We’re down to the final 11 films in our countdown. This truly represents the cream of the crop as far as horror and science fiction is concerned. With Halloween a little over a week away I hope all of you have your party plans in place. If you’re still in need of costumes and make up we have plenty in our Halloween Boo-tique. Enjoy these final frights and I’ll see you next year.
What’s scarier than a shark in open water? Nothing! Jaws shocked crowds in 1975 and continues to do so today. Its expert use of music provided by world famous Composer / Conductor John Williams was key to its onscreen success. This Spielberg classic made people think twice about going into water. Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw star.
This adaptation of a Stephen King novel garnered Kathy Bates an Academy Award for her portrayal of Annie Wilkes. James Caan is truly awesome in his role as romance author Paul Sheldon. Tired of his most successful literary character Misery, Sheldon kills her off in the eighth book of the series before setting out to create something fresh. While driving back to NY with manuscript in hand he crashes and is rescued by Wilkes. Misery’s biggest fan isn’t happy with the character’s fate and imprisons Sheldon. A great study in isolation and obsession, Misery is not to be missed.
9. The Birds
What starts out as a fairly light-hearted film quickly descends into unexplained terror. The Master, Alfred Hitchcock, presents us with a small town besieged by birds of every species that have suddenly become homicidal. As the film progresses these attacks become more vicious and…more organized. We’re left wondering if anyone will survive and just how widespread this phenomenon is. You’ll never look at a pigeon the same way again.
To say that this is one of my all-time favorites is an understatement! Ridley Scott directed this Gothic Space Horror written by Dan O’Bannon. Seven crewmembers of the Space Cargo Ship Nostromo respond to a distress call from an unexplored world. The uninvited guest that they bring on board plunges them into a nightmare beyond their imagining. Of note is that this was Sigourney Weaver’s first major motion picture role. Alien spawned literally hundreds of imitators but don’t be fooled, this is the real McCoy!
7. The Shining
Boy there are a lot of Stephen King adaptations on this list! Let’s face it, the guy is good. The Shining displayed that all work and no play makes jack homicidal, Jack Nicholson that is. He stars in this truly creepy tale about a caretaker and his family in an isolated resort with a dark past. Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, and Danny Lloyd fill out the cast of this spine-tingler.
6. The Omen
Gregory Peck and Lee Remick star as the parents of the Antichrist in this horror classic from director Richard (Superman II) Donner. There really isn’t any way to soften that blow. Devil dogs, evil nannies, and one of the most controversial endings of its time make The Omen a great addition to anyone’s Halloween screening party or regular Frightfest. What? You don’t have regular Frightfests?
By far one of Hitchcock’s most memorable films Psycho has become part of the American cultural psyche. Not sure if that’s a good thing… Janet Leigh plays a woman on the run with stolen money who happens upon the Bates Motel and its lonely proprietor Norman Bates. As the complex story unravels along with our sanity we’re treated to a film that defined the modern horror movie. Save this one for late in the evening you will not regret it!
4. Halloween (1978)
This one will get me into trouble with the ‘purists’ but I find myself incapable of leaving off my list. It revitalized the genre and ushered the age of the slasher film. Never has fear been personified better than in the form of Michael Myers aka The Shape. His singular pursuit of Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is nothing short of exhausting. Donald Pleasance gained no small amount of fame as Michael’s Ahab, Dr. Samuel Loomis. This belongs in everyone’s horror collection.
3. Fatal Attraction
You know why this one really creeps me out? Totally possible! Glenn Close is brilliant as completely obsessed publishing executive Alex Forrest. Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is the object of her insane affections and learns pretty quickly of the pitfalls involved in his infidelity. The cast is rounded out nicely by Anne Archer as Beth Gallagher. One word – RABBIT!
2. Rosemary’s Baby
Roman Polanski’s first American feature film delved into the realm of witch covens set against a Manhattan backdrop. Mia Farrow stars as Rosemary and John Cassavetes portrays her husband Guy. The happy couple get wrapped up in devilish plot concocted by their neighbors, The Castevets (expertly portrayed by Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon). You’ll want a pillow handy when this one comes to a close.
Here we are at #1! Without further ado…
1. The Exorcist
Demonic possession anyone? This William Friedkin classic tortured fans during its release in 1973. It rocketed Linda Blair to cult stardom and defined the genre for years to come. A Director’s Cut became available in 2011 adding a little over ten minutes of unseen footage. Honestly, they didn’t have do that. I was plenty scared the first time around.