Horror films are rarely recognised for anything outside of their jump scares, especially when it comes to winning at big award shows such as the Oscars.
That could be about to change, with Guillermo del Toro’s new monster flick The Shape of Water being nominated in seven different categories for the upcoming Golden Globes ceremony in early 2018.
Usually if movies of that ilk are nominated, it will fall into makeup or costume design categories, but The Shape of Water is included into the likes of best picture, director, screenplay, and supporting roles for both male and female performers, Richard Jenkins and Sally Hawkins. Although this similar feat was pulled off by Del Toro over a decade ago when his now classic Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) got similar awards buzz, it seems he’s proving that it can be done again.
Although competition will be tough it’s good to see such films as this, including the very popular and must-see horror success Get Out (2017) get recognition that the horror genre so rarely achieves.
Here are some horror films over the years that have also gotten the awards attention that they deserved.
The Exorcist (1973)
With ten nominations and two wins (best adapted screenplay and sound mixing), The Exorcist became a movie that would go on to scare generations to come and still manages to take the top spot in scariest movie polls today.
Brian De Palma’s adaption of Stephen King’s first novel still holds up well today mainly due to Sissy Spacek’s Oscar nominated performance. Also nominated for supporting actress was the terrifyingly cruel portrayal of Carrie’s mother played by Piper Laurie.
Not surprisingly, Hitchcock’s classic held four nominations including best director and supporting actress for Janet Leigh.
Rosemary’s Baby (1969)
Ruth Gordon picked up a best supporting actress win for her chilling performance, who sends Mia Farrow’s character into insanity. The film was also (deservedly) nominated for best screenplay.
Who could forget the main theme music of this early Spielberg classic which launched the summer blockbuster movie craze. John Williams picked up the best music Oscar and will forever be remembered for it. Swimming at the beach after the film was released was and never will be the same again.
The Omen (1976)
Seems the devil is quite popular in the horror field when it comes to awards. Jerry Goldsmith won for best music the year after John Williams scored with Jaws. The film itself comes very close and arguably equals the likes of The Exorcist (1973).
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
It was written above that the makeup nomination seemed to favour the horror genre rather than the more notable categories, and this one deserves an honourable mention purely because it was, and still is the greatest werewolf transformation ever put on screen. The practical effects still hold up very well today, putting most CGI to shame.
Who could forget Kathy Bates’ Oscar winning portrayal of Anne Wilks, the psychotic nurse who keeps best-selling author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) hostage in her isolated farmhouse after a near fatal car accident. Based on another Stephen King novel, tension clouds the air throughout the entire movie, especially when the infamous ‘hobbling’ scene arrives.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
Although only picking up one Oscar for costume design, the other four categories are definitely worth a mention, especially the performance of Bette Davis who chews the scenery so well, it’s impossible to take your eyes off her the entire time she’s on screen. The other nominations included best actor for Victor Buono, cinematography and sound design.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
It was hailed as the first horror movie to win best picture, even though it’s technically not categorised as one. Nevertheless, what is on display here is first rate terror as Anthony Hopkins portrayed cinemas most chilling serial killer in Hannibal Lector. Equally impressive was Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, who matches him scene for scene. Also, winning for best director was Jonathon Demme and Ted Tally for best adapted screenplay. Time will tell if another movie of this ilk will dominate each major category of the Oscars.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992 – pictured top of page) won three Oscars; Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration – and is a great film to boot.