24. The Devil’s Rejects (2005 – Rob Zombie)
Scene: I am the Devil, and I am here to do the Devil’s work
In Rob Zombie’s debut film, House of 1000 Corpses, you could see the potential, but Zombie couldn’t decide if he was making a horror film, or a music video. He ironed out his issues and created an ultraviolent masterpiece with The Devil’s Rejects, continuing the story of the sick Firefly family as they flee from the authorities after the escapades of the first film.
The film depicts a group that is simply pure evil. In their most heinous act, they kidnap a traveling band in their hotel room. Otis (Bill Moseley) shoots the roadie in the face. Then he takes the men with him to an abandoned car lot while Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie) stays with the ladies. Over the next 10 minutes they torture and murder everyone.
First when the two male band members try to sneak attack Otis he turns it on them, and after one is left bleeding from the neck from a bullet, he makes the other pray until he beats him to death with a club. Baby meanwhile turns a would be escape into carnage back at the hotel by stabbing one woman before Otis returns WEARING the other guy’s face! They leave the other woman behind wearing her own husband’s face after she’s discovered by room service, she runs out to the street where she is promptly leveled by a semi.
23. Black Sunday (1960 – Mario Bava)
Scene: The mask of Satan
In one of Mario Bava’s classic gothic horrors, we open with a scene out of the 17th century where those accused of witchcraft or vampirism are sacrificed in grotesque ways. The inquisitors brand you with the mark of Satan before the main course. The punishment is “the mask of Satan” an iron facemask that is driven into her head via an executioner’s sledgehammer. What makes the scene great, in black and white filmed in shadows, you really get the sense of these kinds of things taking place in the medieval period or during periods of great religious fanaticism (like Salem, which was around the same time period). “Nail it down!” her brother yells before the ritual is complete.
Barbara Steele is fantastic here first showing the suffering and horror of the situation before immediately laughing it off to mock her capturers with a curse before the deed is done. As the executioner approaches, she promises to return and torment her family in all future generations. Just a perfectly filmed scene, and the idea of having a nailed mask hammered into your face is good enough to scare you.
22. The Burning (1981 – Tony Maylam)
Scene: Big scissors on a boat
A prank gone wrong at a summer camp hideously disfigures someone and they come back to stalk counselors to get revenge. An all too familiar plot of early 80’s slashers, The Burning is actually one of the better films in the genre. The prank-gone wrong victim is Cropsy, a former camp caretaker who was burned nearly to death in his cabin. He survived but is horribly burned and 5-years later is lurking near the camp grounds looking for retribution with his handy garden shears.
In a classic scene, a group of campers construct a make shift raft when their canoes go missing. Sailing into the lake they see one of their canoes floating and go to retrieve it when Cropsy pops up shears in hands. The camera work is great in this scene highlighting Cropsy’s hulking shadow shears overhead waiting to slice its victims. Fingers are cut off, necks are impaled, and blood is splattered. Cropsy’s raft scene is an unheralded horror classic.
21. Re-Animator (1985 – Stuart Gordon)
Scene: Shovel Decapitation
Jeffrey Combs is Dr. Herbert West who has created a “re-agent” to bring the dead back to life. When he comes to a New England university and sets up a lab in Dan Cain’s basement he angers Dan’s girlfriend by reanimating their dead cat. When University professor Carl Hill (David Gale); who stole West’s mentor’s research threatens both West needs to go to extremes to save his research and his livelihood. Faced with blackmail, West responds by attacking him with a shovel and using it to cut the good doctor’s head off. It gets better for Hill later as West uses the re-agent to bring back both Hill’s body AND head!
20. Hellraiser (1987 – Clive Barker)
Scene: “Jesus Wept”
When Frank solves the puzzle box, his reward is being dragged to Hell by the Cenobites and their leader Pin Head. Later on in Frank’s old room, his brother and sister-in law are moving in and some blood spatter on the floor re-awakens Frank’s oozing bloody remains. His plan: coax old flame Claire (his sister in law) to bring live bodies back for him to drain and become human again… delightful!
When his niece opens the puzzle box again and the Cenobites return for him the results are an orgy of chains, skin shredding and gore. Frank’s response to this: one of the great lines in horror history; as he gleefully mocks his niece Kirsty before his final horrific sendoff.
19. Jason X (2001 – James Isaac)
Scene: Frozen face
Of all of horror’s slashers, no one has compiled a kill list like Jason Voorhees. Whether he was super strong, thought to be dead deformed ex-camper or a back from the dead zombie killing machine; no one killed more nubile teens in gruesome ways. According to the first video, Jason has killed 140 people in 10 films ranging from Friday part 2 to Freddy vs. Jason. Not bad for near 30 year career. So how to pick just one in 140 kills?
In 2001’s Jason X, Jason is cryogenically frozen and awakens thousands of years in the future on a research ship. While his body is being investigated, Jason wakes up and shoves Adrienne (Heigel) face first into a pool of liquid nitrogen and then smashes her frozen face to mush. Its super cool, and the perfect blend of old school Jason brutality and new school special effects.
18. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984 – Wes Craven)
Scene: Tina’s nightmare comes true
In the midst of 80s slasher craze, Wes Craven invented an original horror icon. Freddy Krueger was a dead child murderer, killed by his victims’ parents. A town’s nightmare was over but for the Elm Street kids the true nightmare was only beginning. Freddy started appearing in their dreams, and suddenly you found out, that what happened in your dreams happened for real!
It’s so scary that high school teen Tina has her friends Nancy and Glenn and boyfriend Rod stay over when her parents are out of town. Asleep with Rod beside her, she’s woken by noises outside and of course (because it’s the early 80s) she needs to investigate it alone. Freddy chases her down, and tackles her and suddenly Rod is woken by Tina shaking in her sleep. Tina’s body is thrown around and three razor thin slices cut down her body.
There’s blood everywhere and now Tina’s bleeding body is being dragged all around the room, up the walls and across the ceiling. Everyone is screaming and Tina reaches out for Rod and then falls on top the bed spraying him with blood and letting everyone know just what Freddy is capable of.
17. Dawn of the Dead (1978 – George A. Romero)
Scene: Bikers vs. Zombies
When there is no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth. That was the tag line of Romero’s magnum opus; the sequel to his original zombie masterpiece Night of the Living Dead: Dawn of the Dead. In Dawn, four rogue survivors escape the zombie apocalypse to a near-abandon shopping mall. Romero brilliantly satirizes modern material culture as the zombie flock to the one place they remember. So does a biker gang led by special effects guru Tom Savini.
The gang rides into the mall guns blazing and has fun throwing pies at the zombies and slowly killing them for fun. However that stops when Peter (Ken Foree) and Flyboy (David Emge) start shooting at them. As the bikers start to retreat some get left behind and the overwhelming hordes of the undead take over and rip the bikers to shreds, pulling apart their insides and devouring them one by one.