By: JoAnn Snavely
In anticipation of Halloween, this week the Herald has decided to do a Halloweek about all things Halloween! In honor of this, I have decided to pause the music-centered articles and write about my other favorite niche–films, specifically horror films. Given my newfound genre change, I will be taking a Letterbox-like route and will be discussing/explaining my top 5 horror films of all time (in no particular order)– and no, I won’t be accepting criticism.
- Killer Klowns from Outer Space
There is no greater way to begin this list except with one of the greatest B-grade films ever. The 1988 film has easily become one of the most iconic horror films of all time, even being featured in this year’s Universal Studios Hollywood Horror Nights.
This movie isn’t particularly scary; I would even go so far as to say it’s safe to watch with your children. Its bright imagery and comedic-looking clowns sort of mask the genuine terror that would follow the film otherwise. Maybe it was terrifying in the 80s, but as the horror genre has evolved over the past 30 or so years, this movie has been downgraded to a Halloween movie (one that is perfect for Halloween but simply isn’t scary). Unless, of course, you’re scared of being turned into cotton candy, this film isn’t necessarily nightmare fuel.
That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a good film, it has fascinating cinematography, and their use of color has you absolutely gripped from start to finish. I mean, the idea of killer clowns that are straight from outer space is an intriguing premise, especially if you were around for the 2016 killer clowns craze!
One of the most notable parts of the film is its soundtrack, with hits like “Killer Klowns” by the Dickies and many others are why this film has become one of my favorite horror films of all time.
You can watch Killer Klowns From Outer Space with a Paramount Plus or a premium Hulu subscription!
- House of 1000 Corpses
House of 1000 Corpses is one of the first horror films I’ve seen that has genuinely freaked me out, and that’s why it’s in my top 5! This 2003 film came from the terrifying minds of Andy Gould and Rob Zombie– yes, world-renowned rockstar Rob Zombie. Zombie does more than create music– he makes movies too!
One of the film’s main antagonists Captain Spaulding is loosely based on the serial killer John Wayne Gacey. This film depicts one of the darkest series of murders I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing in my life–so dark that this movie barely made it to the big screens.
It received an NC-17 rating for its content and could barely shake it to avoid being barred by Universal. House of 1000 Corpses isn’t just a standalone either; it is a trilogy with the following films being 3 From Hell and The Devil’s Rejects. This film follows the Firefly family, a family of depraved murderers that is acted by a star-studded cast of Bill Mosely, Rob Zombie’s wife Sheri Moon Zombie, and Sid Haig.
We get first-seat POVs of the heinous string of murders they committed throughout the film, and they are done in ways that I had never imagined, and that truly make me glad that this film isn’t a retelling of a true story. It touches on some of the darkest ideologies of human nature, and Rob Zombie being a part of this film comes as nothing short of a surprise– I mean, his last name is literally Zombie, horror was made for him.
Another notable thing about this film is its soundtrack. Iconic music by Ramones and Rob Zombie is played throughout the film, which was one of my gateways into that genre of music. I have fallen in love with it over the past few years since watching it.
This movie isn’t available on streaming platforms. However, you can find it for rent on sites like Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
I had to include a newer film since there have been so many great horror releases this year. I decided to see the movie by myself which isn’t as embarrassing or awkward as you may imagine, except for the part where I spent 15 minutes trying to figure out if an R-rated movie meant a 17-year-old could attend alone (the answer is yes, yes you can; also Google was no help for this information).
Aside from those road bumps, it was beyond worth it because this film was nothing short of amazing. The film was self-aware in the sense that it knew it was a horror movie, and it wasn’t going to fall for those tropes that have been overdone over the years. I’m not going to spoil much since it is a new film, but what I will say is that its use of non-diegetic and diegetic sound was phenomenal. I have not been so genuinely creeped out by a horror film in so long, and I absolutely cannot wait to watch it again. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the film and could never imagine what was coming, nor what would happen next.
It was filmed uniquely, and I loved it so much for that reason. I mean, for a film that took place in such grimy locations throughout, it was truly filmed so well that it almost beautified it. I appreciated the cinematography as far as its shots, and I must applaud the director as it stellarly mimicked classic horror movie shots, yet it felt new. Throughout the movie, my heart was beating outside my chest; I was so nervous, and it was something I had yet to experience while watching a film. I literally gasped in awe the entire time.
Be that as it may, it’s safe to say I won’t be booking an AirBNB anytime soon, nor will I be drinking milk ever again (not that I did prior, as I am lactose intolerant).
I loved the movie’s pacing, and it was interesting because, at first, it was hard to pay attention. Still, as it progressed, I quickly fell in love with it, alongside the fact that it told three very different yet heavily connected stories before clashing them together at its climax which kept me hooked to the movie.
The production team Zach Creigger and Zach Kuperstein were so good at creating such a heavily unlikeable character. I grew such a deep hatred for AJ, which made the ending oh-so-satisfying. It is important to note that this was one of the goriest movies I’ve seen in awhile, and if you don’t do gore well, you won’t enjoy this movie.
The ending of this movie is so cute. It’s quite sad and utterly terrifying, but somehow it made me empathize with the antagonist, which says SO much about the production team. Within a week, Barbarian quickly became one of my all-time favorites in the horror genre!
It was such a fresh take from the redundant and overdone horror genre that helped fuel my love for horror. There weren’t intense jump scares throughout (a few sprinkled in, but not too many). Just the suspense of what was next was horrifying enough. I’m in awe of this movie and have no critiques of this film. This entire movie is a shiny reminder that horror isn’t dead.
This film is still in theaters, but a streaming and DVD release are imminent!
- Scream 5
This list would not be complete without Scream 5. This was one of the first films I saw in 2022, and I have not stopped rewatching it since then. I saw it during its theatrical release with Herald Staffer Nicole Chedraoui, and we were hooked. It has since become OUR movie.
Not that it’s necessarily groundbreaking in the horror genre, specifically as a 5th Scream movie, but that’s what makes it unique. It is intentionally similar to the original Scream movies– even referencing them specifically (or the film version of them titled Stab). The film was very meta in that sense, as it recreated some of the most iconic scenes throughout the series, even having the living members of the original cast making a grand return 26 years after the original Scream’s debut. These factors made this film so captivating as it kept me intrigued; I geeked out over every single easter egg embedded throughout the film.
Not to mention, the casting was impeccable. Aside from the returning cast members– we saw so many rising stars in this film, with Jenna Ortega who has been taking over horror with her being the star of not only this film but A24 Studios X and even more recently starring as Wednesday Adams in the new Netflix show Wednesday, We also saw Mikey Madison who was most famously in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, and Dylan Minnette- the award-winning actor who has starred in critically acclaimed shows like 13 Reasons Why and The Dropout.
This star-studded cast helped establish the movie more than prior. It was cast with the faces of television and film today, which the Scream franchise has always had mastery over. Nonetheless, this cheesy horror movie has become one of my favorite and most-watched movies EVER.
You can watch Scream 5 on Paramount + or buy it on DVD (or be like me and get it for your birthday from Herald staffer, Nicole Chedraoui).
- It (2017)
It is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. It was initially released in 1990, making the 2017 version a remake. Knowing that, there is usually a negative connotation that surrounds remakes, specifically horror remakes, but this film is nothing like the awful remakes that have happened over the years. In fact, this film is the exact opposite.
Let me set the scene for the first time I watched this movie: imagine a 12-year-old JoAnn Snavely at the local drive-in movie theater; it’s dark out, and the weather is perfect for fall, and as an impressionable tween, this movie would end up shaping my personality for the next few years. I was so obsessed with everything behind the film–the lore behind it, the story, all of it. It became my only personality trait and was my gateway into the horror genre.
I would never claim that this movie is scary; it was more of a comedy, to be honest. That doesn’t take away from the fact that everything about the film was so perfect–the setting, the time period, everything about that silly little town in New Hampshire means so much to me. It’s just one of those movies you can watch repeatedly, and it never fails to make me laugh.
Due to this, it has become my comfort movie that I can turn on whenever I feel sad or need a pick me up. This movie and the way it was made is so interesting, especially as a remake that basically had a template made for it. This is yet another star-studded cast with Finn Wolfhard, Bill Skarsgard, Jaden Wesley, and many more. Its sequel is even better, with Bill Hader, Jessica Chastain, and James McAvoy joining the original cast. All in all, this film is a great watch and deserves every ounce of hype it receives.
You can watch It Chapters 1 and 2 with a Netflix and HBO Max subscription.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I love horror movies, so it was difficult to incorporate every horror movie I’ve ever loved. In that fashion, I will be including some honorable mentions that you should check out!:
- The Saw franchise
- The Purge franchise (they’re just really funny)
- The Turning (so so underrated, please watch this)
- 28 Days Later
- The Final Destination franchise
- Every other Scream movie (they’re cheesy in the best way possible)
- Nightmare on Elm Street (it’s a classic for a reason)
- The Green Room (it’s one of the greatest films A24 Studios has ever produced)