Written by Briant Laslo
My goal here is to go throughout the year and each month pick out five of the best films, in my opinion, that in some way or another fit into the horror genre. They may not have been box office smashes. They may not have been critical successes. Some of them might even be more funny than scary. But, all of them will have made some kind of contribution to the genre or, at the very least, made their mark on me personally.
Entering the second quarter of the year and now we are really hitting our stride when it comes to a good selection of horror movies! This month is the first time in this endeavor where some actual hard decisions had to be made because there are way more than just five movies which could be considered for a list such as this.
Top five lists are, by their very nature, subjective and meant to be fun, conversation starting pieces. So, I encourage everyone to get involved in the comment section. Give us your top five, or talk about any of the films I mentioned. So, without further ado, here are the Top 5 Horror (ish) Movies Ever Released in the month of April!
The Hunger, April 29, 1983. There are multiple reasons for this film to make the list, and maybe a couple why it shouldn’t as well. But, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon (with some brief appearances from a young Willem Dafoe) alone are enough to have it considered. On top of that, the overall presentation and appearance of the movie is really unique, and anytime you have an actual appearance by Bauhaus playing “Bella Lugosi’s dead” is a plus. The reason this is ranked fifth and not any higher is that the premise of the movie, the idea of an addicted vampire being faced with the choice of would they want to continue being immortal knowing they are addicted, is really undone by the final sequence. For those who are not aware, the studio wasn’t happy with the ending as it was written and demanded a rewrite with the ending that is on film, essentially completely changing the ending. Most of the folks involved in the creative side of the movie, as well as the actors, were very unhappy about this, and I have to side with them. If the original ending, which was the scene where Sarah kills herself, remained as the actual ending, then this movie may have ranked higher.
A Quiet Place, April 6, 2018. I really enjoyed this movie. It almost entirely takes place after an apocalyptic invasion and involves a bunch of alien creatures who have super heightened hearing but are blind. There are large portions of the film where there is no
discussion at all between the characters, forcing them to convey thoughts, emotions, and instructions through a combination of sign language and just facial gestures. The actress Millicent Simmonds, who plays the deaf daughter of the main couple, is a deaf actress and played a large role in helping everybody involved understand not only the different ways she has learned to communicate, but her perception of the world around her in general. I like the fact they don’t really go into the downfall of society too much (they delve more into this in the sequel, which is also good, but not as good). My one complaint is that as extraordinarily dangerous as these aliens appear to be, they seem to always be present when any kind of sound is made. You’ll see what I mean when you watch the movie, but as long as you can get past this unnecessary omnipresence, then I’ll think you find this very enjoyable. Plenty of tension, some good jump scares, and overall just an enjoyable story. This is also the highest earning horror movie ever released in April.
American Psycho, April 14, 2000. Is this really a horror movie, or just a sarcastic take on society in general? I’m not sure, but I love virtually every part of this movie apart from one specific scene. In general, I love Christian Bale’s performance as the lead character Patrick Bateman. The movie is certainly bloody and gratuitous in a number of ways. But, the way that Patrick Bateman makes his way through the upper crust of society, almost trying to make people realize what he actually is, comes off as both hilarious and then terrifying when you realize how possible it really is. I think the ending of the movie is brilliant, leaving the viewer to wonder, “how much of what I just watched actually happened?” The one scene I think should have been cut is the chainsaw scene. I’ll just leave it at that, you’ll know it when you see it because it doesn’t fit in with the feel of the rest of the movie. Note: this is the second movie on this list from April with Willem Dafoe appearing in it.
The Evil Dead, April 15, 1983. The top two movies in this month’s list are similar to Psycho last month in that there is no way to create any kind of legitimate “best of horror” list that doesn’t include both of them. The Evil Dead is probably the greatest platter horror movie of all time. Low-budget, ridiculous amounts of blood, horrifying creatures despite the low-budget, and revolves around young folks stuck out in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with an evil book made out of human flesh. The movie received a rating of X back when it was originally released. Despite that, the film caught on and has grown into one of the biggest cult franchises of all time, spawning sequels, TV shows, video games, and countless types of merchandise. If you’re looking for some dark comedy, more blood than you know what to do with, plenty of jump scares and tension, then you need to see The Evil Dead if you haven’t already. Make sure it’s the original, from 1983, not the remake which came out in 2013. Also, for a mildly interesting story on the films primary star, Bruce Campbell, check out my video about the time I met him in person: https://www.patreon.com/posts/time-i-randomly-64137838
Note: I also met and got to hang out with Ted Raimi (twice) who appears in the film and is the brother of the creator and director, Sam Raimi. But I’ll save his story for another time.
Dawn of the Dead, April 20, 1979. Here you have it folks, one of the best horror movies of all time, any month. As I said in previous articles, I am a zombie fan, but Dawn of the Dead transcends the genre of zombie, or horror. It’s a low-budget movie that manages to tell a great story, have plenty of action and blood, and it still makes some great commentary on society and humans in general. I have to watch myself on this review because I could easily go off and write 5,000 words just breaking down this movie and telling stories about it. The movie itself is set in Pennsylvania and is about the zombie apocalypse. You’ve got your ragtag bunch of survivors trying to make sense of what is happening and find a way to survive, or at least ride it out. This is another movie with tons of blood, and guts, and gore, and extremely graphic scenes of both zombies dying, humans dying, zombies eating humans while they are dying, humans killing humans… You get the idea. But on top of all of that, the movie is the first of the horror/zombie genre that makes the point that the zombies aren’t really the bad guy here. They’re just a force of nature, they’re just something that happened. The humans are the real danger. The movie also does a fabulous job of breaking stereotypes from the 70s. One of the primary characters is Peter Washington, a black cop played by Ken Foree who, unlike most black characters in horror films, does NOT die! I was lucky enough to be able to watch the original 70 mm cut of this film along with most of the actors from the movie and if you’re ever able to see the original cut, which is significantly longer than the theatrical version, you definitely want to! The scenes showing the everyday life of the survivors inside the mall really added to the overall atmosphere of the movie. The movie was shot in Monroeville Pennsylvania at a shopping mall, which is still in operation today. I’ve been able to meet virtually every member of the cast and own a DVD signed by all of them. I’ve also been able to meet Tom Savini, who not only appears in the movie but does most of the makeup special-effects. I’ll save my story about him for another time because I was also able to meet the man himself, George Romero. You can check out the video story on him here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/godfather-of-64138609
Honorable Mentions: The Amityville Horror (remake) April 15, 2005. Pet Semetery (the original) April 21, 1989. Insidious April 1, 2011. House of Wax April 10, 1953 (this one was really hard to not include). The Seventh Sign, April 1, 1988. The Howling, April 10, 1981.
And there you have it everyone, inarguably, the best 5 horror movies ever created and released in the month of March! Look forward to your comments and I’ll have another one out for you all next month.
Find Brian Laslo on his Patreon at: https://www.patreon.com/BLaslo