Which ones have you seen?
12 members have voted
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Five friends head out to rural Texas to visit the grave of a grandfather. On the way they stumble across what appears to be a deserted house, only to discover something sinister within. Something armed with a chainsaw.
It feels a bit lazy to have a bunch of the horror heavy hitters like this on the list. I mean, everyone and their sister likes this movie. It's why they remake it every three or four years, while always keeping the plot exactly the same. Driving out to the boonies and running into the rednecks from hell is just such a simple and effective outline for plotting a horror film. Don't fix what ain't broke I guess.
But it would have been disingenuous to not include it in this countdown. It is easily the best installment of the franchise, and a milestone in a genre, that hasn't aged a day. A man wearing a women's face, impaling a co-ed up on a meathook and forcing her to watch him carve up her boyfriend? Frickin' yikes. That's some next-gen horror imagery, and this thing came out all the way back in 1974! It's unbelievable.
I wouldn't put it in my top 10 or anything, but this is one of my go-to's for this specific brand of horror.
Black Christmas (1974)
During their Christmas break, a group of sorority girls are stalked by a stranger.
Margot Kidder makes her second appearance on this list, and Bob Clark his first.
I'm not going to say this is the first slasher to appear on this list (or exist in general), because it's more of a proto-slasher. One that has a lot of giallo elements. Kind of a transitionary film between the two genres, in a way. Feel free to debate me on that one.
But what's amazing is that this not only predates slashers like Halloween and Friday the 13th, but it also predates Christmas horror films like Christmas Evil and Silent Night Deadly Night, and predates sorority films like House on Sorority Row and Sorority House Massacre. Basically, people started copying every single element of this film. It was ahead of its time in three different ways!
Oh, and the whole "the calls are coming from inside the house?" Yeah, this movie created that too. When A Stranger Calls came out years later. So, four different ways.
But that doesn't matter now. All we care about is how good of a watch it is in 2023. And the answer is "its a hell of a watch." The villain is creepy as fuck, the setpieces are great, the way things rapidly unravel and quickly escalate is thrilling. And the ending with the still undiscovered bodies? I love it.
When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community off Cape Cod, it's up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.
Another original pick, am I right? Doesn't matter, because simply put, this is the scariest movie of all time from my perspective. I saw it when I was a little kid, and I was afraid of the water for a decade afterwards. Hell, I STILL think of this movie every time I get in the water. Freshwater lake? It skirts through my mind for at least a moment. When I was a kid, I was so scared, I thought about sharks at the bottom of my bed under my sheets. I thought about the bottom of the bathtub opening up into a hidden pool beneath it. There was no refuge from the man-eating shark.
Beyond the terror, it's a masterclass in horror filmmaking. But I don't' need to go into that. It, and Spielberg's reputation, speak for itself.
Deep Red (1975)
A jazz pianist and a wisecracking journalist are pulled into a complex web of mystery after the former witnesses the brutal murder of a psychic.
Another giallo, and the first Dario Argento film to appear on my list. It certainly will not be the last.
While I think his earlier stuff like Four Flies On Grey Velvet, The Cat O'Nine Tails, and The Bird With the Crystal Plumage are all great, it was this film where he really was able to bring it all together. A great cast, a great mystery, great setpieces, that iconic kill sequence, and that awesome 1970s jazzy soundtrack from rock band Goblin. It all adds up to a really good time. So good, that this is in fact the film of his I find myself returning to more than any other. Some of the latter ones are way, way crazier (which is saying something), and highly enjoyable. But something about this one just keeps me coming back. Probably because there's always a few new details I discover every time I watch it.
Again, these Italian films are not going to be for everyone. You have to have a tolerance for certain quirks, and gratuitous amounts of gore and violence. But if you're like me, you're totally into both of those things.
Just make sure to watch the Italian release. That's a running theme with these movies.