13 Wonderful horrific movies for HalloweenPosted: Updated:
This has been the hardest assignment ever: to list my favorite and keep the list down to a manageable length! I'd love to list 50 but I'm confining myself to a 'fleshed out' 13.
Still I have to give a very special shout out to all the great Hammer Films from the 60's and all the Roger Corman films. These are the movies that featured performances from the horror greats like Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and to a lesser degree Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr.. Where would horror films be today without the illustrious pedigree of Frankensteins, Draculas and the Wolfman?!
I also have a special place in my dark heart for any Ray Harryhausen special effects masterpiece of stop frame animation. Ditto for the myriad of low budget black and white films from the 30's-60's that were made for a teen nirvana called The Drive-In Theater! Many of these are the only ones really appropriate for children, as true horror usually involves too many adult themes and scenes.
This being said, here are my top 13 Wonderful Horrific Halloween Treats! Enjoy!
13) "The Blair Witch Project" (1999) Directed by unknowns, the mockumentary style has proven so successful that it's spawned endless imitations with its hand held, shaky cam gimmick, including the most recent "Quarantine" (2008). A group of young adults set out to do a documentary about a local legend only to become----well I'm just not going to spoil it for you. But if you like what you see, you should also check out "Cloverfield" (2007) as well as the aforementioned "Quarantine".
12) "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956/1978) A thinking man's horror film with a remake as good as the original. What happens when your father is not your father? He looks the same but everything about him is different. That's what happens when an alien invasion manifests itself in simply duplicating humans by birthing them out of giant 'pods'. To this day when someone acts out of character a person will ask, "Where's the pod?" Yeah and it all started with this film over 50 years ago!
11) "Evil Dead" (1981) Director Sam Rami brings to life a disturbing tale of a book of the dead-the evil dead-with all the terror a person can handle. And he gets big points for putting cult star Bruce Campbell on the map! If you like this, you will definitely want to check out "Evil Dead 2" (1987) and 3, "Army of Darkness" (1992).
10) "The Shining" (1980) Director Stanley Kubrick, writer Stephen King and star Jack Nicholson at their very best. What's worse than a haunted house? Try a whole haunted hotel as a family of caretakers settles in for a long snowed-in winter. Is it cabin fever or possession that takes over Daddy Jack? Not nearly as good as the book but a gem all the same.
9) "Psycho" (1960) They didn't call Alfred Hitchcock the Master of Horror for nothing! Anthony Perkins puts on an iconic performance as a hotel owner with a big secret and creepy pastime: spying and taxidermy! If you like this mama's boy you'll love Hitch's other classics, in particular "The Birds" (1963).
8) "The Haunting" (1963) Robert Wise' take on a haunted house is sure to give chills and might actually be safe enough to watch with the kids. A doctor assembles a group of people with various skills to determine the true nature of hauntings. Julie Harris gives a stupendous performance. If you like haunted house movies then I also recommend "The Amityville Horror" (1979) and the Vincent Price classic "House on Haunted Hill" (1959).
7) "Freaks" (1932) Okay this is the singularly creepiest movie I have ever seen. In fact it disturbed me so much that to this day, whenever I know it is on TV, I deliberately skip over the channel it's on when 'surfing' because I am terrified I might stumble across one of its horrific scenes! The plot surrounds a circus girl who marries a midget. But when the sideshow freaks find out she only married for money, they take revenge and capture the girl. I won't tell you what they do to her. You can imagine, I already told you the lengths I will go to not see a single frame! The true creep factor comes from the fact that the 'actors' aren't faking their various abnormalities or disfigurements. They are the shockingly real deal. Truly not for the squeamish. Watch at your own risk!
6) "Nosferato" (1922) F.W. Murnau's silent classic film is a masterpiece of surrealism and Max Schreck is the iconic vampire. As creepy Count Orlok his image is frightening and about as unromantic as a vampire can be. Everything Bela's was not. (Though I'm not particularly dissing Bela!) If you have a love of all things Dracula then you must see this film along with my other personal vamp favorites: "Shadow of the Vampire" (2000), a wildly imaginative tale of the filming of the classic Nosferato; "Dracula" (1958) with a fangtastic Christopher Lee and "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992) with an interesting interpretation by Gary Oldman.
5) "Young Frankenstein" (1979) Directed by Mel Brooks at his very best, with a cast that is simply unsurpassed! It is a funny send up of the Frankestein/Transylvania mythology that families can enjoy together. If you like your Halloween treat to be more sweet than scary I also highly recommend Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993) and on the adult side "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"(1975).
4) "Alien" (1979) In space no one can hear you scream! How true! Ridley Scott turned this classic sci-fi horror fest into a hot franchise. It was the first time space ships were shown as gritty, shop worn machines not something all spanking new. Its sequel "Aliens" (1986) is also a must see if you like this one but you won't miss a thing if you pass on the rest. On the total other end of the alien invasion spectrum are other favorites of mine: "The Thing" both the original from 1951 and John Carpenter's remake in 1982.
3) "Halloween" (1978) John Carpenter's classic holds up even 30 years later! A child who murdered his family breaks out of an insane asylum years later, only to return to his hometown and terrorize the residents. But after all these years is Michael Myers even human anymore? Best line ever: You can't kill the boogeyman!
2) "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) This movie put director George A. Romero on the map and is the epitome of flesh eating zombie movies! The grainy black and white movie had an air of realism that lent extra creepiness to the tale of a handful of survivors holed up in a farm house while being terrorized by the undead. At the time a $50,000 insurance policy was publicized for anyone suffering a heart attack from fright. I agonized over where to include a creepy childhood favorite of mine, "Carnival of Souls" (1962) and was thrilled to learn that Romero actually said he was inspired by it! So there you go. Another recommendation from me and the horror great himself!
1) "The Exorcist" (1974) The story of a small girl possessed by an evil spirit is just as scary today as it was over 30 years ago! Universally recognized as truly great movie making-not just a great horror movie, the flick earned 10 Oscar nominations, won 2 and won 4 Golden Globes. Just about everybody and every category from writing, directing, acting, special effects-you name it- has been honored. Absolutely, strictly for adults who are not easily offended and love to be scared out of their ever loving minds! See the expanded version for the wonderful 'spider walking' scene that director William Friedkin and screenwriter William Peter Blatty felt was just too horrifying in its original release.