Ah, Halloween… I’ve always been a horror movie freak, and what better time than the present to let that freak flag fly. So without further ado, here is, in no particular order, 10 of my fave horror flicks, with a couple of honorable mentions at the bottom:
Let the Right One In (Swedish, subtitles) (2008) R 115 min
Description from IMDB: Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.
This is an understated gem of a film that works on many levels. Not one that relies on cheap scares, it’s more of a slow-builder, and it gives the story time to develop. The American version, “Let Me In” is also surprisingly good and faithful to the original, but I have to give a slight nod to the original.
The Shining (1980) R 146 min
Description from IMDB: A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
Stephen King HATED this movie, because Stanley Kubrick took a whole bunch of artistic license and changed a lot of the story for his movie adaptation. No matter, this is a beautifully made film. You just have to sort of forget about the book and take it on it’s own terms. The cinematography is what you’d expect from Kubrick. Dark, moody and brooding, it effectively creates a crushing sense of dread. The acting is a bit dodgy in places, and the scenes in which Danny has his psychic episodes and talks to his finger in a weird, squeaky voice are stupid to the point of being funny. Those moments take you out of the movie briefly. Still, the sets and cinematography are as masterful as it gets, and it remains one of my all time favorites in spite of those flaws.
The Exorcist (1973) R 122 min
Description from IMDB: When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
Another gold-standard classic, this supernatural thriller set the bar high for effects in a time before CGI. If you get the DVD with “The Making Of” extra feature, it’s fascinating how such low-tech effects combined with camera angles can create such a convincingly terrifying film.
The Evil Dead (1981) R 85 min
Description from IMDB: Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.
For me, the Evil Dead trilogy is pure win. And the first one ranks highest for creep-factor. The grainy, low budget quality only adds to the atmosphere.
Evil Dead II (1987) R 84 min
Description from IMDB: The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holds up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.
More comedy in this one than its’ predecessor, this one blends camp and gore for a quintessential fun frightfest.
The Babadook (2014) Not Rated 93 min
Description from IMDB: A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.
A creepy modern classic, this one is worth a watch, and pretty original in it’s premise.
Poltergeist (1982) PG 114 min
Description from IMDB: A young family are visited by ghosts in their home. At first the ghosts appear friendly, moving objects around the house to the amusement of everyone, then they turn nasty and start to terrorise the family before they “kidnap” the youngest daughter.
Another no-brainer must-watch classic, this Steven Spielberg film has a mystique about it for being cursed. The full skinny on the “curse” is here: http://www.popsugar.com/
28 Days Later (2002) R 113 min
Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.
Fast zombies are more menacing than the slow, lumbering kind, and there’s a nearly endless supply of ‘em in this movie. Artfully made with good acting and unrelenting action, this is a highly entertaining flick.
The Changeling (1980) R 107 min
Description from IMDB: It was the perfect family vacation for composer John Russell and his family when a freak automobile accident claims the lives of his wife and daughter. Consumed by grief, John, at the request of friends, rents an old turn of the century house. Mammoth in size, the house seems all the room that John needs to write music and reflect. He soon realizes that he is not alone in the house.
A classic, slow-building ghost story that favors character development and a quality storyline over jump-scares and gore. Highly recommended for classic horror buffs.
BONUS PICKS FOR COMIC RELIEF:
Young Frankenstein (1974) PG 106 min
Description from IMDB: Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson, after years of living down the family reputation, inherits granddad’s castle and repeats the experiments.
One of Mel Brooks’ best, this hilarious film was made with many of the set pieces from the original 1931 Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff. I’ve watched it more times than I can count. It never gets old. That’s the mark of a classic.
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010) R 89 min
Description from IMDB: Two lovable West Virginian hillbillies, are headed to their “fixer-upper” vacation cabin to drink some beer, do some fishin’, and have a good time. But when they run into a group of preppy college kids who assume from their looks that they must be in-bred, chainsaw wielding killers, Tucker & Dale’s vacation takes a bloody & hilarious turn for the worse.
So, you know how usually the college kids go off on a trip to a lake somewhere and get methodically picked off by some chainsaw-wielding local yokel in a ski-mask? Imagine the tables are turned and the kids are the heavies and the local hillbillies are the good guys. This movie’s a flat-out riot.
Zombieland (2009) R 88 min
Description from IMDB: A shy student trying to reach his family in Ohio, a gun-toting tough guy trying to find the last Twinkie, and a pair of sisters trying to get to an amusement park join forces to travel across a zombie-filled America.
Another one blending horror and humor, this one is fast-paced with a lot of laughs. There are lots of great scenes (including a hilarious cameo from Bill Murray) but my favorite scene involves Woody Harrelson’s character “Tallahassee” putting the smackdown on a zombie with a banjo.
Army of Darkness (1992) R 81 min
Description from IMDB: A man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home.
The first Evil Dead movie was pure horror. The second mixed in the laughs, and the third completes the cycle into full blown ridiculous campy comedy. if you have the time, I recommend watching the trilogy back-to-back in order.
So there you have it. My picks for best horror flicks this Halloween. See ya next week!