A Century of Film


Horror


The Genre

What is a Horror film?  And what would have qualified at the beginning of film?  Kim Newman and James Marriott correctly point out in their great book Horror! The Definitive Companion to the Most Terrifying Movies Ever Made, that as cinema was beginning, so was Horror as a genre, with works like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Dracula.  The first “official” Horror film is The Devil’s Castle, a two minute film from 1896.  Frankenstein was filmed as early as 1910 (a 12 minute film which was just recently restored) and Jekyll even before that in 1908.  The Avenging Conscience, a Griffith film based on works of Poe, is one of the earliest American feature-length films, running 78 minutes.

But then we get back to what qualifies as Horror.  Some books and people classify it very broadly, including many films that I wouldn’t include (see list at the bottom) and Silence of the Lambs is often held up as the only Horror film to win Best Picture at the Oscars but I listed it as a Suspense film when I covered that genre.  I consider all Monster films as Horror, from Godzilla films to King Kong films but when I listed King Kong as one of the best Horror films I had numerous dissents that it’s not a Horror film.  The top of my own list includes films that almost no one else considers Horror films, films like Taxi Driver, Trainspotting and A Clockwork Orange but the horrific in them is the only thing that seems to classify them properly.  To that end, my own definition is rather broad but different from many others.

The question continued as the first Horror films started to thrive.  Everyone agrees on the Golden Age of Horror at Universal but what about those films that came before, like the Chaney films Hunchback of Notre Dame and Phantom of the Opera.  Certainly the former is not considered a Horror novel and the latter is questionable but I consider the horrific elements in both to be the overriding aspect.  Chaney’s work would point the way for the explosion of the next decade.

From the Kirk Hammett collection.  For an explanation, see the final book in the Books section.

“The first phase of the sound horror cycle, known as the classic period, lasted from 1931 to 1936, during which years around thirty horror films were produced by the eight majors.”  (Grand Design: Hollywood as a Modern Business Enterprise, 1930-1939, Tino Balio, p 298)  Of course, the bulk of these, and certainly the ones most remembered came from Universal and those are what sparked my actual interest in Horror films and remain among my favorite films in the genre.

But Horror died off in the next decade, with everyone but Universal abandoning it by the wayside.  The genre had mostly faded away and there really hadn’t been good films since the mid-30’s when Abbott and Costello starting meeting monsters and making the whole thing ridiculous.  It would take Hammer Horror and their revival of the original monsters in color to really bring the genre back to life.  At the same time that Hammer was doing that, in America, low-budget films from AIP and Roger Corman were starting to bring some life back into the genre as well, paving the way for a boom from both groups in the sixties.  In the ten year stretch from 1947 to 1956, I have seen 24 Horror films while in the nine years after that, once Hammer and AIP got going, I have seen 158.

The seventies are an interesting mix.  On the low end, Hammer’s output was quite bad, AIP was releasing anything they could find and the Wild Nature sub-genre sought out any animal that could possibly provide terror and several which couldn’t, including rabbits, frogs and worms.  On the other hand, there were The Exorcist and Jaws, two films that not only are among the best ever made in the genre, that not only finally found the critical acclaim that the genre had long been lacking, finally earning Best Picture nominations at the Oscars but also becoming two of the most successful films ever released.

With the 80’s came franchises.  Sequels had been in existence for decades but with franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street, you could see the same films coming out every single year.  Sadly, the franchises would generally suck (at least after the first film) but the films kept coming.  No films really rose to the top with the critics and no film was a big box office hit.  It would take until the 90’s to rediscover a critical smash (The Sixth Sense) and films that could again make over $100 million (Interview with the Vampire, Scream, Sixth Sense).

What would happen in the current century is that studios realized that Horror could provide good money on the dollar.  The films would sink fast but they would open big enough to more than cover their costs and so studios kept returning to franchises and the genre itself, getting a big box office winner for a weekend and enough to cover the cost of making the next one.  Before 1992, no R-rated Horror film had ever opened to more than $30 million.  In the 20 years since (1992-2011), 16 films have broken that mark and only one of them (Sleepy Hollow) managed to triple its opening weekend by the end of its box office run and several of them couldn’t even double them.  A true hit was still rare, either with the critics or at the box office but the films continued to stay profitable and many franchises were started or re-started, including the big 80’s franchises (all of which earned reboots in the new century).

Sub-Genres

In essence, almost all Horror films can be easily divided into the Supernatural and the non Supernatural.  But I divide a lot more than that.  And some of the divisions have divisions as well.

Alien Invasion

  • Best Film:  Invasion of the Body Snatchers  (1956)

A sub-genre filled with films that could easily be displaced from Horror.  The entire sub-genre could easily go in Sci-Fi (and, in fact, this same sub-genre will also be in Sci-Fi).  But these are films where the Horror, to me, overwhelms the Sci-Fi aspects.  I only rank five films here better than **.5 – the first two Invasion films, Signs, The Faculty and Mimic.

Animated (Anime)

  • Best Film:  Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

Of the six Animated films I classify as Horror, only Vampires in Havana isn’t an Anime film.  They are mostly vampire films and mostly aren’t very good.

Anthology

  • Best Film:  Kwaidan

These are films that tell multiple stories, not necessarily as a continuos narrative.  Twilight Zone: The Movie and Tales from the Crypt are well-known examples.  Kwaidan is the only film above *** though Waxworks and Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors are both high ***.  I list 13 films here.

Comedy

  • Best Film:  Gremlins

This could be a lot larger.  But these are films where the comedy is a main aspect of the film, not just Horror films that are funny.  I list 52 films here with only three of them better than ***: Gremlins, Bubba Ho-Tep and The Frighteners.

Corman/Poe

  • Best Film:  Masque of the Red Death

These are the eight films that Roger Corman made for AIP in the early 60’s and are the best films Corman ever made.  All but Premature Burial (low **.5) are mid ***.  The costumes and sets are all nice and the films are in wonderful color.

Found Footage

  • Best Film:  The Blair Witch Project

Honestly, a terrible sub-genre.  It existed before Blair Witch (Cannibal Holocaust is an example) but Blair Witch really kicked it off and then came all the Paranormal Activity films.  I list 7 films that I have seen and they all suck, including Blair Witch which is just high **

Haunted House

  • Best Film:  The Old Dark House

A sub-genre with a long tradition but aside from The Old Dark House and the 1963 version of The Haunting, most aren’t very good.  I’ve got 21 films listed here.

From the Kirk Hammett collection.

Lit Adaptation

  • Best Film:  The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)

This one is a bit longer than it might seem.  I classify several thing as just Lit Adaptation (various version of Dorian Gray, for instance) but some authors get specific sub-sub-genres, though aside from Hugo (four versions of Hunchback), the only author with more than three films is Poe (14 films), the best of which is The Avenging Conscience.  There are 29 total films with The Invisible Man and the 1929 Fall of the House of Usher the only aside from Hunchback and Conscience to be above ***.  Poe may make for good films but also for bad ones; of the 29 films listed four of them are below ** and three of those are Poe (the other one is the 1977 Island of Dr. Moreau but I list the 1995 version as Sci-Fi).

Mad Scientist

  • Best Film:  The Man Who Could Cheat Death

There are 28 films listed here and even the best is only low *** but that’s because all of the Frankenstein films are in a different sub-genre as is Island of Lost Souls.

Monster

  • Best Film:  The Host

As will be seen directly below, this sub-genre gets broken down much further.  So what we have here are films with a monster that doesn’t fall into any of the later categories with The Host being the only one above *** and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms the only other one above **.5.  There are 30 films that land here not including all the sub-sub-genres listed below.  The one I won’t list separately below is Monster (Fly) which covers the five Fly films with the 1958 and 1986 versions being high ***.

Monster (Dinosaur)

  • Best Film:  Jurassic Park

Any films in which modern day people deal with dinosaurs.  I list six with Jurassic Park being miles above the others.  But some films like this I have as Adventure films so they don’t actually appear in Horror.

Monster (Frankenstein)

  • Best Film:  The Bride of Frankenstein

There are 23 films listed here with six from Universal and seven from Hammer.  The Bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein are great films but nothing else is above high *** and no non-Universal or Hammer film is better than **.5.  But the major films are good with the Universal films averaging a 75.83 and the Hammer films averaging a 64.57.

Monster (Gamera)

  • Best Film:  Gamera: Guardian of the Universe

Most people think of Gamera as going with Godzilla but they were made by competing studios (the Gamera films are from Daiei).  The Gamera films are not good (12 films with a high of 47 and an average of 33.83).  I’m not listing it separately here but I also have a Monster (Kaiju) for Japanese Monster films that don’t have either Godzilla or Gamera but I only have three and they are terrible: Mothra (*), The War of the Gargantuas (*) and Rodan (.5).  The middle one is an oddity but the other two were other Tojo films that kicked off the characters on their own but then they were later just dragged into the Godzilla franchise.

From the Kirk Hammett collection.

Monster (Godzilla)

  • Best Film:  Gojira

Now, to be clear, I list the original 1954 Japanese version of Gojira as a different film from the re-edited Godzilla, King of the Monsters released in the States in 1956.  I happen to love Godzilla films even if most of them are terrible.  It’s really all about that first film and King Kong vs. Godzilla, which I unabashedly love in spite of its flaws.  I have seen every Godzilla film, which, through 2011, includes 31 films (including some films listed twice for very different English language versions) that average a 40.84 (because, while I love them, I know most are terrible).

Monster (Jekyll)

  • Best Film:  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1932)

I’ve seen 11 versions of the classic story ranging in time from 1920 to 1996 and in quality from **** to * (Daughter of Dr. Jekyll).  Probably because Paramount did two early versions and then MGM did one, Universal has never actually done a version of this (though a version of the character has appeared in Universal films).

From the Kirk Hammett collection.

Monster (Kong)

  • Best Film:  King Kong  (2005)

There are seven films here (the Godzilla film is in Godzilla) with two brilliant ones, of course although there are also two terrible ones (King Kong Lives, Kong Island).

Monster (Mummy)

  • Best Film:  The Mummy  (1932)

There are 15 total films including 8 from Universal (5 classic, 3 modern) and 4 from Hammer.  Only two of them are awful, neither from those two studios (The Awakening, The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy).

Monster (Small)

  • Best Film:  The Phantom of the Opera  (1925)

So any kind of human sized monster, mainly the Phantom (five films) and the Creature from the Black Lagoon (three films).  Aside from the original Phantom, Sleepy Hollow is a ***.5 film.

Monster (Werewolf)

  • Best Film:  The Wolf Man  (1941)

There’s never been a really good Wolfman film though Universal’s original is a very high ***.  Sadly, there have been lots of bad ones among the 23 films listed here with Cursed the worst among them.

Sci-Fi

  • Best Film:  Village of the Damned  (1960)

All of the 36 films here could be considered Sci-Fi films which wouldn’t do Sci-Fi any good since they average a 34.17.  They are mostly movies with a horrific overall feel but with Sci-Fi elements including such overrated films as Shivers and The Thing.

Serial Killer

  • Best Film:  The Black Room  (1935)

I considered calling this “Rural Horror” but that’s not quite accurate.  These are films about a mad killer but don’t really classify as Slasher films.  None of them rise above *** and most of them are pretty bad.  It does include any Texas Chainsaw Massacre films and, in a sub-sub-genre of Serial Killer (Jigsaw) the seven Saw films all of which are terrible.

Slasher

  • Best Film:  Psycho

In total, there are 73 films here but that’s because I’m not going to list separately here the sub-sub-genres of Slasher (Freddy), (Jason) and (Michael) which cover 9, 11 and 9 films.  Psycho is the only **** film though the original Halloween is ***.5 and there are high *** for the original Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream and From Hell.  On the whole, most Slasher films suck (30.27 average), with Freddy (41.00) and Michael (37.44) a bit higher and Jason being truly awful (13.36).

Splatter

  • Best Film:  Silent Night, Bloody Night

Even more gore-filled than Slasher films, these are mostly the work of the untalented Herschell Gordon Lewis.  All seven films listed here combine for a 70.

Stephen King

  • Best Film:  The Shining

This doesn’t include every film made from a Stephen King book, of course, because films like Stand by Me and Shawshank aren’t Horror.  Also, some of them are Stephen King originals for film and some of them are sequels that bear little resemblance to the original King work.  But there are 28 films here with two great ones (The Shining, Carrie), one very good (Misery) and two high *** (The Dead Zone, Christine).  After that, it goes downhill very fast.

Supernatural

  • Best Film:  Don’t Look Now

This is basically a catch-all that included almost all Horror films that weren’t already in sub-genres that at least had a supernatural element to them.  It includes several great films (Don’t Look Now, Ringu, The Sixth Sense, The Others, The Devil’s Backbone) and a number of ***.5 and high *** films.  There are 152 films that end up here.

Supernatural (Religious)

  • Best Film:  The Exorcist

Similar to the previous one, of course, but these are ones where the supernatural elements explicitly deal with religion.  Rosemary’s Baby is a close #2 here and there are other really good films (The Golem, The White Reindeer).  The two big franchises here are The Exorcist and The Omen.  I have 37 films listed here.

Surreal

  • Best Film:  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

There are just a few films here, films with a totally surrealistic bent: Caligari, the 1962 remake, Carnival of Souls, Eraserhead, A Page of Madness and Taxidermia.

Urban Horror

  • Best Film:  A Clockwork Orange

This list includes films that most other people don’t consider to be Horror (Clockwork, Trainspotting, Taxi Driver, Contagion) but also films where the danger of urban living can be shown.  I have 17 films listed here.

From the Kirk Hammett collection.

Vampire

  • Best Film:  Vampyr

There are two sub-sub-genres to this category listed directly below.  This main category, which are simply straight Vampire stories that don’t use Dracula includes 82 films but the only three above *** are Vampyr, Let the Right One In and Interview with the Vampire.  The vast majority are ** or below and they average just a 41.15.  This category includes the crappy Underworld and Twilight films.

Vampire (Comedy)

  • Best Film:  The Fearless Vampire Killers

I only list six films here, the ones that are explicitly Vampire Comedies.  Fearless is the only one above **.5.  Most Vampire Comedies aren’t very good.

From the Kirk Hammett collection.

Vampire (Dracula)

  • Best Film:  Nosferatu  (1922)

I have 28 films listed here, many of them Universal (7) or Hammer (8).  Many of them can be found discussed in my post on the novel and certainly the best of them are discussed there.

Wild Nature

  • Best Film:  Jaws

Roger Corman sort of began this sub-genre with his AIP films in the late 50’s and The Birds is one of the two great examples (indeed, one of only two films above **.5) but it was in the 70’s that this sub-genre sadly flourished.  Of the 37 films listed here, 20 of them were released in the 70’s and six of those were AIP films.

Zombie

  • Best Film:  The Night of the Living Dead  (1968)

I am not a Zombie fan (with zero interest in Walking Dead) so it’s only my overall love of film that leads to 50 films being listed here (with more directly below).  Three of those are ***.5 (Night of the Living Dead, 28 Days Later, Evil Dead) but well over half are ** of lower.

Zombie (Comedy)

  • Best Film:  Shaun of the Dead

A thriving little sub-sub-genre with eight films listed here, including such very good films as Shaun of the Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness as well as the solid Dead Alive.

Assorted

  • Best Film:  Mulholland Dr.  (Surreal)

Examples with too few films to merit their own sub-genre are Blaxploitation (J.D.’s Revenge), though other Blaxploitation films in the genre have ended up in other sub-genres, Comic Book (DC) for Swamp Thing, Historical for Ken Russell’s Gothic, Roman Polanski’s Macbeth is Shakespeare, two True Crime films (Deranged, The Doctor and the Devils).

The Directors

Dario Argento

  • Films:  11
  • Years:  1972 – 2007
  • Average Film:  44.91
  • Best Film:  Four Flies on Grey Velvet
  • Worst Film:  The Phantom of the Opera

“Operatic seems the best description of Argento’s gifts – he is to the horror genre what Sergio Leone was to the western.  Argento makes film that are larger than life, inflates the violence and thrills, displays a scene-stealing sense of design of style.”  (Horror Film Directors, 1931-1990, Dennis Fischer, p 36)  I have never taken much to Argento’s films.  I see why they have influenced others but don’t much care for them.  I also find it distressing and weird how often he puts his naked daughter in them.

Mario Bava

  • Films:  7
  • Years:  1960 – 1972
  • Average Film:  46.43
  • Best Film:  Black Sunday
  • Worst Film:  Baron Blood

“Few can match his ability to create an atmosphere of terror with only a few deftly placed lights, an appropriate camera movement, and some unsettling sound such as a door banging in the wind.  It is for his ability, and not the often gratuitous violence that marred his later work, that Bava will be most remembered.”  (Fischer, p 81)  Bava started his work in the genre at the top and with the exception of Blood and Black Lace never even came close to it again.

John Carpenter

  • Films:  8
  • Years:  1978  –  2001
  • Average Film:  49.25
  • Best Film:  Halloween
  • Worst Film:  Prince of Darkness

“His best work revolves around people who pull together while struggling against outside forces, asserting their need to determine their own destinies.”  (Fischer, p 142)  Carpenter, even more than Bava started at the top and worked down with his last several Horror films to being utter shit.  Even though I think The Thing is massively over-rated his first four Horror films average a 63.25 and his last four average a 35.25.

Roger Corman

  • Films:  18
  • Years:  1957  –  1990
  • Average Film:  51.11
  • Best Film:  Masque of the Red Death
  • Worst Film:  Attack of the Crab Monsters

“While he has always been dependent on actors who can direct themselves, he has discovered imaginative ways to film on a low budget that makes his works superior to others produced on a similar level.”  (Fischer, p 245)  He mostly stopped with Horror after the Poe cycle was done in 1964 but there is also Frankenstein Unbound.  His late 50’s crap Monster movies are balanced out by the Poe films.  Corman directed 8 Horror films with a rating of 65 or higher, more than almost anyone else.

Wes Craven

  • Films:  15
  • Years:  1972  –  2011
  • Average Film:  45.00
  • Best Film:  Scream
  • Worst Film:  Cursed

“Craven’s energies, however, remain focused on developing new ways to surprise and shock audiences, creating some of the most visceral and dream-like imagery in the entire horror field.”  (Fischer, p 267)  Craven is kind of all over the place with several high *** films (Nightmare, Serpent and the Rainbow, New Nightmare, the first two Scream films) and several that are just utter crap (Last House on the Left, Deadly Blessing, Deadly Friend, Shocker, Vampire in Brooklyn, Cursed), though, to be fair, some of those, both the highs and lows, came after Fischer’s book was published.

David Cronenberg

  • Films:  7
  • Years:  1975  –  1988
  • Average Film:  55.43
  • Best Film:  Dead Ringers
  • Worst Film:  The Brood

“He reminds us that sex is not always viewed with joy and wonder, but sometimes with disgust and revulsion – that human beings can be repulsed as well as enticed by sex.”  (Fischer, p 285)  If you take out The Brood, his average goes up to a 63.67 and his last three Horror films (Dead Zone, Fly, Dead Ringers) average a 76.7.

Guillermo del Toro

  • Films:  4
  • Years:  1993  –  2002
  • Average Film:  75.50
  • Best Film:  The Devil’s Backbone
  • Worst Film:  Blade II

If I considered Pan’s Labyrinth a Horror film and there is a good case to be made there, he would probably easily rank as the greatest director in the genre.  A director of unbridled imagination and talent.

Terence Fisher

  • Films:  17
  • Years:  1957  –  1974
  • Average Film:  64.94
  • Best Film:  The Horror of Dracula
  • Worst Film:  The Horror of It All

“Fisher crafted several horror classics which depended on good craftsmanship rather than flashy shock effects, and he virtually singlehandedly defined the British/Hammer style of horror filmmaking.”  (Fischer, p 397)  There’s more on Fisher here because he was a key to the Hammer Horror films.  He directed nine Horror films at a 65 or more (and four more that earned a 64).  The only bad Horror film he made is ironically also the one he didn’t direct for Hammer.

Freddie Francis

  • Films:  14
  • Years:  1964  –  1985
  • Average Film:  50.07
  • Best Film:  The Skull
  • Worst Film:  Trog

Also mentioned in the Hammer post because he was their key cinematographer and then went on to direct several films (though he directed more for other studios).

Ishiro Honda

  • Films:  15
  • Years:  1954  –  1975
  • Average Film:  41.60
  • Best Film:  Gojira
  • Worst Film:  Rodan

“Somehow it is appropriate that Honda took the world’s biggest fear, atomic destruction, and sanitized it into something loveable.”  (Fischer, p 529)  The king of the Kaiju films with 9 Godzilla films plus four other films in the genre.  He directed most of the best Godzilla films and the bulk of the Showa series.

Roman Polanski

  • Films:  4
  • Years:  1965  –  1971
  • Average Film:  85.00
  • Best Film:  Rosemary’s Baby
  • Worst Film:  The Fearless Vampire Killers

“He has created a number of timeless classics which stand up to repeated viewings, and he deserves respect for his obvious artistic achievements.”  (Fischer, p 613)  His first several films in English were Horror and several others that I don’t classify in the genre have horrific elements.

George A. Romero

  • Films:  11
  • Years:  1968  –  2008
  • Average Film:  46.27
  • Best Film:  The Night of the Living Dead
  • Worst Film:  Martin

“He is not the most accomplished horror filmmaker, but he remains one of the most personal, and when he really cares about a subject, it shines through in his films.”  (Fischer, p 655)  He is over-rated outside of his first great film but his influence is everywhere with the proliferation of Zombie films, all children of his original classic.

James Whale

  • Films:  4
  • Years:  1931  –  1935
  • Average Film:  87.50
  • Best Film:  The House of Fear
  • Worst Film:  Pursuit to Algiers

“Like his Monster, Whale railed against a world that made no place for him.”  (Fischer, p 735)  Whale only made four films but they were so important to the Universal series that really kickstarted the genre and he was so good at making them that his importance to the genre can’t be overstated.

Best Horror Director  (weighted points system)

  1. James Whale  (218)
  2. Roman Polanski  (168)
  3. Stanley Kubrick  (147)
  4. Tod Browning  (120)
  5. Steven Spielberg  (101)

Analysis:  This adds up points on a weighted scale (90-1) for placing in the Top 20 at the Nighthawk Awards for Best Director in any given year.


The Stars

Lon Chaney

There are only the two films that I classify as Horror but he’s so important to the start of the genre on film that he has to go here, plus he’s my favorite Horror actor (I had originally written “easily my favorite” but Cushing and Lee make the adjective inaccurate).
Essential Viewing:  The Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

From the Kirk Hammett collection.

Boris Karloff

The best actor among Universal’s troupe in the Golden Age of Horror.  His career would be long and sometimes not so fruitful but he would always be a fascinating actor and the two great Frankenstein films would not be great without his performances.
Essential Viewing:  Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Body Snatcher

Vincent Price

He would bring a sense of dignity to the Corman films and would become a Horror icon even if his acting was never properly respected.  His voice, of course, would be essential to the video of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which isn’t a feature film, but is great work in the genre.
Essential Viewing:  The House of Wax, The Fly, The Raven

Christopher Lee

The younger of the two essential Hammer stars.  I wrote much about him here.
Essential Viewing:  The Horror of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Mummy

Peter Cushing

The older of the two essential Hammer stars and one of my favorite actors ever.  I wrote about him here.
Essential Viewing:  The Horror of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Mummy

Bruce Campbell

At the least, one of Veronica’s favorite actors.  I barely knew who he was before I met her but I have met him three times thanks to her.  Wonderfully care-free and fully willing to admit to bad movies (“Tell you what, I’ll turn my back to you, you yell at me what movie you want your money back from.”) and would even do a great Horror television show (Ash vs Evil Dead).  There is no better actor for finding the humor in Horror.
Essential Viewing:  Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Bubba Ho-Tep

The Studios

It starts with Universal.  I’ve seen 97 films from 1912 to 1949 that I classify as Horror and 34 of them are Universal films.  No other studio has more than 8.  What’s more, Universal accounts for 6 of the Top 10 in that era.  AIP would come next, just before Hammer and from 1956 to 1979, I’ve seen 86 Horror films from the studio though, with the exception of the Corman/Poe cycle, most of them suck.  Hammer would cover the same era – 42 films that I’ve seen from 1957 to 1979 and a lot of them would be good though the quality would decline badly as time went by.  Some other studios would specialize a bit – Toho would make the Godzilla films, Dimension, through Miramax and later TWC would make several films in the genre and lately, Lionsgate, of all studios (27 films since 2000) has made quite a few.

Countries

I’ve seen a little over 180 Horror films that aren’t in English.  Almost a quarter of them are Kaiju movies and Japan doesn’t just stop with that (there are several Anime as well as Kwaidan and the Ringu films).  Italy is next with over 30 films, many of them either Argento or Bava films.  But Italy has its own type of Horror film just like they do with Westerns (Giallo films).  Spain is the only other country with more than a dozen films.  Germany has very few films (6 from before WWII, three from West Germany) but three of the Top 10 (Caligari, Nosferatu, Vampyr).

Oscar Submissions

Of all the Oscar submissions I have seen through 2011, only eight of them are classified as Horror and only one of those, Kwaidan, managed a nomination.  Italy is famous for Horror films but they’ve never submitted one.  No country has ever submitted a Horror film more than once (that I have seen).  Two of the more recent submissions make the Academy look bad for passing them over (Cronos, The Orphanage).

note:  For the next few lists, any links are to reviews I have written.  Some of them go to the Adapted Screenplay posts that discuss the film and the literary source but don’t actually review the film (but link to places where I had already reviewed the film).  There are a few that are not linked now but will be in the coming months as I get to more of the Adapted Screenplay posts.  The middle list deliberately includes any Horror films I have already reviewed as well as any Horror film I saw in the theater.  I try to include significant films in the middle list.  I have deliberately not included sequels so as to not clog the bottom of the list but I try to include first films in franchises and remakes (as well as originals) for some good comparisons.
note:  Please don’t try to make the following list match up with other lists I have made.  All my lists are fluid and they change.

The Top 75 Horror Films

  1. A Clockwork Orange
  2. Trainspotting
  3. Jaws
  4. The Exorcist
  5. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  6. King Kong (2005)
  7. Nosferatu (1922)
  8. Taxi Driver
  9. Psycho (1960)
  10. Rosemary’s Baby
  11. King Kong (1933)
  12. Repulsion
  13. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
  14. Vampyr
  15. The Bride of Frankenstein
  16. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
  17. The Others
  18. Frankenstein
  19. The Shining
  20. Don’t Look Now
  21. Ringu
  22. The Sixth Sense
  23. The Invisible Man
  24. Black Swan
  25. Dracula (1931)
  26. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)
  27. Let the Right One In
  28. Carrie (1976)
  29. Contagion
  30. The Devil’s Backbone
  31. The Birds
  32. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  33. Peeping Tom
  34. Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
  35. Hour of the Wolf
  36. The Night of the Hunter
  37. Misery
  38. Jurassic Park
  39. Freaks
  40. The Mummy (1932)
  41. Kuroneko
  42. Shaun of the Dead
  43. Carnival of Souls
  44. The Orphanage
  45. The Golem (1920)
  46. The Avenging Conscience
  47. MacBeth (1971)
  48. Dead Ringers
  49. The Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  50. The Skin I Live In
  51. 28 Days Later
  52. Poltergeist (1982)
  53. Straw Dogs (1971)
  54. Gremlins
  55. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
  56. Halloween (1978)
  57. Cronos
  58. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
  59. The Fall of the House of Usher (1928)
  60. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
  61. Bubba Ho-Tep
  62. Sleepy Hollow
  63. The Body Snatcher (1945)
  64. The Frighteners
  65. The Horror of Dracula
  66. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
  67. Kwaidan
  68. Interview with the Vampire
  69. Army of Darkness
  70. The Evil Dead (1982)
  71. The Hands of Orlac
  72. The Host (2006)
  73. The White Reindeer
  74. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  75. The Company of Wolves

note:  The Top 32 films are all ****.  Films 33 to 73 are ***.5.

Notable Horror Films Not in the Top 75

  • Island of Lost Souls (#76)
  • Scream  (#78)
  • The Wolf Man (1941)  (#80)
  • Eraserhead  (#82)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)  (#83)
  • The Old Dark House  (#84)
  • The Black Cat (1934)  (#85)
  • The Fly (1958)  (#86)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)  (#87)
  • The Haunting (1963)  (#73)
  • Dracula (1931, Sp.)  (#91)
  • Gojira  (#95)
  • The Curse of Frankenstein  (#96)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1943)  (#97)
  • The Gorgon  (#98)
  • The Mummy (1999)  (#99)
  • Masque of the Red Death (1964)  (#100)
  • Shadow of the Vampire  (#101)
  • The Fly (1986)  (#103)
  • The Mummy (1959)  (#110)
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Jane  (#112)
  • House of Wax (1953)  (#113)
  • Cat People (1942)  (#115)
  • King Kong vs. Godzilla  (#116)
  • Fright Night (2011)  (#123)
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)  (#126)
  • Arachnophobia  (#137)
  • Scream 2  (#141)
  • Dracula: Prince of Darkness  (#148)
  • The Plague of the Zombies  (#154)
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers  (#157)
  • The Raven (1935)  (#168)
  • Let Me In  (#176)
  • The Raven (1963)  (#181)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1962)  (#184)
  • The Wicker Man (1973)  (#186)
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)  (#187)
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon  (#201)
  • Village of the Damned (1960)  (#217)
  • Godzilla, King of the Monsters  (#226)
    **.5
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein  (#240)
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)  (#241)
  • Wolf  (#243)
  • The Lost Boys  (#245)
  • Dracula (1979)  (#266)
  • Suspiria (1977)  (#280)
  • The Ring  (#294)
  • Scanners  (#302)
  • Child’s Play  (#308)
  • Flatliners (1990)  (#319)
  • The Blob (1958)  (#332)
  • Psycho (1998)  (#344)
  • Dawn of the Dead (1979)  (#356)
  • Cat People (1982)  (#358)
  • Fright Night (1985)  (#372)
  • Dorian Gray (2009)  (#388)
    **
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956)  (#416)
  • The Bride  (#424)
  • The Wolfman  (#431)
  • The Blair Witch Project  (#433)
  • King Kong (1976)  (#466)
  • The Blob (1988)  (#514)
  • The Man with the Screaming Brain  (#522)
  • Gamera the Invincible  (#531)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)  (#556)
  • The Thing (1981)  (#570)
  • Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare  (#574)
  • Count Dracula  (#591)
  • Underworld  (#641)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1989)  (#646)
  • Final Destination  (#650)
  • The Invasion  (#654)
  • Godzilla (1998)  (#658)
  • Blood for Dracula  (#660)
    *.5
  • The Village  (#666)
  • Twilight  (#674)
  • Flesh for Frankenstein  (#681)
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)  (#683)
  • The Last House on the Left (1972)  (#691)
  • Blade  (#697)
  • Piranha (2010)  (#708)
  • Village of the Damned (1995)  (#714)
  • Halloween (2007)  (#740)
  • Paranormal Activity  (#746)
  • Friday the 13th (2009)  (#756)
  • Children of the Corn  (#760)
  • Saw  (#766)
  • The Toxic Avenger  (#776)
  • Pet Sematary (1989)  (#780)
    *
  • Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)  (#786)
  • The Amityville Horror (2005)  (#796)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1998)  (#815)
  • The Hitcher (1986)  (#819)
  • Blacula  (#822)
  • The Body Snatchers  (#824)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)  (#830)
  • Phantasm  (#835)
  • The Vampire Bat  (#838)
  • The Amityville Horror (1979)  (#842)
  • The Ninth Configuration  (#847)
  • Friday the 13th (1980)  (#860)
  • The Hunger  (#887)
  • An American Werewolf in London  (#895)
  • Mothra  (#906)
  • The Haunting  (#912)
  • The Last House on the Left (2009)  (#919)
  • Piranha (1978)  (#942)
  • Funny Games (1997)  (#951)
  • Funny Games (2007)  (#955)
  • Antichrist  (#965)
  • Hellraiser  (#967)
    .5
  • Needful Things  (#973)
  • House of Wax (2005)  (#976)
  • Rodan  (#979)
  • Attack of the Crab Monsters  (#1049)
  • Color Me Blood Red  (#1052)
  • Blood of Dracula’s Castle  (#1054)
  • Squirm  (#1058)

The Bottom 10 Horror Films, #1060-1069
(worst being #10, which is #1069 overall)

note:  These 10 films are all the zero star films.  It’s actually quite a lot.  Horror films account for 6.7% of all the films I’ve seen but almost 25% of all the zero star films I’ve seen.

  1. Night of the Ghouls
  2. Horrors of Spider Island
  3. I Drink Your Blood
  4. Manos: The Hands of Fate
  5. Maniac
  6. Captivity
  7. Horror of Party Beach
  8. The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies
  9. Troll 2
  10. The Human Centipede (The First Sequence)

The 10 Most Underrated Horror Films

These are all films that I rate at ***.5 that have never appeared in TSPDT’s Top 1000 (now 2000) or their Top 250 21st Century Films (now 1000) and none of these were in any of the three books that had lists of the best of the genres (Essential Horrors Movies, Best Worst and Most Unusual, Rough Guide).  They are listed here in chronological order.

  1. The Avenging Conscience
  2. The Hands of Orlac
  3. The Fall of the House of Usher (1928)
  4. Kuroneko
  5. Misery
  6. Army of Darkness
  7. Cronos
  8. Interview with the Vampire
  9. The Frighteners
  10. Bubba Ho-Tep

Best Horror Films By Decade

  • 1910’s:  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  • 1920’s:  Nosferatu
  • 1930’s:  King Kong
  • 1940’s:  The Body Snatcher
  • 1950’s:  Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  • 1960’s:  Psycho
  • 1970’s:  A Clockwork Orange
  • 1980’s:  The Shining
  • 1990’s:  Trainspotting
  • 2000’s:  King Kong
  • 2010’s:  Black Swan

The Most Over-Rated Horror Films

  1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
    I understand and acknowledge its influence.  But people think it’s actually good and it’s in the Top 200 on TSPDT.  That’s insane.  It’s not good.  It has a bit of style but to claim that it’s great or a better film than Caligari or The Exorcist?  That’s just nuts.
  2. The Thing
    I will take the original any day.  I don’t like what Carpenter did, making it more of a Horror film and I think it’s the weakest by far of his early Horror films.
  3. Suspiria (1977)
    I find Argento to be a mediocre director at best and this film is just a mess.  Yet, it continues to rise on TSPDT.
  4. Dawn of the Dead
    An okay film but a far cry from Romero’s original.  Don’t get what people think is so great about this sequel.
  5. The Blair Witch Project
    This became big because of a very successful marketing campaign but it’s a mess of a film.  Yet, somehow, it’s just outside the Top 1000 on TSPDT just ahead of such Horror films as Shaun of the Dead, Straw Dogs and Godzilla.

The Statistics

Total Films 1912-2011:  1069  (3rd)

Total Percentage of All Films 1912-2011:  6.70%

  • 1912-1929:  14  (6th)  –  3.39%
  • 1930-1939:  41  (5th)  –  2.93%
  • 1940-1949:  41  (9th)  –  3.01%
  • 1950-1959:  86  (5th)  –  5.44%
  • 1960-1969:  144  (3rd)  –  8.31%
  • 1970-1979:  218  (3rd)  –  12.40%
  • 1980-1989:  171  (3rd)  –  8.47%
  • 1990-1999:  132  (3rd)  –  5.64%
  • 2000-2011:  187  (3rd)  –  6.67%

Stars:

Horror deserves a note here because, for the most part, Horror films suck.  The following is the breakdown for Horror films by how many stars they earn.  The number in parenthesis afterwards is the same number for all films I’ve seen to give an idea of how much worse Horror films are.

  • ****:  2.97%  (5.41%)
  • ***.5:  3.90%  (7.08%)
  • ***:  16.13%  (45.08%)
  • **.5:  16.38%  (20.38%)
  • **:  22.24%  (12.26%)
  • *.5:  11.38%  (2.98%)
  • *:  18.17%  (4.08%)
  • .5:  7.89%  (2.18%)
  • 0:  .93%  (.24%)

As you can see, the Horror films are much worse.  Among all films, almost 22% of them are what I consider bad films (** or worse).  Among Horror films, that number is just over 60%.  Horror films account for just 6.70% of all films as noted above, but they account for over 24% in each of the four lowest ratings.  There are just lots and lots of terrible Horror films.  Which, of course, makes the great ones all the better and all the more worth watching.

Biggest Years:

  • 1972:  32
  • 2009:  26
  • 1957, 1971:  25
  • 1974, 2005:  24

Biggest Years by Percentage of All Films:

  • 1972:  18.71%
  • 1974:  13.63%
  • 1971:  13.58%
  • 1957:  13.51%
  • 1977:  13.29%

Best Years:

  • 1932:  3 Top 10 films, 4 Top 20 films
  • 1926, 1933:  3 Top 10 films

Eras:

  • 1957-1990:  Top 5 most films every year

The Top Films:

  • Nighthawk Winner:  1929, 1971
  • 3 Films in the Top 10:  1926, 1932, 1933
  • Top 10 Films:  34
  • First Year in the Top 10:  1926
  • Latest Year in the Top 10:  2010
  • Longest Streak with at least one Top 10 Film:  1931-35
  • Longest Streak without a Top 10 Film:  1946-59
  • Best Decade for Top 10 Films:  1930’s  (10)
  • Worst Decade for Top 10 Films:  1950’s  (0)
  • 4 Films in the Top 20:  1932
  • 3 Films in the Top 20:  1926, 1933, 1968, 1978
  • Top 20 Films:  62
  • Longest Streak with at least one Top 20 Film:  1931-35
  • Longest Streak without a Top 20 Film:  1946-55
  • Best Decade for Top 20 Films:  1930’s  (13)
  • Worst Decade for Top 20 Films:  1940’s / 1950’s  (3)

Nighthawk Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  93
  • Number of Films That Have Won Nighthawks:  33
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  63
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  17
  • Best Picture Nominations:  19
  • Total Number of Nominations:  355
  • Total Number of Wins:  83
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Makeup  (50)
  • Director with Most Nighthawk Nominated Films:  Tod Browning  /  Terence Fisher  /  Peter Jackson  /  Roman Polanski  /  Sam Raimi  /  Steven Spielberg  /  James Whale  (3)
  • Best Film with No Nighthawks:  Psycho
  • Best Film with No Nighthawk Nominations:  Invasion of the Body Snatchers  (1956)
  • Number of Films That Have Earned Drama Nominations:  44
  • Number of Films That Have Earned Comedy Nominations:  8
  • Number of Films That Have Won Drama Awards:  12
  • Number of Films That Have Won Comedy Awards:  5
  • Drama Picture Nominations:  21
  • Comedy Picture Nominations:  4
  • Total Number of Drama Nominations:  117
  • Total Number of Comedy Nominations:  23
  • Total Number of Drama Wins:  21
  • Total Number of Comedy Wins:  14
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Director  (24 – Drama  /  4 – Comedy)
  • Best Drama Film With No Nominations:  The Devil’s Backbone
  • Best Comedy Film With No Nominations:  Evil Dead 2
  • Most 2nd Place Finishes:  Frankenstein  /  Repulsion  (5)
  • Most 6th Place Finishes:  Nosferatu the Vampyre  (3)
  • Most Top 10 Finishes:  The Bride of Frankenstein  /  The Exorcist  (14)
  • Most Top 20 Finishes:  The Bride of Frankenstein  (15)
  • Best Film Without a Top 10 Finish:  n/a
  • Best Film Without a Top 20 Finish:  n/a

Most Nighthawk Nominations:

  1. Frankenstein  –  12
  2. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  12
  3. The Exorcist  –  12
  4. Taxi Driver  –  12
  5. Nosferatu  /  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)  /  A Clockwork Orange  –  11

Most Nighthawks:

  1. Nosferatu  –  8
  2. Jaws  –  7
  3. Frankenstein  –  6
  4. A Clockwork Orange  –  6
  5. The Exorcist  –  5

Most Nighthawk Points:

  1. Nosferatu  –  525
  2. A Clockwork Orange  –  520
  3. The Exorcist  –  460
  4. Frankenstein  –  445
  5. Jaws  –  445
  6. Taxi Driver  –  445
  7. Dracula  (1931)  –  380
  8. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1932)  –  380
  9. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  370
  10. King Kong  (1933)  –  355

Most Drama Nominations:

  1. The Exorcist  –  6
  2. Taxi Driver  –  6
  3. Dracula  (1931)  –  5
  4. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)  –  5
  5. Rosemary’s Baby  /  Carrie  –  5

Most Comedy Nominations:

  1. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  6
  2. Trainspotting  –  5
  3. A Clockwork Orange  –  4
  4. The Phantom of the Opera  (1943)  –  3
  5. The Old Dark House  –  2

Most Drama Wins:

  1. Nosferatu  –  4
  2. Vampyr  –  3
  3. four films  –  2

Most Comedy Wins:

  1. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  4
  2. A Clockwork Orange  –  4
  3. Trainspotting  –  4

Most Drama Points:

  1. Nosferatu  –  330
  2. Taxi Driver  –  295
  3. Dracula  (1931)  –  290
  4. Vampyr  –  270
  5. The Exorcist  –  270

Most Comedy Points:

  1. The Bride of Frankenstein  –  395
  2. Trainspotting  –  370
  3. A Clockwork Orange  –  340
  4. The Phantom of the Opera  (1943)  –  155
  5. The Old Dark House  –  125

All-Time Nighthawk Awards

note:  These are my all-time Top 5 in each category.  But in the Analysis section, I discuss not only how Horror films have done in the Nighthawks but also in-depth discussions of how they have done in all the awards groups.  Films in red won the Oscar.  Films in blue were Oscar nominated.  There are a few lists here that aren’t in my usual Nighthawk Awards.

  • Best Picture
  1. A Clockwork Orange
  2. Trainspotting
  3. Jaws
  4. The Exorcist
  5. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Analysis:  Nosferatu, Clockwork and Jaws win the Nighthawk while 16 other films earn noms and 34 films in total are Top 10 films.  Four films win the Drama award (Nosferatu, Dracula, Vampyr, Jaws) and three win the Comedy (Bride of Frankenstein, Clockwork, Trainspotting).  In total, 21 films earn Drama noms while Gremlins is the only film to earn a Comedy nom but not win.
It would take until the 1970’s for a Horror film to earn a nomination and no film has ever won.  After the four films in the 70’s (Clockwork, Exorcist, Jaws, Taxi Driver) the only two nominees are Sixth Sense and Black SwanThe Exorcist is the only Globe winner while Clockwork, Jaws, Ninth Configuration and Black Swan earned nominations (all in Drama).  While no film has won the BAFTA (though Shallow Grave won British Film), they have embraced Horror more often and earlier starting with The Innocents in 1961 with seven total nominees and three more that earned British Film noms but not Picture.  At the BFCA there have been three nominees: Sixth Sense, King Kong and Black SwanBlack Swan is the only PGA nominee so far.  Only three films have won a critics award: A Clockwork Orange, Macbeth and Trainspotting.

  • Best Director
  1. Stanley Kubrick  (A Clockwork Orange)
  2. Steven Spielberg  (Jaws)
  3. William Friedkin  (The Exorcist)
  4. Danny Boyle  (Trainspotting)
  5. Peter Jackson  (King Kong)

Analysis:  Murnau (Nosferatu), Kubrick and Spielberg win the Nighthawk.  There are another 20 nominees, five of which weren’t nominated for Picture (while Phantom of the Opera is the only Picture nominee not nominated for Director).  Murnau, Dreyer (Vampyr) and Spielberg win the Drama award with 19 other nominees while James Whale (Bride of Frankenstein), Kubrick and Boyle win Comedy with three other nominees (Old Dark House – Whale again, the 1943 Phantom of the Opera, Army of Darkness).
There have been five Oscar nominees with Hitchcock the first, earning one for Psycho, followed by Kubrick, Freidkin, Shyamalan (Sixth Sense) and Aronofsky (Black Swan).  Friedkin won the Globe while Robert Wise (The Haunting), Kubrick, Spielberg, Jackson and Aronofsky earned noms.  There have been six BAFTA nominees: Kubrick, Nicholas Roeg (Don’t Look Now), Spielberg, Scorsese (Taxi Driver), Shyamalan and Aronofsky.  Jackson and Aronofsky are the only BFCA nominees.  The DGA nominees are the same as the Oscars with the addition of Spielberg.  Jack Clayton (The Innocents) won the NBR, Ingmar Bergman (Hour of the Wolf) won the NSFC, Kubrick won the NYFC and Scorsese won the LAFC.

  • Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Trainspotting
  2. A Clockwork Orange
  3. The Exorcist
  4. The Shining
  5. Rosemary’s Baby

Analysis:  Five films win the Nighthawk: Nosferatu, Dracula and the top three listed here.  The others are nominated along with nine other films.  Four films have Drama (Nosferatu, Dracula, Vampyr, Exorcist) with 16 other nominees while four films have also won Comedy (Old Dark House, Bride of Frankenstein, Clockwork, Trainspotting) with two other nominees (the 1943 Phantom and Bubba Ho-Tep).
The Exorcist won the Oscar while the 1932 Jekyll, Rosemary’s Baby, Clockwork and Trainspotting have earned noms.  The Exorcist and The Ninth Configuration both won the Globe showing that the Globes love Blatty.  Rosemary’s Baby and Jaws earned Globe noms.  Trainspotting won the BAFTA while Clockwork and Jaws earned noms.  Horror films have done decently at the WGA with eight nominees over the years (but no wins).

  • Best Novel Adapted into a Horror Film:
  1. A Clockwork Orange
  2. Dracula
  3. Notre-Dame de Paris
  4. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  5. Frankenstein

Analysis:  The first two are in my Top 100 and the other three in my Top 200 with The Picture of Dorian Gray also in the Top 200.  All but my #1, of course, have been made into numerous films.

Best Original Screenplay:

  1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  2. The Sixth Sense
  3. King Kong  (1933)
  4. The Others
  5. Repulsion

Analysis:  No Horror film has won the Nighthawk but Cabinet, King Kong, Peeping Tom, Repulsion and Taxi Driver earned noms.  The Sixth Sense and The Others are in much tougher years.  Cabinet is the only Drama winner while 11 films have earned noms (including Sixth Sense and Others) though there have been no Comedy noms.
The Sixth Sense is the only Horror film to earn an Oscar nom.  Even with only one writing category, two films have earned Globe noms (Taxi Driver, Sixth Sense).  Sixth Sense, Others and Black Swan all earned BAFTA noms.  Black Swan also earned a BFCA nom.  The only WGA nominees are The Omen, Taxi Driver, Sixth Sense and Black Swan.

  • Best Actor:
  1. Robert De Niro  (Taxi Driver)
  2. Ewan McGregor  (Trainspotting)
  3. Fredric March  (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
  4. Lon Chaney  (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
  5. Jack Nicholson  (The Shining)

Analysis:  Chaney, March and De Niro win the Nighthawk while 10 others earn nominations.  The same three win the Drama award while nine others earn nominations.  Claude Rains (Phantom of the Opera), Malcolm McDowell (Clockwork) and Ewan win Comedy while Colin Clive (Bride of Frankenstein) earns a nom.
March is the only Oscar winner and De Niro the only other nominee.  McDowell and De Niro are the only Globe nominees.  Donald Sutherland (Don’t Look Now), Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws) and De Niro earn BAFTA noms.  There have been no BFCA or SAG nominees.  De Niro won three critics awards (when only four existed) while Jack Nicholson won two for The Witches of Eastwick although those were probably more for Ironweed.

  • Best Actress
  1. Natalie Portman  (Black Swan)
  2. Ellen Burstyn  (The Exorcist)
  3. Kathy Bates  (Misery)
  4. Catherine Deneuve  (Repulsion)
  5. Nicole Kidman  (The Others)

Analysis:  Portman is the only Nighthawk winner while seven others earn nominations.  There are 11 total nominees for Drama with Portman still the only winner and none for Comedy.
Bates and Portman win Oscars while Burstyn, Bette Davis (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane), Sissy Speck (my 6th place finisher for Carrie) and Burstyn again (Requiem for a Dream) earn noms.  Bates and Portman also win the Globe with Davis, Mia Farrow (Rosemary’s Baby), Burstyn (twice) and Kidman earning noms.  Davis and Portman win the BAFTA with Farrow, Julie Christie (Don’t Look Now) and Kidman earning noms.  Portman won the BFCA – the only Horror winner in any acting category.  Portman won SAG while Burstyn (Requiem) earned a nomination.  Burstyn (Requiem) and Portman each won two critics awards while Liv Ullmann (Hour of the Wolf), Spacek and Bates won one each.

  • Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Haley Joel Osment  (The Sixth Sense)
  2. Jason Miller  (The Exorcist)
  3. Boris Karloff  (Frankenstein)
  4. Max Schreck  (Nosferatu)
  5. Willem Dafoe  (Shadow of the Vampire)

Analysis:  Of course the giant irony is that Max Schreck finishes just above Willem Dafoe playing Max Schreck.  Schreck and Karloff win the Nighthawk while the other three along with five others (including Klaus Kinski playing the same role Schreck did) earn nominations.  Schrek and Karloff win Drama with eight other nominees while Karloff earns a Comedy nom for Bride of Frankenstein.
There have been no Oscar winners and the only four nominees are Osment, Dafoe, Miller and Victor Buono (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane).  Buono, Miller, Scott Wilson (Ninth Configuration), Osment and Dafoe earn Globe noms but there are no wins.  There have been no BAFTA or BFCA nominees.  Osment and Dafoe were SAG nominated.  Dafoe is the only critics winner, taking home the LAFC.

  • Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Jodie Foster  (Taxi Driver)
  2. Linda Blair  (The Exorcist)
  3. Ruth Gordon  (Rosemary’s Baby)
  4. Miriam Hopkins  (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
  5. Toni Collette  (The Sixth Sense)

Analysis:  Hopkins, Gordon and Foster win the Nighthawk while seven others earn nominations.  They also win in Drama with eight other nominees while Elsa Lanchester (Bride of Frankenstein) wins in Comedy and Kelly MacDonald (Trainspotting) is nominated.
This is by far the best acting category at the Oscars for Horror with Gordon winning and six other nominees: Angela Lansbury (Picture of Dorian Gray), Janet Leigh (Psycho), Blair, Piper Laurie (my 6th place finisher for Carrie), Foster and Collette.  It’s also the best at the Globes with four winners: Lansbury, Leigh, Gordon and Blair as well as nominations for Laurie, Kirsten Dunst (Interview with the Vampire) and Mila Kunis (Black Swan).  Foster wins the BAFTA while Billie Whitelaw (The Omen) and Barbara Hershey (Black Swan) were nominated.  Kunis earned a BFCA nom and a SAG nom.  Foster won the NSFC while Dunst won the BSFC.

  • Best Ensemble
  1. The Exorcist
  2. Black Swan
  3. Taxi Driver
  4. Trainspotting
  5. Rosemary’s Baby

Analysis:  This simply totals up all the acting points that I assign to a film.  With performances landing in the Top 5 of three categories, The Exorcist is the easy winner here.

  • Best Editing:
  1. Trainspotting
  2. Don’t Look Now
  3. A Clockwork Orange
  4. Jaws
  5. Psycho

Analysis:  Four films win the Nighthawk: Nosferatu, Repulsion, Clockwork and Jaws.  There are 18 other films that earn nominations.
Jaws wins the Oscar while five other films earn nominations, four of them Best Picture nominees (Clockwork, Exorcist, Sixth Sense, Black Swan) but the other one being the 1941 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  No Horror film has won the BAFTA though every film nominated for Picture since the Editing award began has been nominated for Editing as well (and no others): Clockwork, Don’t Look Now, Jaws, Taxi Driver, Sixth Sense and Black SwanBlack Swan is the only BFCA nominee.  Jaws won ACE while Willard, Sixth Sense and Black Swan earned noms.  Black Swan won the BSFC.

  • Best Cinematography:
  1. Jaws
  2. The Exorcist
  3. King Kong  (2005)
  4. The Shining
  5. Psycho

Analysis:  The only Nighthawk winners are all early: Nosferatu, Frankenstein and Vampyr.  There have been another 25 nominees, mostly in the 30’s (7) and 70’s (7).
The only two Oscar winners are both from the split days: the 1943 Phantom of the Opera and the 1945 Picture of Dorian Gray.  There have been nine other nominees, only four since the split was done away with in 1967 (Exorcist, the 1976 King Kong, Sleepy Hollow, Black Swan).  Black Swan is the only BFCA nominee.  There have been four ASC nominees: Sixth Sense, Sleepy Hollow, King Kong and Black SwanBlack Swan won two critics awards while Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dead Man and Sleepy Hollow all won one each.

  • Best Original Score:
  1. Jaws
  2. Requiem for a Dream
  3. Jurassic Park
  4. King Kong (1933)
  5. Psycho

Analysis:  Five Horror films win the Nighthawk: the original King Kong, The Black Cat, Clockwork, Jaws and Taxi Driver.  There are also another 16 nominees.
The only two Oscar winners were back-to-back: Jaws and The Omen.  There have been another 12 nominees, though none between 1943 and 1971.  Jaws is the only Globe winner with five other nominees.  Jaws and Taxi Driver won the BAFTA while Macbeth earned a nomination.  Black Swan is the only BFCA nominee.  Taxi Driver wins the LAFC while Black Swan wins the CFC.

  • Best Sound:
  1. Jurassic Park
  2. Jaws
  3. King Kong  (2005)
  4. The Exorcist
  5. The Bride of Frankenstein

Analysis:  Five films win the Nighthawk with the original King Kong replacing Bride of Frankenstein.  Another 14 films, including Bride earn nominations.
Four films won the Oscar: Exorcist, Jaws, Jurassic Park and the 2005 King Kong.  Another seven films earn nominations, including Bride, the only nomination for a Universal film in the Golden Age of Horror.  Seven films earn BAFTA noms, four of them from 1972 to 1975 with only Jurassic Park between 1975 and 2005.  Black Swan earned a BFCA nom.  Four films have earned CAS noms (Jurassic Park, Sixth Sense, King Kong, Black Swan).

  • Best Art Direction:
  1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  2. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  3. Frankenstein
  4. Dracula (1931)
  5. Interview with the Vampire

Analysis:  Eight films win the Nighthawk including all five of my list as well as Nosferatu, Bride of Frankenstein and Clockwork.  Another 21 films earn nominations, almost half of them before 1946 with five more from 1973 to 1980.
Two films win the Oscar: the 1943 Phantom of the Opera (in a small Color field) and Sleepy Hollow.  Only six other films even earn nominations, sadly.  Two films win the BAFTA (Interview, Sleepy Hollow) with seven others earning nominations, a better track record than at the Academy with 40 fewer years of the category.  Black Swan earned a BFCA nom.  Two films have won the ADG (Sleepy Hollow, Black Swan) and two others earn noms (The Cell, King Kong).  Sleepy Hollow also wins the LAFC.

  • Best Visual Effects
  1. Jurassic Park
  2. King Kong  (2005)
  3. King Kong  (1933)
  4. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  5. The Mummy  (1999)

Analysis:  Nine Horror films have won the Nighthawk, with three early on (Frankenstein, King Kong, Bride of Frankenstein) and then a four decade gap before the others (Exorcist, Jaws, King Kong, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Jurassic Park, King Kong).  Another 18 films have earned nominations.
The later two King Kong films win the Oscar as does Jurassic Park with four other films earning noms including the first two Poltergeist films and Lost WorldPoltergeist, Witches of Eastwick, Jurassic Park and King Kong win the BAFTA with six films earning noms.  The 2005 King Kong wins three VES awards with I Am Legend and Cloverfield earning multiple noms (but no wins) and four other films earning noms.

  • Best Sound Editing
  1. King Kong  (2005)
  2. Jurassic Park
  3. Jaws
  4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  5. The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Analysis:  Six films win the Nighthawk with two early (Frankenstein, King Kong) and a four decade gap before the rest (Exorcist, Jaws, Jurassic Park, King Kong).  Another 16 films earn nominations.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Jurassic Park and the 2005 King Kong win the Oscar with Poltergeist and Flatliners earning noms.  The Exorcist and Damien: Omen Part II both win two MPSE awards with Wolfen, The Orphanage and Black Swan winning one each.  In total, 33 Horror films have earned MPSE noms but 28 of those films are since the massive expansion of categories in the late 90’s.

  • Best Costume Design:
  1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  2. Interview with the Vampire
  3. Sleepy Hollow
  4. King Kong  (2005)
  5. The Hunchback of Notre Dame  (1923)

Analysis:  Five films win the Nighthawk but only three listed above (Dracula, Interview, Hunchback) with the 1931 Dracula and the 1943 Phantom of the Opera also winning.  There are another 14 films that earn Nighthawk noms.
Surprisingly, only two Horror films have won the Oscar (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, Dracula), though 10 of the Nighthawk nominees and three of the winners were before the Academy began awarding this category) and two other nominees, one of which The Swarm, is one of the most ridiculous nominations in history (Sleepy Hollow is the other nominee).  It boggles my mind that the costumes in Interview, with 18th Century costumes from New Orleans and 19th Century costumes from France failed to earn a nomination.  Macbeth and Sleepy Hollow won the BAFTA while four others earned noms (including Interview).  Black Swan is the only BFCA nominee.  Sleepy Hollow and Black Swan won CDG awards while Red Riding Hood earned a nomination.

  • Best Makeup
  1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  2. The Hunchback of Notre Dame  (1923)
  3. The Phantom of the Opera  (1925)
  4. Interview with the Vampire
  5. Sleepy Hollow

Analysis:  This is one of Horror’s best categories, winning the Nighthawk 15 times including six of the first nine times, though it’s won only once since 1978 and hasn’t won since 1992 (which means neither Interview nor Sleepy Hollow win).  There have also been 35 other nominees with 10 of them since the genre’s last win and nine more times in the 80’s.
Even the category is relatively new at the Oscars, Horror has won four awards (American Werewolf in London, The Fly, Dracula, Wolfman) and earned three other nominations.  No film has won the BAFTA though there have been five nominees.  Black Swan is the only BFCA nominee.  Sleepy Hollow won a MUASG award while The Cell, Requiem for a Dream and Hannibal earned noms.

  • Best Technical Aspects
  1. King Kong  (2005)
  2. The Bride of Frankenstein
  3. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  4. Sleepy Hollow
  5. Jaws

Analysis:  A tallying up of all the Tech categories.  King Kong easily wins partially thanks to its magnificent effects.

  • Best Original Song:
  1. “Forever May Not Be Long Enough”  (The Mummy Returns)
  2. “Lost in the Shadows”  (The Lost Boys)
  3. “Cry Little Sister”  (The Lost Boy)
  4. “Cat People”  (Cat People)
  5. “Ave Satani”  (The Omen)

Analysis:  Only the first and fifth songs (1976 was a weak year) earn Nighthawk noms.  At the Oscars, “Ben” and “Ave Satani” earned nominations.  “Ben” won the Globe and “Cat People” was nominated.  I honestly don’t even remember the use of “Forever” in the film but the song, by Live, is fantastic.

  • Best Animated Film:
  1. n/a

Analysis:  There are only six films I list here and none of them are above low ***.

  • Best Foreign Film:
  1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
  2. Nosferatu
  3. Vampyr
  4. Ringu
  5. Let the Right One In

note:  Three films win the Nighthawk: Vampyr, Ringu and Let the Right One In (the first two films on the list have to contend with Battleship Potemkin in the combined pre-Oscar Nighthawk year).  The first two films are among nine nominees, grouped disparately (three in the 20’s, three in the 60’s, one in 1979, two in 00’s).  Nosferatu is the very rare film to win Picture but not Foreign Film.
Because many of the very best Foreign Horror Films were from before the awards groups had such an award, Horror films haven’t done very well in this category.  Kwaidan is the only Horror film to ever earn an Oscar nomination.  White Reindeer won the Globe and The Skin I Live In was nominated.  The Skin I Live In won the BAFTA while Let the Right One In was nominated.  Fully half the films ever nominated at the BFCA were in Foreign Film: Orphanage, Let the Right One In and The Skin I Live InLet the Right One In won the BSFC and CFC.

  • Best Film (by my points system):
  1. King Kong  (2005)
  2. The Exorcist
  3. The Bride of Frankenstein
  4. Trainspotting
  5. A Clockwork Orange  /  Taxi Driver

Analysis:  A tallying up of all the points in every category.  King Kong, with the best technical numbers overcomes Exorcist’s bigger tally in acting points.

  • Best Film  (weighted points system)
  1. The Exorcist
  2. King Kong  (2005)
  3. Trainspotting
  4. A Clockwork Orange
  5. Taxi Driver

Analysis:  Because acting is weighted higher, Exorcist overcomes King Kong and Bride drops below the other three films.

Best Films With No Top 5 Finishes:

  • The Invisible Man

note:  The only medium **** film to not earn any Top 5 finishes (there are several low **** films that don’t have any).

Worst Film with a Top 5 Finish:

  • Requiem for a Dream

Note:  I have this as a ** film much to the annoyance of many.

Nighthawk Notables

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  King Kong (1933)
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “Shop smart.  Shop S-Mart.” (Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness)
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”  (Roy Scheider in Jaws)
  • Best Opening:  Trainspotting
  • Best Ending:  Trainspotting
  • Best Scene:  the reveal of the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
  • Most Terrifying Scene:  the shower scene in Psycho
  • Most Gut-Wrenching Scene:  the bathtub kiss scene in The Shining
  • Most Heart-Wrenching Scene:  the ending of The Others  /  The Sixth Sense
  • Best Death Scene:  Christopher Lee in The Horror of Dracula
  • Best Kiss:  Miriam Hopkins and Fredric March in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1932)
  • Best Use of a Song (dramatic):  “Born Slippy”  (Trainspotting)
  • Best Use of a Song (comedic):  “Don’t Stop Me Now”  (Shaun of the Dead)
  • Best Soundtrack:  Trainspotting
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  King Kong vs. Godzilla
  • Funniest Film:  Shaun of the Dead
  • Most Terrifying Film:  Ringu
  • Worst Film I Saw in the Theater:  Needful Things
  • Worst Sequel:  Troll 2
  • Worst Remake:  House of Usher  (2008)
  • Worst Film by a Top 100 Director:  The Brood (David Cronenberg)
  • Best Remake:  King Kong  (2005)
  • Best Sequel:  The Bride of Frankenstein
  • Watch the Film, SKIP the Book:  Jaws
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  Dracula 2000
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Naomi Watts in King Kong (2005)
  • Sexiest Performance:  Miriam Hopkins in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1932)
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Jennifer Love Hewitt in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
  • Best Sex Scene:  Trainspotting
  • Coolest Performance:  Robert Shaw in Jaws
  • Best Tagline:  “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water”  (Jaws 2)
  • Best Cameo:  Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
  • Sexiest Cameo:  Heather Graham in Scream 2
  • Funniest Cameo:  the doppelgängers in Shaun of the Dead

note:  It doesn’t include categories that are covered in some of the lists above like Worst Film, Most Over-rated Film, Best Ensemble, etc.

At the Theater

By the end of 2011, I had probably seen over 1000 films in the theater at some point or another.  I had certainly been to the movies well over 1000 times.  I saw 19 Horror films in the theater by 2011 (I don’t have to say the end of 2011 because the last one was King Kong in 2005).  Only two of them did I see more than once.  The films, in chronological order: Flatliners, Arachnophobia, Freddy’s Dead, Bram Stoker’s Dracula (twice), Jurassic Park, Needful Things, Wolf, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Interview with the Vampire, Trainspotting (three times), Scream 2, Godzilla, Sixth Sense, Sleepy Hollow, Shadow of the Vampire, The Others (spent much of it walking around where I couldn’t see the screen), Bubba Ho-Tep (meet Bruce event), The Man with the Screaming Brain (another meet Bruce event), King Kong.

Awards


Academy Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  48
  • Number of Films That Have Won Oscars:  18
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  25
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  6
  • Best Picture Nominations:  6
  • Total Number of Nominations:  112
  • Total Number of Wins:  28
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Original Score  (14)
  • Number of Films with Nominations I Haven’t Seen:  0
  • Directors with Most Oscar Nominated Films:  Steven Spielberg  (3)
  • Best Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Nosferatu
  • Best English Language Film with No Oscar Nominations:  King Kong (1933)

Oscar Oddities:

  • The Exorcist is the only film to win one of the major categories (Adapted Screenplay).
  • Only three films, A Clockwork Orange, The Exorcist and Sixth Sense, were nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay.  The other two aside from The Exorcist won no Oscars.
  • Even though the entire Golden Age of Horror at Universal (1931-35) received just one total Oscar nomination, Universal has four of the six films to win multiple Oscars (Phantom of the Opera, Jaws, Jurassic Park, King Kong).
  • The only two directors to have multiple Horror films nominated in the same category are Steven Spielberg (two Sound wins, a Visual Effects win and nomination) and Darren Aronofsky (Actress win and nomination).
  • The only film with more than one nomination to win all of its nominations is Jurassic Park (3 for 3).
  • A full 8% of all Oscar nominated Horror films are awful (* or lower): Amityville Horror, American Werewolf in London, Ben, The Swarm.  The total Oscar number is less than 1%.
  • A whopping 25% of all Oscar nominated Horror films are bad (** or lower).  The total Oscar number is 6.5%
  • Horror films account for 1.6% of all Oscar nominated films but 16% of all films * or lower and 6.1% of all that are ** or lower.

Most Oscar Nominations

  1. The Exorcist  –  10
  2. The Sixth Sense  –  6
  3. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane  –  5
  4. Black Swan  –  5
  5. seven films  –  4

Most Oscar Wins:

  1. Jaws  –  3
  2. Bram Stoker’s Dracula  –  3
  3. Jurassic Park  –  3
  4. King Kong (2005)  –  3
  5. The Phantom of the Opera (1943)  /  The Exorcist  –  2

Most Oscar Points:

  1. The Exorcist  –  380
  2. The Sixth Sense  –  220
  3. Black Swan  –  215
  4. Jaws  –  190
  5. A Clockwork Orange  –  160
  6. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane  –  140
  7. Taxi Driver  –  140
  8. King Kong  (2005)  –  140
  9. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1931)  –  135
  10. The Phantom of the Opera  (1943)  –  135

Critics Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Won Critics Awards:  17
  • Number of Films With Multiple Awards:  8
  • Best Picture Wins:  3
  • Total Number of Awards:  33
  • Category With the Most Awards:  Actress  (7)

Most Awards:

  1. Taxi Driver  –  6
  2. Black Swan  –  6
  3. Hour of the Wolf  –  2
  4. A Clockwork Orange  –  2
  5. The Witches of Eastwick  /  Requiem for a Dream  –  2

Most Points:

  1. Taxi Driver  –  388
  2. Black Swan  –  316
  3. A Clockwork Orange  –  190
  4. The Witches of Eastwick  –  140
  5. Hour of the Wolf  –  137

Most Points by Critics Group:

  • NYFC:  A Clockwork Orange  –  190
  • LAFC:  Taxi Driver  –  120
  • NSFC: Taxi Driver  –  220
  • BSFC:  Black Swan  –  120
  • CFC:  Black Swan  –  120
  • NBR:  Macbeth  –  100

Golden Globes

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  24
  • Number of Films That Have Won Globes:  10
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  12
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  1
  • Best Picture Nominations:  5
  • Total Number of Nominations:  48
  • Total Number of Wins:  13
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Actress  /  Supporting Actress  (7)
  • Best Film with No Globe Nominations:  Trainspotting

Most Globe Nominations:

  1. The Exorcist  –  6
  2. Rosemary’s Baby  –  4
  3. Jaws  –  4
  4. Black Swan  –  4
  5. A Clockwork Orange  /  The Ninth Configuration  –  3

Most Globes:

  1. The Exorcist  –  4
  2. nine films  –  1

Most Globe Points:

  1. The Exorcist  –  395
  2. Black Swan  –  195
  3. Jaws  –  185
  4. Rosemary’s Baby  –  160
  5. The Ninth Configuration  –  160

Guild Awards

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  49
  • Number of Films That Have Won Guild Awards:  9
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  17
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  5
  • Best Picture Nominations:  3
  • Total Number of Nominations:  88
  • Total Number of Wins:  12
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Screenplay  (20)
  • Best Film with No Guild Nominations:  Touch of Evil

Most Guild Nominations:

  1. Black Swan  –  15
  2. King Kong (2005)  –  9
  3. The Sixth Sense  –  7
  4. Sleepy Hollow  –  5
  5. I Am Legend  /  Cloverfield  –  5

Most Guild Wins:

  1. Sleepy Hollow  –  3
  2. King Kong (2005)  –  3
  3. Black Swan  –  3
  4. The Exorcist  –  2
  5. Damien: The Omen Part II  –  2

Most Guild Points:

  1. Black Swan  –  505
  2. King Kong (2005)  –  245
  3. The Sixth Sense  –  205
  4. The Exorcist  –  165
  5. Jaws  /  Sleepy Hollow  –  135

Highest Guild Point Percentage:

  1. The Exorcist  –  12.41%
  2. Jaws  –  10.80%
  3. Black Swan  –  8.65%
  4. Psycho  –  8.59%
  5. Taxi Driver  –  6.39%

The BAFTAs

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  31
  • Number of Films That Have Won BAFTAs:  14
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  18
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  3
  • Best Picture Nominations:  7
  • Total Number of Nominations:  88
  • Total Number of Wins:  17
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Visual Effects  (10)
  • Best Film with No BAFTA Nominations:  Psycho

Most BAFTA Noms:

  1. Black Swan  –  12
  2. A Clockwork Orange  –  7
  3. Don’t Look Now  –  7
  4. Jaws  –  7
  5. Taxi Driver  –  6

note:  A Clockwork Orange is the only film with more than 4 nominations without a win.

Most BAFTA Wins:

  1. Taxi Driver  –  2
  2. Interview with the Vampire  –  2
  3. Sleepy Hollow  –  2
  4. 11 films  –  1

Most BAFTA Points:

  1. Black Swan  –  370
  2. Jaws  –  265
  3. Taxi Driver  –  265
  4. Don’t Look Now  –  260
  5. A Clockwork Orange  –  225
  6. The Sixth Sense  –  160
  7. Trainspotting  –  130
  8. Interview with the Vampire  –  115
  9. The Innocents  –  100
  10. Shallow Grave  –  100

Broadcast Film Critics Awards
(Critic’s Choice Awards)

  • Number of Films That Have Earned Nominations:  6
  • Number of Films That Have Won BFCA:  1
  • Number of Films With Multiple Nominations:  2
  • Number of Films With Multiple Wins:  0
  • Best Picture Nominations:  3
  • Total Number of Nominations:  18
  • Total Number of Wins:  1
  • Category With the Most Nominations:  Picture  /  Foreign Film  (3)
  • Best Film with No BFCA Nominations:  The Others
  • Most Nominations:  Black Swan (12)
  • Most Wins:  Black Swan (1)

BFCA Points:

  1. Black Swan  –  375
  2. King Kong  –  95
  3. The Sixth Sense  –  50
  4. Orphanage  –  20
  5. Let the Right One In  –  20
  6. The Skin I Live In  –  20

note:  Of the six films that have earned BFCA noms, half were nominated for Picture and the other half for Foreign Film.

All Awards

Most Nominations:

  1. Black Swan  –  54
  2. The Exorcist  –  21
  3. Taxi Driver  –  20
  4. The Sixth Sense  –  20
  5. King Kong (2005)  –  20
  6. A Clockwork Orange  –  18
  7. Jaws  –  18
  8. Sleepy Hollow  –  13
  9. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane  –  9
  10. Bram Stoker’s Dracula  /  Interview with the Vampire  –  9

Most Awards:

  1. Black Swan  –  13
  2. The Exorcist  –  8
  3. Taxi Driver  –  8
  4. Sleepy Hollow  –  8
  5. King Kong (2005)  –  7
  6. Jaws  –  6
  7. Jurassic Park  –  5
  8. Dead Ringers  –  4
  9. Bram Stoker’s Dracula  –  4
  10. three films  –  3

Total Awards Points

  1. Black Swan  –  1812
  2. Taxi Driver  –  930
  3. The Exorcist  –  865
  4. A Clockwork Orange  –  756
  5. Jaws  –  725
  6. The Sixth Sense  –  661
  7. King Kong (2005)  –  573
  8. Sleepy Hollow  –  377
  9. Rosemary’s Baby  –  299
  10. Trainspotting  –  296

Highest Awards Points Percentage:

  1. Taxi Driver  –  9.13%
  2. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1932)  –  8.90%
  3. The Exorcist  –  8.88%
  4. Black Swan  –  8.59%
  5. A Clockwork Orange  –  6.68%
  6. Jaws  –  6.56%
  7. The Sixth Sense  –  3.90%
  8. Rosemary’s Baby  –  3.00%
  9. King Kong (2005)  –  2.98%
  10. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)  –  2.82%

note:  This is why I do the percentage, because it gives a historical perspective.

Lists

I won’t do a lot of lists because that’s the whole point of TSPDT – they put a ridiculous amount of lists in the blender and come out with the “definitive” one.  Their lists includes lists by genre, so you can always go there and look at their source lists.

The TSPDT Top 25 Horror Films:

  1. Taxi Driver (#15)
  2. Psycho (#25)
  3. The Night of the Hunter (#43)
  4. A Clockwork Orange (#79)
  5. Jaws (#91)
  6. The Shining  (#96)
  7. Don’t Look Now (#130)
  8. Nosferatu (#133)
  9. Rosemary’s Baby (#140)
  10. King Kong (#161)
  11. The Birds (#176)
  12. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (#199)
  13. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (#209)
  14. The Exorcist (#221)
  15. Vampyr (#229)
  16. Freaks (#258)
  17. Night of the Living Dead (#263)
  18. Eraserhead (#278)
  19. The Thing (#286)
  20. Peeping Tom (#310)
  21. Dawn of the Dead (#314)
  22. Bride of Frankenstein (#328)
  23. Eyes Without a Face (#336)
  24. Suspiria (#366)
  25. Carrie (#394)

note:  These are the current (2019) rankings from TSPDT.  There have been a few minor changes with Jaws leaping over The Shining and Caligari moving up above Exorcist as well as Suspiria going up above 30 spots but staying in the same place on this list.  Also, in 2018, The Thing was one spot above Peeping Tom but they both went in opposite directions.  I must say that this list is more skewed against my taste than any other genre.  They must use a lot of Horror lists because their starting list is full of absolute shit Horror films and they have a number of films here that are way too high.

AFI:

The AFI didn’t do a Horror list.  They are fools as I discussed here.

The IMDb Voters Top 10 Horror Films:

  1. Psycho
  2. The Shining
  3. Requiem for a Dream
  4. A Clockwork Orange
  5. Taxi Driver
  6. Trainspotting
  7. The Thing
  8. Jurassic Park
  9. Jaws
  10. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Top 10 U.S. Domestic Box Office  (through 2011)

  1. Jurassic Park –  $402.45 mil
  2. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse –  $300.53 mil
  3. The Twilight Saga: New Moon –  $296.62 mil
  4. The Sixth Sense –  $293.50 mil
  5. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 –  $281.28 mil
  6. Jaws –  $260.00 mil
  7. I Am Legend –  $256.39 mil
  8. The Exorcist –  $232.93 mil
  9. The Lost World: Jurassic Park –  $229.08 mil
  10. Signs –  $227.96 mil

note:  This grew slowly.  Prior to 1994, Jaws and The Exorcist were the only films over $100 million.
note:  Jurassic Park, Jaws and The Exorcist were all, at the time of their releases, the highest grossing films ever made.  The Sixth Sense, upon its release, was #10 all-time.

Top 10 U.S. Domestic Box Office (all-time, adjusted to March 2019)

  1. Jaws –  $1156.55 mil
  2. The Exorcist –  $998.71 mil
  3. Jurassic Park –  $849.33 mil
  4. The Sixth Sense –  $519.93 mil
  5. The Lost World: Jurassic Park –  $450.68 mil
  6. Signs –  $354.27 mil
  7. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse –  $351.97 mil
  8. The Twilight Saga: New Moon –  $351.35 mil
  9. I Am Legend –  $331.61 mil
  10. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 –  $324.29 mil

note:  It’s odd to not have any films that weren’t on the first list but that just shows how few Horror films made any real money before this century.  The Amityville Horror is next on the list with $310 million adjusted.  It also shows how big films like Jaws (#7 all-time adjusted) and The Exorcist (#9 all-time adjusted were at the time).

Books

note:  As always, not a complete list but just the books I either own or was able to get from the library to write a piece on.  There are a lot more I could have gotten.  Of all the genres, I think far more books have been written about Horror than any other.  Most of them don’t have links because they are out of print but they are easy to find used online.

An Illustrated History of the Horror Film, Carlos Clarens, 1967

I don’t know if this is the first serious study of Horror Films but it is quite well known and deservedly so.  Given that it has obvious limitations based on when it was published, it is very well done and thorough and gives deserved treatment to non English language films as well.  In the history of film writing, this is an important step and well worth reading.

Classics of the Horror Film, William K. Everson, 1974

Somewhere between a serious study of the genre and a coffee-table book, it does take a good long look at a lot of major films and doesn’t skimp on the foreign films either.  It also has a lot of stills.

The Vampire Film, James Ursini and Alain Silver, 1975

Because it was published so long ago and because half of the book is just a filmography, this is really only of use to those who are massive horror buffs or who really want an enormous film book collection.

The Girl in the Hairy Paw: King Kong as Myth, Movie and Monster, ed. Ronald Gottesman and Harry Geduld, 1976

King Kong books seem to want to get in front of a potential trend to get more sales but that means they sacrifice content for it.  The one below was released in 2005 before the Jackson film was done and this one was released in early 1976, several months before the first remake.  This one is really a compilation of all sorts of pieces published about the film during the 40 years since it was released including cartoons, reviews and a lot of stills.  Decent, but not great and it doesn’t have nearly as much on making the film as the later book.

Cult Movies: The Classics, the Sleepers, the Weird and the Wonderful, Danny Peary, 1981

Peary actually wrote three of these books and they are all worthwhile (and I have all of them).  This first one was one I used to get from the library a lot when I was a kid.  It fits into many genres but in Horror better than most with The Brood, Freaks, Halloween, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and King Kong all just in the first half of this first book.  A great look at a lot of films that were cult films for specific reasons.

Horror Film Stars, Michael R. Pitts, 1981

Not a great book but a decent introduction to the major stars of the genre as well as a section in the back for the “bit players”, the actors and actresses who did numerous supporting roles in Horror films.

The Best, Worst and Most Unusual: Horror Films, Darrell Moore, 1983

A good starting point for where to start with Horror films with a couple of caveats.  The first is that the book was published in 1983 so it’s quite outdated now.  The second is that it vastly overrates a lot of big Horror films from 1970 on that aren’t necessarily all that good (it covers almost every major Horror film from 1982, for example).  But it is a nice coffee table book in full color.  It covers 106 films in its Best, another 17 in the Unusual (a lot of which I don’t classify as Horror) and 9 more in the Worst (including two seminal 70s films from Wes Craven, The House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, which I found rather odd although I also don’t have a high opinion of either).

Masters of Horror, Daniel Cohen, 1984

More of a book for younger readers or people just getting started in film.  It is a pretty basic introduction to the major actors in Horror history, mostly the Universal and Hammer stars.

More Classics of the Horror Film, William K. Everson, 1986

A sequel to the first book, published in 1974.  It deals both with films that were left out of the first book as well as covering the rise in Horror films in the decade since the first book.  Like the first one, it has a lot of stills (and at the end, it contains a still for each film covered in the first book so as not to discuss them all again but to at least remind the reader what they were).

Movie Monsters, Tom Powers, 1989

Really just a small book for kids, it gives an introduction to various types of movie monsters (Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Godzilla, etc.) and talks about some of their films.

Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen, David J. Skal, 1990

A must for any Dracula fan but with one serious caveat: this book is really all about the original 1931 film version of Dracula.  If you care anything about later versions of Dracula, prepare to be disappointed.  But, for focusing on the creation of the novel, its journey to the stage and the screen and everything that went into the original Universal film, it’s hard to beat this book.  Filled with lots of really good stills covering from Stoker all the way through after the film’s production.

Horror Film Directors, 1931-1990, Dennis Fischer, 1991

With the caveat that this book is now almost 30 years old, it is a fantastic resource.  It has a great detailed look at every major director in the genre and a second set of people who are minor directors or oddballs.  There are two things that are especially nice – the first being that Fischer treats Jesus Franco and Herschell Gordon Lewis as pathetic directors with no talent, which I happen to agree with and the second that it contains an annotated bibliography in the back of books on the genre.  Yes, it is an older list, but it is still fantastic.

Cinematic Vampires: The Living Dead on Film and Television, from The Devil’s Castle (1896) to Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), John L. Flynn, 1992

A useful in-depth guide to all of the vampire films made through 1992, with longer pieces devoted to major films and shorter ones to lesser known or B-films.  A worthwhile book that goes film by film rather than trying to do an overall look.  A publication date of 1992 but includes Coppola’s film and some 1993 projects in the works.

Dracula: The Vampire Legend on Film, Robert Marrero, 1992

A cheap, almost vanity press type book that follows the use of Dracula in film through 1992 (obviously designed to be of interest when Coppola’s film came out but released too early to make use of his film).  Don’t bother with this one.  Over half the book is stills anyway.  Go for the previous book.

Cult Horror Films: From ‘Attack of the 50 Foot Woman’ to ‘Zombies of Mora Tau’, Welch Everman, 1993

In a sense almost all Horror films are cult films but this book, obviously modeled on the much better Danny Peary books focuses on smaller films, not critically acclaimed, not major studio films (with some exceptions such as Freaks and the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers).  But it doesn’t try to say that they’re any good and it’s really just a collection of odd Horror films.

Giant Monster Movies: An Illustrated Survey researched and written by Robert Marrero, 1994

Only for true lovers of giant monster movies and even then you could do a lot better.  For all intents and purposes, this is a cheap, self-published book.  It does give a solid look at the films but the quality of the book (and its writing) is pretty poor and I’m stunned that my library system bothered to ever buy this.

Legendary Horror Films, Peter Guttmacher, 1995

A bit of a weak book.  It looks nice, a coffee table book with color stills, but it’s awfully thin, both of terms of page count (just 128) and in terms of content.  It’s just a basic introduction to Horror films and doesn’t even cover the best films in the way that the title would seem to suggest.

Dracula: A Norton Critical Edition, Nina Auerbach, ed., 1997

Not just the novel but also critical writings on the film including various descriptions and essays about the film versions.  Useful as a compendium of film versions of the novel.

Women in Horror Films, 1940s, Gregory William Mank, 1999

This is really kind of a pointless book.  The 1930s book (see directly below) at least covers an era where there were a lot of good Horror films but there were far fewer in the 40s and they mostly sucked and to focus on the actresses doesn’t really give us much to go on.  They are a very weak bunch, both in terms of their total careers and even in their Horror careers.

Women in Horror Films, 1930s, Gregory William Mank, 1999

One of a series of books on Horror films by Mank (he had already done the 1940s book).  It focuses on any actress who might have appeared in a Horror film in the decade and gave a summation of their whole career.  It does try to focus more on what they did in their Horror appearances, even if it was for just one film.

The Evil Dead Companion, Bill Warren, 2000

I have to include this as I own it, namely because of Veronica who was already a huge fan of the films (she worked backwards from her love of Bruce Campbell on Brisco and Xena to loving the Evil Dead films).  Because it’s from 2000 it sadly doesn’t include the show but thankfully that also means it doesn’t include the crappy, pointless remake either.

If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, Bruce Campbell, 2001

Since we own a signed copy and we went to meet him when the book came out and because he’s a key Horror star, I can’t not include this.  Has a lot of fun anecdotes about making the Evil Dead films with his good friend Sam Raimi (and about his hatred for Raimi’s car, The Classic).  This book is funny and enjoyable but don’t get his second book Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way which is just terrible.  But of course we have a signed copy of that as well.

Horror Films of the 1970s, John Kenneth Muir, 2002

The first of three books by Muir that cover three decades of Horror films (only two of the books are listed here because his latest one, covering the 90s, isn’t at my local library system).  Muir has a pretty broad approach to what qualifies as Horror (which is fine) and we have some different opinions on specific films (Texas Chainsaw Massacre most immediately springs to mind).  But this is a great book that reviews every notable Horror film of the decade with several lists to go with it as well.  Sadly, the cover is a really creepy image from It’s Alive and I had to keep the book facedown so that Thomas wouldn’t see it.  But for any book that covers things more specifically than just covering the entire genre, this is the first book you’ll want to buy.  Very highly recommended for anyone interested in Horror.

Hollywood Horror: from Gothic to Cosmic, Mark A. Vieira, 2003

On the negative side, this isn’t really a comprehensive book.  It really only runs through the 50’s and then discusses the trend of Sci-Fi films and a few seminal films as things were changing.  But on the other hand, it’s a gorgeous coffee book treatment of the Golden Age of Horror with magnificent stills.  If the Golden Age of Horror is your interest, this is one of the best books you could get.

Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters, William Tsutsui, 2004

Partially a history of the franchise and partially just the recollections of someone who has been obsessed with the franchise his whole life.  Not a bad book but there have been better ones on the franchise.

The Rough Guide to Horror Movies, Alan Jones, 2005

The best place to start as the Rough Guide often is.  It gives a detailed history of the genre, focuses on the major stars and directors and even provides a worthwhile Canon (50 films, only three of which I don’t think are Horror).

Horror Films of the 1980s, John Kenneth Muir, 2007

The second of three books by Muir that cover three decades of Horror films.  Again, Muir includes more films than I do (his Top 15 for the decade includes Aliens and Dressed to Kill) and he is one of those people that massively overrates The Thing.  But, again, it’s a key book for understanding the genre, with complete reviews of a few hundred films and numerous appendices that are quite useful.  Not as recommended as his first book but only because that’s a better decade for the genre.

The Book of Lists: Horror, Amy Wallace, Scott Bradley and Del Howison, 2008

A decent book that has a variety of lists, not just about films, but also literature, television and even music.  Some of the lists are pretty interesting (Anthony Timpone’s Ten Movies I Wish I Never Put on the Cover of Fangoria) but a lot of them are just lists of favorites by fairly random people.  It has a pretty broad definition of Horror and is really only useful for a true Horror buff.

Horror! The Definitive Companion to the Most Terrifying Movies Ever Made, Kim Newman & James Marriott, 2006, rev. 2013

Marriott was a film critic who died young (39) but who specialized in Horror.  Newman, on the other hand, is a published Horror author (his Anno Dracula is uneven but quite fascinating with the rest of the books in the series interesting and worth a look at) and has worked for Empire for some time now as well.  This is one of the best guides to Horror films because it covers the history of the genre as well as spotlighting over 300 individual films with reviews.

The Friedkin Connection, William Friedkin, 2013

Friedkin was a mixed-bag as a director aside from his two classic films but this book is useful because he devotes three chapters to the making of The Exorcist.

English Gothic: classic horror cinema, 1897-2015, Jonathan Rigby, 2015

The revised edition of the classic book covering the history of Horror films in England.  It devotes over 50 pages just to the period since the previous edition was published in 2000.  A fantastic book with a lot of great stills and detailed descriptions of all the major films in the genre made in England.  One of the most vital books for anyone interested in Horror films.

Essential Horror Movies: Matinee Monsters to Cult Classics, Michael Mallory, 2015

The first thing to do is decide whether “essential” means “best”.  If it doesn’t, that excuses the absence of films like The Sixth Sense and The Others while including such crap as The Amityville Horror, Phantasm, Friday the 13th and An American Werewolf in London.  Actually, it still doesn’t excuse excluding The Sixth Sense, which actually earned a Best Picture nomination but this is still a very good coffee-table book with a lot of great color stills.  A must for any Horror buff and still good for even those who aren’t big on Horror.  Just don’t feel the need to watch all of the films and be aware that 9 of their 73 films (yes, 73) I don’t consider Horror.

The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History, Stephen Jones, ed., 2017

A great coffee table book of Horror posters.  If you have any interest in Horror movie posters, you must also try to see any display of Kirk Hammett’s collection.  Yes, the guitarist for Metallica has a massive collection and I was lucky enough to see it at the Peabody Essex a couple of years ago.  There are examples throughout the post and I took a lot more photographs than I posted.

Reviews

The Best Horror Film I Haven’t Yet Reviewed

The Devil’s Backbone (2001, dir. Guillermo del Toro)

“What is a ghost?  A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again?  An instant of pain, perhaps.  Something dead which still seems to be alive.  An emotion suspended in time.  Like a blurred photograph.  Like an insect trapped in amber.”

Those are the words that both open and close this film, the film that proved that Cronos was not a fluke and del Toro was in fact a rare talent – a director with a truly original vision who was most interested in Horror as a genre, perhaps because he has an amazing visual eye (you should see his storyboards) and Horror (and Fantasy) most allow him to make use of that talent.  What’s more, he isn’t particularly interested in the present.  Yes, he has made films set in the present but his best films, the ones that really show his vision, are all set in the past.  What’s more this film, like his masterpiece, Pan’s Labyrinth, is set during the Spanish Civil War and shows how people in isolation can tear themselves apart even as a country is tearing itself apart.

Carlos has been brought to an orphanage.  He doesn’t know it yet, but he will be staying there (his tutor has brought him to this isolated, forsaken place because his father has just been killed fighting for the republicans and he needs to leave Carlos behind so he can return to the war even though it is in its final days).  Before he even knows that he’s being abandoned, he is also being tormented by Jaime, the oldest and strongest of the kids who, like all bullies, is really a coward.  In fact, late in the film we will discover that Carlos’ bullying is specifically a response to his greatest moment of cowardice which he can not bury deep enough inside his soul,

The orphanage is out in the middle of nowhere but it hasn’t escaped the war or the carnage.  There is an unexploded bomb in the courtyard, that landed one horrible night and has just sat there since, a menace to everyone.  There is also, as Carlos will soon discover, a ghost haunting the orphanage, a spirit stuck behind and it does indeed seem to be a tragedy condemned to repeat itself.

This film is many things.  It deals with a war, though it’s not really a War film.  It’s a ghost story which makes it Horror by my standards, but it’s also a Mystery, a Suspense film, somewhat a Fantasy and definitely a Drama.  Del Toro manages to seamlessly move between all of those things with a sure hand as he takes down a dark journey of the soul, both of the people involved and the country itself.  Who would have guessed he would so deftly return to many of these same themes with his greatest film, just five years later, and yet, be so different in so many ways all at once.  Perhaps that’s the surest sign of his talent.

The Worst Horror Film I Haven’t Yet Reviewed

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombie (1964, dir. Ray Dennis Steckler)

In 1964 we got Dr. Strangelove and A Hard Day’s Night and Mary Poppins but we also got Santa Claus vs. the Martians which is why I haven’t already reviewed this film because sometimes being a zero star film just isn’t enough to be the worst film of the year.  A title can’t tell you everything.  Horror at Party Beach was also that year and the title alone, unlike this film and Santa Claus, you wouldn’t know just from hearing the title that it would be a zero star film.  But sometimes a title can tell you all you need to know.

In this case we have one of the worst titles ever given to a motion picture.  It’s so mind-bogglingly stupid (and so unnecessarily long) that you would think that Ed Wood made the film but he had nothing to do with this which means there are people who somehow manage to pull together enough financing for a film that are as spectacularly untalented as he was.  And just like Wood, Ray Dennis Steckler decided that he should also star in his film because why let his total lack of acting talent stop him from being in the film?  After all, he didn’t let his total lack of any talent stop him from writing and directing the film.

Do you want a plot description?  Is the title not enough for you?  Three friends go to a carnival and one of them is hypnotized by a fortune-teller who deals in the occult and he becomes a zombie.  He doesn’t die, yet somehow he is just hypnotized into becoming a zombie.  Some people then do die and in the end, everything is sorted out except that the main character is killed by the police.  Oh yeah, there are also a series of musical numbers because this film wanted to be the first Horror Musical but even those suck.

Bonus Review

Arachnophobia  (1990, dir. Gary Marshall)

Are you afraid of spiders?  My guess is yes.  There are few people who genuinely have no fear of spiders.  Even those who like and are fascinated by spiders and I am one of those are often still afraid of them.  Of course, I’m not as afraid of spiders as I am of wasps (spiders can’t fly) and I am fascinated by them, so how about films about spiders?  Well, it can still be creepy and terrifying.  Here we get Arachnophobia, a film I didn’t really want to see in the theater because I didn’t really want to see people getting bitten by spiders or being overwhelmed by spiders but we were on vacation and Young Guns 2, the movie we really wanted to see, wasn’t opening until the next day (which means I can tell you that I saw it in South Lake Tahoe on 31 July 1990).  It was a pretty good film, a film that manages to combine Horror and Comedy in ways that many films fail at, in some ways a remake of Kingdom of the Spiders though making up for a lot of the flaws in that film.

Kingdom of the Spiders is a terrible film from the Wild Nature subgenre that was prevalent in the 70s.  It had terrible acting, an utterly absurd premise at its heart and a ridiculously downbeat ending.  Arachnophobia isn’t an award winner for its acting by any means but it provides Jeff Daniels in the role of the nice guy who is afraid of spiders and down on his luck (he moved from San Francisco to a small town up the coast to become the town doctor but then the retiring town doctor changed his mind about retiring and constantly tries to make Daniels look bad when the spiders start killing people and no one is certain why they are dying) and it has John Goodman as the comic relief, the suitably deranged exterminator who is determined to make every spider burn in hell.  Both Daniels and Goodman slide perfectly into their roles and they manage to keep the film anchored in the kind of quality that Kingdom never had.

Then there are the realistic possibilities.  It is true that there is a ridiculous goof at the heart of this film that is necessary to start the plot in motion (that someone suspected of dying of a tropical fever would have his body sent home and then allowed out of quarantine) but it approaches the spiders in a more fictional manner (unlike Kingdom which had tarantulas killing human (which they can’t do) and weaving giant webs (they don’t weave webs)), a fictional species of South American spider that is quite deadly which makes it all the more terrifying (most of the spiders used in the film are actually harmless spiders from New Zealand that just look scary).

There is also, like I said, the ending.  Kingdom of the Spiders didn’t kill everybody off but you know they all will die and it has a horribly bleak ending.  After balancing the drama with Daniels (and his very realistic terror of spiders) and the comedy (with Goodman suitably entertaining) we get an ending that definitely manages to combine a real feeling of terror and some decent comedy and isn’t so damn bleak.  Then we get a nice little laugh at the end when Daniels and his wife head back to San Francisco, glad to get away from the country life that didn’t work so well, only to have their whole apartment shake and a reminder that life in San Francisco has its own problems.

Not Horror Films

My definition of Horror films, as is clear, is not the same as other people.  I often read about how Silence of the Lambs is the only Horror film to win Best Picture at the Oscars and I want to scream “It’s a Suspense film!”  The following is a short list of films I don’t classify as Horror even though they come up on a lot of lists and in a lot of books.  The second list is of films that I didn’t used to classify as Horror and have changed my mind and reclassified them.

A Half Dozen Worthwhile Films I Don’t Classify as Horror Films

  1. The Silence of the Lambs
  2. M
  3. Alien
  4. Diabolique
  5. The Collector
  6. The Cat and the Canary

I Changed My Mind: Films I Now Classify as Horror

  1. The Uninvited  (1944)
  2. The Picture of Dorian Gray  (1945)
  3. The Night of the Hunter
  4. Peeping Tom
  5. The Innocents
  6. Straw Dogs
  7. Requiem for a Dream

Post-2011

All-Time List:

note:  Anything that would have landed in the Top 75 is listed as are some other notable films (specifically several remakes so as to give comparisons to the original).

  • It: Chapter One  (#21)
  • Get Out  (#24)
  • A Quiet Place  (#27)
  • Crimson Peak  (#36)
  • The Woman in Black  (#64)
  • The Babadook  (#68)
  • What We Do in the Shadows  (#71)
  • Under the Shadow  (#73)
  • Bird Box  (#76)
  • Hereditary  (#82)
  • Halloween (2018)  (#138)
  • Kong: Skull Island  (#153)
  • Godzilla (2014)  (#170)
  • Carrie (2013)  (#244)
  • The Conjuring  (#300)
  • Evil Dead (2013)  (#472)
  • mother!  (#475)
  • Poltergeist (2015)  (#573)
  • Flatliners (2017)  (#749)
  • Suspiria (2018)  (#791)
  • The Purge  (#840)
  • The Mummy (2017)  (#892)
  • Dracula (2012)  (#938)
  • Texas Chainsaw (2013)  (#1044)
  • Piranha 3DD  (#1063)

Directors:  Guillermo is now at five Horror films and they average 77.6

Sub-Genres:  A Quiet Place is now the best straight Monster movie.  Post-2011 has seen two of the best Godzilla films, the 2014 Godzilla and Shin Godzilla with Godzilla: King of the Monsters coming next month.  The 2018 Halloween raises the average of the sub-sub-genre by three whole points.  It: Chapter One just loses out to The Shining for being the best Stephen King film.  What We Do in the Shadows is the best Vampire Comedy to date at a low ***.5.

Nighthawks:  Landing in the Top 5 all-time are Get Out (Original Screenplay), Kong: Skull Island (VE), Jurassic World (VE) and Crimson Peak (Costume Design).

Awards:  Get Out would be just the fifth Horror film nominated for Picture and Director at the Oscars, only the second to earn a nomination in Original Screenplay and the first to win the award and only the second Horror film nominated for Picture, Director, Screenplay and a lead acting award after The Exorcist.
Get Out would be the first Horror film nominated for Comedy awards at the Globes, earning Picture and Actor nominations.
Under the Shadow would be the latest Horror film to earn a British Film nom at the BAFTAs.
Get Out would be the first Horror film to win the BFCA Screenplay award and would earn 210 points for second place.
Though several films have earned ADG, VES or MPSE noms, only Get Out and A Quiet Place have earned major guild noms.  Get Out would join Black Swan as only the second Horror film to earn SAG Ensemble and PGA noms while A Quiet Place would be the third to get a PGA nom.  Get Out would be the first to earn an Actor nom at SAG and the first to win the WGA.  A Quiet Place would be just the second to get a SAG nom for Supporting Actress.  Both films earned 8 total guild noms, tied for third most, with Get Out finishing 2nd in points and A Quiet Place finishing third.
Get Out would be the first Horror film to win a Screenplay award at the critics, winning two (it also won two Actor awards).  Hereditary would win an Actress award.  Get Out is now the third highest film at the critics in points though only sixth in percentage.

Theater:  I have seen two Horror films in the theater since 2011: Kong: Skull Island and It.  I went twelve years without seeing a Horror film in the theater.  Yet, this year, I might well see three (Godzilla, It: Chapter Two, Doctor Sleep).

Top 10 U.S. Domestic Box Office  (through April 2019)

  1. Jurassic World  –  $652.27 mil
  2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom  –  $416.76 mil
  3. Jurassic Park –  $402.45 mil
  4. It: Chapter One  –  $327.48 mil
  5. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse –  $300.53 mil
  6. The Twilight Saga: New Moon –  $296.62 mil
  7. The Sixth Sense –  $293.50 mil
  8. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2  –  $292.32 mil
  9. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 –  $281.28 mil
  10. Jaws –  $260.00 mil

note:  Obviously, the two Jurassic World films earned enough that they bounce I Am Legend and Breaking Dawn Part 1 from the adjusted list.
note:  The two lists (gross, adjusted gross) no longer match up 10 for 10.

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