I, like many blood and guts enthusiasts, was sorely disappointed and a bit irked to find that the entire horror genre had been ignored by the American Film Institute, which has put together its "10 Top 10". AFI selected ten major genres and listed its top 10 films in each category. Included genres were animation (a genre??), romantic comedies, westerns, sports, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, gangster, courtroom drama and epic.
Clearly, a disservice is being done to one of the movies' oldest and most beloved niches. I mean really, what comes to mind first when you think film genres, horror or courtroom drama? Come on now. So taking some inspiration from fellow LoTT D member Final Girl, I've taken it upon myself to put together "the list that should have been." That's right: The Vault of Horror has taken the liberty of creating AFI's Top 10 Horror Films list, since they couldn't be bothered to do it themselves.
#1 The Shining (1980)
Surprisingly, this movie does have its detractors (King purists!), so let me explain my choice. Simply put, AFI judges its films as films. And here you have what might be the highest quality horror picture ever made. One of the all-time greatest directors, riveting acting, amazing cinematography and score, and most importantly, scary as all get-out.
#2 Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The most enduring piece of cinema to come out of the entire Universal monster movie cycle, rich in symbolism, rife with dark humor and thematically bold. It's also quite beautiful to look at.
#3 Dawn of the Dead (1978)
My personal favorite horror movie, an epic of gore and social commenary that pushed the envelope for the entire genre. Marred only by its drama-class-level acting.
#4 Psycho (1960)
Hitchcock's grim yet stylish chiller invented both the slasher sub-genre and the modern thriller in one swift stroke. Could do without the clunky exposition in the final scene, though.
#5 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
An unrelenting nightmare of terror, and the crowned jewel of '70s exploitation horror. A classic that demonstrates how effective you can be on a low budget and a small scale.
#6 The Exorcist (1973)
Along with The Shining, one of the only horror movies that could've conceivably won the Academy Award. Though perhaps more terrifying to Catholics than others, this grand-daddy of all Satan flicks still packs a hell of a punch.
#7 Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Perhaps more influential than any other horror film ever made, this milestone motion picture is the literal dividing line between old-school and modern eras.
#8 Frankenstein (1931)
Though overshadowed by its sequel, there's something deeply effective about James Whale's original, and Boris Karloff's brilliant wordless performance. It may not be as shocking today, but that will never take away from just what a damn good movie it is.
#9 The Thing (1982)
There's a devout cult following built around John Carpenter's mind-blowing sci-fi/horror remake, and with good reason. With all the love it gets, this one's still underrated.
#10 The Evil Dead (1981)
Despite an ultra low budget, this revered gem endures thanks to the sheer gusto of its performances and its willingness to plumb the depths of grisly gore without flinching.
There you have it, folks! Whether you agree or disagree with the choices, I hope you'll at least agree that this needed to be done. AFI, take a hike. We horror fans take care of our own.