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SM Hillman's Top 10 Horror Movies

I know its Christmas and this was two holidays ago. You should know by now, I don't give a...

I read an article claiming to know what Rob Zombie's top 7 horror movies were. And that got me thinking,. Then Joe Compton from Go Indie Now! asked about why I chose these particular movies. Now, Mr. Zombie has a more varied taste in horror than I do, but I do like his list. These are 10 movies that, on some level, scared me. In the same order they were on Facebook.

Oh, I think I can say with some degree of certainty that all of these movies have affected me as a storyteller.

  1. Trilogy of Terror (1975) - This is a made for TV movie that stars Karen Black in 3 (technically 4) roles in three short movies. Each one is about half an hour. The first two are great psychological horror: a college student who is obsessed with his teacher finds out how weird obsession can go and a pair of twins whose conflict causes chaos to those around them. But its the third vignette with a Zuni doll that comes alive and chases KB around her apartment that caused me to never look under my bed. Its scholcky, no doubt, and low budget but it works. Largely because Karen Black is a helluva actress.

  2. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) - Another made for TV movie, this one stars Kim Darby. She and hubby move into a house belonging to her parents or grandparents or something. The old maintenance guy tells about the sinister little creatures (catching a theme here?) that drag folks down into the dark furnace, hole, or whatever. As you might guess these creatures begin terrorizing KD until they finally manage to drug her and drag her down the stairs and into their dark embrace. Where she becomes one of them. Spoilers.

  3. The Changeling (1980)- George C. Scott is a composer who has a family tragedy. He moves into an old home and ghost shenanigans begin. I won't get too much into details here because you should see this movie, but the story telling is well paced (IMO) and the characters are believable. I mean has GCS ever had a bad performance? If you watch Patton before or after, you'll see a lot of talent. I think the slow build is what makes it scary for me and the practical effects of the haunting.

  4. Ghost Story (1981) - This might be the scariest of the movies on here. The supernatural revenant that is seeking revenge has a horrible visage, but its not gruesomeness of it. She is relentless and without mercy. But its not a slasher pic. Its an amazing story of revenge that starts off with the violence right away. I think I also liked this because it had so many older actors in it, Fred Astaire for instance. I also think this movie is partly responsible for my enjoyment of bleak surroundings. It takes place in winter and it feels like winter.

  5. The Fog (1980) - Okay, this MIGHT be the scariest movie on this list. Dead sailors with big rusty hooks. Catholic priest. (not so) Buried gold. Lepers. Adrienne Barbeau. Jamie Lee Curtis. The supernatural creatures are well done and brutal. Again, this is an unforgiving enemy. It takes place over a short time and some of the action is frenetic. Lots of people survive this movie, but I am not sure anyone survives this movie. Watch all the way to the end.

  6. The Thing (1982) - I dunno if its John Carpenter's best movie, but its my favorite (Big Trouble in Little China is a close second). I am a fan of the original Thing From Another World (1951), which I also recommend. But The Thing takes paranoia, isolation, the worst of humanity (and maybe the best) and jumbles it into a narrative that is spiced with the right amount of SF and horror. Also, if you love body horror, this is your movie. Where Cronenburg's The Fly is gross, The Thing is fucked up.

  7. Alien (1979) - Did they do movies like Alien before Alien? Hard for me to say. I am sure they did. But it is about as perfect a sf horror movie as you can find. It has just enough lived in tech to make it believable. All the characters are blue collar types, except for one. Top notch acting and story. Top notch effects.

  8. Event Horizon (1997) - So its not Alien, but its not the same kind of movie. I love the psychological terror in this one, they way the ship preys on the people who come on board. Some of the effects are cheesy, but the ship is awesome and you can believe that it went into hell just looking at it. It does not hurt that I became interested in the (Aeon) Trinity rpg around the same time. Some similar themes, though not necessarily supernatural ones like in the movie.

  9. Cube (1997) - Once upon a time children, the SciFi channel made movies... for the SciFi channel. And they were pretty good, actually. I had no expectations of Cube but found myself drawn into the struggle of these idiots. Normally I would root for all of them to die, but between the clever deaths and the characters I kept watching. Check it and its sequel, HyperCube out.

  10. The Exorcist (1973) - Also, Exorcist III is good too. This may sound strange but the thing that most draws me to this movie is the intelligent dialogue with the demon. There are moments where you can almost connect with it and then its off on its angel fell to Earth bullshit. But interactions during the exorcism between priests, demon, and child make this worth it.

Honorable Mention: Pitch Black (2000). Might be the first Vin Diesel movie I liked. I had no expectations of this movie, though it would be a popcorn fest. Claudia Christian from Farscape was in it. I did not expect to pay very close attention and yet, I did. Start to finish. Great movie, maybe because no one expected it to be.

There ya go. Don't ask me for top Christmas movies, because I do not know if I have ten of them. Or even five.


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