Serial killers have been around since the beginning of time, and often serial killer movies are dismissed as little more than exploitation. But the movies like “Peeping Tom” and “Funny Games,” are not just slasher flicks, they make you think about society’s role in creating killers and our own twisted psyches.
Silence of the Lambs
Everyone knows that Anthony Hopkins is a commanding presence. Throughout his storied career, Hopkins has played gods, serial killers, famous filmmakers and more. To each role, Hopkins brings a level of gravitas that makes him unparalleled amongst his peers. He also can totally freak out moviegoers with a single word or intense stare.
In honor of Presidents’ Day, Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s birthday last month, we’ve collected the top 10 classic birthday-suit scenes from American movies with American themes — everything from “American Beauty” to “The Graduate.”
These films take the timeless hostage scenario to a whole new level of twisted—where cannibals play mind games with cops, psychotic killers take the form of fan girls and snipers, bombs are on buses and vampire strippers are a thing. Our list of demented hostage films isn’t for the faint of heart.
1. Funny Games
When two deranged young men take a family hostage in their home, they’re forced to engage in a slew of savage games in order to stay alive. Naomi Watts’ and Michael Pitt’s grueling performances—loving, brave mother and perverse, psycho killer, respectively—and a thrilling, fourth-wall breaking scene make the movie well worth enduring the horrors.
2. Silence of the Lambs
FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodi Foster) is drawn into a game of wits with one villain behind bars (the Hannibal Lector), while pursuing another serial killer, “Buffalo Bill,” on the loose. When Bill takes a new victim hostage, Starling’s race against the clock begins. She must get the information she needs from the cryptic psychopath Hannibal (cue the mind games) to apprehend Bill before he murders his prey.
“They’re all gonna laugh at…who?”
There are some truly horrid things out there that just won’t die. One is the soon-to-be-remade (again!) CARRIE, Stephen King’s exceptionally underrated debut novel (if this were required reading in every American high school, there would probably be no ‘bullying crisis’) and the brilliant 1976 Brian de Palma screen adaptation with Sissy Spacek, masseur-loving John Travolta and Piper Laurie. Laurie, it’s worth noting, made the honorable mentions in our Top 10 Mothers In Legendary Films list for Mother’s Day—and come to think of it, she deserved her own maniacal place in the list itself for this Oscar-nominated role.
There are a lot of top ten lists for “scariest movie of all time,” but from box office hits to oddball cult classics, there are some movies that turn up again and again. You’ll notice a few favorites are missing, namely HALLOWEEN (1978), which has great 70s kitsch value and hands down more naked boobs than any movie on this list, but as a movie, it’s really not all the frightening, right? And no, I didn’t forget THE EXORCIST (1973) either, but buckets of green puke are more gross than scary. You’ll notice, too, that there aren’t a lot of new scary movies, and that’s not because I don’t like them, but I think we should let them stand the test of time a bit before we start putting them on all-time lists.
10. WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967)
This oft-forgotten gem stars Audrey Hepburn as a blind woman terrorized by Alan Arkin and his gang of thugs who think she has a doll full of heroin. Bet you never thought a refrigerator light would save your life.
9. NOSFERATU (1922)
Greatest vampire movie of all time? Michael Myers stole all Nosferatu’s best moves in HALLOWEEN (the white face, the lurking) but the original is still the bone-chilling best.