I think I mentioned in my last post that I love horror films. It's funny though, because I'm a huge wuss when it comes to watching them. I jump even when I KNOW something is coming (for instance, every time that alien pops out of that poor man's stomach - I've seen Alien dozens of times and it ALWAYS gets me) but for some sick reason I love it! I love movies that get my heart pounding and make me jump or hide my eyes. A little gore never hurt anybody... except for the poor guy getting hacked up by that madman with the chainsaw!
So anyway, it's Halloween and I've been watching these things all October. I've been humming their theme music and quoting the best lines in my best ominous horror movie voice. So I've made a list of must-see Halloween classics guaranteed to get you in the mood...
"There are far worse things awaiting a man than death"
I decided to kick my list off with a true classic. If you haven't seen Bela Lugosi as Dracula, then we probably can't be friends until you do. It's grainy, creepy and all other vampire flicks are second to this one. A distant second. Bela is the original Vampire, and the godfather of Halloween.
The Evil Dead (1981)
"There's something out there. That... that witch in the cellar is only part of it. It lives... out in those woods, in the dark... something... something that's come back from the dead."
Who doesn't want to watch Bruce Campbell fight off scary demons and monsters? This movie was brilliant - a thrilling, creative, no budget roller coaster. The bad lighting, effects and shaky camerawork only add to the creepiness of it. It's campy and a little cheesy but will scare you anyway!
Army of Darkness (1992)
"Good, bad - I'm the guy with the gun!"
Ok ok, so maybe this one is more goofy than scary - but it's a must-watch during the Halloween season because of the cheesy yet AWESOME one-liners, over-the-top monsters... and a chainsaw hand!
"I watched him for fifteen years, sitting in a room, staring at a wall, not seeing the wall, looking past the wall - looking at this night, inhumanly patient, waiting for some secret, silent alarm to trigger him off. Death has come to your little town, Sheriff. Now you can either ignore it, or you can help me to stop it."
This pick needs no explanation. It's the first real slasher film, and revolutionized the horror movie genre! I'm not as crazy about it's sequels, but the original definitely set the bar for every slasher movie that came after it, and so far none have measured up.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
"We may not enjoy living together, but dying together isn't going to solve anything."
I would be betraying the horror genre by leaving this movie off the list. It will certainly make you check your locks and secure your windows before going to bed. Romero gave horror movies a swift kick in the teeth, by showing zombies as gruesome, violent, flesh-eating creatures... and they're coming for you....
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
"I just can't take no pleasure in killing. There's just some things you gotta do. Don't mean you have to like it."
So many reasons this is one of the best horror movies ever made. Maybe it's the claim at the beginning that the film is based on actual events, or maybe its the mask made of human skin.... either way, when you've got a chainsaw-wielding madman, his f-ed up family and a bunch of hapless victims, you've got yourself a reason to scream.
The Shining (1980)
"Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in."
Ooooh where do I begin with this one? To me, this is the perfect movie. In fact, if I were rating the movies on this list it would be #1, no question. I mean, you have a kid with psychic powers, a scary possessed hotel, and a madman trying to kill his own family ... in true Kubrick style, it's set at a calculated, very deliberate pace that does funny things to your heart rate without you even realizing it until the end when you let out that breath you didn't even realize you were holding.....
"She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?"
Did you really think I could make a Halloween list without a Hitchcock movie? This is one of my very favorites - and still one of the creepiest movies I've ever seen. Just make sure you get the original and not the remake.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
"This isn't the Republicans versus the Democrats, where we're in a hole economically or... or we're in another war. This is more crucial than that. This is down to the line, folks, this is down to the line. There can be no more divisions among the living!"
Banned in 17 countries. I know you're thinking "ok, so why do we need two George Romero zombie flicks on this list?" Well, both are REVOLUTIONARY to zombie movies and the horror genre. Dawn of the Dead features some of the goriest scenes I've ever seen, and really projects a zombie apocalypse to the point where you almost believe it while you're watching the movie. Scary stuff.
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
"One, two, Freddy's coming for you.
Three, four, better lock your door.
Five, six, grab your crucifix.
Seven, eight, better stay awake.
Nine, ten, never sleep again."
Freddy Krueger = one of the best horror movie monsters ever. He's got a creepy backstory, scary messed up face and claws to rip apart his victims. Plus, where else will you find a scene where Johnny Depp gets swallowed by his bed and then regurgitated in a giant geyser of blood? Its gratuitous, creepy and perfect for Halloween.
There are lots of great horror movies not on the list, like Friday the 13th, Alien, Poltergeist, Seven, Stir of Echos, The Ring, Sleepy Hollow.... the list goes on and on.
Notice I did not include The Exorcist. There is a reason for that. It scares me too much! I've seen it once and couldn't sleep right for weeks.
Well, I decided to keep the list all horror, but don't forget that there are Halloween classics that aren't supposed to make you jump in your seat, like the Ghostbusters movies, Beetlejuice or Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shaun of the Dead, Young Frankenstein..... even the new movie Zombieland is FANTASTIC.
So I have one last nugget of wisdom for you before I go start putting on my glampire costume. Stay away from the remake! Texas Chainsaw, Psycho, Halloween... and many many more just aren't as good the second time around! I don't know why people feel the need to mess with a good thing, but they do - it's a good thing you don't have to watch it!