Top Five Horror Films

Words by Eifion Jones

With All Hallows Eve rearing it’s demonic head and yet another excuse to dress up scantily and drink the town dry looms, it would perhaps be of interest to consider one of the true aspects of Halloween; Horror. And so, on that note, I present to you, a list of my top 5 horror films, in order of course.

5. Inland Empire – David Lynch, 2007

Directed by David Lynch in 2007 what is there to say about Inland Empire besides this; it is nightmarish. So much so in fact, that I will openly confess that this is the only film to ever make me too scared to sleep.

And when I finally did fall asleep, I woke up straight away because of intense nightmares. If you’re looking for a film containing cohesive narrative and, to be honest, sense then look away as this film will not interest you. If on the other hand you are looking for a weird, complex, unsettling, multilayered film about … well you’re guess is as good as mine, then look no further than Inland Empire.

Weirdest Scene : The rabbit family fake sit-com thing. So weird.

4. Funny Games – Michael Haneke, 1997

A lot of horror films scare you, a lot of them make you laugh and some of them make you run behind the sofa like someone’s thrown a live grenade in the room. Funny Games bullies you. It reaches a hand through the TV screen and says “For the next hour and a half, it’s going to be uncomfortable, it’s going to be slow, and you’re not going to enjoy this.”

The plot is simple, an Austrian family (don’t watch the American one) go away to their secluded holiday home. Upon arrival they notice two oddly dressed men hanging around, who claim they are on holiday too.

Eventually, they proposition the family with a simple bet; if by the morning the family is dead, the men win. If the family are still alive, they are free to go. Funny Games is a slow, hard to watch film that was originally intended to question America’s desensitization of violence in the media and even upon repeated viewings holds not only the family, but you the viewer hostage also.

Best scene : (Spoiler Warning) When the audience thinks that the mother has finally killed her captors, but then the film begins to rewind …

3. Halloween – John Carpenter, 1978

Though their name might not be held in high regard, it is impossible to deny the success of the 80’s horror film phenomenon that is the “slasher” genre. Ranging from excellent to excellently dire, the slasher genre has seen its share of highs and lows. But, in this reviewer’s humble opinion, the early 80’s/late 70’s was its high point, and it is here that we saw many annoyingly dragged out franchises begin their illustrious silver screen career.

My favourite, and in my opinion, the finest and most chilling piece of slasher work is John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’, with Argento’s Tenebrae or Suspiria as close second or thirds. The story of Halloween is simple; boy kills sister, he’s evil, comes back, kills teenagers etc.

Though this formula seems dated now, at the time Carpenter’s grasp of camera work and suspenseful pacing made for a truly disturbing experience, and there is not as much violence as one would suspect. While the franchise has been torn, twisted, re-made and basically ruined, Halloween 2 and 3 are worth a watch, though it is worth pointing out that the third film does not star Michael Myers.

Interesting Fact : Myers mask is an inside out William Shatner mask.

2. Audition, Takeshi Miike

The recent spate of terrible remakes of Asian (particularly Korean and Japanese) horror films has yielded one good result, which is that people have attempted to seek out the originals. And the overall consensus is this; The original, as usual, is nearly always better. Japan and Korea are powerhouses in both extreme and horror cinema, and what better film to choose for number two then one that perfectly melds the two. Audition, is, horrifying. It’s disturbing transition from seemingly romantic drama to full blown extreme nightmare is unsuspected and makes for an uncomfortable viewing.

The story revolves around a father whose son has implored him to find a new wife, following the death of his previous one. Working in the Media, he arranges for (fake) auditions for a radio play, and he uses this process to pick himself a wife. Though at first his choice seems perfect, he soon realizes he got more than he bargained for. Containing some pretty graphic violence, Miike is not alien to nastiness and this work is no exception. Bringing new meaning to the sentence “My girlfriend is a nightmare,” Audition truly is one of the finest horror films ever made.

Kiri, Kiri, Kiri.

1. The Shining

This review may seem biased when considering these two facts. 1.) this is one of my favourite books of all time and 2.) Stanley Kubrick is in my opinion one of the top  five filmmakers of all time (Alongside Lynch, Haneke, Hitchcock, Miike.) But those things aside, you will still see that the general agreement is that ‘The Shining’ is if not the, then one of the, finest films/horror films ever made.

For those who don’t know the story, it follows a small family who move to a hotel (called the Overlook Hotel,) to carry out the maintenance work needed to keep it going over the winter. The Father (Jack Nicholson in the acting part of his career) wishes to use this isolation to his advantage and work on his writing.

But, his former alcoholism and cabin fever combine to unleash some inner demons that put the entire family at risk as sanity seems to slip further and further away from the father. There are many scenes from this film that have become famous since it’s release (The twin girls, The elevator full of blood and who can forget “heeeere’s Johnny”.) And for good reason, as it is these scenes and more that work together to create a frightening work of suspense and insanity that stands out as one of Kubrick’s finest works.

Interesting fact : The scene where Jack Nicholson crashes through the door with an Axe was ad lib, and not in the original script.