Full disclosure, not a horror movie fan. I find the whole concept a bit silly. Also, I’m chicken.
Now that the obvious is out of the way, let’s look at the most obviously great gifts for horror movie fans.
Or not, let’s dissect this. You go or start up a movie, knowing it is full of jumpscares and you voluntarily watch it. Even though almost none of them are known for great character development or action scenes.
Just the scares? Whatever, man. You do you, but just saying, it’s weird and doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.
I’ll start with the most popular ones that have spawned far too many sequels. The trashy ones. By that, I mean the ones that trashy people watch. And then hit the classics that I can appreciate.
But here’s a quick roundup of good merch, for those already clicking away:
Some great gifts for horror movie fans
Freddy Krueger & Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy Krueger and the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. What started as a brilliant basement monster with a striking design has become an over-cooked mess over the years.
A hat in a boiler room, ladies and gentlemen. That’s creepy. Also, it was Johnny Depp’s first-ever feature film. Edward Scissorhands. Good job Burton.
The genius of the first movie comes through when the movie characters and the viewers question if the demonic Freddy is real or can simply attack you in a dream-plane.
It’s an excellent premise for a slasher film and it was used well at the beginning of the franchise. The second one was a dud critically, but the third, Dream Warriors, again reveled in the silliness and strangeness of the concept.
Also, Dream Warrior had a cast that included Laurence Fishburne and Patricia Arquette.
Then the franchise, unfortunately, kept going for a few more installments, at which point it started becoming a parody of itself, especially due to the increasingly convoluted plots.
Of course, this is hardly the only horror franchise to exceed its premise’s limitations and then make 5 more movies.
Game recognized game as Freddy Krueger would collide with another more-bloated 80s franchise and overused movie monster.
The franchise was resurrected temporarily in 2010 when they attempted a reboot. But the movie did not get the response the studios wanted and thankfully did not get 7 more sequels and a 1v1 with Annabelle in 2028.
Jason Voorhees & Friday the 13th
Unlike the last franchise, this onés pretty basic. Boy drowns in a lake during camp. Boy’s mother blames counselor sex. Boy murders many counselors and teenagers. While counselors and teenagers have sex.
That’s the character motive. He had 10 movies before the crossover with Freddy. The 10th, Jason X, has Jason murdering masses in a post-apocalyptic planet. What the heck, Hollywood?
But before it went sci-fi ape-sh&t it was jump-scare central for teens. With more fake-out deaths than the Scary /movie franchise, the Friday the 13th is about as 80s horror can get.
The original franchise culminated in the Freddy vs Jason crossover of 2003. More for remembering the height of the franchise in the 80s, than a genuine attempt to restart the franchise like the terrible 2009 flick.
The 2003 movie was slasher-nirvana for fans of the two franchises. But they could’ve had it in 1987 if Paramount and New Line cinemas had stopped comparing razor-sizes.
Michael Myers & Halloween
The franchise that set the ball rolling for 80s slashers. The 1978 movie starring Jamie Lee Curtis was a somewhat less-noisy predecessor to the previous two.
But had a similarly nuts sequel list that spanned more than a decade.
It too got a 2000s remake that didn’t pan out very well, critically. But when has that stopped a slasher franchise?
But of course, a part of the old enigma was restored with the 2018 sequel + retcon. It considers the 1978 original as its premise and disregards all other sequels.
Jamie Lee Curtis plays a much older Laurie Strode who has spent the last 40 years preparing for the return of Myers. The movie has been such a resounding success, 2 sequels have been greenlit.
Although this was a great little reminder of the draw of the 1980s, one wonders where the writing team can go with a plot like this.
But as far as franchises go, you can’t go wrong with a John Carpenter creation. Although the constant jump scares and looming can get a little tiresome. And by that, I mean really overused to the point of frustration.
Michael Myers is about as badass as movie slashers come with an emotionless mask and an aversion to chatting.
I especially liked the way they ‘aged’ the mask for the 2018 movie.
Blair Witch Project
This one was a bit out of the blue and a shock to the system back in 1999.
A low budget found-footage movie about three college students who wander into a storied forest to find out the truth behind the stories. Or debunk them or whatever.
It goes gloriously wrong, and all that without CGI or even the cheap sort of jumpscares. The grainy footage making the whole premise more believable.
The effect of paranoia on a group of seemingly stable youngsters and the suffocating dread they feel when they realize they might have to spend the night in the forest is shown very convincingly.
It also inspired the monster success of the Paranormal Activity movies. I’m still undecided if that’s a pro or con for the Blair Witch Project.
Night of the Living Dead 1968
All horror franchises become trash. You just need to give it time. But the Living Dead franchise is a bit of a departure from the expected levels of accelerated trashiness.
It held firm in the quality department for 3 movies before the trash took over.
The 1968 original was a wonderful way to introduce the zombie apocalypse. This George A Romero classic shows us how residents of an unsuspecting world would react to the undead crawling around in their yard.
t was the anti-Shaun of the Dead or Shaun of the Dead is the anti-Night of the Living Dead. One of those is true.
This was followed up 10 years later with Dawn of the Dead. That right there is a big anomaly. Franchises normally, can’t wait to pump out the next entry to cash in on the popularity of the first.
But George Romero took his time and showed us events 3 weeks after the events in the first film. The world is now aware and the people are panicking.
The setting they used in the mall was a stroke of genius. Romero was able to balance moments of humor with those of abject horror.
It even showed us how society breaks down very quickly in these circumstances. With humans themselves becoming antagonists in this sordid tale.
The 1985 followup takes us well into the future and it is very bleak. Shown from the perspective of the military, it has an amazing lead performance from Lori Cardille as Sarah.
Sarah and her gang seem to be the last one with any sense of humanity. They’re still trying to bring humanity from the brink. Even though the undead outnumbers humans 400,000 to 1.
No horror-themed list is complete without mentioning the 1963 Hitchcock flick. Starring Tippi Hedren as the last person to ever want to appreciate nature.
Though it is one of the best horror movies, it didn’t make much sense to me. But like any good movie, you’re invested in what is happening on screen and not much else.
As the protagonists are dive-bombed by rather common birds in waves. I would’ve preferred it if it had been in a more tropical location with more colorful birds.
You also have to wonder if this is where M Night Shyamalan got his idea for the awful movie that is The Happening. But unlike Birds, you’re not invested and constantly wondering what the filmmaker was thinking while making it.
It came 2 years after what can be considered the first in the horror genre, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
Released in 1922, it’s a clear case of I’m-not-paying-for-rights-itis. Total rip-off of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, this is still a big reason for the rise of horror as a movie genre.
A silent movie lasting 94 minutes and with just foreboding music for atmosphere, it still holds up quite well. It also established Max Schreck as a legend of horror.
The Bruce Campbell-Sam Raimi trilogy of demonic possession inspired the recent cult-favorite Ash vs Evil Dead show. Horror has never been so gloriously gory as when Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell decided to get down and dirty.
But back in 1981, it was a great alternative to what passed for horror (read the first 3 sections of the post).
Starring Sam Raimi- favorite Bruce Campbell (remember the waiter from Spiderman 2) as Ash Williams, the first movie had 5 unsuspecting college students in the midst of some seriously weird sh&t.
It certainly scarred a few minds with its innovative use of makeup and practical effects. Using its low budget as an advantage than a crutch.
The second built on the first with the use of what can only be described as slapstick gore throughout the movie. So even your average demonic possession feels a bit fun.
I’m not sure it is the case, but I feel Simon Pegg and Nick Frost drew a lot from the Evil Dead franchise and Ash Williams for their take on zombies in Shaun of the Dead.
Of course, the silliness is turned up to 11 for Army of Darkness, where Ash is sent back to the middle ages, and then hang out with King Arthur.
Calling The Thing horror is like calling Interstellar sci-fi. Sure it’s got horror elements, but it’s so much more. Claustrophobic to the extreme, for one.
It can rank as high in the pantheon of great thrillers as it would in the hall of horrors.
The greatest use of practical effects, John Carpenter’s storytelling, music by Ennio Morricone, a solid lead performance by Kurt Russell, all combined to create an experience that will unsettle viewers for generations.
This 1982 masterpiece is a lesson in what can be achieved with practical effects. A certain visceral experience that simply cannot be created using CGI.
But it is the environs of the Antarctic that takes this already terrifying prospect and multiply it with complete isolation. Think buried alive movies, but interesting for more than 30 minutes.
Even the poster is iconic. But like many great movies, it was not given its due at the time of release. But with the power of hindsight, we can all agree this is the King of all horror movies, if there ever was one.
Modern Horror movies
But one has to admit horror has been given a shot in the arm recently. I’m not talking about the franchises like the Conjuring and their many spin-offs with members of the Farmiga family.
Both rock-solid stories with career-highlight performances for their leads and no silly jumpscares for effect.
That is a very difficult balance that they’ve achieved in a genre that almost begs the filmmakers to go for the cheap scares over and over again.
Then a few years earlier, there was the deconstruction of the horror genre, The Cabin in the Woods. Complete with horror film staples like a dumb blonde, a jock, black athlete, the mousy shrieky girl and so on.
Excellent poster and a great premise. What if horror tropes were real, and if so what or who is behind it?
Yes, it is silly to claim my favorite (The Thing) to be the King of horrors. Especially after I opened with admitting to not being a fan of horror.
Actually now that I think about it, it’s an outright stupid statement. I will stick by it until enough comments shame me into changing it.
Your move, netizens.
As add-ons, I should probably do Japanese movies and their adaptations soon. It’s kinda silly not to mention Japanese horror in a post like this.
The Grudge and the Ring are the ones I know. I’m sure a little bit of research will throw up a few more gems like them. Or you could help me out. What are your favorite Japanese horror movies?