Welcome back for week 3 of my Top 25 Horror Film Countdown! This week I discuss Satan, big fish, a silent slasher, a mouthy fiend and a horrible Xenomorph!
15. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Secret covens, deadly neighbors, devious husband, spawn of the devil? Sounds like Manhattan living to me! This classic tale of a young wife (Mia Farrow) and her struggling actor husband (John Cassavetes) has frightened generations of horror lovers. Rosemary and Guy move into the Bramford building and Guy becomes fast friends with an elderly couple, Roman and Minnie Castevet (Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon). Soon things turn south for Rosemary, her one friend in the building dies, her husband becomes distant and her new pregnancy carries vague memories of a sexual assault by a creature. As the story unfolds, Rosemary discovers that the Castevets are not what they appear to be, her Doctor is placating her and her husband is now a stranger to her. Once the little bundle of joy comes along, Rosemary is let in on the secret and must decide if she wants to raise her “baby” with our final image that of her rocking her sweet little hellion to sleep.
Rosemary’s Baby might be an oldie but it is still one of the scariest movies ever made.
Monsters don’t always come from the supernatural. There are times when real life creatures can scare you silly and do irreparable damage to your psyche. To this day I am still afraid of swimming in the ocean because of the Stephen Spielberg classic, Jaws. The New England island community of Amity is preparing for their biggest tourist date on the calendar, the 4th of July. The stores are set and the beaches clean, but there is a (literally) huge problem that develops when local missing teenager Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backline) washes up on shore, mutilated with bite marks. The Chief of Police, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) puts down shark attack as Chrissie’s cause of death much to the chagrin of Mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton). The Mayor persuades the Chief to hold off closing the beaches which leads to another attack and the tragic death of a local boy. His grieving mother posts a reward for the capture of this man eater which causes all area fishermen to descend on the island. Local Sam Quint (Robert Shaw) tells the townfolk that he will kill the beast for $10000.00. Meanwhile, Chief Brody has invited Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) from the Oceanic Institute to confirm his shark theory. Hooper determines that not only is it a shark that is responsible but a monstrous great white. Brody and Hooper try to persuade the Mayor to close the beaches to no avail until yet another attack takes place. He finally agrees to send Quint, Hooper & Brody to dispose of the beast. The great white is finally put down with one of the most famous lines in cinematic history.
Jaws created such a fear of sharks that I still barely stick a toe in the Atlantic. I’ll stick to the pool, thank you very much!
13. Halloween (1978)
One of the first films I saw as a pubescent pre-teen that mixed the wonders of horror, gore and lots of breasts! Little Michael Myers is sent away to an insane asylum for the brutal murder of his sister when he was only 6 years old. With the arrival of his 21st birthday, Dr Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is preparing to escort Michael to a hearing to determine if he should remain institutionalized or released. Mike hijacks the vehicle and makes his way back to his home town. The story switches gears and focuses on local teen Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), a pretty, popular girl that babysits for a neighborhood family. Michael stalks Laurie and her friends as they try to arrange sexual encounters with their boyfriends. Teenage nakedness ensues with Mike rudely interrupting the afterglow with his chef knife. Though severely injured, Laurie seemingly kills Michael but when the authorities arrive his body has disappeared, setting the stage for a franchise to be born.
Halloween gave birth to the silent killer that creeps around every corner.
12. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
I don’t care if you are the strongest human, a ninja or a Special Forces Seal; we are all most vulnerable when we are dreaming. Scary dreams can affect our waking hours but usually only on a subconscious level. What if the monster in your nightmare was real? In the horror classic that jumpstarted a franchise, we are introduced to child killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), who avoided justice via a technicality. The neighborhood parents wouldn’t accept the court ruling so they proceed to protect their own children and make Freddy pay in their own way; burning him alive. But does evil ever really die? Years later, those children are now teenagers. Tina (Amanda Wyss) begins to have nightmares which startlingly invade the real world when a razor blade-gloved mad man slashes at her and she awakens with the cut marks on her nightgown. The next day she realizes her best friend Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) and their boyfriends Rod (Jsu Garcia) and Glen (Johnny Depp) all had similar dreams. The usually teen sexual shenanigans ensue and while Tina slumbers next to Rod, she is confronted by Freddy and his crazy glove. Rod awakens to find Tina thrashing in her sleep. He tries to wake her but when he does; her body is torn open by 4 invisible knife makes and is thrown around the room until she is dead. Rod is taken into custody for Tina’s murder but Nancy knows there is a far sinister perpetrator at large. Eventually after more death and destruction claims the lives of Rod and Glen, Nancy’s parents divulge what they had done to Freddy all those years ago and that he has returned for revenge. Nancy finally defeats Krueger by turning her back and not being afraid, which seems to break the entire nightmare with her friends and the boys alive once again. But of course, you can’t have a franchise if you don’t have a reason for a sequel!
A Nightmare on Elm Street still delights me for the terror, the gore, and the boobs but mostly for the one liner humor of our evil main character. While Jason & Mike Myers are mute lumbering slashers, Freddy is never at a loss for words.
11. Alien (1979)
In the distant future we are introduced to the crew of the Nostromo, a mining space vehicle on its long return journey to earth after a successful expedition to obtain minerals and ores. They are awoken from their cryogenic sleep by Mother, the on board computer that provides instructions from Earth. Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt) is informed that they have been diverted from their course home to investigate a strange signal that is emanating from a nearby planetoid. They land on the planet roughly, damaging their ship. Dallas, 1st Officer Kane (John Hurt) and Navigator Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) set out on foot to explore the source of the signal while warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) inspects the damage to the ship. The three discover a crashed alien vessel and within numerous egg-like pods that seem to hold some sort of creature. When Kane goes in for a closer look, the creature lunges and attaches itself to Kane’s face plate. They rush him back to the Nostromo but Ripley refuses to allow them access due to quarantine procedures. Science Officer Ash (Ian Holm) overrides her decision and opens the air lock doors. The crew attempts to remove the creature from Kane;s face to no avail, also discovering that when cut, the creature exudes molecular acid for blood. After a short while, the creature detaches itself from Kane and dies. He regains consciousness. With repairs mostly completed, Dallas orders the ship to continue its course to earth. While the crew shares a meal in the mess, Kane appears to choke on his food. To the crews’ horror, an eel-like alien bursts fro Kane’s chest cavity, killing him instantly. Ash prevents the crew from harming the monster for research purposes and it scurries away. Two teams are formed to hunt down the creature but the alien grows quickly and eliminates the crew one by one, including Captain Dallas. With the demise of Dallas and Kane, Ripley is now in command. She accesses Mother and discovers that the orders for Ash’s eyes only were for the ship to divert to the planetoid to retrieve an alien specimen at all cost and that the crew is expendable. Ash reveals himself as an artificial life form and attempts to murder Ripley unsuccessfully and is himself destroyed. The remaining crew decides to self destruct the main ship and to use an escape pod to kill the creature. Prepping the shuttle results in the deaths of the whole crew, except for Ripley. She mans the pod and launches in the nick of time as the Nostromo explodes. Finally unafraid, Ripley prepares to go back to cryo-sleep for the trip home but the alien reveals itself as a stowaway. Ripley blows the pod’s hatch, exposing the creature to space.
While Alien is a science fiction film, the feeling of dread, of a deadly beast with no remorse or mercy, and a crew member that is just as dangerous as the monster, this film will always hold a warm place in my heart.
Well boys and girls, we are two weeks away from the scariest night of the year. Tune in next week as I reveal more of my top 25 horror films. One, Two, Freddy’s coming for you!