N. Craig’s Top Ten Horror Movies of All Time

Halloween is coming up and in order to get your jump scares in the Tribune’s resident scary movie expert Nik Craig is counting down the top ten horror movies of all time:

10: Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968)

Released in 1968, Rosemary’s Baby follows a young married couple, Rosemary (Played by Mia Farrow), and her struggling actor husband, Guy (Played by John Cassavetes), who move to New York City and want to start a family. When they move into their new apartment, they find that the apartment is known for bizarre happenings, and odd neighbors, such as Roman and Minnie Castevet. When Rosemary is finally pregnant with a child, after experiencing a strange dream, horrifying things begin to happen around her.

Why is it Scary: The reactions of all those around Rosemary don’t seem to be much. She seems to be the only one in the movie who understands what is truly going on, or the only one who is horrified by it, as everyone, even Guy, is fine with the events happening.

9: Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968)

Released in 1968, Night of the Living Dead takes place during the beginning of an outbreak where the dead begin to rise from their graves and eat the flesh of the living. A small group of survivors, controlled by Ben (Played by Duane Jones), does his best to keep everything under control and to keep everyone alive, but as zombies start to surround the house and try to break in, panic among the group builds up as they all begin to break each other down.

Why is it Scary: The feeling of dread between the characters shows that they are most likely doomed in this movie, and how they are all willing to let others die in order to save themselves, or attack each other due to the fear of being eaten or turned into one of the undead, despite that working together would help them more. The zombies waiting for them outside, always not being directly there until necessary but always being aware that they are outside is what makes them scary.

8: The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)

Released in 1982, The Thing is set in a small lab in Antarctica, a doctor R.J. MacReady and helicopter pilot Dr. Copper (Played by Richard Dysart and Kurt Russell) are in a small lab with other scientists, as they are attacked by an alien parasite that takes over the body of those it attacks and tries to imitate them, before morphing it’s body into grotesque shapes to eat their prey. The members of lab try their hardest to destroy the alien that is invading the lab, but make sure who is human and who isn’t.

Why is it Scary: The movie doesn’t tell you who is really a human and who is a monster until the last second before showing it. You are always left wondering who will turn and who is really a human being. The creations that the monster uses when turning the humans into these grotesque forms is also something that most people would find disturbing, and is very well made for 1982.

7: Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)

Release in 1977, Eraserhead follows a quiet man named Henry (Played by John Nance). One day, he meets with Mary X (Played by Charlotte Stewart) who is pregnant with Henry’s child and  the two marry and move in together. However, when the child is born, it turns out that they gave birth to a small lizard-like creature that seems to be screaming in pain constantly. This new child, as well as the bizarre people who live in the apartment, add trouble to Henry’s life.

Why is it Scary: The realistic showing of how some people are not ready for parenthood and how much trouble a baby can be to them shows is shown in a way that is found to be disturbing. The characters that inhabit the apartment, as well as the lizard baby that constantly cries, seem to also add a sort of disturbing sense of horror to the movie more than anyone else in the movie would.

6: Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)

Released in 1979, Alien takes place in the future on a space station called Nostromo, where the crew aboard are awakened from cryosleep to answer a distress call. Onboard the alien ship, the crew finds an egg that belongs to an alien lifeform, which leaps out and attaches itself to one of the crew members. Aging at an alarming rate, the crew must find the alien that is on the ship and destroy it before it finds them.

Why is it Scary: The feeling of knowing that the alien could be hiding anywhere in the vents or around the space station as the crew onboard are trying their hardest to find it could leave some to get scared, wondering when the alien would come out and attack. The alien itself is mostly scary, due to how it looks, how it behaves, and how it is a constant danger to those aboard the ship, as it tries its hardest to find and kill those on the ship, leaving them alone on the entire ship.

5: Nosferatu (F. W. Murnau, 1922)

Released in 1922, Nosferatu follows the story of Hutter (Played by Gustav von Wangenheim), a real estate agent who heads to Transylvania to meet with Count Orlok (Played by Max Schreck), who wishes to move from his castle to home in Wisborg Germany. Hutter plans on selling Orlok the home that is across from where he and his wife Ellen (Played by Greta Schroder) live. When arriving near the castle, he finds that no one wants to go near the castle, and hears that Orlok is actually a Nosferatu, or a vampire, as he makes his way to Germany, killing and draining the blood of those he meets on the way.

Why is it Scary: The way Count Orlok moves about, slowly through the dark corridors and stands in front of a doorway, looking at his soon-to-be victims, and the way his facial expressions are given, make him a very scary looking character to see on screen. The acts he commits on his victims is also a very disturbing scene, as the tension that builds up to the scene makes it more and more scary.

4: The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)

Created in 1973, The Exorcist is said to be based on true events, following young Regan (Played by Linda Blair) begins to act in very odd ways, including speaking in tongues and levitating off the ground. As her mother begins to worry, she soon gets help from the local priest (Played by Jason Miller). The priest believes that Regan is under the possession of the devil, and decides that she must get help from an expert from the church if they are to get the devil out of Regan’s body.

Why is it Scary: The reactions of the characters toward the young possessed Regan, and how they act in the situation they are thrusted into makes them appear to be as scared as the audience. The young Linda Blair behaving like that of a demon, with her actions and how she speaks throughout the movie, is also made disturbing, as one would not expect a little girl to be behaving in a way that seemed so haunting and disturbing, allowing people to have some of these scenes in their mind for a time, as they are hard to forget.

3: Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)

Released in 1991, Silence of the Lambs follows FBI-in-training Clarice Starling (Played by Jodie Foster) who is on a case to find a mad serial killer by the name of Buffalo Bill (Played by Ted Levine). In order to get any information on the killer, Clarice must meet with a psychiatrist who has been arrested for acts of cannibalism, who goes by the name of Doctor Hannibal Lecter (Played by Anthony Hopkins). Clarice is the only one that the FBI believes is what they need to get the information of Buffalo Bill out of Doctor Lecter before he strikes again.

Why is it Scary: The interactions between both Clarice and Lecter make this movie disturbing. Throughout the movie, they are both communicating with each other, one of them trying to stop a serial killer, and the other wanting to know more about the other. They are both trying to do what they can to outsmart the other, and the conflict goes on as the killer could commit another crime as they are in the middle of their conversations, making each scene with them tense and memorable.

2: Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Released in 1960, Psycho follows a young secretary by the name of Marion Cane (Played by Janet Leigh) who is on the run after stealing from her forty thousand dollars with the help of her lover, Sam Loomis (Played by John Gavin). Marion stops at a small hotel called the Bates Motel, where she meets the owner, Norman Bates (Played by Anthony Perkins), a polite but odd man, who she notices has a bizarre interest in taxidermy, and has problems with his overbearing mother. As her time in the Bates Motel continues, she begins to suspect more about Norman Bates.

Why is it Scary: The movie continues to build up on how Norman Bates’s character is. It keeps his true personality a secret at the beginning of the film, and continues to show little hints of it, before showing what he really is near the end, and the suspense of seeing who Norman Bates really is and what is really going on inside of his mind is enough to scare the viewer with the ending reveal.

1: The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

Released in 1980, The Shining follows writer Jack Torrance (Played by Jack Nicholson), who takes the job as a caretaker for the isolated Overlook Hotel during the winter, in hopes of clearing his writer’s block, along with his wife Wendy (Played by Shelley Duvall), and their son, Danny. However, as time goes on, Jack has had no luck in improving his writing, as the hotel starts to plague the family, terrorizing Wendy and Danny with haunting visions and driving Jack to a breaking point in his mental state.

Why is it Scary: The performance by Jack Nicholson lets you see just how scary his character is, even near the beginning of the movie, where you wouldn’t expect to see anything scary. The visions that Wendy and Danny see are enough to make the film haunting and disturbing, but Jack is what makes this movie even scarier, as everything around him starts to get worse and worse and he starts losing what little sanity he had at the beginning of the film.