14. Cronos (1993)
Cronos is a horror film of the vampire sub-genre, one of many fantastic horror films directed by horror brilliance, Guillermo Del Toro. Cronos was in fact Del Toro’s first feature film. The premise features a mysterious device which is designed to give the owner of the device eternal life. This device has been missing for 400 years but then re-emerges when it is found by an antiques dealer inside a statue, causing destruction after it lays its grip.
Cronos is an instantaneous horror classic. For Del Toro’s first feature film it is brilliant. Del Toro has a way with horror films, and it is always a real treat watching one of his. Vampire films are over-made and it is always interesting to have a different approach on a tired sub-genre, which Cronos does indeed have. It is gory, scary, brilliantly constructed, absorbing and stylish.
13. Dead Alive (Braindead) (1992)
Braindead has to be the best Zombie comedy gore film out there. Directed by Peter Jackson, it has become a cult film since its release. It stars Vera Cosgrove as Elizabeth Moody who is an overprotective and overbearing mother to Lionel (Timothy Balme). Elizabeth is bitten by a rather peculiar rat-monkey creature.
This bite turns Elizabeth into a zombie and thereafter Lionel keeps her locked in the basement. However, she keeps escaping and turns the neighbours and anything else nearby into zombies too. Lionel must try to stop her rampage before it is too late.
Dead Alive is possibly the best horror splatter comedy film ever made, be it amazingly disgusting but exceedingly good fun. Mum and Son are played perfectly, and the technical effects are just brilliant. It is no surprise that it has become such an iconic film.
12. Candyman (1992)
Candyman stars Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle, a postgraduate student writing a thesis on the urban legend of ‘Candyman’ with her colleague and friend, Bernadette (Kasi Lemmons). The legend states that if a person says the word ‘Candyman’ five times into a mirror the hooked Candyman will emerge and kill you.
Helen is fearless and thinks nothing of going out to the scary gang ridden projects where Candyman has been spotted on numerous occasions and where he has allegedly committed all sorts of grisly murders. When she is brutally attacked by a copycat Candyman and he is arrested and charged she thinks that is the end of that, however she quickly discovers that Candyman may not be a legend after all.
The film is excellently creepy in its build up and Madsen is great as the lead, feisty and watchable. Xander Berkeley plays her untrustworthy husband and he is also great at playing this role. Tony Todd steals the film with his performance as the extremely frightening Candyman, embodying the character perfectly. I can understand why people who watch the film are too frightened to say Candyman five times in front of a mirror themselves, I know I certainly wouldn’t.
11. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Since The Blair Witch Project the handheld camera / found footage film has really taken off, but The Blair Witch Project was the first of its kind which was such a success. The film tells the story of three student film-makers who disappear in Maryland whilst filming a documentary about a legend of the Blair Witch.
On its release it received critical acclaim. Its realistic approach with the handheld camera really made the film effective and it was very frightening. The acting by the three main cast members is very believable and it has some spooky and frightening moments.
It has a claustrophobic feel to it which is enhanced when they can not get out of the forest; the audience also feel trapped watching it. It taps into people’s deepest fears and nightmares. The Blair Witch Project is also so chilling, considering it doesn’t rely on effects for the scares, just sheer frightening moments.
10. Scream (1996)
Scream arrived on the big screen with a bang in 1996, highly anticipated by horror fans as it was the new film from Wes Craven. Scream grabbed the audience’s attention from the offset with a brilliant stalk and slash opener killing off its main star, Drew Barrymore, right away.
The remainder of the film stars Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott, the typical ‘girl next door’ and Final Girl character, as she fights to survive against the psychotic masked killer who is killing her friends. The rest of the cast play their roles sublimely including, Liev Schrieber, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Rose McGowan and Matthew Lillard. Their characters are all typical clichés found in a horror film and they play them perfectly.
Scream shocked the audience at the ending (spoiler alert) when it was revealed that there were actually two killers all along. This had never happened before, and led the way to a few sequels in which a pairing was the case. Scream was brilliant at the time as it was so self-aware of its genre and it was a welcome addition to the horror genre.
9. Misery (1990)
Misery is of course based on the book by Stephen King and is a great adaptation, largely in thanks to Kathy Bates playing Nurse Annie Wilkes. When famous author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) crashes his car in the snowy mountains he is pulled to safety by Annie and taken to her home.
When Paul wakes up he is immensely grateful to Annie, but soon realises that she may not have told anyone else where he is. She constantly tells him she is his biggest fan, and he soon realises that she is going to keep him locked up in that bedroom forever. As he gets better, her moods get increasingly stranger and she does her best to keep him from leaving. Kathy Bates plays the part amazingly; she is very scary.
The pacing of Misery is just right, it is a brilliantly scary horror film and the audience don’t know what is coming next (unless they’ve read the book of course). Stephen King wrote a terrific novel in Misery, and luckily the screen adaptation lived up to it.
8. Stir of Echoes (1999)
The lovely Kevin Bacon plays Tom Witzjy in Stir of Echoes, a husband and father living in a rented house with his family trying to make ends meet. When his hippy sister in law hypnotises him at a party, he blacks out and suddenly finds himself hallucinating and seeing things he did not see before. His behaviour gets increasingly erratic and he behaves in increasingly strange ways as he hears and sees things from a vision of a young girl.
Stir of Echoes is brilliantly eerie, and it is one of those horror films that has an actual story and moral tale to it. It is very scary in its build up, and when the conclusion of the mystery is revealed it is very scary, but also very sad. Kevin Bacon is great playing his role along with Kathryn Erbe as his wife, Maggie.