Top Ten Tuesday #7: My Top Ten Best Written Horror Movies

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

This week was a freebie Halloween theme. As I'm not a huge horror reader, or horror movie buff, I thought I'd list my Top Ten "Best Written" Horror Movies. I know the SERIOUS film buffs will have stipulations: do you mean Original Screenplay? Adapted Screenplay? What about ad-libbing? To which I would say: hold your pants, I'll explain as I go.

I couldn't decide which of these thriller/ horror films were my favourite, so I'm going by release date. (I've linked all the movies to www.imdb.com)

1. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). Based on the novel by Robert Bloch (1959). I love this movie. I love that my mom was in love with Anthony Perkins when she was a teenager. I love that I took a film studies class in university and all the young 'uns were scoffing about having to watch an old "scary movie" and then those same young 'uns all jumped out of their seats during a particularly surprising moment. Suckers.

2. The Exorcist (1973). Based on the novel by William Peter Blatty (1971). I know many a-fellow who will not watch movies having to do with possession/ religion, and I think The Exorcist has a lot to do with that fear! Not only was there some creepy sh*t happening on set whilst making the movie, but this is a legitimately scary and mesmerizing movie. Linda Blair is so awesome, but don't you feel a bit weird watching a kid "pretend" to be a demon-possessed little girl? Maybe The Exorcist is also responsible for actors' mandatory membership in SAG (Screen Actors Guild)?

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). I actually only saw this a few years ago, and was impressed by the special effects at certain points. Granted, I wasn't watching it riveted, biting my nails, but that could be because when I was a kid my dad bought a Freddie Krueger mask to try to scare us. And when I say kid, I was like 15, so we just thought "dad's being weird, again!" But it was a good story, and fairly unique. And young Johnny Depp is pretty dreamy!

4. The Lost Boys (1987). This was probably the first scary movie that I understood* and I was in LOVE with Kiefer Sutherland, and it has "The Corey's." There's humour, a twist, and I've seen it about 20 times.

* When I was 6 I went to an older girls sleepover party and they rented a scary movie where there was a naked woman kissing a tree? This is all I remember. Weird, no? If you can name the movie (1983/ 84) leave a comment and I will be coloured impressed.
5. Silence of the Lambs (1991). Based on the book by Thomas Harris. My parents would NOT let me watch this movie, so of course I found away around that as soon as it was on VHS. While not the scariest movie, it was a great thriller, SUPER creepy, and the scenes shot with night vision are stunningly frightening and awesome. I have seen this movie a few dozen times, and my husband STILL REFUSES to watch it. I married the classic rebel, folks; mainstream pop culture will NOT dictate his movie choices. (But soooo many pop culture references over the last 24 years! The puns! The parodies! Sigh.)
6. Scream (1996). Credited for bringing back the "teen-scream" horror movie, it was actually really well done. As I recall, the group of friends discuss horror movie cliches while they get picked off one-by-one. (And their careers were never seen again! Oooohhhhhh!!!)

7. The Blair Witch Project (1999). I know, I know, this movie was mostly improvised, but it was based on a real legend, and the director had a story for the actors to follow, they just weren't privy to what was going to happen. So I guess maybe this is one of the best non-written horror movies? It may seem quaint (?) now, but watching this in an indie theatre and then walking back to the car after, all of my friends were a little jumpy! It was an innovative way to make a movie, and it was "scary as hell."

8. The Others (2001). I think I'm a fan of the more Gothic/ Victorian horror story. It seems like they use less gore, and more plot/ DON'T GO THROUGH THAT DOOR!! Maybe it's just me. However, I went to see this with two friends, one of which LOVED all horror movies, but plugged her ears so the music wouldn't scare her. And sure enough, at a particularly stressful moment, I looked over and I think they BOTH had their fingers in their ears, which gave me a feeling of hysterical giggling, which I smothered, because, hello! Movie theatre!

9. Saw (2004). While I didn't find this particularly scary, I do like the "what would YOU do" situation, and it definitely had it's moments. That it became a franchise I find a bit baffling, but Carey Elwes is always awesome, so, yay for him. Is he in the other movies? No idea. And I'm okay with that. (Spoiler: He appears in Saw 3D. No gore in that one, I'm sure. Thanks, internet!)

And finally... It's a TIE!!!!!!!! These were both good movies, AND released in the same year! Who knew...

10-A) The Woman in Black (2012). Based on the novel The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (1983). I have heard numerous times from die-hard horror fans that this wasn't very scary. I love Daniel Radcliffe, and as my husband doesn't watch horror movies and was going to play poker, I thought, heck! I'll watch this one! By myself! In the dark! How bad could it be? My husband was thrilled to get serial texts from me saying things like, "why?! Why would he go down the hall/ stairs/ into that room?!?!" It freaked me out, but wasn't super gory, so I really liked it.

10-B) Cabin in the Woods (2012). I have a confession. This one is actually my favourite. But I wanted you, dear reader, to read the ENTIRE list and not judge me by me saying that this movie is crazy-wicked-awesome, when you may not even know about it!! First, it's written by Joss Whedon, whom I have a bit of hero worship for (he wrote Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Avengers, if you're blanking), and second it sort of turns the horror movie genre on it's head. It's gruesome, but also hilarious. So basically, Joss (and Drew Goddard) you guys win for BEST WRITTEN HORROR MOVIE. Congratulations.

Honorable mentions: 

The Sixth Sense (1999). While it wasn't super-scary, it's famous for having one of the best plot twists of all time. ("What a twist!!")

Shaun of the Dead (2004). I love this movie. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg have such good chemistry, and have teamed up for numerous hilarious adventures. And people said no one would watch a romantic-comedy zombie movie. Pah!

Zombieland (2009). Similar in tone to Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland has some good laughs even when the world is going all apocalypse-y. And I love Emma Stone. And Bill Murray has some awesome scenes. I loves me some apocalypse!

Considering my Top Ten Horror Movie list, do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments, and link your TTT as well!

Thanks for reading!

~Spinning Jenny


  1. What a wonderful list and I agree with a lot of your choices. I loved The Woman in Black, but you might want to skip the sequel. I also love The Lost Boys and Nightmare of Elm Street. We watch tons of horror in my home and you have definitely chosen some of the better ones!

    1. Thanks, Barb! As a rule I usually skip sequels, but ESPECIALLY in the horror genre. I can safely say I will never see Freddie Vs. Jason. ;)
      Did you do a Top 10 this week?

  2. I am the worst sort of weenie when it comes to scary things. Several of the movies on this list are personally responsible for scarring me for life :p Even so, I can admit that it is a pretty great collection of terror :p

    My TTT

    1. Thanks Allyson! I agree there are certain movies that are too much, especially if you're too young to see them. Like The Dark Crystal I remember LOVING, and it's Jim Henson, so should be kid friendly! It's soooo dark and weird! I wonder why I wasn't traumatized!