The Last House on the Left (1972)
Wes Craven sought to create a name for himself, and the disturbing images that fill Last House on the Left nearly ended his career. The film is crammed with graphic rape sequences, an unpleasant castration and more spilled guts than you’d expect from a low-budget ’70s horror flick. The Last House on the Left is an essential viewing for fans of the horror genre. The film showcases the humble roots of one of horror’s most prolific directors and gives just a small taste of things to come from Craven.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Giving birth is a pain on its own, but add the anti-Christ and you’ve got Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. A woman and her husband move to New York and Rosemary becomes pregnant. She discovers her strange neighbors have plans for her unborn child. This film is one that haunts viewers days after seeing it and is a stunning example of a film that only gets better with time. Rosemary’s Baby has a script and cast that most horror movie can only dream of: poignant, suspenseful and timeless.
From the picturesque opening sequence of an innocent teen who ventures out for a swim and is mangled by a shark, Steven Spielberg created a film that instilled an irrational fear of sharks and stopped many from braving unknown waters. For this alone, Jaws is an essential horror film that affected anyone that has ever seen this masterpiece of fear.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Leatherface the grandfather of all silent stalkers, redefined crazy in this horror classic. A group of teens soon find themselves at the hand of a chainsaw-wielding madman and try desperately to escape with their lives. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre turns the tables on weary middle America and places fear right in the heartland.
The Shining (1980)
“Here’s Johnny;” a classic line from Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining. The film used every aspect to create suspense, from a pair of haunting twins to the continued utterance of “redrum.” Despite King’s objections to the film version many still love Kubrick’s vision. If King is truly the master of horror, then The Shining is his pinnacle.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Armed with razor-sharp finger blades, cunning and virtually indestructible, Freddy Krueger is not your average slasher. A Nightmare on Elm Street made it so you weren’t safe anywhere especially asleep. Unlike Jason and Michael Myers, Freddy was creative with his kills and the plot was a bit more feasible. Whereas in the Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises it was always the same: a rather dimwitted group of horny teens venturing into the same place another group was brutally murdered. With Nightmare, you couldn’t hide from your dream, you can’t possibly escape the need for sleep and the moment you succumbed that was it. But as with most other horror franchises, Freddy became a caricature of himself and the sequels became comedies rather horror films. The original Nightmare still remains one of the best movies of the genre.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1989)
While the first Hellraiser was rather unfocused, Hellbound: Hellraiser II aims for scares. The main characters unwisely venture into hell and a new cenobite (or demon) arrives to bring order to the underworld. Skinless bodies and plenty of rotting corpses decorate the backdrop of this ghoulish flick. Hellbound: Hellraiser II is a pleasurable film to spend Halloween with.