Welcome back fright fans! This week I will continue my listing of my personal favorite horror films. Creepy, suspenseful, gory or downright sinister, these movies the stuff of nightmares!
20. Hellraiser (1987)
The original and still the best in my opinion, this Clive Barker masterpiece introduces us to the truly terrifying Pinhead (Doug Bradley). Evil guy Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) procures a certain puzzle box that when solved unleashes the hounds of hell and literally rips him limb from limb. Some time later, Frank’s brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) moves his family into his old house. A drop of Larry’s blood starts a reaction that begins to bring Frank back to life. Larry’s wife Julia (Clare Higgins), who is also Frank’s former lover, kills Larry and lures unsuspecting men to the house to continue Frank’s regeneration. It is up to Kristy (Ashley Laurence), Larry’s daughter, to stop Julia and Frank’s serial killing ways while also avoiding Pinhead and his demonic cohorts from dragging her to hell.
Graphic, gory and ahead of its time, Hellraiser has all the elements that make for a time-honored scare-fest!
What would you do to ensure your own survival over that of a stranger? If you had to, would you kill them to escape your own fate? This is the intriguing plot line of Saw. The Jigsaw Killer has captured Adam (Leigh Whannell) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) and has them shackled in an abandoned warehouse bathroom. Back and forth misdirection ensues, leaving the viewer unsure if this is all a revenge plot, an extortion scheme? The end game turns out to be something much more sinister and while the sequels succeed in their own right (at least some do), the original Saw is still the sharpest tool in the shed.
18. The Ring (2002)
I have a confession to make. It takes a lot for a movie to creep me out. I am good with blood, gore, demons and ghosts. But there is something about Samara (Daveigh Chase), the creepy little ghost in the killer video that chills me to the bone. The plot is simple, you watch her video, the phone rings, you die in seven days. Reporter Rachel (Naomi Watts) is investigating the sudden death of her teenage niece Katie (Amber Tamblyn). In her search she comes across a video tape that is a scramble of seemingly inconsistent images. Suddenly the phone rings and a young girl declares that you will die in seven days. Rachel notices that in photos or video images, her own face appears to be blurred out. In the interim, her young son Aidan (David Dorfman) watches the video as well and is now staring down the death curse. It is a race against time to solve the mystery of Samara and break the video tapes curse before Rachel and Aidan join Katie in the afterlife. It is a solid horror movie that is a remake of the Japanese film Ringu but the reason it found its way into my count down is the creep factor of Samara.
17. The Serpent And The Rainbow
What happens when science and voodoo collide? You get a gonzo psychological thriller like The Serpent And The Rainbow. Dr Dennis Alan (Bill Pullman) is recruited by a major pharmaceutical corporation to travel to the island nation of Haiti to procure certain ingredients to create a super anesthetic. Once there, Alan runs afoul of the local government, rebels and a certain voodoo man who can plant nightmares into your head and bring back people from the dead to do his bidding. One of the most memorable line in cinematic history is uttered “Don’t bury me, I’m not dead!” and a particular body part is nailed to a chair to the chagrin of the male population the world over. Voodoo can be a dangerous religion and a frightful one to watch.
16. Poltergeist (1982)
“They’re here!” That simple statement has turned generations of movie goers blood to ice. Little Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O’Rourke) is taken into a different dimension by malevolent spirits that inhabit her family’s home-it was built on a Native American burial ground- and is held there by “The Beast”, a demon of unspeakable power. Her parents (Craig T. Nelson & JoBeth Williams) enlist the assistance of Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein), a spiritual medium, who seemingly succeeds in cleaning the house of the evil spirits. Alas, when mom & dad go out on a date, the Beast returns full force. What makes this film one of my favorites is the killer clown doll attack that befalls Carol Anne’s brother Robbie (Oliver Robins). Diabolical.
Join me next week for the third installment of my top 25. As we approach the magical night of Halloween, just remember that the thing that you thought that lived under your bed as a child……is still there waiting for you.