I love horror. I love the creeped out feeling I get when watching it or reading it and the way it just LINGERS in my brain for days afterward.
But, I’m not necessarily a fan of just slash and gore. I like some slash and gore flicks but not the overly gratuitous ones. Basically, if you’ve got NO plot and it’s just scantily clad women running around screaming and getting hacked to bits, I’ve no interest.
When I say I like horror, I find a lot of people start reccing me slash and gore flicks. Really sexist and BAD slash and gore flicks.
Did I mention the sexism? Because it bears repeating. Several times. [But that’s a WHOLE OTHER POST].
I feel like these days, true horror has gotten or is getting lost in the slash and gore. I don’t want to be grossed out or just bombarded with blood. I want you to horrify me! I want you to terrify me! I want to be DISTURBED ON A PROFOUND LEVEL [while in the safety of my home, usually in my jammies, watching through the slits of my fingers as I cover my eyes].
If I have to watch a film clutching a rosary or I’m nervous to turn the lights off at the end of the night, that’s a good horror flick.
If I sit there watching as some [again] scantily clad buxom women gets chopped up – that’s not horror.
Some of the best horror I’ve read or seen has NO GORE. The classic example is always Hitchcock’s Psycho, wherein we only see a small trail of blood going down the drain. That’s it. He didn’t have to show me all the blood and keep pushing my face in it going “LOOK SEE THE HORROR??? DO YOU SEE IT??” He just had to set it all up – music, lighting, story, acting – and then let my brain fill in the rest, knowing that my brain will supply all the horror needed, and better than he could. Because each person’s brain will fill in the worst thing for them.
So! Here are some of my faves* – these are by no means the only ones I’ve liked, but these have stuck out in my head and I remember them all very vividly.
The Evil Dead [1981 original] – a classic. It’s got what I [and a lot of people] refer to as the ‘submarine’ element – people trapped in a place they can’t get out of. AND! it’s got something creepy in a basement. Toss in the Necronomicom and I’m SOLD.
Saw – I saw [lol] this movie by myself in the theatre when it first came out and to this day I remember when it ended and the credits started rolling, my mouth was completely dry. I’m pretty sure I sat there immobile and just… unable to look away or even swallow the entire time.
Poltergeist – I still watch this every time it’s on TV. You CARE about the family and what’s happening. You know Carol Ann is in that house but what is in there with her? How will they get her back?
A Nightmare on Elm Street – I only saw pieces of this movie and never saw the whole thing until I was in my teens but as a child I knew there was something about a boiler room and a guy named Freddy and I was terrified. I was scared of this movie before I even saw it. I also really liked Wes Craven’s New Nightmare which was a meta mashup of the Freddy mythology and just so good.
In the Mouth of Madness – I loved some of the imagery in this film. Sam Neill in a room covered in hand-drawn crosses [even on Neill himself], when Julie Carmen is forced to read the book and then starts bleeding from the eyes, when they’re trying to leave town and they just keep being forced back.
Lord of Illusions – I admit, I watched this during my HUGE Scott Bakula crush days. But I stand by it! It’s also got some great imagery. There’s also that thin dude in the creepy pants, the illusionist Swann, Famke Janssen and the sword dropping scene!
The Thing – I also classify this as a thriller [which can be crossed over with horror or separate from]. This one also has the submarine effect – people trapped somewhere they can’t leave – and then they start not trusting each other. IS ONE OF THEM THE THING?? it’s a great story device when your characters are all paranoid and anxious but it’s hard to maintain without exhausting your audience and I feel this movie does it well.
Ginger Snaps Trilogy – I just love these movies. They made me fall in love with the werewolf trope/genre. I find them fun too, but in a dark way. But I think they show the best part of horror – the effect it has on family or bonds between people. I highly recommend them. I also watch these whenever I catch them on TV.
Films by Roger Corman and Vincent Price loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s work – The Raven, the Fall of the House of Usher, the Pit and the Pendulum, Masque of the Red Death, the Tomb of Ligeia [THE TOMB OF LIGEIA, how I love you!] – I love them all. SO EPIC! So creepy!
I’m sure I’ll think of more as soon as I hit post, but those are the ones off the top of my head.
*As a side note, I’ve left out horror-dark comedies from this post as I feel they are a special category all on their own to be enjoyed [films like Shaun of the Dead, Army of Darkness etc]