asylum, Blair Witch Project, Boogeymen, Drag Me to Hell, Drage me to Hell, Evil Dead, freddy krueger, Friday the 13th, Full Circle, Ghost chil, ghost children, ghost story, ghosts, halloween, halloween movies, haunted, haunted house, hellraiser, horror, horror movies, house, Ils, In the Mouth of Madness, Jason Voorhees, john carpenter, Ju-on, Leatherface, Mia Farrow, michael myers, nightmare on elm street, paranormal, paranormal activity, Picnic at Hanging Rock, pinhead, Prince of Darkness, quarantine, rec, rec 2, ringu, Sam Raimi, scary, scary movies, Session 9, spain, spanish horror, spirits, spooky, spooky movies, supernatural, The Changeling, The Evil Dead, The Exorcist, The Grudge, The Haunting of Julia, The Legend of Hell House, the ring, The Skeptic, The Thing, The Woman in Black, Them, Trick 'r Treat, Trick'r Treat, xombies, zombie
Of course it goes without saying that if you haven’t watched any of perhaps the most recommended scary films then you’re clearly living under a rock. That’s right you’re all familiar with Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger; stars of the infamous horror movies Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series which have a combined total of 34 movies, including remakes and “re-imaginings”, as of this year, 2010. There are other “Boogeymen” that include the likes of Pinhead of Hellraiser and Leatherface of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises. But, I’m not here to talk about them. If you haven’t seen them, then yes, I’d say you have to watch them to either A.) see what all the hoopla is about, or B.) watch ‘em before they are remade! In many cases, it’s certainly too late for that in which I would say watch the original first!
Here is a list I present to you, in no particular order and if I left a few out, please feel free to chime in on the comments sections below. Again, this is by no means a “Scariest Movies” list but, rather, a small list of just a couple of movies I enjoy and would recommend for your viewing pleasure on Halloween or the days leading up to it. Can’t make any guarantees that you’ll like ‘em all and if you don’t, tough! At least you’ll have gotten it out of your system and are able to scratch off your list. In any case, enjoy!
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)- Four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband. This was a little gem that I had waited for about 2 years (slated for release in 2007) before it was finally released in 2009. Why was the release date shelved for 2 years is beyond me. A movie that more than deserved a theatrical release, I settled for getting the Blu-ray and watching it in the comfort of my home. This has to be one of my favorite Halloween themed movies ever.
Drag me to Hell (2009)- A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point. Sam Raimi, director of Evil Dead & Spider-man. Need I say more? Yes, I do. Many people are disappointed in this film, well, because they are not familiar with Sam Raimi. For those of you who know the director will get this film. No, it is not an all-out horror film but, rather, this film is jam-packed with both a little horror and a bit of comedy as well!
Paranormal Activity (2007) – After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence. This one needs no introduction as I’m sure you’ve either seen it already or at least heard about it. Rule of thumb, don’t fall into the hype or this film will be ruined for you. Go in with little or, better yet, no expectations, and your viewing experience will be enhanced. This was another movie that started making the rounds in 2007 at the Slamdance Film Festival where Hollywood big-wigs caught wind of it and purchased the film. There were talks of remaking a bigger budget version of the film but they did something outrageous by releasing the original! Hollywood, really? Of course, they did add their own ending to the theatrical release. Watch this one with surround sound as the audio in this film is fantastic. Oh yeah, and watch it late at night with your own lights turned off.
Blair Witch Project (1999) In October of 1994, three student film makers disappeared in the woods near Burkittesville, Maryland. One year later, their footage was found. Staying in the, “Is this movie real?” category, I have to recommend watching The Blair Witch Project. Why? Well, for starters I like the film. Secondly, it was the film that put these types of movies on the map. It will forever be mentioned whenever a movie as such is released. Also, it plays heavily on your psyche as you never actually see what is in the woods. Sure, the characters are a tad annoying (I know, I’m being kind) but there is no doubt that there are some creepy, some may even say terrifying, moments in this one.
Session 9 (2001) – Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back. For some reason, some people tend to say that this one is a bit overrated. I don’t think so. There are no monsters or elaborate creatures in this one but it is very psychological and downright creepy. Plus, it features the magnificent Danvers State Insane Asylum which offers both a sense of foreboding horror and marvel with its intricate architecture!
Ringu (1998) – A mysterious video kills whomever views it, unless that viewer can solve its mystery. No, not the American movie The Ring, but this is the original Japanese version which is chock-fill o’ scares! Its American counterpart was OK, in my opinion, having seen the original Japanese version nearly four years before the American version was released. If you haven’t seen either version yet, I highly suggest you watch the Japanese version first then, if you like it, watch the American one and compare. There are a few Japanese sequels as well as a prequel so you can make it a night of Ring movies during the month of October!
[Rec]/[Rec] 2 (2007/2009) – “REC” turns on a young TV reporter and her cameraman who cover the night shift at the local fire station. Receiving a call from an old lady trapped in her house, they reach her building to hear horrifying screams — which begin a long nightmare and a uniquely dramatic TV report. / The action continues from [Rec], with the medical officer and a SWAT team outfitted with video cameras are sent into the sealed off apartment to control the situation. Great Spanish horror that spawned a remake here in the states entitled Quarantine. Need I say it? Yes, there is a Quarantine 2 in the pipeline.Watch the Spanish versions first! These films feature “zombies”/infected/possessed/crazies/etc – take your pic as I won’t spoil it for you. I had a few problems with the sequel but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Definitely provides lots of tension as it is shot in the same vein as… wait for it… The Blair Witch Project!
Ju-on (The Grudge) (2002) – A mysterious and vengeful spirit marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides. Again, the original Grudge film surpasses the American remake which stars Buffy, er, I mean Sarah Michelle Gellar. Creepy film, to say the least! Not saying that the American version was bad, but it wasn’t that good either.
Ils AKA Them (2006) – Lucas and Clementine live peacefully in their isolated country house, but one night they wake up to strange noise… they’re not alone… and a group of hooded assailants begin to terrorize them throughout the night. A different type of horror is presented in this film. If you thought The Strangers (2008) was creepy, you haven’t seen anything yet!
The Woman in Black (1989) – When a friendless old widow dies in the seaside town of Crythin, a young solicitor is sent by his firm to settle the estate. The lawyer finds the townspeople reluctant to talk about or go near the woman’s dreary home and no one will explain or even acknowledge the menacing woman in black he keeps seeing. Ignoring the towns-people’s cryptic warnings, he goes to the house where he discovers its horrible history and becomes ensnared in its even more horrible legacy. Based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Susan Hill, this is a little gem of a film that completely took me off guard; very atmospheric and creepy! I’ll have to admit that you need a little patience with this one as it can be a little slow at times but, believe me, you will not be disappointed in the end. I read that there is a live, stage performance in the form of a play in London which I will give my left testicle to be able to see it! Yeah, it’s that good.
The Skeptic (2009) – A tormented man’s reluctant search for greater meaning in his life. Ok, to elaborate a bit on the plot of the movie, a man inherits his aunt’s house, that looks more like a mansion, only to discover that the house harbors secrets that are soon uncovered, only they aren’t so pleasant! I’ll admit that this is not a great film, however, I found it entertaining being a skeptic myself. Sure, I don’t hope to have the experiences that the protagonist encounters, still doesn’t hurt to watch it happen to someone else. Ending kind of left me scratching my head though!
Halloween (1978) – A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood escapes on a mindless rampage while his doctor chases him through the streets. OK, so I said I wasn’t going to include any of the horror icons in this list, but, I simply had to add John Carpenter’s Halloween. It is, without a doubt, a classic film. Forget the Rob Zombie “re-imaginings”! If you want to see Michael Myers at his stalking best, then you have to check out the first film as it is here where the bar was set.
The Evil Dead (1981) – Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons. The description says it all, plus Sam Raimi! Yes, again! Shot on a shoe string budget , Raimi was able to demonstrate how to make a film with little to no budget and provide for the desired effect. Some may laugh, being used to CGI (Computer Generated Images), but nothing beats using hand made prosthetic effects. That’s right, the old-fashioned way!
The Exorcist (1973) – When a teenager is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter. The reference film that set the bar for all movies that have to do with an exorcism. Don’t go in expecting non-stop chills, action, etc. But, make no mistake that when these moments do occur, they are sure to send a chill up your spine if you can engulf yourself in the film.
The Changeling (1980) - A man staying at a secluded historical mansion, finds his life being haunted by the presence of a specter. No, this is NOT the Angelina Jolie movie! (Although some certainly deserve to be on this list) Yes, it is another movie with a man, a mansion and a ghost! They seem to be popular. This one, however, is a classic film that is sure to deliver the chills. Look out for the red ball!
The Thing (1982) – Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills. Picture yourself stranded in the Antarctic with no form of communication and no transportation. Now, add an alien life-form to the mix. Creepy huh? Another of John Carpenter’s classic films that is a remake of the 1951 Sci-fi classic The Thing from Another World. This one is creepy and it’s probably best to check it out now before the prequel, which is in talks, is released.
Prince of Darkness (1987) – A research team finds a mysterious cylinder in a deserted church. If opened, it could mean the end of the world. Great little film that’s very Lovecraftian and apocalyptic. Trapped inside a church, surrounded by the Devil’s puppets? Who are you gonna call? Apparently, no one.
In the Mouth of Madness (1995) - With the disappearance of hack horror writer Sutter Cane, all Hell is breaking loose…literally! Author Cane, it seems, has a knack for description that really brings his evil creepy-crawlies to life. Insurance investigator John Trent is sent to investigate Cane’s mysterious vanishing act and ends up in the sleepy little East Coast town of Hobb’s End. The fact that this town exists as a figment of Cane’s twisted imagination is only the beginning of Trent’s problems…. OK, so apparently this is the John Carpenter block. So I’m a fan, sue me! This was very good and entertaining and one of his last good movies before his downfall.
House (1986) – Roger Cobb is a author who has just separated from his wife. He moves into a new house and tries to work on a novel based on his experiences in the Vietnam War. Strange things start happening around him; little things at first, but as they become more frequent, Cobb becomes aware that the house resents his presence. Fun movie I saw as a kid. There are some scary moments in the movie but nothing you’ll sleep over. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself laughing while watching this one as it is part comedy.
The Legend of Hell House (1973) – A team consisting of a physicist, his wife, a young female psychic and the only survivor of the previous visit are sent to the notorious Hell House to prove/disprove survival after death. Previous visitors have either been killed or gone mad, and it is up to the team to survive a full week in isolation, and solve the mystery of the Hell House. One of the best haunted house movies I have ever seen based on a Richard Matheson novel entitled Hell House (the book is also very well written, of course, scarier than the movie). Very scary movie and I recommend watching this one during the wee hours of the night!
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) – A story about the disappearance of several Appleyard College students, and a teacher, from Hanging Rock. A film from the land of Oz that is not so much scary but still is able to emit a sense of creepiness with the help of its mesmerizing and haunting soundtrack composed by Bruce Smeaton. Gheorghe Zamfir also lends his flute to a couple of tracks on the soundtrack that provides a mystical and fantastical aura to the scenes. I can’t say that this film is for everyone as it can tend to be a little slow and will probably have you scratching your head at its conclusion. But, it will definitely engage in conversation afterward that will be full of speculation and theory.
Haunting of Julia (Full Circle) (1977) – After the death of her daughter, Julia Lofting, a wealthy housewife, moves to London to re-start her life. All seems well until she is haunted by the sadness of losing her own child and the ghosts of other children. I would have to say that this movie was a little hard to come by. Again, the soundtrack is haunting and lends to the atmospheric mood of the film. Would not put this one at the top of my “must-see” movies, but would recommend giving it a watch nonetheless.
Asylum (1972) – A young psychiatrist interviews four inmates in a mental asylum to satisfy a requirement for employment. He hears stories about 1) the revenge of a murdered wife, 2) a tailor who makes a suit with some highly unusual qualities, 3) a woman who questions her sanity when it appears that her brother is conspiring against her, and 4) a man who builds tiny toy robots with lifelike human heads. Good little movie with a “Tales from the Crypt” feel in that it is an anthology of short stories. Some more creepier than others. Still, rather enjoyed this one. The “twist” ending was kind of a surprise but not really.
Well, I think this list provides enough to wet your appetite! Again, this is in no means intended to be a “scariest movies” list, just a couple that I found to be creepy/entertaining. For some of these you will actually have to like film as they are not all your run of the mill big-budgeted Hollywood movie.
There are dozens more but these are the ones that stood out immediately from my mind. Feel free to add some more in the comments field!