Thursday, October 27, 2011

Psychobabble’s 120 Essential Horror Movies: The Complete List & Bonus Features!

Just when you thought the terror has ended in so many, many horror movies--Bam!--there’s one last-minute scare to ensure you leave the theater extra shaken. The same can be said of Psychobabble’s 120 Essential Horror Movies List! Now that this seven-month project has ended, here are some final tidbits to shake you up just a little more, dear reader.

First I present the complete list in its complete entirety all in one complete list! When compiling the list I realized it was too unwieldy to rank according to my personal preferences (and figured that might be taking its personal nature a few steps too far). So I decided on a straight, chronological organization. This complete list is a touch more personal, as I bolded my personal favorite film in each decade. The blue, underlined headings are links to the original decade-by-decade lists with full commentaries.

The ‘20s
1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
2. The Golem (1920)
3. The Phantom Carriage (1921)
4. Nosferatu (1922)
5. Häxan (1922)
6. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
7. Faust (1926)

The ‘30s
8. Dracula (1931)
9. Svengali (1931)
10. Frankenstein (1931)
11. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

12. Freaks (1932)
13. White Zombie (1932)
14. The Old Dark House (1932)
15. The Mummy (1932)
16. The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
17. King Kong (1933)
18. The Island of Lost Souls (1933)
19. The Invisible Man (1933)
20. The Black Cat (1934)
21. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
22. Mad Love (1935)
23. Son of Frankenstein (1939)

The ‘40s
24. The Wolf Man (1941)
25. Cat People (1942)
26. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
27. The Uninvited (1944)
28. House of Frankenstein (1944)
29. The Body Snatcher (1945)
30. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
31. The Queen of Spades (1949)

The ‘50s
32. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
33. Gojira (1954)
34. The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
35. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
36. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
37. Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
38. Night of the Demon (1957)
39. Dracula (1958)
40. The Fly (1958)
41. House on Haunted Hill (1959)
42. The Mummy (1959)

The ‘60s
43. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
44. Psycho (1960)
45. The Brides of Dracula (1960)
46. Jigoku (1960)
47. The Mask of Satan (1960)
48. Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
49. The City of the Dead (1960)
50. Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
51. Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
52. Night of the Eagle (1962)
53. Carnival of Souls (1962)
54. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
55. The Birds (1963)
56. The Haunting (1963)
57. The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
58. Repulsion (1965)
59. Lovers from Beyond the Tomb (1965)
60. Viy (1967)
61. Spider Baby (1968)
62. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
63. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

The ‘70s
64. Tales from the Crypt (1972)
65. Don’t Look Now (1973)
66. The Exorcist (1973)
67. The Wicker Man (1973)
68. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
69. Young Frankenstein (1974)
70. The Stepford Wives (1975)
71. Jaws (1975)
72. The Tenant (1976)
73. The Omen (1976)
74. Carrie (1976)
75. Suspiria (1977)
76. The Island of Dr Moreau (1977)
77. Hausu (1977)
78. Eraserhead (1977)
79. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
80. Halloween (1978)
81. Alien (1979)
82. Nosferatu: Phantom Der Nacht (1979)

The ‘80s
83. The Shining (1980)
84. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
85. Poltergeist (1982)
86. John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)
87. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
88. Gremlins (1984)
89. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
90. Return of the Living Dead (1985)
91. Re-Animator (1985)
92. The Fly (1986)
93. The Stepfather (1987)
94. Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987)
95. Beetlejuice (1988)
96. The Lair of the White Worm (1988)
97. Parents (1989)

The ‘90s
98. The Witches (1990)
99. Misery (1990)
100. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
101. Braindead (1992)
102. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
103. Candyman (1992)
104. Audition (1997)
105. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The ‘00s and Beyond
106. Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
107. Bubba Ho Tep (2002)
108. May (2002)
109. Open Water (2003)
110. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
111. The Descent (2005)
112. Severance (2006)
113. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
114. Sweeney Todd (2007)
115. Let the Right One In (2008)
116. Coraline (2009)
117. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
118. Paranormal Activity (2009)
119. Antichrist (2009)
120. The Black Swan (2010)

Bonus Review

Sometimes movies make the cut… then miss it. One such movie was David Lynch’s Lost Highway. Although it is the director’s only film to ever be specifically marketed as a horror movie, I wasn’t sure if it was quite horrory enough to warrant inclusion on this list. Here is the review I wrote for Lost Highway, which I ended up snipping just a couple days before posting the ‘90s installment of Psychobabble’s 120 Essential Horror Movies:

Lost Highway (1997- dir. David Lynch)

At the same time American horror was losing altitude, David Lynch’s career was as well. Regarded as a golden boy during the five-year period that saw him release the masterful Blue Velvet, win the Palme d’Or for Wild at Heart, and revolutionize television with “Twin Peaks”, Lynch fell hard after a stretch of poorly received projects that included Fire Walk with Me and the short-running TV series “Hotel Room” and “On the Air”. Several years lagged before he regained his excitement for filmmaking. Inspired by the recent O.J. Simpson trial, in which the accused murderer was acquitted to carry on with an apparent absence of remorse, Lynch reunited with Wild at Heart novelist Barry Gifford to write Lost Highway. Lynch’s first— and, to date, only— movie to be explicitly marketed as horror (“A 21st century noir horror film,” the copy read), Lost Highway hones in on jazz musician Fred Madison (Bill Pullman), who suspects his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette) of infidelity. After experiencing a blackout in which he hacks her to pieces, Fred ends up on death row. Terrified of the inevitable and horrified by the crime he can’t even remember, Fred takes a mental escape route in which he “becomes” mechanic Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty). This being a David Lynch film, the real and the psychological exist on the same plane, and Fred’s transformation is presented as an actual occurrence possibly initiated by a demonic, string-pulling “Mystery Man” (Robert Blake). Lost Highway was an unusual film for Lynch at the time, trading in his trademark bucolic setting for seedy, smoggy Los Angeles, and eschewing the timelessness of his recent films for a style reeking of the late ‘90s, from its gothic music-video sensibility to its Trent Reznor helmed soundtrack to its completely distracting cameo by (yeesh) Marilyn Manson. The film also suffers from cold characters and a sleazy aftertaste his other sex-and-violence soaked films somehow managed to avoid. Nevertheless, a lesser David Lynch movie is still a David Lynch movie, which means there is still much greatness to witness in Lost Highway. The director builds the picture on one of his spookiest ideas: Fred and Renee’s discovery of a succession of videotapes filmed outside and inside their home without their knowledge. The Mystery Man is another terrifying villain in the Killer BOB tradition. Most importantly, Lost Highway established the theme of psychological transformation that Lynch would perfect in his best film since Eraserhead, Mulholland Dr., and explode in his most experimental one since that debut, Inland Empire.


Here are some of the movies that I considered for the list but missed the final cut for various reasons. Having just rewatched the amazing The Innocents, I'm already second-guessing my final cut!:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
Mark of the Vampire (1935)
Dracula's Daughter (1936)
The Mummy's Hand (1940)
Hold That Ghost (1941)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
Isle of the Dead (1945)
Dead of Night (1945)
Revenge of the Creature (1955)
Peeping Tom (1960)
13 Ghosts (1960)
House of Usher (1960)
The Innocents (1961)
The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962)
Dementia 13 (1963)
The Gorgon (1964)
Witchfinder General (1968)
The Vampire Lovers (1970)
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
Deep Red (1975)
Dracula (1979)
The Brood (1979)
Alligator (1980)
Cat's Eye (1985)
Near Dark (1987)
Child's Play (1988)
Bride of Re-Animator (1989)
The Kingdom (1994)
The Gift (2000)
Dagon (2001)
The Others (2001)
The Ring (2002)
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Slither (2006)
Black Sheep (2006)
Inland Empire (2006)

Repeat Offender Directors

Here are the directors who placed three or more movies on the list:

Terence Fisher leads the pack with 5
James Whale follows with 4
Roman Polanski has 3

The following directors all have two movies on the list:

Tod Browning, Tim Burton. John Carpenter, William Castle, Roger Corman, Karl Freund, Alfred Hitchcock, Tobe Hooper, Erle C. Kenton, David Lynch, F.W. Murnau, Sam Raimi, Nicholas Roeg, George Romero, Jacques Tourneur, Robert Wise

Most Common Monsters

And finally, here are the archetypal monsters that appear most frequently on the list:

Mad Scientists (18 movies)
Serial Killers (17 movies)
Devils and Demons (11 movies)
Ghosts (11 movies)
Manmade Monsters (11 movies)
Vampires (10 movies)
Witches (9 movies)
Zombies (7 movies)
Werewolves (6 movies)
Aliens (4 movies)
Mummies (3 movies)
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