HORROR THROUGH THE DECADES
Hello FrightFest family! I’m Mickey Keating and my new film Offseason is now available on Shudder In anticipation, Gore in the Store has given me the opportunity to list some of my favourite horror films by decade. I jumped at the chance to share some of the films I love, with a community that I adore. FrightFest has been such a monumental and supportive platform for me to show my work, and I am so honoured to be some small part of anything they do.
This list is always changing, and these aren’t necessarily the films I consider to be the BEST MOVIES EVER MADE, but ones that I love, have left an impression, or have inspired my work in some way or another. I hope you enjoy, and make sure to check out OFFSEASON on Shudder!
JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN
The 1971 tragedy directed by Dalton Trumbo is one of the most harrowing and awful films I have ever squirmed through. Not horror in the traditional sense, but absolutely horrific. The pinnacle of anti-war films.
RACE WITH THE DEVIL
This is a pure popcorn and beer, fun-as-hell time at the movies. Oates. Fonda. Satanists. Directed by the king of motorcycle chase sequences, Jack Starrett. A fantastic Friday night.
I adore every frame of this film. Travis’ spiral is simply terrifying, more so because he is perceived as the hero by the end of it. Again, if I start writing about this film, we’ll be here all day.
My second favorite horror movie ever. An obvious choice, for sure, but there’s a reason it’s obvious. It’s so effective and timeless that its legacy has survived the endless onslaught of subpar sequels and remakes.
THE IRON ROSE
The surreal, nightmarish element of such a simple plot has always stuck with me. Dark, atmospheric, the kind of film that would be a dream to make, but probably couldn’t be done today.
Bleak, chilling, and with one of the cruelest endings of all time. There’s just nothing better.
THE SEVENTH CONTINENT
A shockingly cruel, and wickedly nihilistic Haneke masterwork. He’s one of the greatest filmmakers there’s ever been. The scene where the money gets flushed is just awful!
My favorite Lynch film. It’s absolutely gorgeous and horrible. The jump cut where Dennis Hopper vanishes after screaming “I’ll fuck anything that moves!” is just one of those little things that reminds you of the power and lawlessness of cinema.
The Coen Brothers have been masters from the start, and Blood Simple is a hell of a debut. The choreography of camerawork, and the way geography is established throughout the film is just flawless. Bullet holes through the wall, and a knife in the hand make for an iconic finale.
Obvious choice, but who cares!? It’s a testament to the fact that, sometimes, the inexplicable nature of a film’s plot can be more effective than having everything spelled out.
A comfort film and one that plays constantly in my house. My editor Valerie Krulfeifer’s favorite film of all time.
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
My third favorite horror film of all time. Broke all the rules of cinema, and also broke my 10-year-old brain when I first saw it. Left me terrified for days, which of course is the sign of a great scary movie.
A bizarre and crazy French film that has to be seen to be believed. It totally rules.
SEE THE SEA
One of the most upsetting endings of any film on this list. At a 52-minute runtime, it simmers with beautiful, classical imagery and a very ominous tone.
THE SIXTH SENSE
I love M. Night Shyamalan and this film is so razor sharp that it hits every beat with spot-on precision. It has transcended the pop-culture “I see dead people” gags, and remains one of the best ghost films there’s ever been. Its balance of sweetness and terror is unparalleled.
Larry Fessenden is one of the most important voices in independent genre cinema, and this film is one of the reasons why. You can FEEL New York City when you watch this movie.
Mary Harron is such a fantastic filmmaker, and her ability to walk the tightrope of tone in this film is mind-blowing. This is just such a fun, funny, rewatchable, endlessly quotable, blast of a film, and remains one of Christian Bale’s greatest performances.
THE DEVIL’S REJECTS
Probably my favorite horror film of the 2000s. I love Rob Zombie and think that Free Bird is one of the greatest horror finales in any horror movie. Period.
FUNNY GAMES (US)
Another Haneke all-timer. I’m in the minority that prefers the English version, but think it has to do with how scary Michael Pitt is. The remote control scene is so infuriating and radical and bold that you can’t help but surrender to this film’s power.
So grimy, so dirty and feels so unsafe. Still holds up with its striking photography, and John Jarratt’s absolutely insane performance.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES
How all remakes should be done. Aja is king!
I don’t know why, but this movie just does it for me. The constantly changing, evil room really works, and certainly laid the groundwork for all these creepy “liminal spaces” we see online today. Cusack’s performance is effortlessly charismatic, and who doesn’t love that Carpenters song? “We’ve only just begunnnnn. . .”
I literally broke out in cold sweat the first time I watched this.
My favorite Hideo Nakata film. One of my favorite horror scores of all time. The atmosphere! The set design! There’s nothing better.
Just watch. Be horrified.
Ben Wheatley is one of the best filmmakers working today, and Kill List is a perfect horror film. The sound design, observational handheld camerawork, and wailing score all build to an unforgettable finale. The hammer scene is totally ruthless.
How is it possible to make a film this tense? Everything about it. Goddamn. Even if you couldn’t care less about punk music, you can’t help but get pulled in. Dirty, pulpy subject matter handled by a mature and confident storyteller.
There’s something about this film that is so original and odd. Is it a documentary? Is it a nightmare? Whatever it is, is outstanding.
The fact that this film exists, has the cast it does, and came out in the amount of theaters it did, is an anomaly. Eggers is a true individual voice and will hopefully make a dozen more films as original as this.
2020s (so far)
THE DEEP HOUSE
A brilliant twist on a very familiar setup. What a mean, mean, mean ending.
WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR
With an incredible performance from the opening (super impressive) long take scene, this film just captures the dread, uncertainty, and overall strangeness of internet creeps, isolation, and what it’s like growing up today. The scene where Casey walks into the barn and pulls out the rifle is fantastic.