What horror films aren't scary

Place 10 - 1: "The Exorcist" to "Shining"

The best horror films - 10th place: "The Exorcist" (1973)

After William Friedkin achieved not only the Oscar crown but also a box office success with his snappy cop thriller masterpiece "The French Connection", the director was given enormous leeway for his next film. Friedkin used his freedoms and turned William Peter Blatty's bestseller “The Exorcist”, the story of the young Megan, who for inexplicable reasons is possessed by a millennia-old demon and only with the help of an exorcism by the hands of two men of God (Max von Sydow and Jason Miller), a true classic of modern horror cinema. What could easily have become one small occult thriller among many turns into the Rolls-Royce of horror films in the perfectionist hands of Friedkin. Neither expense nor effort was spared here. This great effort is reflected in the details that "The Exorcist" provides with an enormous density - which increases to the outbreak of the terrible, obscene and overwhelming horror. "The Exorcist" is a film by experts who still plays the violin on the nerves of its viewers. A masterpiece and nothing less.

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The best horror films - 9th place: "When the gondolas bear mourning" (1973)

Anyone who understands Nicolas Roeg's masterpiece “When the gondolas bear mourning” only as a horror film with a Giallo touch is doing him an injustice. After all, the story of a young couple who tries to get over the death of their child in Venice, while the city is haunted by a mysterious series of murders, is shaped by staged showpieces, psychological depth and the wonderful portrayals of Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. And by the way, Roeg comes up with a simply hypnotic assembly technique that operates on the edge of the experimental film. His work is very much at once and almost masterful in all facets ... not least as a horror film. This “trip”, based on a template by Daphne du Maurier, is not a strip of quick shocks, but a sleepwalking walk into the heart of madness. Step by step we descend into the depths of two souls plagued by grief and disorientation, where we are suddenly pushed into an oppressive black nothing. A disconcerting film that relentlessly tightens the noose around the viewer's neck through blood-red excess and more through ambiguity and formal eagerness to experiment.

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The best horror films - 8th place: "Scream" (1996)

Who does not know these typical horror film scenarios. Be it a mysterious empty house where weird things happen, a girl possessed by demons or a group of teenagers chased by a killer. Bringing a breath of fresh air in the horror genre is really not easy, because the temptation to fall back on a proven formula is enormous - after all, the horror subject has always been one of the quick marks. When “Scream” was released in 1996, the first blooming phase of the slasher film was already over, but the mentioned formula, the necessary ingredients and the routine processes were still so present in the minds of the moviegoers that the concept of “Scream “Hit like a bomb.

What is basically a classic slasher plot is enriched with a good pinch of self-deprecating meta-humor, which shows both protagonists and viewers the rules of the subgenre slasher again and again - but without breaking these rules too much, because otherwise the result would have drifted too far in the direction of comedy. But that means that “Scream”, staged by one of the grand masters of horror, namely Wes Craven, is still mainly one thing, despite all the smiles: murderously exciting. Because playing with conventions is perfidious and lets an old framework shine in a seductively unknown shine.

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The best horror films - 7th place: "Suspiria" (1977)

After earning his spurs in the late sixties and early seventies with imaginatively designed Whodunit thrillers of Italian style (the so-called Giallo) that were not stingy with blood and sex, this narrative corset became too tight for the director and screenwriter Dario Argento. He opened up to fantasy-heavy horror and delivered his masterpiece with "Suspiria". With the head, the visually powerful and expressive lighting, bright colors and a hypnotic soundtrack of the prog rocker Goblin shaped hell ride around a ballet student who has to find out in a dance school in Freiburg that an old witch association is pulling the strings behind the scenes, and at the same time Got into the devil's kitchen, hardly understand.

Argento, who was already less interested in the criminalistic resolution than in the absorbent imagery of evil in his more conventional thrillers, lets his feverish gaze wander through baroque interiors and equally fascinating and brutal nightmare scenarios. Soon one is inclined to no longer search for the “why” and instead follows Argento into his own logical world of beautiful horror.

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The best horror films - 6th place: "Nosferatu - A Symphony of Horror" (1922)

Sixth place is taken by a classic of German cinema, which indirectly refers to Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula": If you are honest, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's gruesome silent film drama from 1922 has to be regarded as a not very fine producer stunt, in which Stoker's original is rather bold was copied. However, the devil and the movie gods are in the details here. For example, the screenwriter, director and actor Henrik Galeen, who was unfortunately criminally forgotten by the history of film, was supervised with the revision of the source material and added some very worthwhile variations to the material. He mixed the Gothic horror Stoker with set pieces of gruesome German romanticism, brought plague motifs into the script and turned the sophisticated Transylvanian playboy Dracula into Count Orlok, plagued by gout, grief and depression, for whom evil is not a pleasure gain, but a hideous burden from which only love can free him, even if that means death. Directed by the then up-and-coming Murnau and with the mysterious theater actor Max Schreck in the role of Orlok, who acted with captivating body language, “Nosferatu - Symphony of Horror” became one of those legends of expressionism-influenced German silent films that went through like an evil spirit haunt film history.

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The best horror films - 5th place: "The Night of the Living Dead" (1967)

With his 1968 classic of the zombie film, George A. Romero reversed the genre, the course of which has been adhered to to this day. Before he let the living dead wander through the heartland of America, the lame henchmen were regarded as metaphors critical of colonialism, mostly based on African or Caribbean folklore and used in early horror films such as “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari ”, Victor Halperin's classic“ White Zombie ”or“ I Walked with a Zombie ”performed their duties as unscrupulous helpers of unscrupulous brainwashing gurus or other string pullers. With Romero, a new, more virological aspect was added, which enriched the zombie myth with vampire, cannibalism and werewolf set pieces. Anyone who was bitten by an undead - in the past zombies didn't necessarily have to be dead - sooner or later became a carnivorous monster that attacked their fellow human beings. While he turned to consumerism in “Zombie - Dawn Of The Dead” and in “Zombie 2 - Day Of The Dead” he devoted himself to the emerging Reagan capitalism of the 80s, which was built on the poverty of the masses, he branded in his prelude to the trilogy “ The night of the living dead “the state's war against its own citizens and the civil rights movement. It is not without good reason that the heroes of Romero's trilogy are always women or African-Americans, the groups that had to fight hardest for their rights in the past century. Together with its sequels, Romero's combative and openly political zombie trilogy is a gloomy and civilization-critical inventory of the western world.

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The best horror films - 4th place: "Die Teuflischen" (1955)

A horror film does not depend on mummies, monsters and mutations to take its audience by the hand and carry them off into the realm of nightmares. The real horror here is human nature, which is built on greed, lust, hatred and fear and whose dark sides keep breaking out. In 1955, legendary director Henri-Georges Clouzot (“Wages of Fear”) found depressing images for a ride into hell into the heart of paranoia and madness. He needed neither psychic hocus-pocus nor graphic extremes to send rows of icy showers down the back of the audience. Here, two women, the wife and lover of a sadistic boarding school director (Simone Signoret and Véra Clouzot), are enough to join forces to murder the tyrant. But when the corpse disappears and both women are terrorized with anonymous letters, madness, guilt and sheer panic weave a spider web around them, from which they can no longer escape. Clouzot's classic is a milestone in horror on quiet feet. ”The film can currently be seen on Amazon Prime Video.

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The best horror films - 3rd place: "Alien" (1979)

“There are two possibilities: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both ideas are scary, ”recognized science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. Ridley Scott opted for the second option with "Alien" and made it impressively clear to his audience that this could perhaps be the more terrifying one. The crew of the spaceship Nostromo is lured to an unknown planet by an SOS signal. Once there, a creature hatched from an egg claws at the face of a crew member - a so-called "facehugger". But they didn't just come up with this uncomfortable face mask for the Alies. The alien being grows, it goes through a complete evolution staircase and henceforth hunts the crew.

In the sequel you learn that any alien can become a brooding queen, which gives the so-called "Xenomorphs" a certain femininity. Girl power is one of the main themes of the film series anyway, Sigourney Weaver as tough Ripley, who has to assert herself in a dull macho world, is the prime example of a defensive action heroine. And along the way, even philosophical questions are raised. Thus, the groundbreaking masterpiece "Alien" not only offers profound added value, but also makes repeated viewing advisable.

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The best horror films - 2nd place: "Psycho" (1960)

“A boy's best friend is his mother.” When the young fugitive thief Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), who wants to escape her hopeless life by embezzling company funds and fleeing into the unknown, this sentence from the mouth of the shy, to the hermitage Heard of the inclined motel owner Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), she would have preferred to run away. Instead, she decided to take a shower, which had well-known consequences in film history. What else should one write about Alfred Hitchcock's brilliant thriller that has not already been written a thousand times and that still freezes the blood in your veins today? Perhaps that all the hymns and canonizations of this witty and ambiguous shocker, which is loosely based on the deeds of the real serial killer Ed Gein, are fully justified and that the voluminous thriller maestro Hitchcock with this courageous classic is not only the blueprint for the slasher genre, but also set an early milestone in terms of twist. You should be wary of a man who has the courage or the madness to let his leading actress jump over the blade at half time. The same goes for this film. The film can currently be seen on Prime Video.

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The best horror films - 1st place: "Shining" (1980)

If you ask Stephen King which of the seemingly innumerable, by no means always successful, film adaptations of his works he is least able to start with, he names Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" as his personal hate film to this day. An opinion with which he is probably completely alone. Aside from King's view, Kubrick's trip into the heart of the madness of a manic-depressive writer who, together with his family, is supposed to keep a snow-covered hotel in good condition over the winter months and in the process finally succumbs to madness, is rightly considered one of the unrivaled masterpieces of horror cinema viewed. King's displeasure is based on the fact that Kubrick had no interest in working with the writer at the time and instead implemented his very own vision of the material ... and was completely right with his nose (as always). With his own perfection, the legendary iconoclast spun a fascinating thread of creeping threat that slowly wraps around the spectator's neck, only to be pulled together with full force. With surgical precision, an atmosphere of imprisonment and piece by piece drifting away into delusions, panic and finally naked terror is created. In “Shining” every detail is right - from the ingenious score, to which both Wendy Carlos (“Tron”) and the Polish avant-garde composer Krzysztof Penderecki contributed with dark sounds, to John Alcott's floating camera, which moves like an evil spirit through the Halls and hotel corridors floats, up to the actors like Jack “Heeeeeere's Johnny!” Jack Nicholson and the terrified Shelley Duvall as a terrorized wife. Even today, the force with which the nerves of the audience are torn to shreds is impressive.

Stephen King is allowed to blaspheme about "Shining" because he provided the novel - everyone else MUST recognize Kubrick's brilliant shocker as the masterpiece that it is! The sequel "Doctor Sleep" is just around the corner. Here the now grown-up son Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) traces the secret of the eponymous Shining. On November 21, 2019, “Doctor Sleep” will appear in our cinemas. "Shining" can currently be seen on Amazon Prime Video.

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"Shining" on DVD and Blu-ray
The trailer for "Shining"