Monday 11 October 2010

Rob's Top Five Horror Movies

Greetings once again, E14ies. This week, once again, I shall be bringing you a horror-themed instalment. In the spirit of the season, today I will deal with my top five Horror Movies. Look forward to the Five Worst Horror Movies I Ever Saw at some point this month as well!

Anyway, here in no particular order are my Top Five.

Event Horizon, 1997

Event Horizon sees the crew of an interstellar rescue vessel get more than they bargained for after the titular craft re-appears above Neptune after seven years of disappearance. It isn't long before the crew can't figure out what's real and what's not, and are fighting for their lives.

As an interesting side-note, this is one of the few films I remember originally buying from Woolworth's before it shut. If you don't remember Woolworth's, it was a shop that sold nothing in particular aside from very stealable sweets and the occasional Spiderman outfit.

Anyway, when people ask me to describe this movie, I have no struggle about how I am to do it. I simply say "this film is like Alien, except there's no alien." By that, I simply mean that Paul W.S. Anderson and his crew have managed to capture the same sense of unease that Ridley Scott managed to capture in his movie without actually having a tangible corporeal villain until nearer the end of the film, and even that person (who shall not be named for the sake of spoilers) has been corrupted by a more evil presence than them.

Most of the horror stuff is done through the use of quick jumps and montages at high speed, which is a little cheap when it comes to getting scares. However, the performances from the cast are strong if a little cheesy at times, and the setting is ominous enough that when the action starts ramping up, you can't help but be engrossed.

Also, as an E14 aside, this movie also stars Laurence Fishburne, who as we all know is awesome!

Trivia: Director Paul W.S. Anderson was forced to cut over 20 minutes of violent scenes so the film could reach the R-rating.

Saw, 2004

In Saw, two guys wake up in a bathroom chained to railings by their feet. All they have at their disposal are two saws, and two tape players. Before too long, they realise that they are at the mercy of the serial killer Jigsaw, who specialises in placing wayward people in situations to escape in order to prove their worth and their desire to live. However, it always comes at a cost, as they soon discover that the saws are not for metal, but bone...

I didn't see this movie for the first time at the cinema, but I really wish I had. My sister and my dad were raving about it at the time that I was living in France, but by this time it was out on DVD in England. When I enquired about it at a French video rental shop, which I think was called "Le Blockbuster", they informed me that it had only just stopped showing at the cinema there! Craziness, eh? I guess voiceover and dubbing sessions take around three months to accomplish.

Anyway, when I finally saw this movie, I was a pretty jaded guy when it came to horror movies in recent times. An increasing lean towards the "Slasher" genre had left me disenfranchised, and more importantly bored off my tits with horror. For those who find this list a little odd, considering the wealth of movies available for this list to contain, know that I'm not a huge fan of "slasher" movies; they simply do nothing for me.

Saw was such a breath of fresh air that it was hard not to love it. The film is fast-paced, throwing plot at you at just the right pace in order to keep you engaged, but at no point do you feel overwhelmed by the information, because any time there's something you were supposed to be paying attention to, the film recaps it for you anyway.

Although performances in this movie are a little hammy at times, due to the nature of shooting, one thing you cannot deny is that Jigsaw himself is one of the most compelling characters in the history of cinema. Despite his ailments, which become clear through the first movie, he manages to successfully implement these tests through use of his acolytes and carry out his life's ambition: Making people appreciate life. It's such a noble cause that you find it hard to completely hate him for the way he carries it out.

Plus who doesn't love Cary Elwes, right?

Trivia: Film's pre-production was only five days; it was shot and cut at the same time in eighteen days (all of the bathroom scenes were shot in six days). The actors had absolutely no rehearsals. The rehearsal takes were actual footage for the film.

Silence of the Lambs, 1991

When this film was first released, there had been a single entry in the Thomas Harris franchise where movies were concerned, the fantastic (and under-rated) Manhunter, starring a younger William Petersen (who most of us know now as Gil Grissom) as well as Brian Cox playing Dr Hannibal Lecter. However, there's something that's so very maniacal and yet so likeable about Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of the cannibalistic doctor that one finds it hard to dislike him despite his obvious craziness. There's probably something to the idea that this was one of the stronger motivations to re-make the original movie in the form of Red Dragon, itself a pretty reasonable movie.

The FBI's chase of Buffalo Bill is not the exciting part of this movie, although that in itself makes for some exhilarating set-pieces nearer the end of the movie. The exciting part is to see how Lecter reacts to Starling as she goes through the movie trying to get his advice on how to catch the killer. Half the dialogue, while uncomfortable as all hell, is still enthralling as you watch the characters interact.

Accompanied by some brutal set-pieces, such as Lecter's dispatch of two guards followed by stark contrasts of beautiful piano music, the movie does a more than effective job of keeping you engaged. The film is tense, while at the same time action-packed. All the characters play their part well, but the show is stolen by Hopkins' impeccable portrayal of Lecter, delivering a chilling and yet personable performance.

Trivia: Anthony Hopkins invented the fast, slurping-type sound that Hannibal Lecter does. He did it spontaneously during filming on the set, and everyone thought it was great.

Dawn of the Dead, 1978

I must confess: I've only ever seen this movie once in my life. That may sound crazy coming from one of the founding fathers of E14, the greatest and most humble of all entertainment blogs, but it's the honest truth. I've seen the movie once. However, that one viewing was enough to have me hooked. Amazing movie.

As E14 has noted many times, one of the best things about a zombie movie (although Romero seems reluctant to use the z-word) is when you honestly have no idea who is going to die and when. One of the great things about this movie is simply that this rule is exercised to amazing effect. Such logic has been applied successfully to The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, and it's nice to see that it has its roots in the classics. Incidentally, you can read an interview with Mr Kirkman himself here.

The movie takes place for the most part in one location, a shopping mall. While the setting is not one you'd expected to have seen at one point in zombie fiction, this formula has been re-applied many times, with the video game Dead Rising appearing in my head as one of the most obvious examples. Indeed, it's this talent for inspiration that explains why the movie is so high on my list. How many movies, games and books can you think of from the top of your head that were inspired by this film? Exactly.

The movie is gory, thrilling, completely engaging and most of all doesn't suffer from looking ludicrously over the top when it comes to effects and the aforementioned gore. Ultimately, this is a formula that I feel lost its way in this genre, as I'm sure we'll see in future movie-related articles of this nature.

Plus, it stars Ken Foree as a cop, a name that fans of classic Nickelodeon TV series Kenan & Kel will recognise as Kenan's dad!

Trivia: Much of the fake blood used in the blood packets was a mixture of food colouring, peanut butter and cane sugar syrup.

The Thing, 1982

I have the proud achievement of saying that this movie was one of the last movies I saw at the cinema. When I say that, and point to the year of release as 1982, a lot of eyebrows will shoot up on people's heads I'm sure. Hell, a few might even jump clean off people's faces. In some cases we won't notice, but in others there will be distinctly noticeable absence of eyebrow fuzz. However, the movie was re-released in selected cinemas as a digital screening a couple of years back, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the lucky ones who watched it in its digital glory. Made a world of difference: I'd previously never spotted one character's nose piercing! But I digress.

The Thing is one of those classic horror movies whose appeal is immediately obvious. John Carpenter and his team manage to create an environment where nobody can be trusted whatsoever, even beyond the end of the movie. At the same time, using cutting-edge special effects and animatronics, the team created some truly horrific imagery to give all the kids who watched it nightmares. Serves them right, the little shits.

The score is expertly done as well, a work of Ennio Morricone, one of the all-time greats when it comes to movie soundtracks. Only John Williams himself can give the man any decent run for his money, although I myself am quite partial to Damon Intrabartolo of The Usual Suspects fame. Some of the more recent video game soundtracks have been good at shitting you up as well.

What's even more amazing about the film is how everyone has an opinion on how the film ended. Although the ending of the film is physically clear-cut, the nature of "The Thing" for whom the film is named gives you the distinct impression that things aren't always as simple as they seem. I interpret it a completely different way from another person, and their opinion differs greatly from someone else's. Great suspense movies are so well done that their appeal lasts long beyond you leaving the cinema or switching off the player.

That, and Kurt Russell is the tits.

Trivia: During the scene when MacReady and Dr. Copper go to visit the Norwegian camp via helicopter, the bush pilot actually turned the controls over to Kurt Russell once the chopper was off the ground. If you watch the shot you see the chopper actually wobble. That's Russell taking the controls.

So there you have it. Those are my Top 5 Horror Movies of all time. Stay tuned to E14 in order to see my 5 Worst Horror Movies I Ever Saw later this month!
All trivia courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

In sci-fi thriller The Lawnmower Man, Pierce Brosnan plays Dr Lawrence Angelo, a brilliant scientist obsessed with perfecting a revolutionary Virtual reality computer software. When his experiments on animals fail, he finds the ideal substitute: Jobe Smith, a slow witted gardener - "The Lawnmower Man".

Dr Angelo's goal is to benefit his human guinea pig and ultimately mankind itself. But evil lurks in the guise of "The Shop", a shadowy group that seeks to use the technology to create an invincible war machine. When the experiments change the simple Lawnmower Man into a superhuman being, the stage is set for a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde struggle for the control of Jobe's mind and the future of the world.

Thanks to our friends at Universal Pictures we've got two copies of The Lawnmower Man on DVD to give away! What's more, as an extra feature, you also get The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace! For your chance of winning, send in your name and full postal address to before midday on Monday 18th October. The first two names out of the electronic hat will win a copy each!


  1. I am sad that you neglected to mention, whilst describing Event Horizon, a certain character wandering around with no eyes and flashbacks to the previous crew amid a culinery orgy of naked flesh, gorging themselves on each other's limbs. I know you didn't want to spoil anything, but this film is freaky.

  2. Silence of the Lambs is the only movie I've seen on this list, I'm gonna need to incorporate them into scary movie marathon month. I kicked it off with Scar 3D on demand, it was so good I'm going to have to get it on DVD.