4. Halloween

4. Halloween (1978). A re-telling of classic urban legends, made classic itself. It re-invented the modern slasher, established tropes and techniques that are still used today, and remains an incredibly enjoyable, simple-yet-scary film. Almost too simple, I suppose, for people who mistake horror for jump scares. And that’s too bad. Donald Pleasance is sublime as the apocalyptic Dr. Loomis, and Jamie Lee Curtis is both vulnerable and capable. Sometimes, the best movies are the ones that do one thing (in this case, create a sense of impending doom), and do that one thing flawlessly. What makes The Shape so terrifying is that we don’t really understand who or what he is, beyond a few paranoid, rambling declarations of doom from Dr. Loomis. That makes him very frightening—he’s a ghostly figure that simply shows up in your life, unbidden and uninvited. Rob Zombie’s recent remake isn’t bad, but it undercuts the mystique around The Shape by giving him an extensive (and occasionally sympathetic) backstory, and trades the suspense of the original for bloody violence.

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