The List (25-21):
25) Silence of the Lambs (Demme, 1991)—A hybrid crime/thriller/horror film anchored by two tremendous lead performances: Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins in a ham-tastic turn as serial-killer Hannibal Lecter. The unique dynamic that develops between the two anchors this film as Lecter helps Starling track down another serial killer, “Buffalo Bill.”
Oscar Spotlight: In an unprecedented turn of events, Silence of the Lambs broke the typical streak of neglect for horror films at the Oscars. It swept the “major” categories, taking Picture, Actor, Actress, Director, and Adapted Screenplay.
24) Scream (Craven, 1996)—Craven’s second slasher entry on our list. The screenplay by Kevin Williamson (originally titled Scary Movie) combined horror trappings with a dose of comedy and self-awareness. It’s a satire of slasher films that also plays as a successful entry in the genre.
23) The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Wiene, 1920)—The oldest movie to make our list, this silent film is a wonderful example of German Expressionist filmmaking. Warped sets add a surrealistic touch to a tale about Dr. Caligari, who uses a somnambulist to carry out heinous deeds for him.
22) Freaks (Browning, 1932)—Another of the older entries on our list, Tod Browning’s Freaks has a cast featuring many authentic carnival acts. Browning is best known for his adaptation of Dracula, and Freaks went unappreciated in its own time (in fact, it would probably be more accurate to say it was, by and large, hated). However, today it is Freaks that is often held to be his crowning achievement and a classic.
21) The Innocents (Clayton, 1961)—This adaptation of Henry James’ novella, The Turn of the Screw, feels positively old-fashioned compared to most of the films that made this list. A classic gothic ghost-story, what The Innocents lacks in visceral impact, it makes up for in atmosphere and nuanced filmmaking.
Next up: The List (20-16)