Top 10 Groundbreaking Horror Movies of All Time
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Directed by Wes Craven
This was a tough one. This spot was a complete toss-up between The Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave. Both of these films featured incredibly intense violence and brutal rape scenes. I Spit on Your Grave seems to possess a bit more of a recognizable name amongst casual fans, but finally The Last House on the Left made the list because it was released five years earlier and was the film in which Wes Craven introduced himself to the horror universe. Although the tension is cut with a bit of humor, The Last House on the Left is an assault on the viewer. The sadistic torture of the victims brings a heaviness to the film that is only slightly alleviated when the family eventually gets revenge on the killers. Last House is another film that opened doors for violence and F/X at the cinema. They set the bar so high in cruelty that it would be very difficult to top, but they inspired many to try.
The Exorcist (1973)
Directed by William Friedkin
It seems like every exorcism film that comes to theaters earns big money. And why is that? Why did The Last Exorcism and The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Devil Inside all earn millions at the box office? The answer is simple... The Exorcist. These other films made huge amounts of money for one reason: All the viewers were hoping for another film like William Friedkin's masterpiece. We go to see exorcism movies because we know they can be really scary. We've seen it done before and keep hoping someone can do it again. Unfortunately, no one has ever even approached the power and unadulterated ability to cripple viewers with fright as The Exorcist. Even after nearly 40 years, many feel it's the scariest film of all time. Will any film ever achieve the combination of sheer brilliant filmmaking with unbridled terror as The Exorcist did? It's a lofty goal to strive for. It was the highest grossing film of all-time for one year... that is, until our next film swam into the picture.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
When Jaws was released in 1975, several things happened. The world was put on notice that Steven Spielberg might be a name to keep an eye on in the future as the film would go on to be the highest grossing movie of all time (and hold the title for two years until Star Wars wrestled it away). But how Jaws became such a huge earner is what's important. Responding to positive early screenings, filmmakers launched an all-out blanket campaign for the film with a larger than initially planned number of theaters releasing Jaws, as well as a massive marketing campaign to go with it. Behind the strength of this, Jaws basically became the first film which could be considered a "summer blockbuster", reshaping the way studios looked at distribution. And aside from that Jaws scared the shit out of people, and not just in the ocean; people were (hell, are) uneasy about swimming in pools after seeing the classic film. Jaws was a rare treat that took an innate fear, toyed with it and turned it into a nightmare. A look at any new release video shelf will undoubted offer the sight of plenty of films that followed in the steps of the "animal attack" sub-genre of horror, each of them certainly inspired in some way by the grandfather of them all, Jaws.