This Halloween I’m churning out my Scariest Movies of All Time lists. There’s Spooky Spirits (Haunted Houses, Ghosts, Demons, Witches, and Curses), and Psycho Killers (serial killers and torturers–both supernatural and human) and now it’s time for Monsters–including aliens, mutants, animals, critters, werewolves and vampires, and yes, zombies (both fast and slow moving).
Why are monsters scary? Because they’re mean, ugly, and often mindless–you can’t reason with them. All they want to do is eat you! (Or drain your blood. Or lay their eggs in your brain.)
In no particular order:
The Mist (2007, Frank Darabont) — We have a small-but-devoted gang of Mist-loving readers here at redblog, and for good reason–one of the most overlooked Stephen King adaptations, it features vicious monsters galore, but even more terrifying human behavior. And that ending… my god. The director of such uplifting King films as The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile got real, real dark.
Jaws (1975, Steven Spielberg) — One of my favorites of all time, horror or otherwise. Maybe it doesn’t scare me like it did when I was a kid, but still dang near a perfect movie (rubber shark aside). Launched a million cheap imitations and a certain young director’s career.
Alien (1979, Ridley Scott) — Some argue it’s a haunted-house in space, but Scott and H.R. Giger’s ground-breaking creature design still freaks you out to this day.
Open Water (2003, Chris Kentis) — Rather than cheap scares, it builds a slow, despairing sense of hopelessness and goes out on a deeply chilling image.
Cloverfield (2008, Matt Reeves) — As time goes by, this once-maligned resurrection of the “Giant Monster” genre gets better and better, thanks to the clever slow-reveal of the creature–and that terrifying train-tunnel nightmare. (Available from redbox on Blu-ray.)
Let the Right One In/Let Me In (2008, Tomas Alfredson; 2010, Matt Reeves) — Both the original Swedish version and the Hollywood remake are darkly stunning. They’re not really about love and friendship, but about continuing a very disturbing pattern of co-dependent enslavement.
The Thing (1982, John Carpenter) — Sure the crazy gore is a riot, but it’s the chilly Arctic dread that gets to you. And that test with the hot copper wire in the blood.
An American Werewolf in London (1981, John Landis) — A landmark in mixing bloody horror and gallows humor (and make-up)–any time I’m in an underground train-station hallway at night, I remember the Tube scene.
Dawn of the Dead (2004, Zack Snyder) — Romero’s 1978 original is a classic of the genre–as is Night of the Living Dead, of course–but Snyder’s remake is an exhilaratingly scary (and gory) ride.
Dead Alive (1992, Peter Jackson) — When people scratched their heads over Peter Jackson doing The Lord of the Rings it was because he was best known for gleefully funny gore-fests like this zombie romp. Lawnmower!
[REC]/Quarantine (2007, Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza; 2008, John Erick Dowdle) — Both the original Spanish version and the American remake give zombies the “hand-held video” treatment to great creepy and claustrophobic effect.
Jeepers Creepers 1 & 2 (2001, 2003, Victor Salva) — The ’00s brought a return to ’70s-style “no happy endings” horror. Movies like this where it becomes clear you can’t stop the relentless monster, let alone defeat it. It just keeps coming until it gets what it wants.
Young Frankenstein (1974, Mel Brooks) — No, not scary but one of my favorite comedies of all time. “Sed-a-GIVE?!”
Okay, let’s hear it in the comments! What’s your pick for scariest “Monster” movie? What’d I criminally overlook?
And don’t miss the other Scary Movie lists:
We’ve covered a lot of Halloween ground at redblog this year:
- Betsey’s round-up of Not-So-Scary Redbox Halloween Movies for Families
- My Picks for some of the best horror films currently available from redbox
- Erika’s peek (between her fingers) at the new redbox mini-movie about renting the scary
- My reviews of such spooky films as the excellent House of the Devil (and the less-excellent Cabin Fever 2), 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, and Frozen (on DVD) and Paranormal Activity 2 (in theaters)
- And you can go back to years past and still check out my scariest movie moments and Erika’s Five Scariest Movies (aka, the ONLY Scary Movies she’s seen)