25. An American Werewolf in London – The Transformation
NSFW: Some Man Ass, That’s About It
Rick Baker was a genius, and this represents his masterpiece. For some of the faults that An American Werewolf in London has, none of them can be blamed on Baker and his expert makeup skills. This is still a joy to watch, eliciting joyous laughter from me every time a hand grows or a face mutates.
24. The Wicker Man – Sacrifice
SPOILER ALERT: If you have never seen The Wicker Man, this will ruin it for you
It’s surprising that I still meet serious horror fans who have yet to see the original Wicker Man. It is a great thriller, but if you aren’t into the slow and steady nature of British horror, you probably won’t appreciate it that much. But if there is one scene that every horror fan can agree on, it’s the fantastic ending that director Robin Hardy committed to film. Up until the end Edward Woodward’s devout Sergeant Howie thinks he can convince the islanders to not go through with whatever they are planning. Save your breath, dude.
23. The Thing – Chest Defibrillation
NSFW: Super Gross Gore
The first of two entries on the list (can you guess the other one? I bet you CAN), The Thing might very well be one of the top five horror films ever made. I’ve seen this movie a dozen times and it is hard to find anything wrong with it. Music’s great. Cinematography solid. Script rocks. Acting is on point. And most importantly, the makeup effects by Rob Bottin make the film as terrifying as it is. Here’s a guy who’s a student of Rick Baker and a collaborator with Stan Winston, and he goes out and outdoes them both (Winston’s contributions for the transformed dog are still great though). The defibrillation scene casts a bright light on Bottin’s work and John Carpenter’s great talent for misdirection and surprise.
22. Freaks – The Wedding Feast
You’ve probably heard the “We accept her, one of us!” song in other films, probably wondering where it came from. The last entry for Tod Browning’s 1932 horror classic Freaks, the director has the unenviable task of making the viewers uncomfortable by the titular collective’s dinnertime antics. The slow-build of the scene, and the growing look of disgust on Olga Baclanova’s face, is what makes it so effective, and the payoff comes when she exclaims “You dirty, slimy freaks! Freaks Freaks! Freaks!” The joyous feast is extinguished, and just as the sideshow performers turn on her in that instance, so does the audience. Great filmmaking.
21. The Silence of the Lambs – “Goodbye Horses”
NSFW: Tucking His Weiner Back and Nipple Play
Jonathan Demme was born to direct The Silence of the Lambs – no other filmmaker could have pulled it off. This film represents the only horror film to ever win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and for good reason. This is a movie that will never let you settle, as it is always ratcheting up the anxiety, be it with Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter or Ted Levine’s Buffalo Bill. While most spend their time celebrating Hopkins as best-in-show, I’ve always thought that Levine was way more impressive. His commitment to the role is unquestioned, but the subtleties that he brings to the murderous Jame Gumb is where he becomes truly scary. The “Goodbye Horses” section of the film is Demme trying to manufacture Buffalo Bill’s image visually, but the touches of brilliance that Levine injects into the scene – the deep voice, playing with his nipple ring – makes it memorable before we even hit the crescendo, if you know what I mean.
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