannell where they say that the studios rushed them to get the film written and made, and they feel like they did a poor job making this film, and I’ve read articles from other critics who had very little positive things to say about “Dead Silence”. However, anytime I’ve ever asked a person “What did you think of ‘Dead Silence’?” It’s usually followed by a shudder and a person telling me that they thought it was creepy or scary. Even if this is their Worst film, it’s still a lot scarier than some other Horror films I’ve seen.
17.) Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Sam Raimi still has a few tricks up his sleeves, and that is very apparent with his 2009 film “Drag Me to Hell”. Some of you may recall that I listed being dragged to hell as my #4 Favorite Movie Kill, and I still stand by that. This is a great movie.
16.) Let the Right One In (2008)
This is one of my favorite vampire Horror films. I am a fan of the novel that this this film is based off of, but I am not a fan of the 2010 Americanized remake. This is actually a film I break out and watch every Valentine’s Day, and has become a tradition for me to watch every February.
15.) Dead Snow (2009)
From one Scandinavian country to another: What’s cooler than seeing people fight zombies? Seeing people fight Nazi Zombies! I’ve already talked to death about “Dead Snow” in my Top 5 Favorite Zombie films, so I won’t waste too much more of your time, and if you’d like more details then just click the link below to find out.
14.) Stake Land (2010)
This film is the story of Martin, who is travelling with his adult mentor (a man simply known as “Mister”, as they are faced with legions of hungry vampires and Violent Religious Zealots as they try to work their way north to a town known as New Eden where it is rumored to have a temperature so cold that no vampire could survive in it’s frigid climate. If the Vampire Apocalypse happens tomorrow and I could have anyone around to protect me, it would be Mister from the Horror Movie “Stake Land”.
13.) Hostel 1 & 2 (2005 & 2007)
No Secret here that I kind of idolize writer, director, and occasional actor Eli Roth. My favorite films that he has made (to date) have to be “Hostel I & II”. The Godfather of Torture Porn captures the fears of many American’s (from the perspective of both genders) who travel abroad in this Post 9/11 World. I had to include both of them on this list because they are so identical in plots; it’s just the main characters swap genders in between films.
12.) Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
I really enjoyed the first three “Paranormal Activity” films, but the 2nd one—in particular—holds a very special place in my heart. When this film came out in theatres, I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to see it with me, so ended up going into the theatres to see it by myself. Not only did it have a bunch of great scares, but it was also filled with a lot of suspense. Towards the end of the film, when everyone in the theatre was already on edge, and then all of a sudden this one girl in the theatre starts sobbing her eyes out and begged her friends to leave the theatre. It was at that moment when, I saw this one girl who was so absolutely terrified that it brought her to tears that I said to myself “How shnikes, this movie kicks a$$!”
11.) The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920/2005)
Not only is the oldest film on my list, but it is also one of the most influential Horror films ever written. What “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari” is known most famously for is creating the “Twist Ending”. I’ve talked a great extent in the past about how I absolutely adore the sets, but it also has my favorite inspiration behind the story. Screenwriter Hans Janowitz was rumored to have met a young girl at a carnival, only to learn the next day that she was found brutally murdered in the woods. At the funeral for the young girl, Janowitz remarked that he had an unsettling feeling that the young girls killer was also there. Take that story and add it to the life in Post-World War I Germany and you have the makings for an excellent German Expressionist film. Also, the film was remade in 2005, still filmed in black and white, and with completely reconstructed sets and scenery, but it has the added benefit of sound and an English dub. Either way you should check out at least one of these versions of “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari”.
10.) White: The Melody of the Curse (2011)
This is my favorite Foreign Language Horror film. The premise of South Korean Horror film revolves around the ghost of a mysterious pop song that allegedly haunts anyone who sings the song. It is a film that has mystery, thrills, chills, and a pretty damn catchy K-Pop song if I do say so myself. This definitely one of those Horror films that you’ll have to watch a few times to fully understand what’s going on, but fortunately it does get better with each time I watch it.
9.) Dead Alive/Braindead (1992)
Long before Director Peter Jackson made Cinematic History with “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy he made what is perhaps the bloodiest and most violent zombie film of All-Time; “Dead Alive” or sometimes “Braindead” depending on what part of the world you live in. This is without a doubt one of the goriest and violent movies I’ve ever seen, and I enjoyed every second of this splatter-fest. I like the characters, I like plot, and I especially like the excessive amounts of blood and gore.
8.) Silent Hill (2006)
Most people I know who played the game hate this film. Even people who haven’t played the game hate this film, but “Silent Hill” will always hold a special place in my heart. This was the first Horror film I saw where I kept remarking “I can’t believe they just showed that”. What really makes this a standout film is the acting of Jodelle Ferland who was only 12-years-old at the time when she took on the dual role of Sharon—a kind sweet-natured orphan girl—and Alessa Gillespie—a dark and tormented girl with a desire to get vengeance against the residents of the town who killed her. Also, “Silent Hill” has one of my favorite endings in all of film, but you’re just going to have to see the film in order to find out what happens.
7.) American Psycho (2000)
If I had to pick one character I could relate to the most, I’d have to say—probably—Patrick Bateman from “American Psycho”. This is one of those Horror films that is so wrong that it’s irresistible. The story told from a perspective of a young man named Patrick Bateman, an investment banker from New York City by day and serial killer by night. The combination of the 1980’s setting and the fantastic performance given by actor Christian Bale make this one of the Best and Most Memorable Horror films you will ever see.
6.) Hard Candy (2005)
This film is a violent and doesn’t show very much, but what it does to you psychologically will screw with your mind forever. It’s the story of a young girl named Hailey who seduces a photographer and pedophile named Jeff on-line. Jeff thinks Hailey is an easy target, but Hailey has a big surprise in store for Jeff. I mean this film is just fantastic, because it relies totally on atmosphere rather than effects and blood & Gore. Not only that but it is a film that has only 2 main characters—played by Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson—and one supporting character played by Sandra Oh. I mean this film is just phenomenal. One thing I like to do, is if I find out one of my friends hasn’t seen “Hard Candy” yet, I make them watch it, and then I make them watch “Juno” (another Ellen Page film) right after. Then after that I say to my friends, “if she did that to Jeff, just imagine what she did to Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera’s character in “Juno”) for getting her pregnant”.
5.) Grave Encounters 1 & 2 (2011-12)
This was the last “Found Footage” Horror film I actually liked. I mean both of these films have so much to offer, and the 2nd film in this series has the very distinctive honor of being one of the few Horror films that has made me scream out in fear. I would describe both films like this: What the first film lacks in scares it makes up in story, and what the second film lacks in plot, it makes up in scares. I love both “Grave Encounters” films so much to me they took all the ideas and best elements of films like “Cannibal Holocaust”, “The Blair Witch Project”, and “Paranormal Activity” and they made the perfect Found Footage Horror Film.
4.) Jaws (1975)
This should come as a surprise to no one that one of the All-Time Greatest Horror films is ranked this high on my list. What I like the Best about “Jaws” is that it is set mostly during the day time as opposed to most horror films that are set during the night time. Second of all, I like how it was filmed on Cape Cod: My Grandparents live on Cape Cod, and I’ve always enjoyed when the locals told me stories about when they saw them filming “Jaws” back in the 1970’s. The only “Making Of” Film Documentary I own is the making of “Jaws”, and I have to say after learning of all the hell that Stephen Spielberg, Roy Schieder, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss went through to make this film, I love and appreciate it so much more. Another thing I like about “Jaws” is how influential it is: Seriously, how many films have I reviewed on this blog that are about sharks (or other aquatic creatures attacking humans?! I’d say “Jaws” is the Most Influential (and Parodied) Horror Film of All-Time. Even people who have never even seen “Jaws” no the plot to the film, that’ show popular and influential it is. Lastly, the Best thing about Jaws is that even 40 years after it was released in theatres it still manages to terrify in strike fear into the hearts of every audience member.
3.) Insidious (2011)
In my opinion “Insidious” is the Best Horror Film of the Decade, and I think another 85 years from now, it will be ranked as one of the Best Horror Films of this Century. And I’ll be honest with you; I did not want to see this film when it came out because I thought it was going to be terrible, and I only went to see it when it was out in theatres because my best friend Zee wanted to see it and offered to pay for my ticket if I went to see it with her. When I saw the trailer advertising that it was the “From the Producers of ‘Saw’ and ‘Paranormal Activity’”, I thought it was going to turn out something like “The Blair Witch 2: The Book of Shadows”: I.E. they were taking a found-footage horror film with a miniscule budget and giving it a big budget and credible Hollywood Actors. I’m so happy today, to say, that I was 100% wrong. Not only did I find it scary, but I think this is one film that has made me jump and shout in terror the most. The writing and directing duo of James Wan and Leigh Whannell scored cinematic gold with “Insidious”. I’ve seen “Insidious” on the big screen, I’ve seen it on the television screen, and I’ve watched it on my laptop multiple times, and every time I always jump at some point during the film.
2.) Psycho (1960)
Yeah, yeah...I’m going to talk about Norman Bates and “Psycho” again. So yeah, Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates is still the Best Acting Performance I’ve ever seen to date, and it’s not hard to understand why. Until Perkins took on this role there where never any “Average Joes” who turned out to be sociopaths, so not only does this make it a groundbreaking performance, but it’s also makes it a groundbreaking film. Director Alfred Hitchcock took all sorts of risks when he made “Psycho” and everyone one of them paid off. Yes, by todays standards, the twist ending isn’t all that surprising or shocking, but come on it set a trend like
1.) Freaks (1932)
Yes for those of you still wondering: Tod Browning’s “Freaks” is still my Favorite Horror Film. And just like “Psycho” it is a film that I’ve talked about and praised on this blog. So what do I like so much about it that I proclaim it to be my Favorite Horror Film? A few things actually: One it was an a shocking and controversial film for the time it was released. Director Tod Browning’s decision to cast actual circus freaks in the film instead of actors wearing make-up and masks upset everyone from the film’s producers to movie patrons. This film pretty much destroyed Browning’s career, and the film went on to be banned in multiple theaters.