5.• Se7en• David Fincher, 1995• This thriller portrays the exploits of a deranged serial-killer. His twisted agenda involves choosing seven victims who represent egregious examples of transgressions of each of the Seven Deadly Sins. He then views himself as akin to the Sword of God, handing out horrific punishment to these sinners. Two cops, an experienced veteran of the streets who is about to retire and the ambitious young homicide detective hired to replace him, team up to capture the perpetrator of these gruesome killings. Unfortunately, they too become ensnared in his diabolical plan. Anyone who has seen this film can not deny the psychological thrill of waiting to see what nasty thing the serial killer has lined up for the next sin! This is a brilliant film and if you haven’t seen it – you must.
4.• Taxi Driver• Martin Scorsese, 1976• New York City cab driver Travis Bickle constantly, almost obsessively, reflects on the ugly corruption of life around him, and becomes increasingly disturbed over his own loneliness and alienation. In nearly every phase of his life, Bickle remains a complete outsider, failing to make emotional contact with anyone. Unable to sleep night after night, Travis haunts the local pornography emporiums to find diversion, and begins desperately thinking about an escape from his depressing existence. The superb acting of Robert De Niro gives this film a constant chill. Every minute he is on the screen – the viewer is nervous. This is a masterful thriller by one of the modern greats – Scorsese.
3.• The Manchurian Candidate• John Frankenheimer, 1962• After Raymond returns from the Korean War as a decorated hero, the other members of his platoon can’t really remember what he did to win his medal. Two of the soldiers start having recurring nightmares, and one of them decides to investigate Raymond’s current activities. What dark and sinister secrets are being withheld by the Government and the Army? This film was so good that it spawned a remake (a far inferior one, I should add) starring Denzel Washington. This original version includes excellent performances from Janet Leigh, Frank Sinatra, and the indomitable Angela Lansbury.
2.• Rear Window• Alfred Hitchcock, 1954• Professional photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries breaks his leg while getting an action shot at an auto race. Confined to his New York apartment, he spends his time looking out of the rear window observing the neighbours. He begins to suspect that the man opposite may have murdered his wife. Jeff enlists the help of his society model girlfriend Lisa Freemont and his nurse Stella to investigate. I could only select one Hitchcock film for this list (otherwise it would be a top 10 Hitchcock list) and Rear Window seemed the obvious choice. It has brilliant acting, excellent film work, and plenty of suspense.
1.• Silence of the Lambs• Jonathan Demme, 1991• Clarice Starling, a young intelligent FBI trainee, has been sent to the Batlimore state hospital for the Criminally insane to interview an inmate Dr. Hannibal – the cannibal – Lecter. A brilliant and renowned psychiatrist turned serial killer. She must match wits with Lecter to gain clues in the search for “Buffalo Bill” – an unknown psychopathic serial killer. Silence of the Lambs has to take number one spot – not only is it clearly the best of the genre, it introduced to the world one of the most scary, intelligent, and vile characters in film history: Dr Hannibal Lecter. I think it is also fair to say that it was one of the best performances of Jodie Foster.