Five down, five to go. It's funny, because the more I look at this list, the more I'd like to reorder it and maybe add or subtract a few entries. Not because I don't think these ones deserve recognition - all of them are equally amazing of course; rather, some of my opinions have simply changed over time.
It's interesting to see where my mindset was four years ago, and how many other movies I've experienced since then that I would maybe throw in the top 10. But anyways, that can be a project for next month; here is the final half!
5. The Shining (1980) - Although differing in some instances from Stephen King's novel, Stanley Kubrick's vision for the most part follows the source material. Anyone who hasn't heard the famous lines, "Heeere's Johnny!" or "Redrum!" has been living under a rock. In what is arguably one of his best performances, Jack Nicholson perfectly conveys the progression from a normal loving husband/father to the murderous lunatic Jack Torrance. And you can't help but get chills when you see the images of the two twin girls in the Overlook Hotel hallway or the wave of blood coming out of the elevator; in fact, I dare you not to.
4. An American Werewolf in London (1981) - No other werewolf movie has managed to combine the elements of horror and comedy quite like director John Landis' classic take on lycanthropes did. The film features a soundtrack with the word "moon" in every song (Van Morrison's "Moondance" being one of my personal favorites) and a werewolf transformation sequence that earned special makeup effects artist Rick Baker an Academy Award. And in what other movie are you going to have the pleasure of seeing a werewolf unleash his bloodlust at a porno theater in Piccadilly Circus? The answer is nowhere, my friend.
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) - Not only is Tobe Hooper responsible for introducing the world to Leatherface, one of the most popular and well-known horror icons of all time, but his low-budget film about a group of unlucky teenagers crossing paths with a murderous cannibal clan has inspired countless films following it, most recently The Devil's Rejects and Wrong Turn. The sheer insanity of the last 10 minutes of the movie is reason alone to check out this classic. So do it, or face the wrath of a chainsaw-wielding maniac.
2. Night of the Living Dead (1968) - All four of legendary director George Romero's Dead films should be on this list (the others - Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, and Land of the Dead) but to make things fair, we'll focus on the one that started it all. The film not only manages to scare you, but also provides the viewer with razor-sharp social commentary to think about long after the film is over. Its influences can be seen in every Italian zombie film, as well as England's Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later. Chances are if you haven't seen a Romero zombie movie, you aren't a horror movie fan.
And now ladies and gentlemen, what you have all been waiting for... (Drum roll, please)
1. Halloween (1978) - So just how many good things are there to say about this film? For starters, it is one of the pioneers of the slasher genre and resulted in countless copycats (the Friday the 13th franchise probably being the biggest) throughout the '80s and even today, with Scream. John Carpenter's unforgettable soundtrack is impossible to get out of your head, and his masterful direction is even better. Perhaps the biggest compliment one can give this movie is that it is downright scary, in every sense of the word. Carpenter shows us that you don't need to see one drop of blood in order to get you to jump out of your seat and hide under your bed covers. How many movies made these days can boast that?