Horror stands alone as a form of cinematic entertainment and this is its unique feature. Like a shot of adrenaline, the best examples are often measured by their ability to stimulate the senses.
Rarely will one find Oscar-worthy monologues or painstaking character development. Even basic logic can be hard to come by yet such movies overcome any notions of rationality.
Horror movies are not overly concerned with logic or rationale and they are mostly produced for the sake of providing entertainment.
Great horror also functions as a cathartic outlet and a streamlined one at that. Tapping into deeply-rooted fears and desires, the genre cultivates a whirlwind of primitive indulgence.
Viewers can experience the thrill of running from a monster or just barely surviving through the night. If there is a pretext, it is that audiences leave their lofty ideals and moral judgments at home.
With an open mind one can strap into their seat and take a proverbial roller coaster ride. It is no wonder that the genre has such a dedicated fan base. That is not to say horror goes short on symbolism or social commentary. On the contrary, many of the best horror films are filled to the brim with metaphor and prescient subtext.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Robert Englund stars as razor-clawed menace Freddy Krueger, who murders teenagers in their dreams. The film’s box office success brought New Line Cinema back from the brink of bankruptcy. The classic flick also marks the big screen debut of a young Johnny Depp.
It is still not clear as to whether Tobe Hooper or Steven Spielberg directed the bulk of “Poltergeist,” which puts a suburban twist on the haunted house premise.
But that remains a lightweight mystery compared to other legends surrounding the film. Stars JoBeth
Williams and Zelda Rubinstein both claimed to have supernatural experiences during filming. Then there is the fact that several actors from the franchise have died untimely deaths.
Thankfully, the movie’s curse doesn’t extend to viewers…or does it?
One of cinema’s longest-running franchises kicked off in 1954 with this seminal work.
While bearing the hallmarks of a monster movie, it also grapples with themes of nuclear fallout. Roused from his slumber, Godzilla wreaks havoc with his massive frame and atomic breath.
The Fly (1986)
A scientist (Jeff Goldblum) becomes the subject of his own experiment in this modern classic. Director David Cronenberg uses the story as an ideal platform for his ongoing fixations, namely science fiction and body horror. The film won a much-deserved Oscar for Best Makeup.
A Quiet Place (2018)
The planet has been invaded by aliens with supersonic hearing in this surprise smash hit.
Confined to a remote farm, a family must remain completely quiet at all times if they want to survive. That’s when the pregnant wife (Emily Blunt) goes into labour….
Dead Ringers (1988)
Jeremy Irons plays a pair of identical twin gynecologists in this off-beat thriller from David Cronenberg.
When a woman comes between them, it sends one of the brothers into a graphic downward spiral. The film is loosely based on real-life story of twin brothers Stewart and Cyril Marcus.
The Exorcist (1973)
Behold the influential story of a demon-possessed girl (Linda Blair), who exhibits all sorts of grotesque behaviour. Initial viewers reacted so strongly that many fainted or burst into hysterics right in the theatre.
In spite of all the controversy (or perhaps due to it), this remains one of history’s highest-grossing films when adjusted for inflation.
This article originally appeared in The Weekender and has been reproduced with permission