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10 Best Horror Movies to See This Halloween

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Halloween is almost here, so I decided to do a list of 10 best Hollywood horror movies released to date. Before we get to the list, however, there are several disclaimers that I would like to mention.

First, there are tons of great horror movies out there and only 10 spots on this list, which means that there is a good chance that some of your personal favourites will not be listed. Also, I have decided to list Hollywood movies only because they are much easier to access, but I am very well aware that there is a great number of international horror movies that are just as amazing (especially the ones coming from Japan). And finally, the films on this list the ones that I believe have aged gracefully and can be enjoyed by casual viewers without cringing at how old they are.

So, now that all the boring stuff is out of the way, let’s take a look at the list!

10. Halloween

Released in 1978, the original Halloween has introduced the unsuspecting audiences to the merciless serial killer Michael Myers who preys on adults and teenagers alike — and always in the dead of night. He has single-handedly turned this film into a huge media franchise that has spawned multiple sequels, a remake (with its own sequel), and countless imitators.

Yet none of the subsequent entries in the franchise and only a handful of imitators have been able to match the atmosphere and sheer horror factor of John Carpenter’s original slasher flick. In spite of its age, Halloween is still one of the scariest movies ever.

9. The Exorcist

Adapted by William Peter Blatty from his novel The Exorcist and released in 1974, this horror film has introduced the audiences to one of the most evil incarnations of the Devil ever conceived — the one that is willing to penetrate a little girl’s mind and turn her into a monster. The Exorcist took the common Christian fear of being possessed and turned it into a nightmarish reality.

Just like Carpenter’s Halloween, The Exorcist has spawned its own share of sequels and imitators, including the 1976 horror film The Omen and its remake. The idea of an incorporeal evil using our lives against us for its own amusement remains one of the scariest notions in the horror genre. Few imitators have managed to portray this force of evil in such a wicked way, which is why The Exorcist is still one of the best horror movies ever.

8. Carrie

Adapted by Brian De Palma from Stephen King’s novel of the same name and released in 1976, Carrie follows the story of a shy teenage girl with psychic powers that flare up every time she is excited or angry. Her rage results in many bloody deaths — mostly of the people that have somehow wronged her.

Just like The Exorcist, Carrie is about innocence gone wrong, except that here, the titular teenage protagonist causes the horror out of her own will — without anything influencing her decisions but her own rage. De Palma manages to achieve a perfect balance between horror, suspense, and tragedy — which makes this not only a good horror movie, but a great drama as well. Let’s hope the new adaptation can be even half as good as this one.

7. The Fly

David Cronenberg is the king of the body horror genre with several barf-bag-worthy (in a good way) flicks under his belt, but none of them can match the horror and the spectacle of watching a human body slowly peel away only to reveal a giant fly on the inside. The makeup and special effects involved in showing Jeff Goldblum’s character’s transformation into a giant housefly are so utterly convincing that it is hard not to cringe with disgust — even today.

Cronenberg’s The Fly, which was released in 1986, is probably one of the most revolting, disturbing, and ultimately tragic films that you will ever see.

6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Released in 1974, this gritty horror film manages to be horrifying without ever becoming a total bloodbath — like its ominous title suggests. The film follows the story of a group of friends who become haunted by the chainsaw-wielding serial killer Leatherface who slowly, but surely manages to kill off most of them.

The director Tobe Hooper relied on handheld cameras and natural lighting to give The Texas Chainsaw Massacre the most gritty and realistic look possible. Sure, the movie does not have that “found footage” feel to it — like in the recent Paranormal Activity flicks — but it still manages to look and feel “real” even today. In fact, the age has made it even better. Just see for yourself, if you haven’t already.

5. Alien

Released in 1979, Ridley Scott’s sci fi horror film is still one of the most atmospheric and disturbing cinematic experiences to date — followed by rather impressive sequels too (especially James Cameron’s Aliens), which is a rarity for Hollywood. With Alien, Scott essentially transferred the “haunted house” scenario onto a space ship where instead of a poltergeist you have a grotesque, flesh-eating alien creature.

Many sci fi films tried to replicate the look and feel of Alien, but only a few have succeeded. Heck, even Ridley Scott himself could not top the movie with his prequel Prometheus. So, if you are in a mood to see an alien monster tear some humans and androids apart, see this film.

4. The Blair Witch Project

Released in 1999, this low-budget horror flick has directly influenced all the found-footage films of today, including everyone’s favourite horror franchise Paranormal Activity. What makes this movie so special is that the “camera” is part of the narrative — or more importantly, it serves as a point of view for the characters. In most films, the camera is omnipresent and invisible — but here, the camera is a real object. It puts the audiences directly into the narrative (sort of like a video game), making the whole experience even more suspenseful and ultimately frightening.

The Blair Witch Project is as scary today as it was back when it was first released. This flick has not aged one bit, so if you have not seen it yet, do it as soon as possible — you will not regret it.

3. Psycho

No list of best horror films is complete without mentioning Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic Psycho, which was released in 1960. Though the infamous shower scene is not quite as effective as it must have been back when it was first released (probably because it has been lampooned and copied so many times since then), this film is still a very suspenseful and disturbing ride.

Hitchcock is such a master at building suspense that this film has managed to scare audiences for decades without really showing any violence (just watch that shower scene closely). That is why Psycho remains and will remain one of the best horror movies ever made.

2. Night of the Living Dead

Zombies have become almost synonymous with both Halloween and the horror genre, so there was no way that this list would not include at least one of George A. Romero’s classic zombie flicks. Shot in black-and-white and released in 1968, Night of the Living Dead was one of the first horror movies to feature an African-American protagonist. It has also introduced the audiences to “zombies” — the living dead that exist as a result of an infection as opposed to some magical curse.

Like all of Romero’s zombie movies, Night of the Living Dead deals with social issues like racism, sexism, and politics. This film is essentially a critique of our society, disguised as a horror movie — and a very effective one at that. So, if you enjoy AMC’s The Walking Dead TV series, give this movie a try because this is where it all truly started.

1. The Shining

Directed by the great Stanley Kubrick and released in 1980, this is yet another cinematic adaptation of a novel by Stephen King. This is psychological horror at its best, and really, there is nothing quite like this film. The Shining starts off slow, but it builds up to a spectacular and bone-chilling (literally) finish. So, in order to enjoy this masterpiece properly, you have to let the story and the atmosphere of this movie wash over you because once the narrative pulls you in, you will not be able to escape its devilish grasp.

Stephen King is a master at turning the ordinary into the horrific, and Kubrick reflects his style of writing perfectly with his brilliant cinematic techniques. This is by far, one of the best horror movies ever made.

By: Taras Trofimov

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