Horror 101

Inevitably, October dissolves into a re-visitation of horror movies I’ve seen countless times and sometimes taking some dubious chances on “horror” I haven’t seen yet. If it all works out, hopefully I will have added one or two to my rotation. The great thing about horror fans is that whenever we get to pow-wow, someone will have some obscure, great title that you’ve never seen before. And of course, judging from various tastes (supernatural, slasher, B movie), each collection will be skewed in some direction. I will freely admit I overly love anything from the ’80s: the good, the bad, the marginally okay.

Everyone has their own method of introducing a pal to a series, a genre, or even a new band. You have to strategically decide what to expose them to and when in the process. Someone wants to get into Doctor Who, you show them “Blink” (probably). Someone wants to get horror educated, you don’t start them with Sleepaway Camp (I mean…right?). My college roommate used to vehemently oppose horror. Luckily I wore her down eventually.  My method: first you gotta start with a spectrum-spanning base of classics. My go-to Top 10 of these would be something like:

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”

1.Night of the Living Dead (1968)

“You could have dinner with us… my brother makes good head cheese! You like head cheese?”

2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

“And, you know, the thing about a shark… he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes.”

3. Jaws (1975)

“Susie, do you know anything about… witches?”

4. Suspiria (1977)

“I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes… the *devil’s* eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… *evil*.”

5.  Halloween (1978)

“I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.”

6.  Alien (1979)

“You see, Jason was my son, and today is his birthday… “

7. Friday the 13th (1980)

“Danny isn’t here, Mrs. Torrance. “

8. The Shining (1980)

“Look at her eyes. Look at her eyes! For God’s sake, what happened to her eyes?”

9. The Evil Dead (1981)

“One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. / Three, four, better lock your door. / Five, six, grab your crucifix. / Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. / Nine, ten, never sleep again.”

10.  A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

And because that list was really hard, I would in theory put these on the table as well:

Zombies!: Dead Alive; Possession!: The Exorcist, Child’s Play; Vampires!: Fright Night, The Lost Boys, Near Dark; Mogwais/creatures!: Gremlins, Pumpkinhead; Hell children!: Children of the Corn, The Omen, Carrie; Ghosts!: Poltergeist; They never come back…good!: Re-Animator, Pet Sematary, Hellraiser; Slashers!: Prom Night, Candyman, Black Christmas; Aliens!: The Thing, Phantasm

Of course you could go the new classics route with:

“If you were the only suspect in a senseless bloodbath – would you be standing in the horror section?”

“You’ve got red on you.”

“He always takes one.”

“I won’t let anyone come between us any more. “

“It hasn’t got a name. It’s a new system. I wanted us all to discover it! No one’s ever been down here before.”

“His name is John, Dr. Gordon. He’s a very interesting person.”

“In death there are no accidents, no coincidences, no mishaps, and no escapes.”

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About Staciellyn Chapman

Grad student at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. This blog is an attempt to condense the craziness that is my TV viewing habits (with the occasional aside into film, music, and general life).

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