The Horror Movie Beginner's Shelf
A Horror Novice must be introduced to the genre carefully to keep from scarring them for life! In this first part of a trilogy The Zombie Master Lee can help with what should be on your horror beginner's shelf.
When one finds something that they enjoy, human nature leads them to want to share that something with others. Like when you find a great restaurant or hear a new band that you love and can’t wait to bring your friends or family to dinner or a concert. We as “horror freaks” feel the same way about horror movies. The problem that we face is that we can’t just show any horror movie to a horror novice.
Case in point:
Back in the 80’s, I decided to introduce a friend of mine to the horror genre of film. I wanted to pass on the enjoyment of a film I had just watched. The film, however, was Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2. My friend was no where near prepared when I said “Watch closely, this part is cool” , and we proceeded to witness a close up of an eye being impaled by a splintered piece of wood. He was a horror novice.
To this day the only movies that he will watch are romantic comedies.
Through a lot of trial and error I believe that I have come up with a list of horror movies from several horror sub-genres that should sufficiently wean a horror novice into our genre of choice slowly anddelicately. This is not a definitive list, but these are the films that I have found to produce the intended outcome – enabling a new “ horror freak”.
So let’s begin, shall we?
Slasher – April Fool’s Day
April Fool’s Day is a great introduction to the “slasher” film. It starts lighthearted enough to be fun, the tension builds slowly but steadily, there are well place “jump” scenes, and the gore effect is low-keyed. With a well done surprise ending, it should have a horror novice prepared for the next logical step. The “slasher ” sub-genre is well defined enough where you should be able to move directly into Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, or Friday the 13th with little to no problems.
Ghost – The Amityville Horror
All ghost stories have one thing in common: They are all supposed to leave an impression on your mind that has you wondering what that shadow in the corner is. The difference for a horror novice would be the effects and gore. The Amityville Horror is a great starter for this reason. The gore is low key if not even non existent and the effects are typical for the late seventies. I would then follow up with Poltergeist or The Changeling. If you are in a real jaunty mood you could try A Chinese Ghost Story but you better be prepared for the reaction if your prospect has not been properly introduced.
Monster – Jeepers Creepers
Jeepers Creepers is the perfect modern day monster movie for newbies. Though theoretically every horror movie is a monster movie, the ones that get classified in this sub-genre have a creature that is not normally found in nature in its current form. Jeepers Creepers happens to have a demon looking thing to fill this requirement. It has suspense, gore, supernatural happenings, and dopey teenagers but nothing that could be labeled as over the top. You could possibly follow this with the monster flick of your choice, but for a severe horror novice I would go with something along the caliber of Pumpkinhead.
Psychotic – Psycho
This is probably the most disturbing of the sub-genres of horror. It takes an otherwise normal average person next door and makes him/her the villain in a “psychotic” way. Psycho is the perfect example of the psychotic sub-genre. Alfred Hitchcock takes plain, feeble, and shy Norman Bates and uses an overbearing and controlling mother to create a monster in every sense of the word except his appearance. Though released in 1960, Psycho stands the test of time and is a perfect starter film in this sub-genre for the horror novice. Great follow ups would include Misery, Seven, and May.
Zombie – Shaun of the Dead
There was never really a great beginner’s zombie film until Shaun of the Dead came on the scene. It is virtually impossible to separate the zombie from the gore and it is the gore that usually turns the hopeful horror novice away from the sub-genre. What makes Shaun of the Dead such a good choice is that it is a classic zombie film on all accounts without detracting from anything that zombie lovers look for and still it is funny enough for a newbie to watch and accept the gore. I have found that the easiest way to move on from here is to start telling the prospect about the many references in SOTD to other zombie films and then show them. The typical horror novice might require multiple viewings of SOTD before being ready to more on, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Below is a real-time listing of Beginner's Shelf horror on Best-horror-Movies.com... for the Horror Novice in your life. Good luck!