Brian White Ranks His Top 3 Horror Films of All-Time Plus 1!

Brian's Top 3 Horror Films of All-TimeGrowing up as a child in the early 80s I fell in love with the old black-and-white Universal Monsters films that my dad would leave playing carelessly on the tube.  For some reason, even as a young child, I just wasn’t scared of Lon Chaney as the Wolf Man or Boris Karloff as Frankenstein.  Instead, I was obsessed.  I just couldn’t get enough of the rich monster lore and their associated worlds, even if it was all in black-and-white.  However, while I was still too young to remember this, a low budget independent movie hit the big screen in 1978 that forever changed the world of horror movies and was responsible for peaking the age of the “slasher” titles with rich iconic villains such as Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Chucky to name a few.  Now I was really hooked and excited for the future of one of my most favorite genres, horror.

While the slasher movie fads slowly withered and were later resurged with Scream in the 90s it seemed like the genre was once again turned over in 2004 with the introduction of what would be known as “torture porn,” whose most notable disciple was that of the Saw films.  Sadly, the horror genre while still wildly as popular as ever with movie going audiences has abandoned gratuitous gore, killings, nudity and blood in lieu of playing it safe and filling the theaters with the greatest numbers possible with endless, unnecessary sequels that are slapped with PG-13 ratings, one F-word and hardly no blood to pack the houses.  They’re not horror!  They’re blasphemy!

For those latter reasons listed above, that’s why you won’t find anything less than a good old fashioned R-rated feature on my list below of my favorite Top 3 horror films ever plus one relatively unknown that we are all gathered here today to compile and discuss.  As I’m sure most of the other writers associated with doing a similar article such as this would agree, picking your Top 3 horror films of all-time, especially when it’s one of your favorite genres, is no easy task to complete (unless you’re Gerard Iribe because he can self-edit).  So for that reason and many more I tried to make a stressful situation an easy one by choosing two legacy films that are forever embedded in my mind that exemplify the genre in my opinion as well as a more recent title, which I consider the best of the new millennium so far, that reinvigorated the world of horror for me and once again made me momentarily afraid of the dark.  That’s a quality you have to love, adore and cherish in a brilliant horror film.

The other part of this exercise was to select a horror film that you hold near and dear, but is relatively unheard of by the “mainstream” masses.  Since I’m such a fan of the genre, rest assured, that was no easy task either, but I managed to pick the right one that affected me the most.  And while there’s really nothing to write home about in the world of horror films this year at the domestic box office, only a few come to mind, I do want to give a shout out to my boy Frank Grillo in my favorite horror film of 2014 thus far, The Purge: Anarchy.  Now I’m not known as a huge fan of The Purge, but Frank’s performance towards the resolution of Anarchy had me in near tears.  Therefore, I’ll watch anything the guy’s in, but I digress.  I have a Top 3 horror film list to address here.  So Trick ‘r Treat yo!  Let’s get started!


3.  The Descent


The DescentI kind of made mention to the fact up above that after the slasher and Scream films of the 90’s the horror genre kind of lost momentum.  Save for the 2002 remake of a 1998 Japanese horror film, The Ring, my enthusiasm for something new and fresh in the world of horror was exasperated by weak entries in the genre, but in 2006 the breath of fresh air I was quenching was finally realized.  While he might have been relatively unknown back in 2006, there’s no denying the fact that Neil Marshall is almost a household name now for movie buffs.  Who do you call when you want big action period pieces done right?  Well Game of Thrones calls upon Neil Marshall as two of the most action packed episodes were directed by the man.  However, let’s not get off topic here.  Let’s talk some The Descent.  You ever walk around sleepy in the morning and stub your toe on the edge of your bed?  It hurts right?  But it also wakes you up and makes you take notice rather quickly.  That’s exactly what The Descent did for me.  The monsters were bad-a$$, the caves were tight, constricting and tension filled and the gore, blood-soaked action and kills were off the wall crazy insane.  Best of all it was a complete women cast with a flawed, but very strong female protagonist and an even stronger female antagonist full of mischievous behaviors, guilt and deceit.  It even made you see things in the dark that weren’t really there.  If you don’t believe me, ask my mom.  I showed it to my parents on New Years Eve back in 2007 and on the way my mom was petrified thinking she saw those creatures in the dark everywhere she looked.  I don’t know about you, but I never wanted to go spelunking more so than I did after watching The Descent.  I wanted to experience it all, minus the monsters of course.  While the theatrical cut was every horror fan’s wet dream, the unrated cut took things to a whole new level with one mind f#%k of an ending, which later became the absolute authority with the inclusion of a sequel in the all too short franchise.  I don’t think I could ever get bored of seeing cave explorers and expeditions getting ripped apart limb-by-limb by these magnificent creatures.  LOL.  Is that a bad thing?  It bloody well shouldn’t be!  It’s only a horror movie after all.


2.  The Exorcist


The ExorcistThe Exorcist is one of those films that for the most part pretty much stands the test of time, but watching it now is nothing like experiencing it for the first time in your younger teen years.  The effects and scares may be minimal and dated later on now in life, but the overall thematic tone and pop culture significance is still very much intact.  It’s one of the most scariest films of all time as well as one of the most profitable horror films too.  It even has the distinguishing title of the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture, coupled with the fact that like the first two Star Wars films of the Original Trilogy, The Exorcist was also selected by the Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry.  I could go on and on about all the reasons as to why this film should be on everyone’s Top 10 lists of best horror films ever, but I think I already provided enough ammo for that.  So what does The Exorcist mean to me?  Everything!  The subject matter alone, to this day, still freaks me out as something very plausible, but it was that one scene in particular etched in my mind that affected me like none other when I watched this at an early age.  Of course, I’m talking the scissors scene.  It freaked me the F out!  Oh my God!  Up until then, in my sheltered Parma, Ohio catholic church life, I had never seen anything like it before.  Hundreds of horror films have tried to mimic and copy the subject matter, style, ebb and flow of The Exorcist, but none have come close, in my opinion, to capturing the raw heart, emotion and essence of what makes it the grand daddy of all exorcist films.  While there may be a thousand and one exorcist knockoff films out there, there’s only one that rules them all, The Exorcist.


1.  Halloween


HalloweenFor those that know me well there should be no surprise as to what my number one horror film of all-time is.  I have no idea what it is, but ever since I saw Halloween airing on broadcast television as a young whipper snapper I have been infatuated with the Bogeyman, also affectionately known as Michael Myers.  That original $2 William Shatner mask went on to haunt my dreams and paint my imagination wild for the next thirty years of my life, and still does today as I judiciously make my way through the just released Halloween: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray this Halloween season.  While I love Rob Zombie’s take on the franchise, there’s nothing like the nostalgia of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode and Donald Pleasence as Dr. Loomis in John Carpenter’s original production.  While its scares and production value don’t compare to what you see in horror movie’s that followed its formula, there’s no denying the tension and suspense you felt the very first time you sat down with this classic.  For me, I have to harken back to my childhood when my parents fell asleep in the living room and left me alone in the dark with a broadcast version of Halloween playing on the 19” boob tube.  I was terror stricken and frightened as could be seeing Michael Myers stalking the house while Laurie and the kids she was babysitting were oblivious to any tomfoolery going on outside.  Now as I already said, subsequent views and comparisons to modern day horror films make Halloween’s scares and effects feel a tad dated, and today’s generations may just not get it, but for those of us old enough to remember and were lucky enough to be alive to witness the fear this 325,000 dollar movie created and the scares it achieved with its movie going audiences, the feeling is undeniable bliss.  Halloween is simply the benchmark movie all horror films of its genre should strive to measure up to.  I did not say copy, but strive to be in terms of creepiness, tension and suspense.  And who still doesn’t get goosebumps on their arms and chills whenever they hear John Carpenter’s classic, but horrifying theme?  I could go on and on about my affinity for the Halloween franchise, albeit an imperfect one (I’m looking at your parts 5 and 6), but I’ll spare you anymore long winded rants on the movie at hand.  You get the idea.  Halloween is not only a classic in its own right and a favorite to the millions of horror aficionados, but it’s my go to film of choice whenever I think of the words horror movie.  And that’s that!  I’ll make no excuses whatsoever for the way I feel about the film, and of course the man behind the mask.  There has to be some reason why I get out that navy blue mechanic outfit, fake butchers knife and William Shatner mask every Halloween, right?  Exactly!


My Relatively Unknown Pick:



MartyrsOh man.  Where do I even begin with this title?  Let me just say this.  There’s the genre of “torture porn,” which I made mention of way back in my first paragraph up above, and then there’s Martyrs.  If you’ve never seen Martyrs before, there’s really not much I can do in terms of trying to prepare you for what you’re about to tune into.  It’s like having your brain smashed in by a hammer painstakingly over and over.  In my opinion it really hurts that bad and resonates throughout your nervous system.  So where did I even find a film like this you’re probably asking yourself?  It all started out innocently enough when I wrote a Blu-ray review two years ago for what many people consider a very shocking piece, A Serbian Film.  In all honesty, A Serbian Film has nothing on the broken and profound effect that Martyrs bestows upon you.  However, I digress.  It was Gerard Iribe who said if I want to really test the waters of shock within a feature film, then I needed to check out a French film made in 2008 called…you guessed it…Martyrs.  Truth be told, I have only watched Martyrs once.  Once was enough for me.  I own it on Blu-ray, but I don’t know if I have the courage to ever return to it again.  I know that makes the movie sound bad, but it’s quite the opposite.  Remember I mentioned just before about the profound effect it could have on a viewer?  Well I was really referring to myself in regards to what I witnessed upon my solo viewing of Martyrs and how it’s something I wish that can be unseen, but it cannot.  The scariest thing about Martyrs is not the gore, the brutality, the torture or even the lunacy of it all, it’s the plausibility that I could really see a religious nut/cult carrying the onscreen events out in real life.  That frightens the living hell out of me.  It took me a month before I was even able to eat bacon again after witnessing some of the skin crawling events (literally) that transpire in the feature.  I was completely grossed out by it all, the subject matter, the torture, the gore and and the brutality.  Never has a film affected me more than Martyrs.  Viewers beware.  This one is not for the weak of heart.  It will step all over your soul.


So there you have it.  I know I can be long winded with my writing, but I don’t want to apologize because of it.  I’m very passionate about the horror genre and when my affinity is this strong about something I have this “fear” that nothing I write can accurately express or come across as strong as I want it to in order to do the topic or subject matter justice.  You picking up what I’m dropping?  I hope so!  If you’re so inclined to do so, I look forward to some comments, complaints and/or words of insight below.  I appreciate it!  Thanks for reading and…Happy Halloween!


Isn’t Scarlett looking especially creepy donning the William Shatner mask below?

Brian's Top 3 Horror Films


ONE HECK OF A PROMOTER!!! Also a Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

6 Responses to “Brian White Ranks His Top 3 Horror Films of All-Time Plus 1!”

  1. Eric Ashley

    The Decent also made my list. And Martyrs is a fantastic and disturbing movie. Any movie that combines horror with religion is an instant watch for me.

  2. Brian White

    Martyrs, for me, was the most brutal movie I’ve ever seen, coupled that with religion, and you’re right. It’s a recipe for disaster no matter how you slice it.

  3. Brandon Peters

    Great picks. Agreed on Martyrs…that’s totally a one timer. What a captivating first act though, which probably gets overshadowed by what the film really becomes by the end.

    I enjoy how all four of your picks cover some a different spectrum of the genre. Good stuff Brian. I can’t wait to see everyone else’s picks!

  4. Brian White

    Thanks Brandon. Things may have taken a drastic turn in the second act for Martyrs, but despite the different change of pace, the resolve never let me go 🙁 and I can totally see some nut doing this to people. That’s what terrifies me the most…and the peeled off skin too. OUCH!

  5. Brandon Peters

    Haha totally. Not downplaying the second act at all…that’s where the film is most effective. I guess I was trying to say the first act is pretty underrated.

  6. Brian White

    You’re right. That first act is pure lunacy and chaos. My jaw hit the ground a few scenes I never saw coming. Such a great movie, but a disturbing one!