Lists, Top 5 Movies, Top 5s — October 22, 2012 at 3:01 am

KAI’S TOP 5 HORROR SUB-GENRES

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As many of you who frequent the site know, I LOVE Horror movies. With Halloween looming, I thought this would be kind of fun. With so many Horror movies out there to see, I started to think about what kind of Horror movies I like the best. Funny thing is, I had done a similar list in the past and was surprised how much my tastes had changed in just a few years time. Check it out:

HONORABLE MENTION: META-HORROR.

Examples: Cabin in the Woods, Scream, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.

In all honesty, this would probably be my favorite if I was entirely sure I could even call it a sub-genre. In fact, the only three good examples I could think of are listed above… and two of those were written by the same dude! On top of that, almost all those films are mentioned and fit better into some of the categories lsited below. Still, these films deserve a lot of respect as they manage to turn the genre inside out and play on the over-used conventions used in almost every Horror film you ever see. Then, they flip them on their heads and, in most case, send the genre heading into a new and fresh direction.

5. MOVIE MANIAC ICONS.

Examples: A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Child’s Play.

I touched on this in our Top 17 Horror Movie Baddies post. There’s something great about a Horror movie that is set around an interesting villain with a rich mythology. In a way, by creating a deep back story for these movie maniacs, we feel compelled not only to root for their victims but for the baddies themselves. Plus, it makes everything they do seem justifiable in a twisted way and all the more creepy.

4. HORROR COMEDIES.

Examples: Shaun of the Dead, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Evil Dead II, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

It feels weird even counting this as a genre but, in recent years, these films have turned out to be more successful and entertaining than most the Horror being produced in Hollywood. Much like Meta-Horror films, Comedy can be used to take a look at how ridiculous the genre as a whole can be and play upon the absurdity of it in a fun way. In a way that allows us to relieve that tension of fear with the power of laughter… Power of Laughter? That was my favorite Huey Lewis song!

3. SLASHER FILMS.

Examples: Prom Night, Black Christmas, Scream.

I don’t know about you but, aside from burning alive and drowning, being stabbed has always seemed like the worst way to go out. I have often said I could die a happy man if I could just manage to avoid being stabbed in my life. While the Slasher film has lost a lot of what made it so popular in the 70s and 80s, the films featuring mad men lurking in the shadows with a large butcher’s knife still get my goat… yeah, I said “my goat”.

2. FOUND FOOTAGE FILMS.

Examples: The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield.

Films like these are hard to do. The three listed above are the only three I can think of that have completely got it right. When these films fail, you feel like you’re watching a movie the second the first image hits the screen. When it mildly succeeds, you get  something like The Fourth Kind. However, when a filmmaker nails it, you can get some of the most terrifying images ever caught on film. The realism is what makes these films work and, if it’s done right, well, good luck sleeping tonight.

1. END OF THE WORLD SCENARIOS.

Examples: Night of the Living Dead, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, [REC], 28 Weeks Later.

I don’t know if these are the scariest films out there but I still LOVE any film that grapples with the topic of humans trying to survive in a world they have lost control of and that is slowly trying to consume them. Be it an alien invasion, an infectious outbreak, zombies or pod people, these movies are money in my book… money in my wallet would make more sense though.

Remember, we here at Man, I Love Films don’t do definitive lists. We do our favorites and we want to hear yours. So, make sure and tell us about them in the comments section below.

14 Comments

  • I’m a fan. I think the only sub-genre here I really don’t care for is found footage, but there are a number of films in that category that are good enough to justify its existence. (Troll Hunter and Rec, for example. Plus, recently, V/H/S.)

    One thing worth mentioning is that #1 covers a ton of other genres, from zombies to aliens to animals to demons. That’s not to question its legitimacy, but more to point out that it’s a massive umbrella– you can probably fit some of these other categories beneath it if you look hard enough.

    For my part, I think I’m most fond of slashers and horror comedies, though I have a special place in my heart for anything about evil children or animals.

    • (Except that Troll Hunter is ungodly boring, and V/H/S sucked pretty hard–with the exception of like 2 stories, one of which shouldn’t have even been involved in the VHS theme.)

      • Two of V/H/S‘s segments are horrible, but the rest is pure effective terror. As for Troll Hunter, wow, really? I just feel bad for you now. Enjoy life hating great movies.

        • VHS… The first segment was off-the-charts cliche and stupid and not remotely scary. Ti West’s segment was dull, though I liked the idea of its ending. The Friday the 13th one had a decent premise with a lackluster execution that should have been expanded on. The Skype one was good. The final one was the best. The connecting story was god-awful. But overall, the film was over-long and unfulfilling. And they were (almost) all about horny douchebags and evil women. Not very original after the first couple.

          Troll Hunter had an excellent and original idea. And I actually am not saying it’s a bad movie. I just personally couldn’t get into it. I thought it was incredibly dull.

          And hey, at least you didn’t say “Go enjoy your Michael Bay and/or Transformers” or something like the morons on imdb say to people who don’t like movies they like.

          • Originality is nice, but there’s nothing wrong with a good story well told. In that case I’d consider the film a success since 3/5 of the segments work (and I really don’t count the connective tissue of the overarching narrative, either). After a point, originality becomes one of those things that just doesn’t matter versus good storytelling. I mean, you’re a fan of the Resident Evil films and those are about as far from original as you can get.

            So as much as the three best segments of V/H/S wear their intentions on their sleeves and have really obvious rooting in horror traditions, they’re still effective bits because of how they’re put together and how they unfold. Unlike, say, West’s segment, which is dull and boring on top of being predictable, and McQuaid’s slasher-in-the-woods segment, which is just frigging incoherent. Yikes to both of them. Especially West’s.

            As far as the gender politics go, I actually find them to be fascinating– and very, very atypical of the genre, too. If anything that gave the whole thing a Tales From the Crypt vibe, and that show basically goes out of its way to showcase evil women and pervy men as often as possible. I’m entertaining finishing off an essay I started about the subject over the summer. Maybe I’ll get around to it. Then again, maybe not.

            Regarding Troll Hunter, I guess I’m just surprised because it is pretty original. Personally, I found it engaging, even in its moments of quiet bureaucracy (mostly because they’re pretty damn funny).

            And I would never call you a moron. I’d just throw a playful jab like I did above. Hate people who do that. “GO WATCH MICHAEL BAY” movies might be one of the stupidest logical fallacies of the Internet age of argumentation.

          • I guess we’ll agree to disagree on VHS… well, at least in regards to Story #1 (since it seems we kinda agree on Stories 2 and 3). The first story is not a good story, nor is it well told–at least in my opinion. But the thing I disliked most about VHS, besides the fact the first three stories were terribly executed, were the characters. I just could not get behind any of them. They were all entirely unlikable in every way. So it felt like by the time I got to Story #4 where the entertainment quality picked up, I just didn’t give a crap anymore. (And top that off with the fact Story #4 shouldn’t have even EXISTED on a VHS tape. I still liked it, but that was just silly.) The last story was excellent and very well done all around… but by that point it was almost too little too late.

          • I think you two should just fuck and get it over with! :)

            Honestly, listen to the last MILFcast. Nick shits on V/H/S but feels kind of the same way I do about it… it has some good stories, some bad ones and a ton of potential. I did like it.

            I also think Troll hunter was awesome though it was a bit slow. I also have a hard time calling it Horror but IMDB does and that is the Bible.

          • The “reply” button isn’t appearing on the last few comments. I hate it when that happens. I hate it when the “reply” button doesn’t appear.

            Anyways.

            I like the way Bruckner’s story progresses. It’s a build-up toward something that we know will not possibly be wholesome; either they have a gangbang or she fangs out and starts ripping throats. Given that these guys are basically a bunch of frat boy date rapists (save for the cameraman; on a tangential, it’s the spy glasses conceit that gives the segment a shot in the arm for me, because I’m endlessly concerned with how found footage gets found and how it gets shot in the first place and why), I don’t really have a ton of sympathy for them when Lili literally unmans them; that’s honestly part of the allure of films like this. Horror is so often about watching unlikable people get theirs that I can’t really fault V/H/S for sticking to tradition anymore than I can fault any of your run-of-the-mill slashers.

            So that V/H/S is basically about evil/deceptive/duplicitous/dangerous women punishing licentious/abusive/obnoxious men doesn’t bother me in the slightest. In fact I think that’s where its best subtext derives from. The reversal, of course, is in the excellent final segment, where the horror stems from watching bad things happen to good people (though given that they unwittingly freed a demon from its bindings, can they be considered all that good?).

            I think you two should just fuck and get it over with!

            Y’know Kai, you’re right. LET’S DO THIS NICK.

            Anyhow, I agree that Troll Hunter is sort of slow, but I like the characters and the world they inhabit so much that I don’t mind taking my time with them. In fact, I wouldn’t mind this turning into a Parks and Recreation-style TV show with Hans grumbling about bureaucracy while a Ron Swanson type in the background does everything he can to undermine government attempts at troll hunting. Definitely feels like horror to me, even if it’s somewhat light on the horror; it’s a monster movie, which I think fits comfortably under the “horror” umbrella. (And we all know how big that umbrella happens to be!)

  • Solid list! I’d put meta-horror and horror-comedy in the Top 2 spots (not sure what order, though).

  • I’m also quite a fan of Satanic horror flicks.

    • My Christian guilt will not let me admit that I kind of agree! :)

      Some, at least. I like House of the Devil recently. I have another but it’s a major spoiler to include it here.

  • This list could go on forever. J-horror, Universal creature features, anthologies, classic Japanese monster movies, the individual monsters (vampire, werewolf, mummies, ghosts, Frankenstein(s?), etc…).

    Which is to say, I have no fault at all with this list, but rather I think it speaks to how great the genre is that there’s at least one or two films from most horror sub-genres that are enjoyable if you’re willing to let them be enjoyable.

  • I would argue that maniacs and slasher are part of the same subgenres…but that’s just me!
    So no paranormal and/or monster horror for you?.. they are my personnal favorites

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