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October 19, 2011


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One strange omission would be Roeg's "Don't Look Now"

There's a frightening film that I've never hear many people talk about and it scared the bajeeezus out of me and that was amovie from 1980 called "The Changeling" with George C. Scott, a great haunted house flick. I've recommended it to a few people and they've loved it. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080516/

Great List Glenn!


The MSN website doesn't seem to want to let me view your list of horror films, but I will try again later.

I like how casually you call the directors of 'Catfish' "doofuses" though the description is rather appropriate considering how self-involved and naive they came across in that film. I liked the first two 'Paranormal Activity' films, and was somewhat excited for yet another one until I heard the 'Catfish' bros were making it. Your review seems to confirm some of my fears about the film, but I'm sure I'll still see it.

Glenn Kenny

Thanks, Bobby. I think someday I'd like to write about a bunch of underrated horror films, and I think "The Changeling," which is indeed an interesting picture, would be among them, along with "The Other."


I am one of those who bitches about MSN every single time you make a list. This time I'll only say I'm grateful they keep you employed. Thanks for another great list.

On another note... When I was young, I used to own a book published by EW aptly titled The Entertainment Weekly Guide to the Greatest Movies Ever Made. Its 'Sci-fi, horror and fantasy' section became my 'to watch' list as a young cinephile. Reading this list right now, some entries reminded me of the book. That made me wonder, did you contribute to that list Glenn??

Mr. Milich

Re: #8

If you'd included the international cut instead of the American, you'd have no problem not remembering the dialogue from the doctor scene since it doesn't exist.

Michael Worrall

I find Peter Medak's filmography wildly uneven --actually, a single film by him itself can be wildly uneven-- but there are enough consistent and strong works, such as THE CHANGELING, THE KRAYS, LET HIM HAVE IT, and ROMEO IS BLEEDING to keep me coming back.

Stephen Winer

A wonderful list, but as long as we're suggesting alternate titles I'd slip in Diabolique and Dead of Night. The coda to the latter wrecked my head when I was young in a way few horror films have done since. BTW, there's an unintentionally (I assume)lovely typo in your list. You describe "Blood and Black Lace" as being about a "serial color". That strikes me as a perfect two word definition of the work and art of Mario Bava.


Kudos for getting THE SEVENTH VICTIM and NIGHT OF THE DEMON in there. In the former, the discovery of the room containing only a noose and chair fills me with dread ever time I think of it. Regarding DEMON, I'm surprised more M.R.James adaptations don't exist. DRAG ME TO HELL is close to a modern homage but I never understood why James hasn't influenced trends in horror in the same way Lovecraft has.


On film, even Lovecraft's influence barely shows. Very few films based on his fiction feel like they were inspired by him at all. Certainly not RE-ANIMATOR, which I enjoy well enough. The closest anyone has come to capturing his prose and approach to horror is THE CALL OF CTHULHU, Andrew Leman's 2005 silent film everyone forgot existed when they were falling all over themselves to talk about how amazingly new THE ARTIST is. THE CALL OF CTHULHU was made for no money, but pays sincere homage to both silent films and Lovecraft, and is far more successful at doing both than I thought it would be.


My other point being, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for M.R. James or Arthur Machen or any other dead horror writer to influence horror cinema. Putting that kind of thing on screen is obviously too much damn work.


Bill: The Call of Cthulhu is well worth watching. I would also submit the Spanish/American co-production Dagon as a worthy entry in Lovecraft cinema. Though called Dagon, it's pretty much The Shadow Over Innsmouth relocated to a Spanish coastal town. Another Stuart Gordon, but not in a tone that would suggest to a viewer, say, a campy musical adaptation.


I guess Lovecraft's influence mainly shows in del Toro's work (and certain Stephen King-related joints). And, you're right, CTHULHU is pretty awesome. Definitely worth seeking out.

I know you were being facetious, but I'd suggest that a lot of stories by James/Machen/Blackwood/etc. would make for perfect, special effects light, horror films. Not necessarily gorehound-friendly, but definitely atmospheric, disturbing-on-a-soul-level kind of stuff.


@CTH - Yeah, I've seen DAGON. I basically like Gordon, but I still don't feel much genuine Lovecraftian horror coming from his Lovecraft films. Though I guess it's true that DAGON comes closest.

laithtippler - "I know you were being facetious, but I'd suggest that a lot of stories by James/Machen/Blackwood/etc. would make for perfect, special effects light, horror films."

I completely agree, but who's going to make them? Adam Green? Even Del Toro, with James Cameron backing him up, couldn't get AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS off the ground. Granted, that would not have been special effects light, but if Cameron can't get the movie made, who can? I just don't have much hope that a really good film based on or inspired by this kind of horror fiction is coming around any time soon.


DAGON's fucking horrible. About as good as THE DUNWICH HORROR (but without Dean Stockwell). All of the sordidness of Lovecraft with none of the primal dread. THE MIST might be the closest Lovecraftian film I've seen recently.


@bill - Adam Green's FROZEN had potential but ultimately kind of exhausted its good will. I feel like some enterprising upstart could make a name for him- (or her)self by adapting (even loosely) one of those classic stories. It'd be nice for horror cinema to actually, you know, scare again rather than just lather on layer upon layer of shock.

In that vein, I'd really hoped that Bryan Bertino's THE STRANGERS would go for a less obvious (and ludicrous) resolution. The first half of that thing is pretty perfect.



Glenn Kenny

Actually, I don't think all that highly of "Heart" or "Ladder." I have some affection for FFC's "Dracula" that has little to do with my opinion of it as either a movie or a horror movie (hard to explain), and as for the other two, not "no love," but not enough love. If I'd had a hundred those two would definitely have been on, as well as a truckload more vintage Asian horror.


Oh wait, doesn't JAWS count as a scary movie, if not exactly a horror movie?


No Alien? It should easily be top 10.


Kudos on the list Glenn. I would add Ferrara's "The Addiction", three standard bearers of the new wave of French horror ("Trouble Every Day", "Inside", "Martyrs"), my personal favorite of all the J-Horrors ("Pulse"), weird little no budget freakouts like "Soft for Digging" and Nacho Cerda's two short films "Genesis" and "Aftermath", but then again, I wouldn't know what to remove from the list to include any of those.

While I imagine it's already been done as a comedy sketch, I'm surprised that there hasn't been a fake-fake found footage film yet. I can imagine the premise would get stale after around 10minutes, but setting a found footage film in a time before motion pictures or cameras seems like a stupid idea that some studio would get behind.

Robert Cashill

Machen influenced the del Toro-produced remake of DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK: http://www.cineaste.com/articles/emdarkem-deeds-an-interview-with-guillermo-del-toro-and-guy-pearce

Peter Lenihan

The Addiction seconded. I'm really really surprised no one has mentioned The Night of the Hunter (maybe it was on the slideshow and I missed it?). Certainly my favorite horror movie.


I was hoping to see Del Toro's The Devil's Backbone in place of Pan's Labyrinth, which I also loved. But I find the former a lot scarier.

And not that I expected them to make this list, but Carpenter's Prince of Darkness and In The Mouth Of Madness, while perhaps not on the level of Halloween or The Thing, are both damned inventive and well-shot horror films.

Come to think of it, it's a shame this list contained something like Scream when when you could have had another Carpenter, Argento, or Cronenberg title instead. Each of those guys have like five films that are better than anything Wes Craven has ever done (and I like the original Elm Street myself).

Bruce Reid

lazarus: "And not that I expected them to make this list, but Carpenter's Prince of Darkness and In The Mouth Of Madness, while perhaps not on the level of Halloween or The Thing, are both damned inventive and well-shot horror films."

As well as the great Lovecraft films bill, c.t.h., and laithtippler11 overlook. Though I can see how their pastiche nature--and Carpenter's own somewhat comic sensibility--keep them back from the Lovecraftian dread referenced above.

Glenn Kenny

I actually don't dislike "Scream" although I can't say I'm crazy about what it spawned. The film I would have preferred to bump from the list in favor of something clearly more worthy would have been "Friday The 13th," which I thought lousy on any number of levels. But when you're trying to address the zeitgeist as well as articulate your ostensibly expert preferences, certain films become "musts," and that would be one of them. To give you an idea of the range of the audience MSN Movies is addressing, I'm told that the gallery got something like 20 million page views first day up. Any day I can possibly get 20 million people interested in Mario Bava and Jose Mojica Marins isn't a bad one.


Tru dat.


Just to be clear, Glenn, I didn't mean to imply that the presence of Scream (or Friday the 13th, which I've never cared for either) was a lapse in taste on your part; I recognize the limitations of such a high-profile list, and the need to represent the full range of like 90 years of horror film and its various directors, countries and trends.


What makes a number of these suggestions good are the films that create horror out of what is barely seen or implied, or the films that create a stronger sense of horror in the mind of the viewer over what is shown on camera. Most modern Hollywood remakes have a philosophy that quick cuts and edits and shocks are scarier than dread, slow build-ups, and what is just barely seen.

Films I think that this list is missing: something by Fulci, either Zombi or House by the Cemetery; Kurosawa's Pulse (AKA Kairo) and also Cure (which practically bathes in the style of not allowing the viewer to see what scary things are happening in the frame); The Innocents (predates The Others, which isn't too bad either); Torso by Sergio Martino, a criminally ignored giallo; and Alien. Splinter is a great little winner in the man-versus-his-own-body genre. And Miike's "Imprint" from the Masters of Horror series scarred me for life, even more than Audition did.

That Fuzzy Bastard

Speaking of Lovecraft films, has anyone seen the 1987 movie "The Curse", based on HPL's "The Color Out of Space"? It scared the piss outta me as a kid---the shot with the rotting mother in the background, sewing her own thumb!---and I see it finally came out on DVD, but I'm almost afraid to see if it's *actually* any good or not.


Great list but I would've opted for The Old Dark House and The Black Cat over some of the other Universal titles you chose and I second Cure (my favorite Kiyoshi Kurosawa) as an egregious omission.

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