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Guest Editorial: Grammy-Winning Producer John Congleton’s Top 10 Fright Films!

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Yesterday, FANGORIA reported on St. Vincent’s Annie Clark joining the all-female horror anthology XX for her directorial debut. However, she isn’t the only one in the St. Vincent camp that’s over-the-moon for horror: Grammy Award-winning music producer John Congleton is a huge horror fanatic in his own right, having had worked with fright-friendly artist Marilyn Manson, contributed to the BAD KIDS GO TO HELL soundtrack and even instilled an eerie edge in his latest album (via John Congleton and the Nighty Nite) UNTIL THE HORROR GOES.

With UNTIL THE HORROR GOES now available via Fat Possum Records, Congleton offered FANGORIA an exclusive guest editorial detailing his top ten terror titles. So without further ado…

 

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  1. THE EXORCIST

You can almost have no list of this ilk and leave this movie off; it annihilated everything before it. THE EXORCIST choked out the last gasp of classic gothic horror and brought a sense of realism, of which people are still trying to get remotely in the ballpark. “Keep away! This sow is mine!”

 

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  1. [TIE] PHANTASM & PHANTASM II

One of the absolutely most creative films ever made, in my opinion. When i saw these movies as a kid, I felt so compelled to know what kind of brain could possibly have come up with such a premise and story. Much later in life, I got the chance to meet and become friends with Don [Coscarelli]; he’s an amazing person and talent. “You think when you die, you go to heaven? You come to us!”

 

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  1. CARNIVAL OF SOULS

Two words: Herk Harvey. This film is everything that nightmares are made of, and we would have never had the classic Romero films if he hadn’t had seen Harvey’s performance in this. The movie is insanely surreal and the only film that has actually given me nightmares.  “You can take all the baths you want…”

 

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  1. THE RETURN ON THE LIVING DEAD

When you can hit the fever pitch of comedy and fright on the nose, you really do accomplish the nearly impossible although some others come very close, such as TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 and THE EVIL DEAD.  I watched this movie so much when i was a kid, but I didn’t understand it was funny until much later in life, which may explain my sense of humor now. “Send more paramedics.”

 

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  1. TOURIST TRAP

Certainly one of those movies that makes you laugh uncomfortably. This movie did for mannequins what JAWS did to the ocean and what PSYCHO did with showers. TOURIST TRAP is sorely overlooked, and very, very good. “Now, you are one of us…”

 

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  1. THE WIZARD OF OZ

If you don’t think THE WIZARD OF OZ is scary, you aren’t paying attention or… I’m scared of you. Flying monkeys? A sentient scarecrow who has his hay-guts tossed asunder and only seems marginally bothered? Green witches? The Lollipop Guild? Not for children, seriously, and I would be remiss to not mention RETURN TO OZ. How did anyone not find these movies horrifying when they came out?  “Surrender Dorothy.”

 

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  1. THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER

Robert Mitchum does literally my favorite acting job of all time in this film. Every shot of every frame is stunning perfection on the level of film-student obsession. However, beyond its apex of craft, THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is also incredibly effective in telling a story through the eyes of children. Everything is sort of funhouse-mirrored with a sense of childlike unreality. “Salvation is a last-minute business, boy.”

 

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  1. SUSPIRIA

A horror movie favorite, of course. An absolute sublime execution and a concussion of the sacred and the profane, with extremely disgusting images shot so beautifully it confuses every part of your perception. It’s like ALICE IN WONDERLAND on the worst acid trip imaginable. “Hell is behind that door!”

 

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  1. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

I may have watched this single movie more than any other film in my life. Robert Englund was so incredibly committed in this performance; there are tones of Jimmy Cagney and Robert Mitchum in there, but through a more overtly perverse filter. This movie says something so incredible about the human condition, and I feel that I learn a little bit more each time I watch A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. “I’m your boyfriend now, Nancy!”

 

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  1. THE SHINING

THE SHINING is not only one my favorite scary films; it’s my favorite film of all time. THE SHINING is one of the only perfect pieces of art I can think of in existence. It’s the top of artistic expression to me, and everything else is all downhill from there. “Give me the bat, Wendy…”

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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