For four years now, we've been lucky enough to have a horror director come in and give us their own guest Halloween Top Ten. In 2008 it was END OF THE LINE's Maurice Devereaux, in 2009 it was GRACE's Paul Solet, in 2010 it was I SELL THE DEAD's Glenn McQuaid and now this year we're proud to have Stevan Mena, director of MALEVOLENCE and it's recently released prequel, BEREAVEMENT For four years now, we've been lucky enough to have a horror director come in and give us their own guest Halloween Top Ten. In 2008 it was END OF THE LINE's Maurice Devereaux, in 2009 it was GRACE's Paul Solet, in 2010 it was I SELL THE DEAD's Glenn McQuaid and now this year we're proud to have Stevan Mena, director of MALEVOLENCE and it's recently released prequel, BEREAVEMENT, take a crack at it. A very personal list, we get to read about the films that inspired him to pursue the genre as he has thus far in his career. Without ado: 10. The Burning (1980) So I’m in my local video store circa 1983, and I see the clerk watching this scene of kids getting slaughtered on a raft. He keeps rewinding it over and over. I asked what film it was, he said the Burning. I said I have to rent it, but he said no, not until he was finished with it. I had to wait a week but I finally got it. What I love about the film is that It’s very mean spirited and dark. There’s little humor, and the soundtrack is cheesy and brilliant. For me, the soundtracks from those classic 70/80’s horror films are what keeps me going back. And an element that is non-existent today. They don’t make cool horror soundtracks anymore. But you play 5 bars of The Burning, people will know what film it is. Unless they suck. Favorite scene aside from the obvious raft? The scene where Cropsey looks in the window and Alfred screams like a little girl. Awesome. 9. Dracula [Spanish Version] (1931) Had no idea there even was a Spanish one until the dvd came out with this version as a bonus disc. I couldn’t believe how much SCARIER it was, especially Renfield on the boat. I wondered if I was the only one who thought this way. I went online and discovered that many people agree it’s the superior version. Even the cinematography to me was better, and creepier. Considering what an immense classic the Bela version is, I was shocked to discover this alternate version (shot at the exact same time on the same set during off hours!) This is a definite must see by any fan of the original film. Even the castle looks scarier. 8. Friday the 13th, Part 3D (1982) Of all the Friday films, this one for me is where it all came together. The first 4 are all good, but there are more memorable moments in this one than all the others combined. The hockey mask, The machete handstand chop, Those great creepy over the shoulder shots that you can only appreciate in the widescreen version. The truly frightening scene when he looks out the window and smiles when he finds her in the boat (the idea that he’s enjoying this and the look of joy on his face truly makes your hair stand on end). And of course there is the biker who tries to save her and gets his hand chopped off. That’s what slow mo advance was made for. This is the film that made Jason an icon of horror. Technically, I think part 2 is superior, (acting, lighting, writing, execution), but Part 3 is just so much fun. Like when she looks through the keyhole and he’s running towards the door. Now when do we get the real 3d Blu Ray transferred for today’s 3d TV technology, not the crackerjack nonsense glasses. 7. Dawn of the Dead (1978) The premise behind Romero’s Dawn of the Dead is so much fun it makes you want a zombie apocalypse to happen just so you can take over the mall. And oh yeah, the soundtrack by Goblin is legendary. Where are those guys when we need them? Watch the gore effects by Tom Savini in this film and you’ll see why practical effects will always look better than CGI when it comes to gore. Ken Foree is the king of cool in this movie, and it just never gets boring no matter how many times you watch it. You can say this film did for Zombie flicks what Halloween did for Slasher flicks. I personally prefer the European version re-cut by Argento, with more of Goblins music. Some movies get hyped up and then never deliver, but Dawn lives up to all the hype, and the last 10 minutes alone more than delivers on all the hype about the intensity and level of gore in the film. This is one film I wish would get a re-release in theaters so I could finally see it on the big screen. Oh and by setting it at the mall people infer that it’s a social commentary about society and consumerism. That makes about as much sense as Texas Chainsaw being a social commentary about Vietnam. Yeah, whatever, uhhh…. 6. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Freddy Krueger for me was the first slasher villain that went mainstream. Before Nightmare, I really don’t remember any merchandizing for a horror movie. Then the Freddy glove became a huge seller, and all of a sudden I can get a replica of Leatherface complete with bloody apron and bucket of human bones. Freddy was so incredibly frightening in his debut, but became some kind of psycho wolfman Jack in the sequels, commenting and cracking wise. But the inferior sequels did nothing to dilute Freddy’s scare factor, the original holds up well. I know Scream is a great franchise, but I think in the future this is the film that will define Craven. Oh, and yet another amazing score by Charles Bernstein. And not just any character actor, But John “Roper” Saxon as the father! One well placed flying round house kick would have sent Freddy back where he came from. Sadly Roper wasn’t allowed to put his karate skills on display, and Freddy went down in slasher history. Hey, did you hear they remade this one too? It’s true, look it up on the internet. 5. The Shining (1980) Kubrick deciding to do a horror film was like Mozart crossing over to do a heavy metal album. Just epic, the musical choices of Penderecki and Bartok and the superb original score by Wendy Carlos are incredible. It’s brilliant the way Kubrick’s steadycam pushes us face first through the hotel, floating along observing as if we are the ghost. And no one turns the fast zoom lens like Kubrick. And my favorite murder scene of all time is when Dick Halloran get’s axed after traveling thousands of miles through air and blizzard snow. Only to get chopped the second he walks in! Ha ha! Awesome! Casting the creepy Olive Oil as Wendy was a stroke of genius too, her and Nicholson made a very believable couple. Of course I would have loved to see how the Shining would have turned out if Kubrick went with his first choice of casting Gene Wilder as Jack. And it wouldn’t be Kubrick if he didn’t get us with that enigmatic ending. Oh did I mention the awesome music??? 4. Jaws (1975) I watched this movie every day for almost a year when I got my first VCR. I remember the VHS back then cost like 70 bucks! I wore it out. I owned the soundtrack on vinyl, and wore that out too. Almost every line is classic. Jaws is the most re-watchable film ever. No matter what point you come in at, you have to watch till the end. Quint is the greatest character of all time. I remember when this came out I was like 3 or 4, and my psychotic parents took me to see it. I remember stepping through a giant sharks mouth to get into the theater, (back when movies were cool events). I never saw more than a few frames though. But I heard everyone screaming. I can guarantee you will never see this film remade. No one would dare touch it. Then again… 3. Psycho (1960) If Anthony Hopkins won an Academy Award for Hannibal Lecter, not sure how Anthony Perkins didn’t take home a statue in 1960 for his incredible portrayal of Norman Bates. One of the best scripts ever written, and a film that would be considered the pinnacle of any great director’s career, but for Hitchcock, it was merely one of many classic films he made. It introduced a monster that until then was considered far too shocking to present to filmgoers. But Hitchcock’s clever style and restraint made something so vile as serial murder accessible to mainstream audiences. And left the old Universal horror icons in the dust. Horror was changed forever, and the influence of this classic is still felt today. Without it, Texas and Halloween would not exist. Psycho also messed with screenplay structure by killing off the hero in the first act, and without a doubt most iconic piece of music of any horror movie, maybe of any movie period. Who doesn’t recognize those shrieking violins by Bernard Hermann? 2. Halloween (1978) Halloween is the Unforgiven of Slasher films. It’s the shower sequence in Psycho extended over 90 minutes. Even Carpenter himself didn’t know what a masterpiece he created until far later on. Without a doubt, the greatest soundtrack of all time. And that includes Jaws, Grease and Saturday Night Fever. Some films have such magic around them that you just can’t explain it. For example, isn’t it odd that not one Halloween sequel can get Michael Meyers mask right? Everything you need to know about suspense you can learn by watching Halloween. It’s the master class. And Carpenter made it look so effortless, but few have been able to come close to its power and tension. Loomis is like Van Helsing chasing Dracula. And like Dracula, Meyers is this mythical beast that can’t be killed. Like they say, it established “the formula” for all slasher films to follow. 1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Aside from the bellbottoms, for me, no horror film has held up over time better than TCM. It’s the Citizen Kane of horror movies. In fact, It’s not a movie, it’s a nightmare extrapolated from someone’s demented brain and turned into celluloid. Even the abrupt cut to black ending jolts you as if waking from a bad dream. Pure genius. And a minimalist, grinding score that torments you as you watch, as if the images weren’t horrifying enough. It’s an achievement that will never be replicated. There are few films where even a black and white picture of the killer running towards the camera can send a chill down your spine. I’ve seen thousands of movies now, and only one has literally left me a changed man afterwards. I believe destiny led me to see Texas when it was re-released in 1983 in theaters. All I wanted to do after viewing it was watch it again. And again. What was amazing was when I left the theater, I found out the film was actually 10 years old, and found it on VHS the next day. It never left my VCR (lost several girlfriends this way). It made me want to become a filmmaker.