The best horror movies are often thought-provoking, innovative, and of course, scary. When searching for the best horror movies of all time, it’s often hard to decide on which film to revisit. Below is a list of four horror movies that impacted the industry and changed the way cinema was made.
Alfred Hitchcock was well ahead of his time. The Master of Suspense often would argue with network and movie executives as to what he was allowed to do on film. So when he decided to make a horror movie, he pushed the envelope farther than it had ever been pushed before.
Psycho was the first film to show a couple that was having an affair on a bed together in their undergarments. It was also the first movie to show a toilet. These may seem insignificant and somewhat humorous feats now, but Hitchcock helped lay the stepping stones of what was allowed on the big screen. The movie would also garner an R-rating—25 years after its release (the MPAA rating system wasn’t around when Psycho was initially released). With no gore, no nudity, and no cursing, the R-rating is simply because of the film’s intensity.
But out of all of the accomplishments that Psycho had, perhaps the most important to the horror genre is that it is truly terrifying. The genius director shot the infamous shower scene, which features the famed violin theme, in such a brilliant way that people swore they saw the knife penetrate the victim’s skin. To this day, people who watch the movie for the first time swear the same thing. But Hitchcock knew that nothing is scarier than the audiences’ imagination; viewers were never shown the knife stabbing into Janet Leigh, but they heard it, felt it, and their imagination did the rest.
This John Carpenter classic is made in the same vein as the previous movie. Carpenter knew that less-is-more. Plus, he was on a shoestring budget. Though the subsequent sequels featured lots of gore and blood, the original Halloween did not; yet, it is still regarded as one of the scariest horror movies of all time.
The famous opening scene in Halloween was done all in one shot. This created a style of direction that has been emulated ever since. Though it wasn’t revealed until the end of the film, Michael Myers was also the first horror baddie that is virtually un-killable. Halloween and Michael Myers would inspire other unstoppable horror villains and franchises like, Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street and Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th.
If Psycho pushed the envelope then The Exorcist blew up the whole table. Never before had audiences seen a movie that was so intense and vulgar, yet compelling and thought-provoking. Though many have copied this classic, nothing is more terrifying than the original Exorcist. The New York Daily News describes why this is one of the best horror movies of all time.
“[If this] were being rated for the first time today, it seems unlikely its scene of a possessed 12-year-old girl stabbing her crotch with a crucifix while screaming a blasphemy would have slipped past the ratings board with an R. Attitudes toward free expression in the arts, not to mention the sanctity of children, have narrowed in the last three decades, and despite the current political furor over violence in entertainment, nothing in the banal, exploitative carnage of today’s action movies matches the shock of the crucifix scene in ‘The Exorcist.'”
‘The Exorcist’ [is] the movie that launched a new era in horror films, and which, for one generation, remains one of the scariest experiences of their lives.”
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Like Halloween and Psycho, this horror classic was rated-R not because of gore or nudity but because of sheer terror. It also has another fun fact in common with Hitchcock’s masterpiece: real-life necrophiliac and murderer Ed Gein inspired both movies (he was also the influence for Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs). Unlike many horror movies that came before The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this film feels very real.
The almost complete lack of a soundtrack helps add to the realism; there are moments where it feels like we are watching a snuff film. Perhaps no moment in cinematic history has been scarier than when Leatherface is chasing his would-be victim and the only thing the audience hears is the roaring sound of a chainsaw. Many movies would copy this style but none did it better than the original.
Psycho, Halloween, The Exorcist, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are all considered some of the best horror movies of all time, and they all changed the industry forever.
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[Featured Image by Compass International]