The Top 5 Most Important Horror Movies of All Time

(((3 )))
Nightmare on Elm Street

November 16th, 1984

A Nightmare On Elm Street comes in at #3 because of what it represents.

What it represents is a fucking juggernaut. Craven was turned down at every door step, from being told it flat out sucked, to being told it wasn’t scary. No matter what, he never let up. He wouldn’t sell his script, or give up the director’s chair,  nothing. He knew what he had, and stuck with it. After writing it in 1981, it took three years of rejection before it ended up in the hands of Bob Shaye at New Line Cinemas.

Another thing Nightmare represents is innovation. Craven wrote what he felt was scary, and what needed to happen, and didn’t give a thought to budget, or how they were going to make things happen. He knew they’d cross that bridge when they got to it. Tina’s death scene, nothing like that had been done in horror. So many effects and such hadn’t been done before, and Nightmare had to draw that blueprint.

After all was said and done, A Nightmare on Elm Street was released and became a fucking monster. It made it’s budget back 5 times over, at 10 million. Which, in this day and age would be like a movie being made for just about 5, and clearing 30 million. It wasn’t released on a major, because at the time New Line Cinemas wasn’t shit. It had done a lot of buying cheap films, and pushing them, but hadn’t had anything truly home grown. That’s where Freddy came in.

Craven never wanted a sequel, he thought it was all said and done, and Freddy had been defeated. However, the world he created, was just too sweet to not be mined. And so, up until Dream Child, each Nightmare made more than the one previous. If it weren’t for Freddy, then it’s in major question if New Line would have ever made it as a studio.

From a small, independant release, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and it’s moniker, Freddy Kruger, became a national phenomenon and major pop-culture icon. Every 5 year old to middle age knew who Freddy was in the 80’s. You couldn’t escape him. The success of Freddy vs. Jason, and the most recent remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street proves just how popular Freddy Kruger still is.

Hell, not even Freddy himself could kill his popularity. By that I mean in the decline in quality of the movies, and Freddy’s character after The Dream Master. Freddy’s Dead is probably the worst of the offenders, with Freddy being such a far cry from the dream demon he was in part 1, that it was almost like something you’d see in one of those terrible, made-for-asinine-jack-offs movies like Epic Movie or Meet The Spartans. Thankfully, Craven created The New Nightmare and gave Freddy his dignity back for one final go-round before he met up with Jason.

One of the all time greats, and one of the most important.

(((2)))
October 25th, 1978
Halloween

What the hell can someone say about this movie that hasn’t been said?

So many movies owe themselves to Halloween. Victor Miller, the writer of Friday The 13th, wrote the original with nothing more than the pure intention of ripping of Halloween and all the hooplah that was coming because of it. Scream was written because Kevin Williamson missed horror movies he’d loved since a kid, like Halloween. Hell, the line “Go down the street to the Mackenzie’s!” is a straight homage to Halloween, since that’s what Jamie Lee said to the kids. The more obvious one being Halloween actually playing during the party.

One of the things about Halloween that makes it so damn brilliant, is that it shows you how much you can do, with so little. Halloween was made for $320,000. A measly $320,000. So many horror movies go over the top with big name actors, trippy special effects, and elaborate set pieces. Halloween had no effects, no name actors except for Donald Pleasence, and it’s scenery was nothing but bland houses, all of which looked the same. A lot of horror movies go for big gore, and elaborate death scenes. By comparison, Halloween has some of the most boring, and un-thrilling kills ever. But that’s only by comparison. Since everything is so scaled back, and the build up is executed so well, the kills are just right. In fact, it isn’t the kills we savor, but the build up. The build up to each one is excellent. Just fucking excellent. Also, the lack of blood and such was great. While with some movies, such as the Friday The 13ths, you expect, and want the blood. With Halloween, it works on a less-is-more approach, and it fucking works.

Halloween also shows us just how damn scary subtly can be. Such as, when young Tommy is looking outside and sees Michael carrying something from out of the house. You can just see his silhouette with a hint of mask, and it’s fucking creepy, man. Also, when he’s in the room, and Laurie is standing there by the door as we see him appear from the shadows [the trick was having a light on a dimmer, and they brought it up ever so slightly, as to illuminate the mask] was fantastic. Ducking behind the shrubs, standing outside the house & school, just subtle excellence. Halloween also showed us just how important music can be. The synth stings, and the ever classic theme made this movie. Even if people haven’t seen Halloween, that damn theme will scare just about anyone. A person from studio told John that the film wasn’t scary. When the music was added, it was a whole new world, man. Amongst the million of million things that Halloween brought to the table, perhaps it’s most important was the killer who didn’t die. No other film had done that, so when people saw that Micheal was back up after being shot 6 times, they probably crapped out of their respective penis or vaginas.

Costing $320,000 to make, and bringing in $60 million made studios swarm to cheap horror. Of course, it yielded far more crap than success. But those that were a success, pretty much kicked ass, and we owe Halloween for that. Hell, if it wasn’t for Halloween, we not only wouldn’t have Friday the 13th and Scream, but we wouldn’t have Saved By The Bell & I Love Lucy either. Dig on that, son. Dig on that.

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~ by Caliber Winfield on October 27, 2010.

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