I’ve always had an admiration for horror films because, when done right, they can quite simply define what it means to be entertained. You might forget why you cried at the end of “Titanic,” but you’ll never forget that final shock in “Carrie,” or that shower scene in “Psycho.” Quite simply, a good scare proves that our emotions remain intact.
What better time is there to celebrate the best films that make you scream than on Halloween? If you’re looking for some real horror this Halloween, check out these films; the five best horror films:
1. The Silence of the Lambs- To date, this is the only horror film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. And for good reason. “The Silence of the Lambs” boasts two of the creepiest villains ever and one of the most troubled heroes. You might be most shocked by the cannibalism and you might be most shocked by the well scene. Point is, there’s enough shock here to go around. As violent as it is, “Silence of the Lambs” is the rare horror film that truly uses character for thrills. And not cheap thrills. Anthony Hopkins performance as the brilliant cannibal Hannibal Lecter is one of the greatest in all of cinema. “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.” Hopkins delivery of this line makes it all the more chilling. They say some movies truly have to be seen to be believed. If you want to understand truly why this horror film tops all others, then sit down and watch it, frame by frightening frame.
2. Psycho- Skip the 1998 shot-by-shot remake. Head toward the original instead because almost five decades later, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic hasn’t lost its power to make audiences scream. In discussing this film’s qualification for the list, only one scene is necessary: the shower scene. This scene still delivers goose bumps because of its hyper-fast cuts and shrieking musical scores. Try showering alone again after watching this, it won’t be easy.
3. Se7en- This contemporary masterpiece is also one of the bleakest films ever put onto the big screen. The film follows two cops hunting for a certain John Doe, a psychopath who kills his victims based on the seven deadly sins. “Se7en” is so distinct in the fact that it can frighten you for days not by what it shows you, but what it doesn’t show you. The audience never sees any of the victims die, but the aftermaths are even more horrible.
4. The Shining- The master of every genre, Stanley Kubrick, deserves at least one mention on this list. Only someone like Kubrick could take something as simple as a ghost story about a writer going mad from isolation and trying to kill his family to something so frighteningly complex. In this movie, it’s not just the axes and the blood that are so scary, but the eerie musical score, and those stunning tracking shots. “The Shining” was released 20 years after “Psycho.” This time audiences weren’t so much afraid of being stabbed in a motel shower by Anthony Perkins, but axed in the face in a hotel bathroom by Jack Nicholson.
5. Carrie- Some horror films try to scare you with cheap thrills like oozing blood and bumps with the night. Not this one. What starts off as your typical drama about a bullied high school girl, until she gains super powers and uses them for revenge. “Carrie” is a slow building horror film, with the greatest not occurring until well over an hour in. Brian De Palma uses Hitchcockian techniques to create slow-burning suspense leading up to its unforgettable climax. “Carrie” is an essential horror film for those with patience. To top it all of, this movie has the best final scare. Ever.
And, a few other classics: Rosemary’s Baby, Jaws, Deliverance, Alien