Though he may no longer be with us, Wes Craven was able to create characters and stories that will forever stand out as some of the most disturbing of their kind. What other horror films hold such an honor?
You know, I was reading an article about the unfortunate passing of Wes Craven yesterday (not ours, a different one), and in it was a lengthy discussion regarding how well Craven’s films seem to have held up over the years — from the practical effects right down to the concepts themselves. I mean, who can forget the ceiling-dragging death scene from the original Nightmare on Elm Street, or when Johnny Depp was turned into a literal fountain of blood? Perhaps Craven’s greatest gift to the horror genre was his ability to craft visceral, gut-wrenching moments that defy both the era they were made in and the technology used to create them.
A horror film is a unique commodity in that way, in that its effectiveness must often hold up to scrutiny some twenty years after it was originally released. Just as action films have relied more on more on CGI-ridden, Michael Bay-splosions to satiate our unquenchable thirst for carnage, horror directors have almost been forced to up the anty to the torture-porny levels of a Saw or a Hostel film to meet our culturally desensitized understanding of what constitutes fear. Of course, there have been some exceptions: Paranormal Activity, The Babadook, and It Follows all stand out as great examples of recent horror films which subvert classic tropes to incredible effect.
So with that in mind, I figured I’d engage you, The Escapist community, in a little discussion: Which Classic Horror Movies Have Aged the Best?
John Carpenter’s The Thing immediately comes to mind, with its groundbreaking special effects that have arguably yet to be surpassed in the horror genre, or any genre for that matter. The defibrillator/spider head scene in and of itself is a masterful achievement by any modern standards.
Obviously, it would be downright shameful not to mention Kubrick’s The Shining when discussing horror movies with a timeless ability to frighten. The same goes for genre classics like Alien, Poltergeist, Hellraiser, and The Fly.
And even before that, you had visual masterpieces of horror like American Werewolf in London and Jaws, two films so highly regarded that they can still pack any theater having a retro night to this day.
Of course, the timelessness of a horror film is not measured by its special effects alone. To really appreciate fear in its simplest form, you need look no further than the catalogue of a Hitchcock or a Corman. Take the now infamous shower scene from Psycho, for instance.
Even as the technological capabilities of the filmmaking industry have evolved, films like these still find themselves at the top of every “Best of” horror list, and the reasoning is simple: They tap into a part of our psyche that no level of desensitization can erase. Regardless of whatever modern movie monster is marketed as “The next Freddy Krueger”, there will never be an actual predecessor to the nightmarish creations of Craven, or Hitchcock, because there will never *be* another Craven or Hitchcock. It’s that simple.
This is all a long-winded way of asking: Which horror films do you think have best stood the test of time?