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Sunday, September 24, 2023


CINEMA TALK: Quality horror is older than you

Millions of people will probably watch horror movies this Halloween. Over the years though cinematic ingenuity has been increasingly replaced with gratuitous violence and gore. These elements are great when used wisely, but worthless when used without care and restraint. It seems like contemporary horror directors don’t know that shock value has to be balanced by suspense and dramatic depth. Don’t waste time on movies with no wit or intellectual stimulus. Instead, check out some classic movies that are sure bets. Here are the top five:

5. Vampyr (1932)

Danish director Carl Dreyer directed Vampyr, a silent film worthy of high praise. Nightmarish scenes filled with confounding imagery make this film unforgettable, and at 76 years old, the film’s age and dated aesthetic only add to its eerie charm.

4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Shot on gritty 16mm film, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre has the look and feel of an old exploitation movie, but employs less onscreen gore. Yet, it still remains intensely disturbing and creepy – a testament to Tobe Hooper’s directorial prudence.

3. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

This morbid tale about a woman who gives birth to the son of Satan is considered one of Roman Polanski’s best movies. With the help of an excellent cast, including Mia Farrow, Ruth Gordon and John Cassavetes, Polanski proves true horror comes from suspense and psychological complexity, not mere bloodshed.

2. The Shining (1980)

The Shining is a genuinely terrifying film. Jack Nicholson’s performance as a writer-gone-crazy is one of cinema’s preeminent depictions of madness and offers the most memorable line in horror movie history: "Here’s Johnny!"

1. Psycho (1960)

It has been argued that Alfred Hitchcock created the horror genre when he made Psycho. If that’s the case, then the first horror movie ever made is also the best, because no subsequent horror movie has had an impact quite like Psycho. The film’s unorthodox plot structure, brilliant craftsmanship, and chilling foreshadowing, makes it deserving of the many accolades it has received. It’s a must-see for any genre.

Other scary movies that barely missed the list: The Exorcist, 28 Days Later, Eraserhead, Nosferatu, Diabolique, The Evil Dead and Jesus Camp.

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