Horror Countdown

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I have whittled down my ridiculous collection to an official Ramblin Entertainment Top 20 and of course you can’t believe that I have omitted so and so but that’s the beauty of movies. Hell, I’ve probably changed my mind by the time I’ve finished compiling this list… Enjoy!

  1. WILLOW CREEK (Dir. Bobcat Goldthwaite 2013) Willow Creek

New oddball on the block, Zed from Police Academy is known for his quirky output but hit the right notes with this relatively short Bigfoot suspense thriller. Shot in POV, Willow Creek is the found footage of a Bigfoot believer and his girlfriend’s adventure in the Six Rivers National Forest as they trek the elusive Sasquatch. Ignoring the warnings, the couple press deeper into the forest and ravines all leading to Goldthwaite’s payoff… A single frame shot of the couple cowering in terror from something (or somebody) outside their tent.

  1. SINISTER (Dir. Scott Derrickson 2012)Sinister

Ethan Hawke is the crime writer desperate for another 15 minutes of fame. Unbeknownst to his family, their new home was the scene of a particularly gruesome unsolved murder which he alone hopes to unlock. From the opening scene shot on Super 8, Sinister is a step above your modern horror effort with the mystery of apparent links between a series of missing child cases just one step ahead of you. Solid jumps and creative kills are enough to overlook the weak ending. Expect a below par sequel soon.

  1. EDEN LAKE (Dir. James Watkins 2008)Eden lake

The film that fuelled my love of The Fass, Eden Lake has the awesome combination of Fassbender, rising star Jack O’Connell and faded star Thomas Turgoose (what happened to him?) playing cat and mouse around this fictional English woodland. A film that answers that question “do I go and tell that bunch of yoofs to shut the hell up”, Eden Lake ramps up the terror to such a scale that you’re relieved when it’s all over. And the final shot of O’Connell wearing the spoils of war cements him as a cool, leading, British lad.

  1. THE WICKERMAN (Dir. Robin Hardy 1973)Wickerman

Unsullied by the appalling remake and wishy washy sequel, The Wickerman is a classic British cult horror. A bit too slow burning for lovers of modern cinema, the mystery surrounding Summer Isle and its paganist inhabitants has Edward Woodward’s police officer chasing shadows and dead ends right up to his untimely end in possibly the most iconic scene in British cinema. Did Rowan ever even exist? Is Sergeant Howie’s faith enough to get him through? Is that Britt Ekland naked?!

  1. SAW (Dir. James Wan 2004)Saw

The first entry on the list from Australian duo Leigh Whannell and James Wan, Saw has spawned many a sequel and even more rip-offs but none hold a torch to the low-budget, ingenious original. Beneath the grotesque contraptions of torture and punishment lies a well paced thriller; Two men awake chained and groggy in a cellar with only a tape recorder, a key and a closet full of secrets… Do you want to play a game?

  1. WRONG TURN (Dir. Rob Schmidt 2003)wrong turn

Turn your nose up if you will but you will be surprised how many horror fans have at least one Wrong Turn in their collection. Come for Eliza Dushku in a vest running around a forest, stay for the sinister back wood yokels! At the end of the day, this is a distant cousin of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (twice removed maybe) and delivers all the punches with unkillable cannibalistic adversaries, enough near escapes to keep you riveted to the end and ultimately, a life lesson… Don’t take that shortcut through the forest.

  1. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (Dir. Oren Peli 2007)paranormal activity

A victim of its own success? Over-hyped to a de-sensitised generation? I don’t care. This movie accomplishes what only a handful of classics manage to do. It stays with you. Those footsteps outside the door. The breath on her neck. Old school chills! The suspense is palpable as you witness the handheld camera footage from the night before with subtle increases in paranormal occurrences affecting one of the couple far greater than the other, leading to that Blair Witch-esque shocking conclusion. The sequel is even worth a watch!

  1. CREEP (Dir. Christopher Smith 2004)creep

Ever go past the abandoned tunnels and arches of the London Underground and wonder what’s in there? Get locked in a tube station overnight and you may well find out. Weirdo character actor Sean Harris breathes life into the deformed dweller of subterranean London, butchering any lost souls found wandering his sewers. Part time cannibal, part time twisted abortionist, ‘Craig’ is a movie monster for the ages. There’s no escaping the Creep…

  1. THE MIST (Dir. Frank Darabont 2007)the mist

The first monster movie also sees the first Stephen King adaptation and is one of the best. As the titular foreboding mist envelopes the small town of Bridgton, a community holds up in a grocery store for safety in numbers. Personalities, factions and lynch mobs soon emerge within the group as doomsday seems to lurk outside. Is this Gods doing? Is the secretive military base in the mountains involved? And that ending is powerful stuff.

  1. JEEPERS CREEPERS (Dir. Victor Salva 2001)jeepers creepers

Another short cut on the way home from college for the summer, another terror filled journey this time through the backwaters of Florida. Sticking their beaks in where maybe they shouldn’t, brother and sister Darry and Trish discover a local legend of an ancient evil known only as the Creeper, feeding on human flesh every twenty third spring. Their timing couldn’t be worse.

  1. HALLOWEEN (Dir. John Carpenter 1978)halloween

The first classic slasher in my list and even I’m surprised it’s not placed higher. The best outing for legendary serial killer Michael Myers, Halloween is iconic through and through. The William Shatner mask, the boiler suit, the town of Haddonfield, that synthesized score… John Carpenter’s masterpiece just falls a bit short in the suspense stakes for me and Michael Myers with a bed sheet over his head is a bit odd, no?

  1. THE RING (Dir. Gore Verbinski 2002)the ring

I have opted for the US reimagining over the original J-horror as this is the greatest ever American horror remake. Unfortunately opening the door for a run of below par Japanese cross overs, everybody knows the premise of The Ring but shifting the action to a gloomy Seattle adds an effective foreboding tone to the piece and you can never go wrong with a cabin in the woods. Kids are scary but when they are bedraggled and coming out of your freakin’ television set?? Fughedaboutit.

  1. THE CONJURING (Dir. James Wan 2013)246460id1c_Conjuring_INTL_27x40_1Sheet.indd

The second entry from Australian horror maestro Wan and the newest film in the Top 20, The Conjuring is a homage to the seventies haunted house flick. Whether based on a true story or not (definitely not), this is a how-to guide for the new wave of future horror classics. A great old school score lends a feeling of impending doom to this isolated farmstead cursed by Bathsheba. The pre-credit Annabelle story is better than the full length feature and a sequel based in Enfield(?) is due in 2016.

  1. STEPHEN KING’S IT (Dir. Tommy Lee Wallace 1990)it

This film is all about that Clown. Pennywise. In actuality, a shape shifting creature that takes the form of its prey’s worst fear. Forget the plot, forget the ridiculous ending. Pennywise will haunt me to my last days. As a kid walking up the street at night I would steer clear of the drains for one reason. Pennywise. Scared to close your eyes for too long in the shower? Pennywise. Feel a sense of dread when you watch Home Alone 2? It’s that damn Pennywise.

  1. INSIDIOUS (Dir. James Wan 2010)insidious

The Third James Wan movie and second collaboration with Leigh Whannell, on the surface Insidious is a novel idea executed perfectly. The house isn’t haunted you fools! Your child is!! But when combined with its sequel, Chapter 2, it is a master stroke. The audience are led into ‘The Further’, a world beyond ours to witness the events of the first film from a new perspective. And that scare in the sun drenched, white washed safe haven of the new house is perfection itself.

  1. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (Dir. Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez 1999)blair witch

What wasn’t pioneered by this movie? Hand camera POV. Found footage. Guerrilla film making. Shoe string budget. To not be affected by The Blair Witch Project is to not get it. Three students head into the Maryland woods on the trail of a local legend and the rest is history. Babies crying in the dead of night, satanic symbols, despair as the realisation of their fate looms large. If I were to vote on the greatest horror scene or shot of all time, the final scene would probably be it.

  1. SCREAM (Dir. Wes Craven 1996)scream

If Quentin Tarantino wrote a horror film, it would be Scream. Clichés are put to the sword and the establishment mocked in this brilliant black comedy set in the fictional town of Woodboro. In the wrong hands, Scream would have just been a murder spree in Dawsons Creek but using the classic slashers as inspiration, Kevin Williamson delivers a revolution of a film.

  1. THE SHINING (Dir. Stanley Kubrick 1980)shining

If I wasn’t a slasher nut, this would be number one. Kubrick’s vision of a caretaker driven to madness due to the isolation of the Overlook Hotel leaves you reeling because you just do not know what is real and what is delusion. All work and no play certainly do not make Jack a dull boy as he drinks with spectres, bathes with corpses and scares the wits out of his poor wife and child. Every fan has their interpretation of what’s actually going on (watch Room 237) but whether it’s Indian graves, the temptation of the devil or a reflection of the Holocaust, you can enjoy a new layer of this film with every viewing.

  1. FRIDAY 13TH PART II (Dir. Sean S. Cunningham 1980)friday 13

Not Part I with Mrs. Voorhees. Not Part III when Jason dons the infamous hockey mask. Part II has a much creepier feel as our poor Jason has lived wild and feral in the woods surrounding Crystal Lake, with only the decapitated head of his mother for company. With sack on head and machete in hand, Jason learns his craft hacking through another bunch of kids for whom the lure of Camp Dread proves too great. A great marathon for a rainy day, the Friday 13th franchise goes to some pretty odd places with painfully poor 3D, a jolly to manhatten and a jaunt in space but its spirit and tone are immortalised in Part II. Jason Voorhees is only pipped to the post as the number one, most iconic horror monster by a certain Leatherface…

1.THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (Dir. Tobe Hooper 1974)texas

Who will survive and what will be left of them? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is brutal in its torture and heart stopping in its terror and is the film that forced me to appreciate horror. A group of free loving friends road trip across middle America in their VW. So far, so seventies. They pick up and quickly drop off an oddball local hitch hiker. Well, they are in the middle of nowhere. The horror by numbers start lulls you into a false sense of security as you ready yourself for a cliché shock; cat in a closet, bird at a window… But when that metal door rips open and the camera pans up for our first glance of Leatherface, you’re not entirely sure what you’re even seeing! Is that his face? A skin mask? The cross dressing, chainsaw wielding cannibal and his family are horror royalty, butchering anyone who has the misfortune of seeking sanctuary in their home. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre grips you to the final scene as the only survivor breaks free from the house of horrors and tears away towards the highway with Bubba and chainsaw in hot pursuit. An adrenaline filled race for your life. And what seals the deal for me is there is no killing Leatherface only to find his body missing two seconds later. If you are lucky enough to survive this ordeal, one thought remains… He is still out there.

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4 thoughts on “Horror Countdown

  1. The Shining had to be number one in my books, saw it again the other night and was still blown away by Kubricks horror masterpiece. The score, the suspense, the performances……. Just so freaking good.


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