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People watch films for the sake of experiencing a roller coaster ride when it comes to emotionally responding to what they’re seeing. Horror films are among the most straightforward, gut-wrenching, and emotionally taxing movies you’ll ever see, designed to evoke a whole family of emotions or at least the many different iterations of fear (panic, terror, creepiness, and doom). There are quite a number of the most terrifying movies around, but which ones have stood the test of time? Which of these movies are the best in making you feel fright, hysteria, mortification, disgust, alarm, or simple shock? Is simple repulsiveness enough to make for a truly scary movie experience, or do you need something more that will shake you to your core? A good horror film or even a good film in general should be able to stay with you many years after first watching them.
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Top Horror Movies You Should See
Of course, Psycho would be part of this list. Why shouldn’t it? It’s the penultimate psychotic serial killer movie. It doesn’t have gore as many other horror films has, but the creep factor and the psychological terror left by Psycho is quite more cerebral than visceral. What is implied is much scarier than what’s shown because your imagination is left on overdrive trying to imagine what actually happened in a cutaway scene.
Also, the picture being painted in regards to how disturbed Norman Bates (as played by Anthony Perkins) is presents a twisted look at the golden veneer of good ol’ family values in the Fifties (the serial killer this movie is based on came from roughly a recent time period himself). Indeed, recent scary movies should take notes from the master of horror himself, the (quite creepy in his own right) Alfred Hitchcock. Hidden truths, a killer dressed in drag, and a mummified mother can be more horrifying than gore.
Night of the Living Dead:
That’s not to say that 1968’s Night of the Living Dead isn’t scary in a different way with all the raw footage of gore it has. It’s a story about people trapped inside a farmhouse trying to stem the upsurge of hungry, rotting zombies. In many ways, George A. Romero’s movie (with a screenplay written by John A. Russo) defined the scary movie experience. When you watch scary movie offerings nowadays, many of the conventions followed are lifted or defied by it comes from how Romero depicted horror.
This is considered one of the top horror movies of all time because it’s simple, it’s dark, it’s foreboding, and it gets to you on a primal instinct. While Hitchcock was sophisticated with suggesting scares and making your mind race a mile a minute, Romero is a master of primal fears and making your body react to evolutionary fight of flight instincts as you see the monsters lurk and shamble from the screen to the heroes of the movie in a swarm in a documentary film-style fashion.
It’s become somewhat cliché and overly done even in parody, but at the time of its release in 1973, moviegoers and cinemaphiles were utterly disturbed by this film, which involves a little girl transformed into a monster by a demon who possessed her violently masturbating with a cross while saying she’s getting “fucked” by “Jesus”, which is the ultimate sacrilegious blasphemy you’ll ever see on film. Even if you’re not a Christian, most of you will feel concern over Regan.
This is what shocking cinema was before you got your Saws or Paranormal Activities. It involves demonic possession, priests, and a bittersweet ending that makes you feel empty inside. This is one of those quintessential horror films and certainly the top scary movies of all time. Anyone who has never watched it and only know it through parodies should give it a try, it’s a doozy and it lives up to its reputation and decades of hype.
While The Exorcist was about non-quantifiable horror that continues to shock and awe people who haven’t been spoiled by its endless references and parodies, watching Halloween for the first time is an experience all its own. It doesn’t do psychological horror like Psycho, visceral horror like Night of the Living Dead, or shock-value horror like The Exorcist, but it became for quite a while the blueprint of horror films to come.
Halloween involves a deranged murderer escaping a mental asylum in order to slay teens in his local home town. While this sounds almost humdrum by today’s standards, back in the Seventies, it became the archetypal horror film for good reason. People were scared of psychotic killers who break and enter houses that escaped from the mental hospital. It’s the same with hitchhiker fears embodied by the thriller Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
What movie did you watch that scared the hell out of you? Leave a suggestion on the movie that you consider is the best horror movie you ever watched.