Ryan Graham, writer/director/producer/pretty much everything but caterer of the indie rock-and-roll zombie comedy Livelihood has agreed to toss his hat into the ring and give us an exclusive look at his Top Ten horror movies ("vaguely in order", he says.)
When you're done reading, please visit the official Livelihood website, read my review of the film here, rent it at Netflix, or hurry up and buy it already!
1. Evil Dead
One of the two movies on this list that made me want to become a filmmaker. It’s obviously ultra low budget, but everything Raimi does is so spot-on that the budget isn’t even an issue. Raimi’s camerawork was a revelation to me; I’d never noticed the influence of the director before, but here he literally makes the camera a character in the film. Very cool, and put me off using tripods for years.
2. Evil Dead 2
Truly original, hilarious, and completely batshit crazy. You have no idea what’s going to happen next, and every minute brings some new and incredibly cool eye candy. Raimi and Campbell are at the top of their game here.
3. Bad Taste
The other movie on this list that made me think, “Hey, I could do that!” Low-budget and bad acting are part of the fun here, along with Monty Python-esque gore that is so over the top you can’t take it seriously. Peter Jackson hasn’t really honed his directing chops at this point, but the originality of the gore effects, and the sheer ambition of what he tried to do on a limited budget inspired me to make my own horror films, regardless of how much money I had.
4. Hellbound: Hellraiser 2
One of the few horror films that freaked me out as a kid. I just love the mythology behind the Cenobites, and the vision of hell shown here is a real mind-fuck. Plus, the makeup effects are some of the most disturbing I’ve seen.
5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
To be honest, I didn’t really like the first TCM; maybe by the time I first saw it I was already jaded, but it bored me. However, TCM 2’s hilariously off the wall characters, Savini’s brilliant effects work, and the complete lack of anything resembling a normal plotline make this extremely enjoyable and eminently re-watchable.
Stuart Gordon deserves a lot of credit here, but Jeffrey Combs takes this film from awesome to brilliant. This is another one of those movies where everything seems askew from the get-go, and just gets more unhinged as the film goes on. Every time you think you’ve seen the craziest thing ever, Stuart Gordon tops himself with something crazier. Case in point: Barbara Crampton gets eaten out by a severed head!
7. Nightmare on Elm Street 3
Freddy is so cool here, the characters are interesting and actually have some depth, and the effects are pretty original. Not scary by any means, and some would say the “Dream Warrior” Dokken video they did for this film is where the series jumped the shark, but this is the movie that made me want to be Freddy Krueger for Halloween every year.
8. Day of the Dead
Bleak, depressing, and exactly what you’d picture life after a zombie apocalypse being like. The plot and characters are interesting (especially Bub!), but what really makes this the best zombie movie ever are Savini’s effects. This is his best work, and to be honest, I’m not sure better gore effects have ever been committed to film before or since.
9. The Beyond
The last third of this film is about as close to a real nightmare as I’ve ever seen. While the gore is excellent throughout, this movie makes the list for the final scene. Truly stunning.
10. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
I don’t really like Jason; he’s just not a very interesting character. But this one has Corey Feldman, Crispin Glover, and Tom Savini FX. Sold. I love it when Tommy freaks out at the end.