By: Riley Zipper
What is so enjoyable about being scared out of your wits? Why do we find it fun to be scared so badly that we have to sleep with every single light on in our rooms? Just like how we will never know how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll in a Tootsie Roll Pop, we will never know why it is so sinfully entertaining to be scared. Logically, it just doesn’t make any sense. However, it is not something that’s likely to change anytime soon. So to help you indulge in the horror that we love oh so much, let’s look at some of the scariest classic horror films to have ever been created.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Living Dead is the film that first comes to mind when one thinks of ultra low-budget cult horrors. With a budget of only $114,000, now horror-guru George A. Romero created this, his first film, and arguably his best of all time. Absolute no-name actors were cast and despite being 1968, the film was shot in black and white because producers felt that it was simply too gory to be in color, when in fact, it is tamer than Scooby Doo by today’s standards. Sure, Night of the Living Dead is just a good-ole’ zombie flick, possibly something that is overdone today, but the innate creepiness of the actors and the direction and the sets makes this one stand out in my book. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must-see for any good Halloween movie night.
The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist is the Bible of horror films. Everything that makes your hair stand on end, everything that makes you sleep with the lights on, everything that makes you burrow in the arms of your best friend, or even the arms of a stranger, is in this film. It’s unscrupulously eerie and the direction by William Freidkin will make the biggest George Romero devotees gasp in awe. After watching this beautiful, demonic mess, you will immediately go to the nearest church and pray for forgiveness. It’s guaranteed. The title tells it all, it’s the story of the exorcism of a teenage girl by a priest. Obviously, it’s horrifying, and has the label of the scariest film of all time by many. It’s not just unbelievably frightening, but there’s a lingering feeling of uneasiness. It’s almost like demons possess the audience the entire duration of the film.
How could we not include this one? It’s even named after the holiday! John Carpenter’s 1978 spine-tingler starring the “Scream Queen” herself, Jamie Lee Curtis, is not one to be missed during any Halloween season. Michael Myers, (not to be confused with Mike Myers, the guy from Austin Powers… They are two very different characters) at the age of six, stabs his 17 year-old sister and is sent to an institution. Fifteen years later he breaks out and goes on a psychotic rampage of killing in his small hometown of Haddonfield. Myers helped shape a generation of horror and made the hockey mask he wore one of the most popular Halloween costumes of all time. Who can forget the creepy theme song that everybody, to this day, still tries to bang out on the piano?
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven’s 1984 masterpiece, A Nightmare on Elm Street, redefined the slasher genre. By 1984, the same boring, sad excuses for slasher films were being gobbled up faster than Michael Jackson records and acid-wash jeans. The world was in dire need of a fresh and original slasher. It came in the form of Nightmare. Freddy Krueger haunted the dreams of millions of teens and adults alike everywhere, but, of course, he didn’t kill you afterward like the movie. Nightmare was also the beginning of 6,000 remakes and sequels. None of these were near as good as the original, but that’s always the case. You must see the original film, not the embarrassment released last year with a creepy Jackie Earle Haley, but he’s always creepy so it doesn’t count (watch Little Children, he’s a child molester in that! I can almost hear Radiohead’s Creep playing in the background…)
28 Days Later… (2002)
Okay, before everybody jumps all over me for putting this on the list, hear me out. Despite being released only nine years ago, 28 Days Later is still a film that’s just as worthy of the label “classic” as Halloween or Night of the Living Dead. At first glance, 28 Days Later is just another zombie apocalypse-type film, but it is much more than that. It changes up the entire zombie apocalypse genre. The zombies are… fast! Until this was released, zombies were ridiculously slow, because, I’m assuming, they were sick and hungry for brains, so their bodies were weak. But In 28 Days Later, they were faster than even the quickest healthy human being. Why were they faster? I have no idea, but one thing’s for sure, 28 Days Later is my favorite horror film of all time.