By Wyatt Earp | October 31, 2005
“Grampa, can you teach us how to control the undead?”
In honor of Halloween, American Movie Classics has been running horror films ad nauseum. Normally, this would be a good thing for fans of the genre like me, but since they are sticking with constant reruns of the Friday the 13th series, I have been averting the channel like vampires avoid garlic. You want some good scary movies? Check out my top five:
A Nightmare on Elm Street – Remember when Freddy Krueger was scary, and not an aspiring comedian. I do. Wes Craven’s original Nightmare was damned scary, even if the Freddy concept was a blatant rip-off of Phantasm’s Tall Man. Bonus points for casting a young Johnny Depp in a major role.
Alien – Wow, a James Cameron film without Ah-nuld? Go figure. Alien freaked me out with both its gore and its suspense. Gore doesn’t bother me as much as crap jumping out in front of me. That is powerfully uncool. Bonus points for the “alien in the stomach” scene. Nasty.
Phantasm – Don Coscarelli is a genius. Exhibit A? 1979′s Phantasm. Sure, it’s low budget goodness, but Coscarelli’s tale of an omnipotent Tall Man (played brilliantly by Angus Scrimm, pictured above), flying death spheres, and undead that look like Jawas is sure to entertain. Bonus points for the film’s “steal appeal” – the Tall Man has been copied more than once, which is a sign of a great character.
The Thing – Now we’re talking. John Carpenter’s freak-o-rama still scares the hell out of me, and at the age of 36, I still can’t watch it all the way through with my eyes open. Suspense, gore, and Wilford Brimley; this film has it all! Bonus points for (again) casting Kurt Russell. I love that guy!
Jaws – Yeah, I know it’s not really a horror movie per se, but there isn’t a film around that negatively affected me the way Jaws has. I still won’t swim in a natural body of water for fear of a shark attack! Thank you, Steven Spielberg! Bonus points for casting the oft-inebriated Robert Shaw.