With the end of October comes Halloween. In celebration of the holiday, I have compiled a list of ten great films that are either a thriller, a horror or both.
– “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (Robert Wiene): A perfect example of German expressionism that still stands as an example of what good horror can still be today.
– “Cat People” (Simone Simon): A low budget film done right. Any fool would have shown the “cat people” and they would have made the entire film look silly. But when they’re hiding in the dark and are only implied, it is the audience who creates them into monsters.
– “Dracula” (Tod Browning): This 1931 adaptation of “Dracula” is the definition of classic horror. Bela Lugosi as the title character immediately became an icon after it was released and has become the model for succeeding vampires after.
– “The Last House on the Left” (Wes Craven): I have a moral code that is programmed in me and when that code is violated my opinion is already formed. But when I first viewed “The Last House on the Left,” it was the first time I ever needed to question this sacred code. This film had me cringing with disgust and thirsty for blood, but when the parents take their revenge out on their daughter’s rapists and murderers, this thirst was destroyed by their own gruesomeness.
– “Psycho” (Alfred Hitchcock): Though most film buffs look at “Vertigo” or “Rear Window” as Hitchcock’s magnum opus, it was “Psycho” that has stood the tests of time for modern audiences. So influential is the film that the infamous shower scene has been parodied and copied by generations to come.
– “The Shining” (Stanley Kubrick): Critically lauded in its time, “The Shining” has become an icon for the genre. Kubrick’s obvious genius is clear as he turned the Stephen King story into a psychological study that is still being read into by generations after.
– “The Silence of the Lambs” (Jonathan Demme): Hannibal Lecter is one of the greatest film villains of recent time. This film makes good use of stellar performances from both Anthony Hopkins and Ted Levine as the main killers. The escape for the courthouse sequence still haunts me from my first viewing many years ago. A true masterpiece.
– “Trollhunter” (Andre Ovredal): As a personal favorite, “Trollhunter” is an anomaly because of how beautiful the Scandinavian wilderness is shot through found footage. The trolls themselves look more like the fairy tale creatures as opposed to a “realistic.”
– “Vertigo” (Alfred Hitchcock): San Francisco has never been shot so beautifully, which is why “Vertigo” is makes audiences want to sit on the edge of their seats. Jimmy Stuart slowly chasing Kim Novak through the streets is what made Hitchcock the master of suspense. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but we all know that Stuart is becoming madly obsessed with the woman. When did he cross the line between following and stocking?
– “Zodiac” (David Fincher): This is one of those films that is more thriller than horror. The Zodiac Killer is a part of the Northern California landscape and the fact that they have not been caught yet still creates a natural horror to the region. David Fincher’s trademark aesthetic perfectly examines the folklore behind the killings.