For every great horror film, there are many that copy what the classic does. For one, horror films are a huge market, bigger than the novels and comics which began the stories. And it’s a rising movement, with many directors cutting their teeth on the films set-to-scare. If you want to watch a good horror film you are in trouble — many are terrible. Take all this with a touch of blood, because you just might get scared.
The Suspenseful Stories:
Look to the classics first of all, like “Silence of the Lambs” and “The Shining.” Many horror films are cheaply made, with poor acting and directing. To choose the right horror film, consider the classics first, then go into the newer films like “The Ring.” For one, “Frankenstein” is more of a spirited suspense story than a classic horror. With dozens of films based upon this story, it can be hard to pick out the best. Look to reviews of the classics, the ones from the last 20 years (not the stereotypical 1940s and 50s films).
The slasher film revolutionized the horror film, for bad and good. For one, “Halloween” showed the slasher film could truly be scary. But all its sequels proved it was still a Hollywood film, playing on sex and blood to get viewers interested. The slasher can almost be humorous. In my experience, the three best slashers were the first “Halloween,” the remake by Rob Zombie of “Halloween,” and “Friday the 13th The Final Chapter.” These were not perfect, but they worked. Nor are they the best horror films ever.
Probably the horror writer with the most adaptations to his stories is Stephen King. King gave horror a shot in the arm. One of the best adaptations of Stephen King’s novels is the recent “Salem’s Lot” remake (note to readers, don’t laugh, I thought it was damn good).
Choose by Directors, Writers:
One of my favorite horror series is “Hellraiser,” created by Clive Barker. The last couple films have been quite terrible, but the first two are horror classics. When you go with anything originally written by Clive Barker and Stephen King you usually will find scares.
Choosing by directors is another strategy. Some of the top horror directors in recent memory are Larry Fessenden (that’s one you probably haven’t heard of), Toby Hooper (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre”), John Carpenter (“Halloween”), and George A. Romero (“Night of the Living Dead”).
Read up on your favorite horror directors/writers. See what influenced their best works, and look to these titles for the perfect horror. For example, if a director was influenced by another, but one who was little known, consider watching it. You can also look to reviews on sites like Amazon.com. Before I buy anything with horror, I read up reviews of it.
Some horror sets can be purchased used on sites like Ebay.com for half off.
What scared you as a kid may not scare you at an older age. Go back to the drawing board and look to the classics.
Just because a name like Clive Barker or Stephen King is on the cover of a film doesn’t mean it’s good. Barker had little to do with the later films of the “Hellraiser” series, for example. Stephen King had little to do with many adaptations of his stories.