I love horror movies. I love horror fiction as well, but I'll talk about that later (I've been putting together a list of some of my favorite authors and it's an extensive list; my 'to read' list is equally extensive however). The unfotunate thing about the horror genre is that there is a lot of crap out there; most of it's crap. You have to watch a lot of really bad horror movies to get through to the good ones. Or you can hear about the good ones from some poor sap who wastes his time sorting through them... :-)
But I'm only going to talk about 5 here. That's right: 5. Now, I'm not going to say these are the 5 greatest horror movies of the past 50 years; all I'm going to say about these movies is that they are interesting and, in my humble opinion, pretty damn scary. Here we go...
The Tenant - This is classic Roman Polanski (1976); you know, the guy who did the movie version of Rosemary's Baby? This movie is very psychological and very scary in a way few horror movies or directors have been able to immitate. More people should know about this movie and if you haven't seen it, put it on your Netflix queue right away. It revolves around a shy file clerk who moves into an old apartment while the previous tenant lies in a coma in the hospital. The apartment building is filled with an assortment of strange characters and creepy details. The way this movie slowly builds into creepier and creepier moments really pulls you along for a ride on its disturbing spiral. I know that some people don't like this kind of horror movie; they'd rather have the guts, gore, and jump-in-your-seat moments. The Tenant, however, is scary on another level entirely. This one leaves ants under the skin, crawling and jittering long after you walk away from it.
Jacob's Ladder - (1990) This one you might have missed. It was directed by Adrian Lyne, the guy who is best know for Fatal Attraction. It may not have the most original story and the big "plot twist" at the end is nothing you can't see coming a mile away, but there are some redeeming qualities to this movie that make it worth your time. This movie is relentlessly disturbing and intense. There is scene after scene where things go from basically normal to downright weird and disgusting. The best scene in the movie, put together masterfully by Lyne, is one in which the main character (Jacob, who would have thought?) is wheeled into the hospital on a gurney, going deeper and deeper underground, things getting more and more disturbing as he goes. All in all, it's worth a watch.
The Stepford Wives - What? That horrible movie with Nicole Kidman? This guy's clearly been smokin' too much... Actually, I'm talking about the original movie, the one from 1975, the one based off of Ira Levin's novel or the same title. Sure, it has its humorous moments, but by the end of the movie Joanna (our protagonist) has lost all of her friends to their robot replacements, her children are kidnapped, and she is in big trouble. The final moments of the movie are disturbing on several levels and are nothing like the horrible remake from 2004. See this movie for its social commentary, but don't be fooled; this movie belongs in the horror genre.
Wait Unitl Dark - Of these movies, this is the oldest (1967), but I have to say Aubrey Hepburn's performance in this movie is amazing. She play a blind woman living alone in her apartment. She ends up with a doll stuffed with heroin and when the guys who lost it come looking for it, she ends up having to defend herself on her own. What makes this movie great is the tension that builds and builds. The final moments are perfectly constructed and, I'm happy to say, include their own jump-out-of-your-seat moment.
Cape Fear - I have to admit right off the bat, I have never seen the original. The movie I'm talking about is the Scorcesse flick from 1991. In my opinion, this is Robert DeNiro's best work, who plays a disturbed convict who takes revenge on the family of the public defender who failed to defend him in court properly. The characters in this movie are complex and dynamic. If you haven't seen this movie in a while, it might be time to watch it again. Either way, Netflix, here I come.
What do you guys think? Agree? Disagree? I love to talk about this stuff so...