Bedsit Cinema's Top Ten Horror Films!
If you’ve taken the time to read Bedsit Cinema, you’ve probably worked out I love horror. You may also (I hope) love it too. I’m not great at top ten lists, in that I’m a person for whom scoring a subjective thing such as film tends to know my opinion will change, and just isn’t regiment enough to stick at it. These films change order, mother fucker! This is not a list of what I think the best made, most wonderful, genre altering horror films of all time are. It is not a history lesson in the genre: this is personal.
This is my Top Ten Horror list, picked entirely emotively, I can’t guarantee that this list would be the same in a few years. Or even a few months if, say, I were to blatantly rip it off and reuse it after a couple of seizures meant my concentration was weaker than a dying man's handshake. But then isn’t that the brilliance of film (applies to both transience of entertainment and "reboots")?
I’ve tried to explain my reasons for each film. Effectiveness, influence and longevity are, I suppose, my criteria. Longevity has a key role in particular. What each film means to me scores double. As I say it is emotive. In the twenty five years since I would scan the back of horror VHS boxes in the video store for grisly images, my love of gore remains intact, but an appreciation of the more subtle stuff has evolved. I’d love to know how people react to this as a top ten, and not just as an unsubtle reboot. I have added dick jokes, OK?
One of my exes said this, we all know which one.
Interview isn’t particularly scary, but it plays like a dark take on another good Brad Pitt film from the same time, Legends of the Fall. It’s an epic. I’d love to see more films from the series of books which it is based on from Anne Rice. Fun fact: some of Interview with the Vampire was filmed in Lewisham, believe it or not.
I manage it every time I get dumped
There are many, many great horror films to come out of France over the last fifteen or twenty years (Inside and Switchblade Romance, Frontiers, The Ordeal… the list goes on) but this is my favourite. It’s not one for too many repeat views due to the relentless brutality, but for originality it gets in my top ten. Martyrs is existential, nihilistic, devoid of hope. Much like life itself. The American remake is a steaming pile of watered down, sanitised rubbish, to put it kindly. Do not waste your time. See it if you haven’t already, but brace yourself.
Ghosts creep me out. Despite my not believing in them, a good ghost film can make me believe for an hour or two. Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth is also an amazing, beautiful film but for some reason I prefer The Devil’s Backbone for this list. Probably because it is more of a pure horror, although neither really aim to chill quite like Crimson Peak does, which was also in consideration. This may have been the film which got me into foreign language cinema properly. I certainly can’t thank it enough.
The plot involves a mist which descends on a small town and the monsters which emerge from it, both unreal and human. The humans are almost more scary than the monsters. I used this film in my philosophy degree, the characters are so good. Admittedly my lecturer thought I was a mad cunt. Stephen King and Frank Darabont have a long history of making great films (Shawshank being the obvious but The Green Mile I would place above it) and The Mist is sadly overlooked. It’s not one to warm your heart, in many ways, but this is a horror top ten, not a romance one*. The Mist is a brilliant film, the series was sadly a let down.
Japs eye or weeping eye?
When I first saw Blair Witch it was in the cinema, arriving as the most hyped horror of my then 14 years. I was desperate to go. Unfortunately, being fourteen, I went to see it with a group of fourteen year olds and spent the whole film joking, talking and laughing. Cinema behaviour I’d now punch myself in the face for. Goddamn kids, enjoying their youth and still having fun in other people’s company. Having grown older and more isolated, this film has properly scared me. It also singularly changed the genre. For better or worse. Mainly worse. Possibly more than any other horror film in my lifetime. It has been redone so many times that, like Night of the Living Dead had for me by the time I saw it, Blair Witch has now lost its power, its uniqueness, for younger viewers. I assume. I’m not young anymore.
Hopefully The Blair Witch Project is not lost on the younger generation, how could it? The terror in the absence of help, the feeling of being lost, is still so, so powerful. I have come close to feeling that lost, going around in circles in an area where every turn is identical, devoid of humanity. But since my aunt died we don’t go to Welwyn Garden City anymore. Any good horror plays on our fears and the Blair Witch Project does so in a unique way that shifted the cinematic approach. Conversely, it could be argued it also drove horror underground for a long time as it tried to emulate the verite style.
It's really not that bad once you've done it a few times and you get used to the pain
It Follows got close, with inescapable dread dripping from every scene, admirably close. Ringu though, does it brilliantly, paranoia stroking the back of your neck throughout like an unwanted ex who still has your keys while you sleep. Brief digression- inability to escape is what Shaun of the Dead riffed on so well, that the ambling zombies are actually pretty easy to dodge. It was, in my opinion, all that was good about Shaun of the Dead, I hate that film. Don’t ask me why. Anyway back to Ringu, the US remakes were average, as US remakes almost always are, as previously discussed. Ringu is an excellent take on ghosts and spirits that will remain a classic for years.
Without wanting to give too much away, for some reason the explanations for the horror really worked for me. I came out of the cinema and it was dark, I was so shell shocked I had to find a brightly lit burger bar to sit in. It may have been the first time I went to the cinema alone, too, and probably explains why I liked it so much. I wasn’t aware of anyone else and thus didn’t get distracted or taken out of the story. A year or two later I had a projector at home and showed it to my friends during a film evening. They were both shaken by it. It was great watching them squirm. The gore is incredible, the injuries eye watering and the claustrophobia oppressive, not to mention it is basically an all female cast, which shouldn’t be a thing, but is sadly. The Descent is awesome cinema.
"The shark isn't called Jaws, Jeremy. The film is called Jaws."
"Of course the shark is called Jaws, Jaws the shark!"
As an eight year old Jaws both terrified and entranced me. For years I told people I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was older; ignoring the facts that I was now terrified of the sea and completely hopeless at sciences. It’s well known that Jaws was so effective because the mechanical shark “Bruce” was so unreliable Spielberg had to shoot around its absence, creating a fear of the unseen that I really find scary. This also explains why ghost films give me the willies something rotten. Jaws is also incredibly gory for an eight year old, and for a PG rated film.
Is it though? Life is like animal porn; it's not for everyone.
Danny Boyle made the fear of zombies, or infected- whatever, both more believable and more relevant, it being set in my home city of London. I know true zombies move slowly, and are about creeping fear and human ineptitude, but most of us think of ourselves as able to survive the zombie holocaust, 28 Days Later made this much, much harder to imagine with its almost nihilistic story arc. The film reinvented and reinvigorated the zombie sub-genre, and John Murphy’s score is wonderful, too. The sequel was not bad either, which is nice.
I am not, you just saw a head melt off the table, grow legs and walk away.
Humour cannot be underrated as a way of keeping a horror film going, in my opinion. Recent film, the Void, which is part the Thing homage, was an average film that could have been so much better if it hadn’t taken itself so seriously, considering the ludicrous set up. When a few of my friends and I went to see the Thing at the cinema, the girl in the group left after ten minutes saying she didn’t know it was a horror. there is something very attractive about a lady who likes her horror, however. This film singularly created my love of practical effects, and solidified my burgeoning love of horror.
Sadly, I can't add to this.
Switchblade Romance introduced me to French horror, but I found it a bit too far fetched. This is an almost perfect horror film. Relentlessly aggressive, nasty horror.
In the Flesh. SOMEONE PLEASE PAY FOR SERIES 3! NETFLIX WHAT ARE YOU FOR IF NOT THIS?