Halloween is a big deal in my house. We love decorating, dressing up, having friends over for our annual Halloween Bash, trick-or-treating, and watching scary movies. My kids aren’t quite old enough to watch most horror flicks, but I’m breaking them in with some of the classics.
My personal horror film collection isn’t huge, but pair it with what Neflix and Amazon have to offer and I have plenty to watch in the six weeks between my birthday and Halloween. I like horror films for several reasons: they are the guys’ alternative to rom-coms, they tap into our fears (which we need to face), and they are the only film genre that regularly and unashamedly deals with the supernatural.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite horror films in my movie closet, in no particular order:
A hard-working Dad comes home to tell his young sons that God has spoken to him, and they are to rid the world of demons. Each son has to decide if Dad is telling the truth, or if he’s lost his marbles. This gem from the early 2000’s dares to ask the question, “What if the crazy religious nutjobs are right?” Not the ordinary, church-attending, love your neighbor religous folks. I’m talking the Heaven’s Gate, Jim Jones, forget-left-field-they-aren’t-even-in-the-parking-lot folks. Fine, subtle performances (especially from Matthew McConaughey) and a creepy “What if…” plot make this film a fine addition to any scary movie collection.
A recently broken-up couple is terrorized for several hours by a trio of strangers whose motive is simply to terrify them, “Because [they] were home.” This horror film excels at simplicity. No real jump scares, not a lot of gore until the very end (when a bloodied Liv Tyler suddenly shrieks). The key scene in the film is a simply long range shot of Liv Tyler facing toward the camera, and a mask appears in the background without her noticing. This film will make you doublecheck your locks before you go to sleep.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Along with F.W. Murau’s Nosferatu, these are THE definitive classic horror films. Tame by today’s standards, Legosi and Karloff frightened movie goers in 1931. The characters they made famous are now legendary. Every other attempt to remake these films, even the great attempts, have fallen short. My girls love these films. We kick off scary movie season every year by watching these on (or close to) my birthday.
The exorcism of emily rose
There have been a lot of exorcism movies in recent years, and most of them aren’t worth watching. I loved this film because of the premise: an agnostic lawyer defends a priest who performed a seemingly failed exorcism, and the prosecutor is a faithful churchman who uses science to try to disprove the priest’s claims. The film is balanced, and leaves the decision to the audience.
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
The first, and by far the best, of the recent found-footage horror films. The marketing was so convincing that many viewers thought it was real. The tension and fear ratchet up throughout the film. Many didn’t like the film’s simple ending. I found it downright creepy. Maybe this is why I hate camping so much.
Hands down, the best horror film ever made. I’ve seen it dozens of times, and it still freaks me out. Every other exorcism movie pays homage to this one, but none can match it. This is the last one I watch every year to close out scary movie season. There are also some odd stories behind the filming of this movie. The “director” of the film within the film died in the movie… and then died for real during the making of the movie. Creepy stuff…
honorable mention: The Visit
M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film hasn’t been released to video yet, but when it does it will find a place in my collection. An excellent mix of comedy, tension, and horror all wrapped up in a found-footage package. After years of making horrible films, M. Night is back with this movie which will make you question whether or not to send the kids to the grandparents’ house for more than, well, ever.
BONUS: THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN
If this was in my movie closet, it would have made the list. Alas, it is not. But it is available on Netflix. If The Blair Witch Project and The Exorcist had a baby, it would be this film. A woman invites a college film crew to document her mother, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Mama, however, starts exhibiting violent behaviors that lead the crew to believe there’s much more going on. This film is flat out scary, and I loved it.
So there yout have it–some scary films from my movie closet that you should watch. Just don’t expect to come to my house and borrow them. Go find your own.