Countdown to the 100 Best Scary Movies of All-Time (85 to 81)


Sisters (1973) 

Directed by Brian De Palma (Carrie), Sisters is a twisted suspense thriller featuring Margot Kidder (Black Christmas) and Jennifer Salt (Soap). The film is set in New York and is about a newspaper reporter (Salt) who witnesses, through her apartment window, a violent murder in the apartment across the way. Kidder plays a French Canadian model/actress who may or may not be involved with murder. Years earlier, she had been surgically separated from her Siamese twin. De Palma is a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and this movie is a homage to the Master of Suspense.  The film is a well-crafted, dark thriller with great performances from Salt and Kidder. The 2006 remake with Chloe Sevigny ran into trouble from the beginning and became a straight to DVD release.


[Rec] (2007)

Written and directed by Jaume Balaguero (Darkness) and Paco Plaza, [REC] is a Spanish horror movie about a reporter and her cameraman who are shooting a documentary piece on a local Barcelona fire station. What begins as a routine call about a woman trapped in her apartment soon leads to terror, as the rescue/camera crew discovers an outbreak in the apartment building that turns the residents into flesh-eating zombie-like creatures.  To complicate matters, the building is then quarantined by local authorities, trapping everyone in the building. This effectively frightening, edge of your seat thriller was remade in 2008 as the American film Quarantine, which was a box office hit. The title of the film is short for the word ‘Record’ on video cameras.


Angel Heart (1987)

Angel Heart is a compelling, film noir style, detective story with a supernatural twist written and directed by Alan Parker (Midnight Express). The film features a strong cast including Mickey Rourke (Iron Man 2), Robert De Niro (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) and Lisa Bonet (The Cosby Show). The film is set in 1955 and is about a private investigator named Harry Angel (Rourke) who is hired to find a big band singer who has disappeared. The case takes the investigator to New Orléans and the underground world of voodoo and magic. Here, Rourke’s character gets more than he bargained for as he uncovers a sinister, satanic plot. The movie received a lot of controversy when it was released due to a graphic sex scene between Rourke and Bonet (who was appearing in the clean-cut The Cosby Show at the time). 


Carnival of Souls (1962)

Directed by Herk Harvey, Carnival of Souls is a low-budget, independent film that did not receive a lot of attention when it was first released. It has since gone on to become a cult classic and to influence a number of other independent filmmakers including David Lynch and George A. Romero. After surviving a car accident, a young woman is haunted by the souls of the dead, who lead her to a strange, abandoned amusement park. The film is an effectively haunting piece, notable for its creepy atmosphere and surprise ending.  Carnival of Souls was Harvey’s only directorial effort. The 1998 remake has little to do with the original film and went straight to video.


Hellraiser (1987)

Hellraiser is the best film in the Hellraiser series of nine horror movies.  A low-budget, British film written and directed by Clive Barker (Lord of Illusions), the film is based on one of Barker’s novellas. A man purchases an ancient puzzle box and unlocks a portal into another realm, releasing mutated creatures that capture and torture him.  Years later, his brother and family move into the same house and become involved in a dangerous life and death game with the brother and the same demented creatures.  The film’s strengths are its horrific imagery, suspenseful storyline and strong performances from a largely unknown cast. It is the film that introduced the Cenobite Pinhead character, which is one of the all-time scariest villains in film. The movie received mixed reviews upon its release and was a moderate success at the box office–though it did spawn a highly successful franchise. Hellraiser is rated #19 on Bravo’s list of the 100 Scariest Movie Moments.


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