Director of Nightmare on Elm Street and The People Under the Stairs
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) When I first saw this, I remember thinking, ”Whoever made this must have been a Mansonite crazoid.” A filmmaker like Tobe Hooper can convince you you’re really at risk in a theater — that’s quite an attainment.
Repulsion (1965) I found this film very powerful; Roman Polanski was able to treat a nightmarish situation in a deep psychological way. I remember most Catherine Deneuve’s descent into madness, into a separate reality that nobody else perceives — and (into one) that she feels is life threatening or soul threatening. A very frightening thing.
Director of Re-Animator and From Beyond; executive producer of Honey, I Blew Up the Kid
They Came From Within (1975) One of the movies David Cronenberg did before he became respectable. It’s the first movie that had that idea of something moving around inside you, predating the famous chest-burster scene in Alien. The thing about Cronenberg is that you find yourself under the seat by the time the movie is half over. This is not for the squeamish.
Suspiria (1976) You really can’t go too far wrong with any film by Italian cult-movie director Dario Argento, and this film (about witches in a ballet school) is about his best. Hitchcock liked to shoot his murder scenes as if they were love scenes and vice versa. I think that’s also true of Argento. In a strange way there’s something beautiful and stylish about his movies, even though what he’s showing is truly horrific.
Society (1992) Director Brian Yuzna’s thesis is that rich people are not human. It’s not just a class war going on, it’s a war between species. The whole thing is very weird and unsettling, and it ends with one of the most bizarre scenes ever filmed, which is — how should I describe it? — sort of a combination of the sex act and a food fight.
Britain’s answer to Vincent Price has wreaked havoc in horror films (Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, Gremlins 2) for 40 years.
Psycho (1960) There are very few movies which have really made me jump, because you always know what’s coming if you’ve done some of these films. Psycho was an exception. But it was not the shower scene that made me jump, because you knew something awful was going to happen there. It was the death of the detective, played by Martin Balsam, at the top of the stairs — with that awful whistling noise and the knife-wielding creature rushing out — that really did give me a terrific jolt.
The Invisible Man (1933) I remember being very scared by this film when I saw it as a boy, because I couldn’t understand the technical aspects. I must have been 10 or 11 at the time. When Claude Rains started unwrapping his head and took his fake nose off and you saw the hole there in the bandages, it made you feel oooh, you know, sort of, ”Oh dear, that’s horrid.”