If it's one thing that I've learned it's that...
Recently a friend who was bored at work sent a mass e-mail asking to "list your favorite movie from every year you've been alive." About halfway through the task I decided to throw the rest of my day in the crapper and do a list of "My Favorite Horror Movies From Every Year I've Been Alive."
In the interest of cloaking my age, I'll be starting from 1980 because that was when I really started getting into and appreciating horror films.
Clarification: This list is by no means what I consider the BEST horror movies of their respective years, only a list of MY FAVORITES. I consider "my favorites" to be the films that I return to often, or that I watch whenever they're on cable, or that I bring up in conversation, or the ones that make it to lists called "my favorites."
Yo ho ho, here we go...............
1980 - The Fog
Classic Carpenter. Following up Halloween with ghost stories and zombie pirates? I'm listening.
1981 - An American Werewolf in London
Landis in his prime. Great balance between black humor, gore and suspense.
1982 - John Carpenter's The Thing
Carpenter's zenith. He's never been able to hit this height since. A perfect film.
1983 - Twilight Zone: The Movie
Why? Well for one: horror pickin's were slim for this year. And secondly, I watched the crap outta this movie and was always terrified by the "Wanna see something really scary?" and the remake of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."
1984 - Friday the 13th Part IV
Why? Because it was the -ahem- "end" of classic hockey mask Jason. Done in by his creator (in makeup) Tom Savini. As a kid, it was "Jason is dead. Long live Jason."
1985 - Day of the Dead
Thanks to Fangoria Magazine's Scream Greats Volume 1: Tom Savini which details how he pulled off all the amazing gore effects complete with anecdotes on production and a VERY young pre-KNB Greg Nicotero. The movie isn't great but the effects are.
1986 - The Hitcher
Love this movie. Two words: Rutger Hauer. Two more words: Creepy scary. Last two words: Ignore remake.
1987 - Lost Boys
Not the best vampire movie. But I had the poster... and the soundtrack... and I watched it A LOT. Best last line to a horror movie. "One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach. All the damn vampires."
1988 - Hellraiser II
I rented the Uncut version of this on VHS at my local video store. It was one of the first movies to turn my stomach.
1989 - Pet Sematary
This year had slim pickings for horror. But this stands out. I don't watch this movie much... because it STILL unsettles me. Dead kids, man. Creepy zombie kids. Yeesh.
1990 - Misery
Sure it was an Academy Award winning film. But the "hobbling scene" really made me squirm.
1991 - Freddys Dead: The Final Nightmare
Just like Friday Pt. 4... this was the death of an icon. This is also the only Nightmare film I saw in the theater. I was there. I had the red and blue specs on. I SAW IT HAPPEN! Yep... one of the lamest deaths of a supernatural character ever. I saw it happen alright.
1992 - Innocent Blood
I like this movie. Period.
1993 - Army of Darkness
Is this even a horror movie? Some would argue. I will not. I've seen this movie more times than I'd care to tell you. I had Bruce Campbell sign my Army of Darkness poster "Well hello Mr. Fancy Pants." It's true.
1994 - Wes Craven's New Nightmare
Yay! Freddy's back! Sorta. I appreciate what Wes was trying to do. And Freddy got semi-scary again.
1995 - Seven/In Mouth of Madness
In case many don't consider Seven a horror film I also have In the Mouth of Madness. Carpenter's last valiant attempt to be scary. That crazy old lady on the bike in the darkness still bugs me. I like this movie.
And Seven... oh my goodness. There aren't too many movies I've seen where the whole film gives you a feeling of loss and dread. Truly scary and unsettling and the ending will sit with you for years.
1996 - Scream
This film renewed my faith in the horror genre. Perfection. It was self-aware and yet its own horror film paying homage to all the classics. A great script. Tons of winks that didn't hit you over the head. A scary killer with a cool mask. Like The Matrix, I still pretend the sequels didn't happen. Perfect.
1997 - Cube
Not a great year for horror. Maybe everyone was scrambling to come up with the Scream clones. But I enjoyed this little gem when I saw it on video. Before Saw, there was Cube.
1998 - Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
I'm just realizing this was the triumverate of me watching my favorite horror icons getting offed. Many hate this film. But as someone who's always had allegiance to the continuity of Halloween 1, 2 and H20 I thought it was great.
1999 - The Blair Witch Project
You can read my feelings on this film HERE. This movie scared the crap outta me for MONTHS.
2000 - Scream 3
Slim pickings this year. So I went with this.
Certainly not the way I wanted this series to end, but I admire them for completing the trilogy. Now there's talk of Scream 4. I ask the world again: has there EVER been a good "4th" part? Oh wait... Friday the 13th Part 4. I guess I've contradicted myself.
Wait: let me rephrase--- Has there ever been a 4th film after a TRILOGY? Hm?
Answer: no, never.
2001 - Hannibal
This is a film on a very short list of films to turn my stomach. I know it's not EXACTLY a horror film... but c'mon... what else would you call a movie about a serial killer on the loose? A thriller?
Bah, I say.
2002 - Blade II/The Ring
I know, having a tie is non-committal.
But both of these films are GREAT.
Blade II is one of the best action-horror films in decades.
And The Ring is one of the best remakes behind The Thing.
And this is coming from a guy who LIKED Ringu.
2003 - Freddy Vs. Jason
Is it "good,"... um... not entirely.
But my 13 year old self doesn't care. This is my generation's Frankenstein vs. The Wolfman.
2004 - Dawn of the Dead
The first 13 minutes of this film are pure gold.
And I love the rest of this movie. I still love the original, too.
2nd best action-horror movie. (Check out the next entry for my "3rd best.")
2005 - Constantine
Again, many of you may not consider this horror. But it's my 3rd best action-horror pick.
I know, I know... Keanu shouldn't be in the role. "It should be Sting!" shout the fanboys. I hear what you're saying... buuuuut I still have a great time with this movie.
Hell, I've even had a burger on the same stool at Molly's Burger and Hotdog in Hollywood where Keanu and Rachel Weisz spout exposition.
I'm a nerd.
2006 - The Descent (Hostel)
Sure this was the same year Hostel came out and spurned what many will debate as the "torture porn" era... but it's also the year The Descent landed. A movie that's scary BEFORE it gets scary.
2007 - The Mist
I'll be honest: The Mist did not have me... until the last 5 minutes.
I watched The Mist with a "What the hell's the big deal?" attitude. I kept fighting the "Couldn't this have been a TV movie?" jaded-ness my first watch-through.
Then the end happened.
Then THE END happened.
Holy cripes on a triscuit, that ending...
2008 - Cloverfield
Is it a horror movie?
Who cares, it's great fun. It's brilliant marketing. It's a well executed idea. It's well acted. It's scary.
Bravo Mr. Abrams.
2009? - Ummmm... if I HAVE to pick something I've seen so far this year... I guess... Friday the 13th Remake.
Because My Bloody Valentine 3D was all gimmick and no substance.
Because I haven't yet seen Last House on the Left.
Because, as I mentioned HERE, I like seeing that hockey mask on billboards and marquees again.
But the year is young.
Let's see what else is in store............
(As always, if you buy through the Amazon links below I get, like, a quarter which helps me support the site. End of pitch.)