Horror movies are churned out at a fast pace, rarely does a forth night go by in the cinema without a new one being released. They normally slip by our consciousness without much notice. Disposable entertainment to never be looked at again but on occasion the genre strikes gold. It makes a film that rewrites its own rules, causing a slew of copycat films made to cash in on its success. The films in this list might not be in your opinion the best of the genre but they most certainly helped redefine it. They breathed new life into a failing facet of cinema, helping horror live strong for many many decades. So turn off the lights, lock the door and ignore that clawing sounds coming from the window outside….
1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Tobe Hooper made a little low budget horror film called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for $300,000 in the summer of 1974. It went on to gross over $30 million in the American box office. Not only is there a raw rushed energy about the movie that will shake your central core (the dinning room scene must be one of the most terrifying pieces of cinema ever) but it basically invented the slasher movie genre. An iconic masterpiece that is as flawed as it is perfect.
2. Scream (1996)
After The Texas Chainsaw Massacre the slasher genre began a slow decline. Lots of straight to video releases and trashy movies caused the Horror industry to loose its appeal but in 1996 a pop culture referencing, quick talking, tongue in cheek movie called Scream came out. It played all the right cards, a nostalgic throwback to the likes of Halloween and Friday 13th while never taking itself too seriously. The 90’s had found their horror icon in the shape of Ghost face.
3. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Spawning too many copycats to count (see Paranormal Activity) The Blair Witch Project helped pave the way for Mockumentary filmmaking. Using hand held cameras and the premise of a “True Story” it gave an added fear factor to the market. Playing on the idea that we associate home movies with real life it made the scares much more real, much more tangible. To really see this movies impact all you have to do is look at the amount of movies made using the same technique.
4. Saw (2004)
Welcome to torture porn. Its gonna be graphic, its gonna be nasty, its gonna be about as gory as you can imagine and then maybe add another 10 gallons of blood. Saw uses the gross out technique to give the viewer a good scare and judging by the box office figures and numerous sequels it seems to have done the job. This franchise opened the door for the likes of Hostel and Captivity.
5. 28 Days Later (2002)
28 Days Later brought the scares in the form of zombies with the ability to run fast, very very fast. Gone were the days of the stumbling, doddering brain eaters, Danny Boyle had replaced them with sprinters ready to hurdle any obstacle you put in their way all just to spread their virus. Low budget cameras gave the film a gritty home hitting feel that brought the audience right into the middle of the action. Maybe not the best zombie movie of all but definitely one that broke a good few boundaries.