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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The List the AFI Missed

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.


Evil said...

Hey man, loved the list and have been an avid reader of the site for the last few months. Keep up the good work!!

Anonymous said...

Good list, though I consider "The Thing" (both original and awesome re-make) sci-fi and not horror. I'd have also had "Carnival Of Souls" (the orig.) on that list somewhere :)


B-Sol said...

Thanks, guys. Keep reading! Especially you, Rowan--you've been missing all these years, glad to have found you.

CRwM said...

Poorly played, AFI. Poorly played indeed.

Nosferatu couldn't make the AFI list, had they suddenly remembered one of the longest-lived genres in cinema and made such a list, as it isn't American.

Other than that, you've got a solid list.

gord said...

I agree with most of the choices, though I don't think two Frankenstein pics should be there (Bride is better), or two Romero films (sorry George) and I would have liked to have seen Evil Dead 1 or 2 up there as well.

Also I must be one of the few who thought the acting in The Shining wasn't all that great. Jack was too Jack, and Duvall was just plain bad. However it's still masterfully crafted.

B-Sol said...

Whoa, thanks CRwM, must have had a brain fart there. Nosferatu does indeed not belong on this list. I'll have to bump it, and I'll be adding The Evil Dead at number 10 to fill the gap.

gord said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gord said...


I have influence!! :P

Thanks for adding it. It is, IMO, still the scariest movie I've ever seen (based on how scared I first was at the time of watching it). Not to mention it is ridiculously well made.

Patrick said...

Great list- Usually I read other horror fans top ten lists and find myself thinking "naw, there are better movies than that one" but with your list I agreed with your choices across the board. And the AFI is seriously messed up for not including a horror list. They probably knew that they would get more of a reaction from the horror freaks about their lousy choices, so they decided to avoid the problem and remain silent...

Anonymous said...

RayRay - I love the list, and AFI should certainly be ashamed. You probably nailed it with The Shining taking the top. I always find it tough, personally, to make such list in my life - my Top 10 of anything always has about 50 inductees, like a hall of fame, if you will. A few flicks that I suggest could have made your list but didn't: Alien and Aliens, Jacob's Ladder, Invasion of the Body Snatchers [either one], Rosemary's Baby, War of the Worlds [old], Jaws. I also do not see any distinction between a horror film based in magic/fantasy, in reality, or one in science fiction. If the purpose was to scare you, it is horror.

B-Sol said...

Thanks Ray--if you'd like to put together your own top 50 list or something like that, feel free to write it up as another guest post anytime. Most of the ones you mentioned were contenders, but I've always considered War of the Worlds to be straight sci-fi. And for some reason, I've always had a hard time considering Jaws a horror movie. I know I'm in the minority on that one.

Pierre Fournier said...

A brilliant list! I'd just move some titles around. I'd kick NOTLD way up, and I'd switch the Frankensteins. Bride is terrific, but the original has rough, raw power and I think it's superior to the more elaborate sequel.

B-Sol said...

Thanks, Pierre. I see your point about the Frankensteins. But while the original may have more raw power as a pure horror film, I feel the sequel is a better all-around film from top to bottom. It's more sophisticated in its technique, richer in its symbolism, with a bueatiful score and effective performances across the board.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, it's great that AFI has a Sci-Fi list, but most of the movies belong in the "Fantasy" or "Action" categories. 2001 and Blade Runner are the only ones that trade in actual, whatchamacallit, science fiction. And T2, I guess, but it doesn't explore anything that Blade Runner didn't.

Alien and Body Snatchers are both horror movies through and through, so I guess that's something.

Anonymous said...

I was also pissed when the AFI didn't have a horror genre - how could they forget it!?! I agree with most of your list - its hard to pick just ten.

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