Of course, not everyone is going to agree with our choices, least of all hard-core horror geeks. And so we'll admit, we were a little nervous when cult horror experts Zack Carlson and Lars Nilsen, of the famed Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, offered to weigh in on our list. Would they love it? Hate it? Praise its genius? Rip it to shreds?
It is with great pride that we turn our picks over to Zack and Lars, who will be commenting on our list (five picks at a time) and then, after the big reveal on October 31, offering their own ranked lists of Most Iconic Horror Scenes. Whom will you agree with more -- them or us? Stay tuned and find out.
Our last two installments were from the luminescent (and newlywed!) Zack Carlson, while this chapter (and the next one) come from Sir Lars Nilsen, who is easily one of the country's leading experts on super-bizarre cinema, obscure genre fare, and plain old good movies.
Lars Nilsen is more excited, obsessive and knowledgeable about underappreciated movies than any other Nordic man. He's the programmer for Austin's Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and the programmer/host of Weird Wednesday, the world's single greatest weekly 35mm exploitation film series. He has so many movie reference books that the shelves bend like upside-down wooden rainbows. He collects out-of-print VHS tapes and music by non-caucasians. He almost beat up a guy for locking a dog in a hot car with the windows up. Don't do that.
See our full list of 20 Most Iconic Horror Scenes, which we'll keep revealing -- at noon daily on the Moviefone Blog -- until October 31.
10. 'An American Werewolf in London' Transformation
Lars: As awesome as this scene is, I kind of hate the fact that it makes turning into a werewolf look like it's no fun at all. I'd like to think that if you're lucky enough to become a werewolf, you'd at least appreciate it. Lycanthropy is a privilege, not a right. Hey Dr. Pepper guy, loosen up and go with it. 'American Werewolf' is great but I have to confess I like the cheaper transformation scene in 'The Howling' a little more. It's all in the snout for me I guess.
9. 'Carrie': Blood Shower
Lars: Telekinesis has always struck me as pretty non-frightening stuff but Brian De Palma is so good he could probably even make a 'Saw' movie scary. The whole set-up and payoff are pure cinema. De Palma was really on a roll in the 70's: 'Sisters', 'Phantom of the Paradise', this, 'Obsession', 'The Fury', and on into the '80s with 'Dressed to Kill' and 'Blow Out'. As film-lovers we should erect a 9,000 foot tall statue of Brian De Palma on top of Michael Bay.
8. 'Friday the 13th': Jason Flips Out
Lars: I think we're all wired to expect the sudden shock ending now but this had a big impact in its day. I kind of wish Jason had stayed like this and never become an invincible supernatural force. He looks fascinatingly repulsive, like a big, gross newborn baby you keep trying to flush down the toilet but can't.
7. 'Scream': "Do You Like Scary Movies?"
Lars: A perennial favorite of people who have only watched one horror movie, this iconic scene is marred only by a hackneyed premise, bad acting and cliched execution. Sorry if I sound a little bitter. I'm just upset that those "Scream Face" masks have displaced many much more deserving Halloween masks at every store on earth. In its own way this film wears a mask. Notice how snugly the mask of self-referential "cleverness" fits over the tired old face of derivative commercial desperation.
6. 'Poltergeist': "They're Heeere!"
Lars: The family unit, cuddled warmly together as the TV signs off, is penetrated and assailed by an electronically conveyed demon. The youngest daughter is sensitive to the emanation and heralds it. This represents the dark side of Spielberg land and the queasy, ambivalent backlash to Spielberg's uncanny perfection as our national dreamer. The child is the uncritical vector of the incoming televised illusion. In real life that usually means that parents have to pay for Hannah Montana dolls, braces and abortions, but in this movie the intruders are just restless Indian corpses with a bee in their bonnet about something or other. Indians! Why won't they leave us alone?
The Alamo Drafthouse, called the #1 theater in America by Entertainment Weekly and one-upped by The Guardian which called it "the best cinemas in the world," is known for its one-of-a-kind film programming. Zack Carlson, programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest, and Lars Nilsen, creative director for the theater, have helped build the theater's esteemed reputation with regular cinematic trips into the horrific and weird with their weekly Terror Tuesday & Weird Wednesday midnight shows.