It’s Halloween! The perfect time of year to watch the best of the horror genre, and here are some films to get us in the terrified mood. Where there are endless amounts of gore, screaming and ghosts to choose from these are the essential 10 for a Halloween night in that will appeal to everyone.
10. Saw (James Wan, 2004)
When two men are trapped in an abandon subterranean bathroom, they are given cruel instructions in order to save themselves and their families. Trapped for their unlawful and immoral acts in life, they are tested to see how far they value their lives by Jigsaw- a puppet ran by the evil John Kramer. Arguably one of the best of the series with chilling acts of self-violence and gore before they frankly, got a bit silly.
9. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)
There’s slashers then there is being impaled on a meat hook to be eaten. Texas Chainsaw Massacre broke big in 1974 when the film was marketed as being based on a true story, although it wasn’t, it changed cinema in regards to how far gore and violence could go. When a group of friends go on a roadtrip they are mislead by a hitchhiker under a guise who turns out to be an accomplice of Leatherface: a murderous canibalist. Leatherface is brutal in chasing the group down which have been for me some of the worst murder scenes of all time.
8. Nightmare On Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984)
You could call Wes Craven the ‘Uncle of Horror’, with his character Freddie Krueger, generations have since been scared to sleep after watching. When a group of teenagers begin to experience strange nightmares of a man with razors embedded in his hands taunting and stalking them, they begin to wonder what it is and why they’re being targeted. Freddie Krueger is one of the most revengeful psycho killers, reminiscent of the boogie man and he can not be escaped.
7. Friday the 13th (Sean S. Cunningham, 1980)
With a cult following since it’s release, Friday the 13th is one of the first and best tacky slasher horror films. When a group of teenagers go to reopen an old Summer camp, closed after a freak murder 20 years prior, strange occurrences rear their ugly.. machete? Yes, there is a crazy man with a machete and he only wants to kill. The shock factor of Jason Voorhees in his ice hockey mask, sneaking up on you in the woods is potentially all of our worst nightmares. Grimey and ridiculously violent, Friday the 13th is the prototype for so many awful slashers since but there’s no denying, on Halloween night it will have you with your hands over your eyes and ears.
6. Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968)
Rosemary’s Baby is a film usually excluded from a list such as this because Polanski was able to create all of the feelings of horror, paranoia and disgust with such subtlety. Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and actor husband Guy (John Cassavettes) move into a new building where they are befriended by their elderly neighbors, The Cassavets. Over bearing, the elderly couple spend a lot of time with Guy. Rosemary falls pregnant after having a nightmare of being raped by the Devil. Here, she begins to feel scared and alone as she feels her husband and neighbors are plotting against her in the fear that they are using her to give birth to a baby for Satanic sacrifice.
Trivia: The sinister building used in the film to enhance Rosemary’s chilling psychosis was the Dakota building in New York where John Lennon was shot.
Insidious is one of those rarities in the horror genre of late that manages to differ from the predictable cliches; It is genuinely creepy as it is interesting to watch. When Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh (Patrick Wilson) decide to move into a new house their playful son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) befriends something that tries to take over his body. Left in a coma, Dalton’s conscious self is trapped in a realm where dead souls congregate in the hope embodying a living human and taking their revenge. Dalton is only helped when Renai enlists the help of a demon hunter trio, pioneered by the fascinating Elise (Lin Shaye) who becomes the viewers hero. Insidious is a classic in the making, I’m sure. This is a great horror film that will keep your head cowering below your shoulders with suspense, fear and shock.
4. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
When Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) leaves her home town she stops by the secluded Bates Motel. The hotel is run by Norman Bates, a seemingly normal man despite his subservience to his mother and interests in taxidermy. It is only when he begins to warm to Marion that things take a turn for the worst and well… we all know the classic shower scene. The brilliance of Psycho is the dark psychology of Norman Bates, an original madman when the film was first made. As well as this, there is a no more chilling atmosphere than the one that is set by Bernard Hermann’s film score throughout. 53 years on, the film proves just as thrilling as it originally was. REEP REEP REEEP REEEEP.
3. Stephen King’s IT (Thomas Lee Wallace, 1990)
A horror compilation is incomplete without the mention of a Stephen King work. In a quaint New England town, a tight group of self proclaimed school “losers” are targeted by Pennywise the Clown (Tim Curry) who manifests in different forms. He prays on their deepest, darkest fears to destroy and tamper them from within. Whether it be the library, in the shower or amongst a crowd of people, IT will be there terrifying you with no escape. Personally, no film has terrorized and plagued my consciousness the way Pennywise the clown did, even the sight of the DVD cover makes me want to curl up in the foetal position. Reportedly, Tim Curry’s cast mates refused to speak to him on set because he was so tuned in to the role.
2. The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)
After seeing the Scary Movie 2 spoof of The Exorcist all those years ago, I sat down to watch it smugly, “It’s not scary” I laughed. “It is”, I then cried.
After Chris McNeil (Ellen Burstyn) notices daughter, Regan’s (Linda Blair) strange behavior and deathly occurrences around her, she enlists the help of Father Karras (Jason Miller) and Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow) to conduct an exorcism. When the two priests realize Regan’s body has been taken over by Pazuzu, a monstrous demon, they risk their own lives trying to defeat it.
1. Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
No Halloween movie night is complete without the spine chilling Michael Myers. Halloween has all of the components to make the most classic ‘halloween’ horror film. Set in suburban middle America, Laurie Strode (Jamie Leigh Curtis) is the angelic high school student under surveillance by escaped mental patient, Michael Myers. Donned in blue coveralls and a white mask, Myers is sneaky and brutal as he targets anyone in his way of Laurie in this hour and a half of killer suspense.
Originally made as an independent slasher movie it broke box office hits when eventually released worldwide. Halloween was hailed as one of the few films at the time to emulate the carefully crafted slasher film that began with Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960).
Fun fact: Janet Leigh’s leading role, Marion Crane in Psycho is Jamie Leigh Curtis’s mother.