Horror movies. For years, we swarmed theatres to experience the thrill and excitement of fear delivered by monsters, fearsome killers, and forces of overwhelming evil.
From slasher films and torture porn to ghost stories, effective horror films provide tension and release that can make you squirm and laugh at the same time.
While some of the best Hollywood horror classics are made before the coming of 3D and high-def (Read: The Exorcist, Carrie, The Omen, The Haunting, you get the drift), the past decade has seen horror films of a different stock; where auteurs created some original and prodigious work that can scare the pants of anyone.
A decade after Final Destination hit the big screens; the classic horror-thriller is back (again!) for the fifth time. Horror movies, like Dracula, Chucky, Leatherface, Freddy Krueger and Sadako will never die (wait… they’re DEAD!), and here’s hoping they will create more scares for us.
As you prepare yourselves for the latest dose of shrieks, blood and guts, we look back on some of the greatest horror movies to grace our screens.
Drag Me To Hell
Petrifying, startlingly funny and downright campy, 2009’s Drag Me To Hell is touted as a return to director Sam Raimi's horror-movie roots. Drag Me to Hell is indeed closer in spirit to the Raimi’s Evil Dead pictures than to his Spider-Man films. The movie is a showcase of how horror, with a little comedy thrown in, can be done right. The movie has a simple set-up: Christine Brown is a loan manager. She’s an ordinary girl (except for the obligatory good looks of every horror leading lady) in a happy relationship with a young college professor. In the hunt for a promotion she makes the decision to repossess the house of a creepy looking Mrs Ganush. Despite being the norm in these sad economic times, this elderly lady refuses to see the bigger economic picture and places a curse on Christine. In three days the Lamia (a gypsy goat demon) will come and drag her to hell.
Scariest Scene: The one with Christine is asleep on her bed with fiancé by her side. A fly goes into the room and disturbs her sleep. Finally awaken after almost swallowing the fly, Christine tries to go back to sleep, but much to her surprise the person lying next to her is no longer her fiancé, but the creepy Mrs. Ganush!
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What’s not to love about a horror movie about six chicks going down a deep dark hole, and then getting chased around by creepy male (we think) beasts? Written and directed by Neil Marshall, who made the 2002’s werewolf flick Dog Soldiers, The Descent is a dark and claustrophobic horror-thriller. For most parts of the movie, nothing supernatural happens: It just deals with the sextet trying to escape the cave through narrow tunnels so tight that you'll actually feel the claustrophobia, across gaping chasms and other natural obstacles. When one of them sees something moving in front of them, the gore-fest begins. One by one, the girls are caught and eaten by scary-looking and shrieking Gollum look-alikes.
Scariest Scene: When the girls’ light sources are running out of juice, one of them fires up the nightvision on their handycam. All we see now are the girls’ terrified faces and there it is; a creature standing behind one them, looking longingly at its dinner (cue screams).
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How not to be spooked by ghosts? Lesson 1: Never buy a creepy old house. Lesson 2: Never buy a creepy old house that used to be an orphanage. Lesson 3: Never buy a creepy old house that used to be an orphanage and have a child with a hyperactive (and very imaginative) mind. It seems that Laura (Belén Rueda) didn't get the memo when she moved into her old orphanage. A creepy film featuring creepier ghost kids, Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Orphanage touches our yet unacknowledged fear of children (admit it, you think kids are creepy). Things in Laura’s new home gets real interesting once her adopted son Simón starts behaving strangely: Like talking about a new group of invisible children, who begin to tell Simón painful and upsetting things about himself that his adoptive parents have kept secret.
Scariest Scene: The scenes where creepy bag head boy keeps appearing unannounced. Look out one of the creepiest scenes in the film before the ending, where Laura starts playing a game playing a she used to play when she was a child… and the ‘children’ slowly appear into frame.
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One of the finest examples of the noughties’ cult ‘torture porn’ films. In this grisly and bloody horror story about three backpackers who ventured to a Slovakian city for hedonistic sex and drugs, where they’re lured to a particular hostel stocked with Eastern European women. The two friends arrive and soon easily pair off with two exotic beauties. And things just went downhill from there. Turns out that the hostel and its fine contents are actually bait for an international snuff ring.
Scariest Scene: In the film's satisfying ending, Paxton sought murderous revenge in a train station's restroom stall upon the perpetrator who had killed Josh - he used a small knife to severe two fingers, then dunked the man's head into the toilet after slitting the man's throat.
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The Hills Have Eyes
It seems that French director Alexandre Aja has a knack for creating scary films. After 2002’s stunning High Tension, he took on Wes Craven’s 1977 classic, The Hills Have Eyes. In Aja’s version, a family takes a cross-country road trip when their suddenly trailer breaks down, leaving them stranded in the desert of New Mexico. There, they find themselves under attack by the savage, cannibalistic "hill people," who were deformed by radiation during nuclear testing. The mutants (not the X-Men kind) and their offspring prey on unsuspecting travellers on their desolate land.
Scariest Scene: Scary moments are aplenty in this flick but the one that got us gripping in our seats was when a couple of mutants barged into the family’s trailer and one of the uglies violate the daughter while holding a baby at gunpoint while the parents helplessly watched.
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Also check out the following articles in our scary movie series!
The best (and creepiest) films that delve with talking to the dearly departed… and beyond.
We count down some of the finest in the macabre from Asia.