Archive for May 2nd, 2011

02
May
11

What I write: the important horror films

When I’m not working on fiction, I find that some of my favorite things to write are… well… analysis of other fiction. I think it’s part of the same section of my brain that works as an English teacher. I like to take stories, pick them apart, and examine which parts of them work, and don’t work, and why. True literary criticism isn’t quite the art form that it once was, of course. I’m not talking just about simple reviews, I mean a real, scholarly examination that breaks things apart and examines them, warts and all. I find I enjoy all of that.

So lately, I’ve been trying to think of ways to do that in a more organized fashion than the occasional blog post here and more in-depth than a simple review allows. And I think I’ve got a way. But to begin this project, I need to make a list.

I think I have a way to examine stories that I’ll enjoy doing, and that may even be interesting for you fine folks to read. And I’m going to start with horror movies. What I’m going to do is make myself a list of some of the most influential and/or important horror films of all time. Then I shall watch them and write about them. So I’d like you guys to help me decide, what are some “important” horror films? Which ones created great characters, are the first works of great writers or directors, or changed the way we think about horror? For the purposes of this, I’m only looking at theatrical films — no TV movies or miniseries — and while I’m not automatically disqualifying sequels, it better be damn important to crack the list. And remakes? Not gonna be easy to convince me, but go for it.

Here’s what I’ve got so far, in chronological order:

  1. Nosferatu (1922-Perhaps the first vampire film)
  2. Dracula (1931-First Universal monster)
  3. Frankenstein (1931-Perhaps the best-known Universal monster)
  4. Peeping Tom (1960-Considered by some to be the first slasher film)
  5. Psycho (1960-Hitchcock’s masterpiece)
  6. The Haunting (1963-Considered by some to be the greatest haunted house movie of all time)
  7. Night of the Living Dead (1968-Defined how we see zombies today)
  8. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974-Shaped the mad killer/slasher subgenre)
  9. Carrie (1976-First film adaptation of the work of Stephen King. Also his first novel, but that’s a different list.)
  10. Halloween (1978-Shaped horror films of the 80s)
  11. Alien (1979-Perfect synthesis of science fiction and horror)
  12. Friday the 13th (1980-Created a horror icon)
  13. The Thing (1982-The only remake on my list, because of its status as a locked-room mystery/monster movie, and the original is largely forgotten)
  14. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984-Created a horror icon)
  15. Scream (1996-Redefined horror films)
  16. Saw (2004-Shaped horror films of the 21st century)

So that’s all I’ve got so far. A measly 16 films! I want at least twice as many, folks, so I’m turning to you for help.What am I leaving out?

This list is, by virtue of being my list, somewhat prejudiced towards American films. I’ll certainly consider foreign films, if you can convince me one belongs on the list. And of course, a film’s inclusion in this project depends largely on my ability to find a copy on Netflix. And remember, it’s not just enough to tell me the name of a movie. Convince me. What makes it important? So hit me, guys. What movies do you believe deserve a place in this experiment?




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