June 27th is my 25th birthday and I can’t help but wonder what kind of special features would be included on my Anniversary Blu-ray (If I were a movie, of course). The Art of Swearing would likely be one, maybe even How To Successfully Accomplish Nothing. I’d bet you my beard that there’s a gag reel, because, let’s face it, everybody fucks up. I’m not a movie, however, so these features are irrelevant. What I am, though, is a man – a man that spends a potentially unhealthy amount of time watching movies.
Originally versed in horror, the genre has always remained near and dear to the part of my brain that thinks love comes from the heart. I’ve been watching horror films from the time I was old enough to watch anything at all, and now that I’m faced with a fast-approaching midlife crisis, I’ll likely sit around and watch more horror films just to pass the time until I’m dead. C’est la vie. Throughout the years, I’ve loved several amazing horror films, as well as several amazingly bad horror films. You’ll find a little of both scattered about in the list below.
I’m no mathematician, but I know that if you subtract 25 from 2016, you’re left with 1991. Coincidentally, 1991 just so happens to be the year I was born (mind boggling how I came up with that, huh?). While some of my all-time favorite horror movies existed well before I did, this list will focus on the films that I’ve aged alongside of. I’ve chosen my favorite horror film from each year that I’ve been alive and compiled them here for your consideration. Each film on the list will contain a trailer and a brief summary of my affection. Without further ado, let’s begin with the very year in which I was born:
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The Silence of the Lambs isn’t merely a great horror film, but a great film in general. With top-notch work from director Jonathan Demme and his incredible cast, Silence took home several Academy Awards and is generally regarded as a masterpiece.
Candyman, the movie, did not scare me as a child. What did scare me, however, was when my parents would force me into the bathroom, shut off the light, and say “Candyman” five times in the bathroom mirror – subsequently pretending to be attacked. Those frightening memories would not exist without this film.
Leprechaun is as fucking glorious as it is ridiculous, and that’s saying a whole lot. The film is cheesy and terrible, but that just adds to the charm. I’ve watched this movie at least once per year since it was released in ’93, and I promise you that I’ll continue watching it every year for as long as I may live. Fuck you, Lucky Charms.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
This decision really sucked for me. I knew unequivocally that Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was my favorite horror film 1994, as it’s my second favorite horror film of all time. With that being said, In The Mouth of Madness also resides within my top ten, so it was difficult to ignore (which is why it’s getting this mention). New Nightmare is a perfect meta horror film that is often underappreciated – though it’s always been special to me. Few films have scared me the way that this film did when I was a tot.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
Is Halloween 6 a great movie? Absolutely not. The Halloween franchise, however, was my favorite series of movies as a child – and Curse features one of the scariest versions of Michael we’ve ever seen. The film also gets bonus points for introducing me to Paul Rudd.
Wes Craven was a huge influence on my love for the horror genre. I watched the Scream franchise repeatedly as a child, and still revisit the films often today. This particular entry has always been my favorite and inspired several imaginative games of Ghostface between my little brother and I. My childhood was weird, obviously.
Leprechaun 4: In Space (1997)
If you thought I was kidding about loving terrible films, allow this to be a lesson learned. Leprechaun 4 is garbage through and through, but it’s sentimental garbage that cannot simply be thrown away. I fucking love this movie.
The Faculty (1998)
I don’t think any horror film makes me nostalgic for the 90’s quite like The Faculty does. Featuring a hip soundtrack and a plethora of future stars, The Faculty makes for a fun alien invasion flick that I have watched at least a dozen times in my life.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
M. Night Shyamalan has given us several great films that have (unfortunately) been overshadowed by the shitty back-half of his legacy. The Sixth Sense is his incredible debut movie, and the film still holds up as a masterpiece today. This is one of the rare films that has given me chills from being legitimately scary, and also given me chills from being emotionally resonant. M. Night had a couple of really good films after this, but The Sixth Sense isn’t likely to be topped.
American Psycho (2000)
American Psycho is one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me. Christian Bale’s sadistic performance is simultaneously terrifying and hilarious, as you’ll see in the brief clip below. Hey, Paul!
Session 9 (2001)
No horror is quite as effective as psychological horror, and Session 9 is a perfect example of how to do psychological horror the right way. This movie is so ripe with atmosphere that you won’t shake it for days.
28 Days Later (2002)
28 Days Later actually came out on my eleventh birthday. I remember wanting to see it in the cinema, but ended up not being able to. Good thing, too. It would have been embarrassing to piss my pants in front of all those people. 28 Days Later is legitimately terrifying and features one of the tensest scenes I’ve ever experienced.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
WHYYYY DO PEOPLE HATE THIS MOVIE?! I’ll never truly understand the negative reception. In Rob Zombie’s directorial debut, he proves to be a visionary director. It’s a shame that more people don’t see him in such a light.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shaun of the Dead is somewhat of a miracle. Alternately hilarious, terrifying, and genuinely heart-warming, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg kicked off their Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy with a perfect zombie film that rivals the classics it pokes fun at.
Wolf Creek (2005)
I wanted to visit Australia before I saw Wolf Creek and now I’m perfectly content to just forget the place even exists. Good job, John Jarratt, you kept me out of ‘Stralia, mate. Wolf Creek is an intense film that surprises you just when you think you’ve got it figured out.
This was another really tough decision for me! The Hills Have Eyes is one of the greatest horror remakes ever made, and I so badly wanted to include it on this list. However, Slither is non-stop fun that pays homage to the glorious B-movie era of 80’s cheese. It’s gross, it’s scary, it’s hilarious. Few films are as fun as Slither, and that’s why it gets the spot on my list.
Borderland is a film that has flown under the radar entirely since its release in 2007. We need to change that. This is one of the grittiest, most realistic horror films I’ve ever seen. It’s comparable to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre in that regard. Search this down immediately. It’ll frighten the shit out of you.
Splinter is another film that seems to have flown under the radar. This is a perfect monster flick with a great cast in a confined location. If you’ve never seen it, don’t hesitate to check it out.
The House of the Devil (2009)
The House of the Devil is one of my ten favorite horror flicks and proves the genius of director Ti West. This is a slow burn that masterfully builds tension until all hell breaks loose in the final fifteen minutes. It’s fucking scary.
Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2010)
Tucker & Dale is a horror-comedy, and it’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen in my life. What’s not to love about watching a bunch of punk college kids accidentally kill themselves? Death by wood chipper!!! There’s also a great underlying message here that would appeal to my sweet side if I had one.
Insidious is probably the scariest movie I’ve seen in my adult life. This is the film that really solidified James Wan as a master of horror for me, and a film that also proves you don’t need an R rating to be fucking horrifying. I enjoy both sequels, but the original is perfect.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Speaking of perfect movies, The Cabin in the Woods is one of the most enjoyable horror films ever made. This is fan service of the highest degree that features an utterly insane ending that is unrivaled in the horror genre.
The Conjuring (2013)
James Wan has dominated this decade in horror. With two wildly successful Insidious AND Conjuring films under his belt, the world is his for the taking. The Conjuring is a terrifying throwback to the movies I loved as a kid. It doesn’t break new ground, but it follows the formula masterfully.
The Babadook (2014)
This is psychological horror at its absolute greatest. Terribly mis-marketed as a monster film, The Babadook has divided audiences since its release. However, as a cautionary tale of handling grief and mental illness, The Babadook is truly a horror masterpiece that will frighten and disturb you for days.
We Are Still Here (2015)
We Are Still Here is a miraculous achievement. This is an old-fashioned ghost story with brutal, gory violence. Each actor in this film gives an amazing performance. We Are Still Here is one of the decades greatest horror films and is not one to be missed. Check it out on Netflix, now.
The Witch (2016)
Alright, so technically, The Witch was released at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. However, the film wasn’t released to the public until 2016, so I’m taking the loophole. It’s my party, I’ll cry if I want to. 2016 isn’t over yet, and there are still several horror films set to be released, but as of now, The Witch will be a tough film to top. This movie is unsettling in every way and remained on my mind for days after watching. Though the slow burn isn’t for everyone, patient viewers will surely find The Witch to be a modern masterpiece.
That was a surprisingly therapeutic way to pass time! I actually feel a bit better about becoming an old man now. Are you a fan of these films? Do you hate some of my choices? Let us know in the comments! In the meantime, I have 25 candles to blow out.