Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shaun of the Dead is the one movie on this list that works as a comedy first and as a horror second, but it does both so exceedingly well that there was no way this slice of fried gold could be ignored. From the minds of star Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright, 2004�s Shaun of the Dead gave the zombie genre the "hometown bloke" spin and turned Pegg�s Shaun and Nick Frost�s Ed into legitimate movie heroes. With homages galore and weapons ranging from rifles to cricket bats to the Batman soundtrack on vinyl (but not Purple Rain), the movie wisely balances the narrative spotlight between imaginative zombie kills and the pub-loving Shaun fighting to keep his life from spiraling away. As quotable as it is blood-soaked and hilarious, Shaun of the Dead is boosted by a stellar supporting cast of talented Brits, including Bill Nighy, Dylan Moran, Kate Ashfield and Lucy Davis (among many others).
It�s easy enough to scare the crap out of people with an eight-foot-tall, armor-plated alien killing machine with razor-sharp teeth, an extra mouth, and acid for blood, but Ridley Scott�s 1979 thriller Alien brings so much more than incredible creature design to the table. There�s been an endless debate about whether this is truly sci-fi or horror, but any way you look at it, Alien is straight up terrifying. Scott manages to squeeze every last bit of claustrophobia and terror out of relatively few moving parts, building the surprise and suspense throughout what remains, decades after its release, one of the creepiest, scariest movies ever made. And all of this is capped off with one of the best protagonists of all time, Sigourney Weaver�s Ellen Ripley, who is tough and badass, but also fragile and relatable as a woman driven to extremes by an extreme situation.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Some people fall on the side of the argument that Jonathan Demme�s 1991 smash The Silence of the Lambs isn�t a horror movie, and those people should spend some time trapped inside of Buffalo Bill�s house before reaffirming their thoughts. That character�s actions feel unbridled and maniacal, but he predictably exhibits bad movie villain behavior in the end, while Anthony Hopkins� legendary cannibal Hannibal Lecter gives off a calm and affable vibe that can instantaneously give way to the most sadistic and malicious atrocities that humans can do to one another. That well-balanced wave of antagonism worked perfectly against Jodie Foster�s career-high performance as Clarice Starling, and the film�s cat and monster-mouse game doesn�t let up until its harrowing climax in the dark. Saying nothing of the rest of the Hannibal Lecter films, Silence of the Lambs is an absolutely perfect mix of horrors both psychological and visceral, and it remains the only film in the genre to take home the Best Picture Oscar (as well as many others).
Being completely honest, it wasn't as scary as I expected but it was WAY better than I expected. Script, story and casting was all perfection. This movie really did the book justice. I am super excited for the next one to come out. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who may be even slightly considering going see it.
The Shining (1980)
For all the spine-chilling tales that horror-meister Stephen King put to the page, so very few share a similar impact in live-action, and such an achievement is a small fraction of what suspends Stanley Kubrick�s The Shining high above all other horror films. Upping the supernatural ante of King�s alcoholism-fueled descent into madness, Kubrick meticulously took each maddening piece of this claustrophobic story, which sees a writer and his family caretaking a very special hotel, and jammed it into another until it resembled the iconic Overlook carpet. And from that vision came Jack Nicholson�s maniacally uninhibited Jack Torrance, Shelly DuVall�s tortured Wendy, dream-stealing twins, blood-spewing elevators, never-ending hallways, one royally mind-fucked visit to Room 237, a garden maze, and backwards words that turn mirrors into hazards. To say nothing of Scatman Crothers� heroism. Bypassing any snap decisions on how to inspire nightmares, Kubrick famously ran his cast and crew through the wringer of muck until perfection happened, and that perfection is The Shining, which ends on a bizarre photograph more paralyzing than an axe to the spinal cord.