DISCLAIMER: This list is subject to change. Because time, etc. These aren’t movies I think are THE BEST. They are just my favorite.
1. Friday the 13th Part III
Tagline: A new dimension in terror…
Why it’s the cat’s pajamas: In the 1970s, exploitation horror movies dominated the genre with films like Last House on the Left and I Spit On Your Grave. But thanks to movies like Black Christmas and The Town that Dreaded Sundown, a new sub-genre would rule at the dawn of the 1980s: the slasher film. Arguably the most popular slasher film of all time, Friday the 13th paved the way for nine subsequent sequels and solidified Jason Vorhees as one of the most iconic villains in the history of film. Yes, the original and Part II are great movies and obviously add a ton of context and back story to the franchise. However, it’s Part III that earns its place on my Top 5 list for many different reasons:
- It’s in 3D during a time where 3D didn’t mean shelling out an extra $4 and thankfully meant “super gimmicky”
- The theme song in the opening credits. Awesomely 80s. Awesomely terrible. Terribly awesome.
- It’s the first film in the franchise that features Jason’s infamous hockey mask.
- The movie took over the #1 spot at the box office from FREAKING E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL and was the #2 highest grossing horror film of 1982, behind Poltergeist.
- Random showdown with bikers.
- Jason takes an ax to the head. Amazing.
2. Freaks (1932)
Memorable line: “Gooble, gobble. We accept her, ONE OF US!”
Why it’s the bees knees: It’s pre-code Hollywood awesomeness. The Simpsons parodied it in Tree House of Horror (starts at 7:54) and its basically the entire inspiration for American Horror Story: Freak Show.
Tod Browning (the director) did a stint in the traveling circus, which adds major points to his street cred. Did I mention that the actors were real carnival acts? Oh, and, uhh…there’s a particularly terrifying scene involving the human torso wielding a knife in his mouth and wiggling back-and-forth under a stagecoach in some mud.
3. Night of the Demons (1988)
Topical 80’s Tagline: “Angela is having a party, Jason and Freddy are too scared to come. But You’ll have a hell of a time”
Why it’s finger lickin’ good: Remember when choosing a horror movie to watch was as simple as judging its cover art? The cover for Night of the Demons always scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. The practical effects and makeup are outstanding, while the plot and dialogue give you all of the 80s cheese you could want. When people think about the most iconic lipstick scene of the 1980s, most will reference Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club. I think about Linnea Quigley. “Does my makeup look okay?”
4. Treevenge (Short Film – 2008)
Things that give you nightmares: When you’re a Christmas tree and a brood of sweaty, roid-raging rednecks come barreling through your forest to amputate your trunk and rip you away from your family.
Why it’s smack your grandma good: Treevenge combines two of my greatest loves: horror and Christmas. This short film is under 17 minutes long but packs in a ferocious amount of gore, weirdness, and timber related revenge. Directed by Jason Eisner, Treevenge explores what happens when Christmas Trees fight back against the evil humans who hack them down every year for their merriment. If you enjoyed Hobo With a Shotgun, you are the right audience for Treevenge. Bonus points for using the music from Cannibal Holocaust! Watch the INCREDIBLE short film below.
5. Evil Dead II
<3<3<3Bruce Campbell<3<3<3: “You’re going down. Chainsaw.”
Why it’s “we’re not worthy” good: Sam Raimi, you precious, precious man . I cherish your inexplicable close-ups and speedy camera work. Do we call it Dead by Dawn? Do we call it a shot-for-shot remake because you had a bigger budget? Do we call it a sequel? Who the hell cares, this movie rocks my butt off. The goofs in this movie make it even better, like, how you don’t want your favorite dive bar to ever remodel itself. The entire cast of Idle Hands can thank this movie for whatever success it had. I often wish I had a room full of taxidermy to laugh at me. Yes, watching Evil Dead II is like visiting old friends. Comfortable, with a few laughs and lots of gory drama.