It has been the year of the horror movie.
With The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense (both part of the Stella Artois Weekenders tour) dampening cinema seats across the country, we took this opportunity to chart the ten movies guaranteed to leave you sleeping with the light on . . .
Stanley Kubrick’s masterful adaptation of Stephen King’s novel features a slow build to outright terror as Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) slowly goes doolally and begins to threaten his wife and child.
Scary highlight: Jack Torrance’s axe smashing through the door as he screams, “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!”
Banned for years, William Friedkin’s shriek-fest had audiences fainting and running out of theatres when it premiered in 1973, as it relentlessly charted the demonic possession of little Linda Blair.
Scary highlight: As her horrified mother looks on, Linda’s head rotates a full 360 degrees. Which can’t be considered “normal”…
The slasher that started the craze, John Carpenter’s exploitation classic had a simple theme – teenagers getting slaughtered – but executed it with ruthless efficiency.
Scary highlight: After a virtuoso opening sequence, the camera pulls back to reveal that the killer is a small boy in a clown mask.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
The title pretty much says it all. It’s a massacre. With a chainsaw. In Texas.
Scary highlight: When we first see Leatherface, who pulls one of his hapless victims through a doorway as a metal door clangs ominously shut.
DON’T LOOK NOW
Nicolas Roeg’s haunting masterpiece builds both a sense of mournful grief – Donald Sutherland’s child has died – and mounting terror as he is pursued around Venice by a child in a red coat…
Scary highlight: The kid turns out to be a nasty dwarf who stabs Sutherland to death. Which wasn’t nice…
THE WICKER MAN
One of the oddest horror movies ever made, this British classic has Edward Woodward investigating a pagan cult on an isolated island. Britt Ekland provides the lust interest.
Scary highlight: The final shot of Woodward inside the titular wicker man as he burns to death reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Unnerving, frightening and upsetting beyond belief.
Brian De Palma bolted the usual teen nudity and blood-drenched violence of the genre to a heart rendingly effective portrayal of a plain, bullied girl subjected to one of the nastiest practical jokes of all time.
Scary highlight: The shock ending that invented the shock ending – Carrie’s bloody arm bursting through the ground. People, quite literally, soiled themselves…
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
Proving, like The Blair Witch Project, that horror is the preserve of the preserve of the low-budget, big success story, George A. Romero took a bunch of mates and a 16mm camera and fashioned one of the classics of horror.
Scary highlight: The zombie wandering into shot in the graveyard – an underplayed portent of the terrors to come.
Some say it’s sci-fi, but it’s scary as hell. Ridley Scott takes the, “There’s something in the cellar. . .” riff and sets it in the unimaginable loneliness of space.
Scary highlight: The chestburster gnawing its way out of John Hurt’s stomach. Beyond gross, but it was the one image audiences told each other about.
“You’ll never see anything like this movie ever again,” John Carpenter told Empire. We haven’t. Seamlessly builds tension as the inhabitants of a North Pole research station realise that something is among them. . .
Scary highlight: A man’s hands plunging through a cadaver in which appear giant teeth that bite his arms off. You really can’t get more extreme than that. . .