Oh no, here comes the controversy. I’ll go ahead and get myself prepped for an onslaught of Facebook defacing, Twitter tantrums and hateful emails. But guess what? I don’t mind a bit, and we love to stir up a little controversy around these parts! So, get ready to vehemently defend your favorite film that lands on this list. I can debate for hours, and that’s territory you don’t want to tread!
10. Cannibal Holocaust: I can understand the shock viewers experienced witnessing actual animal murders on screen. I can, that’s an unsettling sight and, well, some of the sounds are just as bad, if not worse. I can also recognize the genius of this early found footage feature: this film did indeed break new ground… that would not be re-travelled for many, many years to come. Hell, I’ll even admit that my sadistic side finds some measure of gratification in this film.
That doesn’t change the fact that Cannibal Holocaust is not the end all be all of horror grotesqueries, and it’s time that the general public accepted this. It’s shocking at times, and worthy of discussion, but it’s garnered such an obnoxious amount of publicity that it’s far exceeded overrated. Besides, if you really want to see a disturbing picture that will linger with you for years to come, give A Serbian Film a try.
09. Donnie Darko: Look, I love a boggling psychological film as much as the next man, but we’ve got to be real here. Donnie Darko is one damn overrated film. We’ve got some great performances to juggle (including work from the late, great Patrick Swayze, Jake Gyllenhaal and Maggie Gyllenhaal), and an interesting concept, but this flick has always been too avante garde for my taste. Why so many can be stumped by the premise of the film, and still regard it as an absolute classic will forever be beyond my cognitive abilities.
If you’re a diehard Darko, sorry to steamroll your treasure, but, outside of a few performances, this flick just isn’t the winner so many have touted it as. And, let’s not even discuss the follow up.
08. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003): Every time I hear someone comment on the fact that this film is superior to its 1974 predecessor, I become overcome by rage, and feel a strong desire to deliver a violent punch. Is this reboot a stylish rendition of Tobe Hooper’s original? You bet your sweet as it is. Is it anywhere remotely near as memorable or profound as Hooper’s take? Not-even-close.
I’m really not super anti-remakes. Sometimes they win, and sometimes they win big. This one however, missed the mark for me completely. The beautiful grain of the original that created such a realistic sense to the film is long gone here, and we’re not gifted “average” actors (IE Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, Teri McMinn), we’re treated actors that could easily slink onto a model shoot and fit right in, like Jessica Biel, Mike Vogel, Erica Leerhsen and Jonathan Tucker. This is a story that was built around sadistic possibilities, and this stylish remake just didn’t win me over, in the slightest. Yay, it’s stylish; exactly what I don’t want from such an animalistic feature.
07. Paranormal Activity 3: the flames of Hades may rise from the earth’s surface and scorch my ass for this one, but I’m sticking by this pick 200 percent. In the months build up to the third entry into this franchise hype was reached a level rarely rivaled. Knowing that Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman would be helming this film only added to the mystique. Then came advanced reviews, and the cinematic world deemed the feature the franchise star and a future classic.
I wasn’t particularly moved by the film. I enjoyed seeing the story fleshed out a bit more, with a look into the past, but honestly, I found it to be the least frightening PA film thus far. Not once was I deeply unnerved, not once did I leap from my seat, and not once was I surprised by a single story maneuver. I do consider it a quality film, I just cannot fathom how fans and viewers declared this film to be the best of the lot. Now, flame away!
06. Suspiria: Look, I’m going to keep this one brief. I do indeed enjoy this film quite a bit. In fact, there was a time when I’d label it a top 5 pick for me. Over the years however, as entertaining as this film is, I’ve come to spot the film’s errors and really analyze the concept (dance student arrives at a school fronted by a coven of witches, basically), which is fun, but not groundbreaking. I dig the score, and there are some nice visuals, but there are some embarrassing shots to take in as well. It’s just not the masterpiece so many wish to declare it; solid film regardless, I must say.
05. The Omen (1976): I’ve got one word for you: boring. Yes, this film is not exciting, and not nearly as creepy as followers have made it out to be. Is the idea of a little antichrist running around offing people terrifying? Well hell yes it is! Is Gregory Peck brilliant? You bet. Are a few of the death scenes iconic? Yep. That doesn’t change the fact that outside a wicked intro, the pacing of this picture is about as dull as it comes.
I too often see this praised as one of the greatest films in genre history, but I completely disagree. This is the kind of movie that is genuinely enjoyable once, and once only. The film drags, and as much as I hate to bag on what many consider a classic, it’s just too damn dull to earn that moniker from this particular writer. Sorry all you Satanists!
04. The Amityville Horror (1979): I hate including this film in this specific article, because I’m a massive fan of James Brolin and Margot Kidder, but the fact is: this film gained far more attention than it deserved. It’s creepy, and there’s some great atmosphere at times, but the editing is subpar, and the finale, while appeasing, leaves a bit to be desired. There are some awesome scenes in the film, but there are just as many questionable exchanges, which does drag the film down at times.
I’ll always be a fan of this flick, but the fact remains, it’s not the greatest haunted house film ever made, as some will certainly have you believe. A fun film for a dark, lonely Saturday night; Amityville Horror just isn’t quite the monumental spectacle many have made it out to be.
03. Hostel: Billed as one of the most graphic and gruesome movies in history, Hostel was a major let down. Cliché’s abound, and an urban myth (which has in the past proven true, to be fair) anchors this film of tortured tourists. While I’m a massive Eli Roth fan, this picture didn’t deliver an iota of the hyperbole affixed. It’s not insanely gory, there aren’t many jaw dropping moments, and the storyline feels a bit…hollow at times.
Hostel is a fine brand that’s generated quite a few bucks (roughly $50 million domestically, and likely boatloads more on DVD), but in my personal opinion it’s always been heavily overrated. If I’m looking into some torture porn (for some reason), give me meat on (or off) my bone; give me something like Imprint or Martyrs. Hostel just didn’t live up to its reputation.
02. Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2: Well, here we have the abomination of all abominations. I’m not sure what Rob Zombie was thinking when he set to work on this film. Oh wait, maybe I do: “let’s drastically alter the personalities of literally every single character in the film (sand Sherriff Brackett), let’s rip half of Michael’s mask off and turn him into a grunting, wandering nomad…because that seems faithful to the storyline!”
This film almost makes me sick to my stomach. Being an unrivaled Halloween fan, it was, a true travesty to see Rob completely deconstruct a beautiful tale with loads of potential. All the same, that’s what he did. Perhaps the most amazing point of the film’s existence is the fact that so many not only bought into this radical shift, they seemed to genuinely love it. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I took my glasses with me when I watched this clunker.
01. The Exorcist: OH NO HE DIDN’T! Yes, I did. The Exorcist boasts one of the most chilling final acts ever caught on film. It is, honestly a frightening piece of cinema. And, it will forever go down in history as the greatest exorcism film made (is that tough… at least by today’s standards?). That however cannot change the fact that 70 percent of the film functions at a turtles pace. There are some shocking visuals to behold (“Let Jesus fuck you!”), but most of the greatness is saved for the waning moments of the film. Sorry, but I’m not all that amused by a 12 year old kid pissing herself in the middle of a party, as repulsive as that is.
I will not try to discredit the impact this film had on moviegoers. It’s certainly a stunning piece of work… once you make it 95 minutes into the film. Over the years some unseen footage has surfaced and been included to special editions of the film, and I admit had these shots been incorporated in the initial release, I might not have much to complain about here. As it stands however, The Exorcist is a rather dull film with one amazing finale, and little more.
Matt Molgaard is a staff writer for best-horror-movies.com. Be sure to follow Matt on Twitter!