Best Thrillers and Suspense Movies

The List of Favorite Suspense DVD Movies is your guide to some of the most intense thrillers ever made. Suspense films manipulate the minds of audiences, making them experience the excitement, tension and even anxiety of the characters in the movie. Cliffhangers and unexpected surprises are hallmarks of the thriller genre and plot twists usually include the movie’s hero attempting to triumph over a villain. Our litmus test for a movie to be included on our Best Thriller Movies List: does it make you want to go out to eat after watching it to discuss it?

List of Favorite Suspense DVD Movies Isn’t Suspect: Mystery Movie DVDs to Buy for Your Collection of Thrillers by Anthony Pierpont

Gulp! This list of favorite suspense / thriller DVD movies make you think twice about leaving the room- you might miss something crucial. The best thriller movies, or suspense movies, can physically affect you as well as get into your brain- Anthony Pierpont of St. Paul, Minnesota tells us that “My shoulders were so tense during Fatal Attraction I could barely move when the credits rolled!”

These scary mystery thrillers left us shocked, unnerved and wanting more. Don’t leave the room before you read Anthony’s round-up of favorite suspense thriller DVD movies.

  1. L.A. Confidential: Corrupt cops, revenge plots- it’s all here. Not to mention the luminous Kim Basinger, who’s very Veronica Lake-ish in this tale of scandal in 1940’s Hollywood.
  2. Deliverance– Often available in the low price suspense DVD bin. Burt Reynolds is outstanding as one of the group of yuppies who head to the woods for a fun camping trip. The weekend goes wildly, chillingly wrong.
    Note: Watch for a quick appearance by the sheriff at the end: It’s the author of the book, James Dickey. “Dueling Banjos” makes this a potential addition to future best soundtrack lists.
  3. Fatal Attraction is a favorite suspense movie DVD on many levels. Glenn Close is obsessively perfect as the hapless Michael Douglas’ stalker. This mystery DVD is a stern (and memorable) warning to all husbands who consider infidelity.
  4. The Usual Suspects: This independent movie quickly shot up to be one of the best suspense movies of all time. Kevin Spacey is a central figure in this mystery that includes an exploding boat and hours of grueling questioning at the police station. A true, old school whodunit that really resonates.
  5. The Firm is a more traditional blockbuster mystery DVD to buy, but it skillfully weaves a tale of corruption that twists and turns in unexpected ways. The almighty Tom Cruise is a winsome young attorney; Jeanne Tripplehorn his loving wife. Cruise unwittingly finds himself surrounded by corruption when hired by an important law firm. Waiting to see how a caged animal fights back is half the fun.
  6. Ricochet: Another excellent movie to nab from the low price suspense DVD bin. Dashing Assistant D.A. Denzel Washington busts John Lithgow. He should have known better. Tense flick wraps your head around this notion: What if it happened to me?
  7. Rising Sun is on several lists of favorite thriller DVD movies, including our upcoming “best book, best movie” category. Sean Connery’s Scottish accent resonates as the elder expert on Japan and retired cop; Wesley Snipes, the young brash officer who’s stuck with him, effectively listens and learns.
    Note: Buy this great mystery DVD if you’re a techie; it makes too much of computers of the day, greatly aging the film but adding a giggle.
  8. TV and character actor Tommy Lee Jones jumped into the spotlight with The Fugitive. Harrison Ford is raw as a surgeon wrongfully accused of murdering his wife, and escaping from prison by the skin of his teeth. Jones pursues. A great movie from a TV show.
  9. Dial M for Murder has murder, blackmail, Grace Kelly and Alfred Hitchcock. A winning combination in a classic scary mystery thriller.
  10. The list of favorite thriller movies ends with Basic Instinct, the movie that revealed a lot more about Sharon Stone than we needed to know. Stone may or may not have murdered someone- Michael Douglas, the investigating officer, quickly dispenses with the formalities to begin examining his lovely suspect at a closer range. Churns full of suspense right up until the last seconds of the movie.

Alfred Hitchcock – Producer Extraordinaire of the Suspense Thriller Movie
Alfred Hitchcock, a British movie director and producer, was a suspense genre visionary. Hitchcock’s movies debuted during the silent film era of the 1920’s. Hitchcock took full advantage of the changing times, incorporating soaring music (introduced to film in the 20’s) and vivid color (widely used by the 50’s) into his films as the technology became available to filmmakers.

Hitchcock often found his movies under attack by the old movie studios in the 30’s and 40’s, as Universal studios forced him to use certain contract actors, and David O. Selznick, of Selznick International Pictures, attempted to take creative control of Hitchcock’s films. But by the 50’s, Hitchcock found help in the form of Hollywood super-agent Lew Wasserman of MCA, and began receiving the star treatment from the old movie studios in the form of profit-sharing and creative freedom.

The popularity of Hitchcock’s films allowed him to thumb his nose at the movie studios, refusing to alter movies once they’d been filmed. In addition to his movie successes, Hitchcock also hosted the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television show for many years. He also lent his name to a series of suspense books.

The History of the Golden Age of Hollywood: The Rise and fall of the Major Movie Studios
Thomas Edison opened the first movie studio in 1893 in New Jersey, but movie studios quickly migrated to California for mild temperatures and long days, both conducive to making movies. By the 1920’s, the top five major film studios, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox RKO, MGM and Paramount were churning out successful blockbuster movies. Dominating the marketplace, the major film studios forced multiyear contracts on their actors. The contracts meant the actors couldn’t work for other movie studios without the explicit permission of the studio head (rarely granted). And the major movie studios also owned their own theaters, preventing mass distribution of films owned by competing movie studios.

By the mid 20th century, the Golden Age of Hollywood and the feudalistic major film studio practices were coming to an end. In the Hollywood Antitrust Case of 1948, the federal government ruled that Paramount was a monopoly, inhibiting smaller, independent studios from reaching their potential market share. After the ruling market share opportunities abounded, as the court forced the larger studios to sell off their theater chains.

The structure of the movie studios also changed, as actors and directors had the help of agents and business managers to review their studio contracts and prevent them from falling into the indentured servitude-like commitments of the old contracts. In addition, by the 60’s the film studios became even more responsible to boards of shareholders, answering to them for their box office failures. Accountability to shareholders removed a lot of the mystique of the old studios, making them run like any ordinary corporation or business. And by the 60’s, inexpensive entertainment was widely available on TVs in homes across the country, further chipping away at Americans’ dependence on movie theaters.

We thank our contributors:

  • Anthony Pierpont St. Paul, Minnesota

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