Our resident movie reviewer/critic Dan Nicholls has put together a list of his personal favourite scary films to help put you in the mood for halloween next week! What’s Halloween without throwing on a couple classic horror flicks? Let’s run through the list:
- Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
A slow burn satanic thriller anchored by a breakthrough Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby still digs into deep, timely maternal fears. It’s unsettling and disturbing, plus it’s got one of the greatest, weirdest, most haunting final scenes in history. From hell to Manhattan, its evils endure.
- Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
This should be required viewing for kids everywhere for one simple reason: it will scare the shit out of them. Youths today gotta get hardened up sometime, may as well be served with a cold glass of malk from Ernest P. Worrell (R.I.P. Jim Varney). Horrifyingly grotesque-looking trolls turn children into wooden dolls and it’s straight-up terrifying when you’re five years old. It arguably scarred me for life.
- The Wicker Man (1973)
One odd little UK horror-mystery that unfolds with equal parts fascination and repulsion. It all adds up to a startlingly petrifying finale featuring the purest eyes of terror in Edward Woodward’s police sergeant when he comes face-to-face with the titular entity. Not to be confused with the hammy remake starring Nicolas Cage, though the best bits from that bomb are a hoot on YouTube.
- The Blair Witch Project (1999)
It’s been a punchline for so long now that it’s easy to forget The Blair Witch Project was once so revolutionary that people actually thought it was real. Most people who remember it now are probably going to skip this one on the list but I seriously urge a revisit; there are images from this film that remain as scary now as ever.
- Caché (2005) and Mulholland Drive (2001)
A double hitter of art film drama with deep psychological trauma underneath the surface. They both feature singular moments so terrifying I’ve literally had nightmares about them. If you’re sick of the schlock and the cheese, these highbrow offerings will leave a mark.
- The Witch (2015)
A colonial New England family stakes a camp on the edge of some fucked-up woods. The Witch starts at ‘scary’ and ratchets it up to ‘nightmare-inducing’ real fast. The movie makes no bones about it from the get-go: witches are real and they will eat your babies. Its scares are only outdone by its artistry and a goat named Black Phillip.
- Friday the 13th (2009)
I’m gonna counter the popular opinion that this remake is trash because I think it gives us Jason distilled into everything fans want from one of these movies. We get lots of gnarly kills, gratuitous nudity, and gallows humor bursting at the seams. It’s blasphemy for some but it’s a pure shot of giddy Halloween horror mayhem for me. It does its job with more success than most of the many forgettable horror remakes of the past ten years.
- Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
An anthology flick that weaves tales of werewolves, neighborhood murderers, and an alien pumpkin-headed being named Sam. Clever, hilarious, and one hell of a fun ride. Like the best chapters in The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” episodes, each scenario will alternate between being your favorite with each return viewing (bonus – it’s only 82 minutes long).
- The Shining (1980)
Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t like The Shining the first time I saw it. Repeat viewings, however, are what really made the movie’s harrowing themes and domestic nightmares seep into my pores. It’s my hope that even if you’ve seen it before, watching the film again might allow it to creep up on you in a way you might not expect. Each time I go back to it there’s something new to scare me, to stick with me and gnaw at my mind in the dark. It’s horrifying and definitive within the genre – another genuine masterpiece in the oeuvre of Stanley Kubrick and arguably the best Stephen King adaptation ever.
- The Exorcist (1973)
You can’t argue against the classic that’s been hailed as the reigning “scariest movie of all time” by pretty much everyone who’s written about movies ever. There’s a reason why it endures – the performances, filmmaking craft, and demonic imagery have never felt as real as they are here. The Exorcist is guaranteed to scare anyone anywhere of varying degrees of horror tolerance. It’s the undeniable Halloween movie marathon champ.
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