Cabin in the Woods challenge!
Thanks to Andrew "The Commissioner" Mount for paying for this 'cast! I agree it was great fun and I think it probably lends itself to deeper discussion. There is a little discussion on the Facebook thread for it, and I would love to discuss it here but I wanted to do a more focused thread: At the end of the podcast the boys talked about a horror movie beginner's class--the roster of movies you would have someone watch to get them caught up on all the horror that matters, curated and ordered to maximize excitement and scares.
I would start by listing the genres you need to cover, but it's not just genres. Sometimes you have to name either specific countries or decades or even years, then pick out what you want from there. You need slashers, obviously, and haunted house movies, found footage. You need Italian masters like Mario Bava and Dario Argento, and some of the recent French horror, and obviously some J-horror. You need 80s trash, 70s explotation/transgressive stuff, and you need classics. I would also add some recent American stuff that other people call "torture porn" but is really just a modern sub-set of body horror (think Cronenberg.)
As far as the order, I would group them loosely by genre/type and screen each entry in a group chronologically by release date. Start with the classics, then go into the found footage and haunted house stuff, then do slashers, exploitation, 80s trash, round the world with Italy, France, Japan, and end up with body horror. I would end with the international stuff and the body horror because that is what scares me the most. This is a very subjective list, obviously, and if I had to design a curriculum I would probably show the classics first and see what gets the reactions and take it from there.
As far as which movies represent the best of each group, who knows? I can tell you which ones scared me, but not which ones are going to scare you. So here is a basic list:
Classics: Psycho, Exorcist, Nosferatu, all of the Universal Classic Monsters
Found footage: I am not a huge fan of this genre, but I would include Blair Witch, Cloverfield, [REC], and maybe Paranormal Activity, even though I have never seen it.
Haunted House: House on Haunted Hill, Poltergeist, Insidious (just the 1st one), Evil Dead 1 & 2
Slashers are my favorite genre,so I have a lot of picks. You HAVE to see John Carpenter's Halloween, the original Nightmare on Elm St, and at least 1 Friday the 13th movie. I would also add Scream, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, and Laid To Rest.
Exploitation/transgressive: This is also a wide genre, but you could get off with just 2 flicks, both by the same director (Wes Craven): Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. (You could go pretty deep down this rabbit hole, but unless you have a strong stomach I would leave it at those 2.
80s trash: take your pick--I liked "The Stepfather" with Terry O'Quinn (John Locke from Lost)
Italian: Argento's 3 Mothers Trilogy (Suspiria, Inferno, The Mother of Tears)
French: Martyrs, Inside, High Tension.
Japanese: Audition (There is some wacky screwball J-body horror that I also love: Tokyo Gore Police and Helldriver are two of the best, but they are more parody than horror, I think. Still worth seeing.)
Then you get to the body horror, and you have to talk about David Cronenberg. Everyone has their favorites, but If you are talking about Cronenberg you need to see Videodrome and the Fly at least. I would also throw eXistenZ in there too. I would add Hostel 1 and 2 and Saw 3 into that mix too.
This list is incomplete, sure, and none of these films fit squarely in the box I've put them in, but it's a good list. What do you think?