Must-watch scary movies for Halloween
It’s not really Halloween unless you watch a scary movie, is it? Here’s our choice of horror films we should all watch at least once – but probably not alone.
The Exorcist (1973):
A possessed child is always a good starting point for creating a jump-out-of-your-seat horror film. The movie is loosely based on the exorcism of Roland Doe in the 1940s. The possessed girl is Reagan MacNeil who lives with her mother in Georgetown. She begins acting strangely and inexplicably so her mother, Chris, seeks the help of two priests to exorcise her daughter. The film has often been named as one of the scariest of all time – viewer beware! A TV adaptation aired this September in the US.
An iconic ‘slasher’ film with a whole host of celebrities including Courtney Cox, David Arquette and Drew Barrymore. If you haven’t already seen it, I can only ask why the heck not? Purposefully, the film panders to an array of horror film cliches as it pairs the ‘whodunit’ mystery with the violence of a ‘slasher’ film. It plays with the horror film pro-forma as there is a group of teenage students who become the victim of a killer known as ‘Ghostface’ who wears a white face mask to avoid recognition. The characters attempt to unmask the killer before its too late.
The Ring (2002):
This film had a cult following in the early noughties and a multitude of teenagers were convinced they would die within seven days of watching it. The classic elements of a horror film amass in the form of a possessed and bedraggled young girl, a mysterious hut in the woods, a creepy cursed videotape and a relative of a dead girl committed to unearthing the truth. This film will have you gripping the edge of your seat and the psychological thrill remains a week later. Consider yourself warned!
The Sixth Sense (1999):
A classic surpernatural horror directed by the now infamous M. Night Shyamalan. The cast features Bruce Willis as Dr Crowe, Toni Collette as the mother of a disturbed young boy and a young Mischa Barton as a ghost. But it’s Haley Joel Osment who steals the show as Cole, the young boy – the son of Collette’s character’s – who has an unusual gift. He can see and talk to dead people. Dr Crowe is a renowned child psychologist with some problems of his own. He attempts to help Cole put an end to his unwanted powers. However, in the process Dr Crowe uncovers some some hard truths about his own life. It’s genuinely creepy.
The Blair Witch Project (1999):
This film debuted on the cusp of the millenium, before we relied on the internet to tell us everything. It tells the story of three students living near the Black Hills in Maryland who hike into the hills to make a documentary about the local legend of the Blair Witch. The film seen through the shaky camera angle of of of the students, which is a the heart of the movie’s thrills. The mystery is – why is the camera equipment found and not the bodies of the students? A final installment in what is now a trilogy was released earlier this autumn.
The Birds (1963):
Most of you will be familiar with Hitchcock’s Psycho (if nothing else, you must have seen the shower scene) but The Birds still packs a punch. It’s scary because it depicts nature gone wild – something us humans have no control over. The tranquil setting of Bodega Bay provides a perfect setting to lull viewers into a false sense of security before the birds wreak havoc. An oldie, but a goodie.
28 Days Later:
And now for a British take on horror – this millennial post-apocalyptic film created a cult following (it was even the subject of a Secret Cinema event this summer). Ever wondered what could go wrong when animal rights activists release captive animals into urban life? Nothing – right? WRONG. Only the end of the world as we know it. Jim, played by Cillian Murphy, awakens from a coma to discover London is deserted. He soon understands that most of the population has been wiped out by a rage inducing virus transported through the captive chimps that were released. He teams up with two infection-free individuals but it is only a matter of time before someone gets bitten. Don’t leave your doors unlocked!
SOMETHING FOR THE KIDS…
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010):
The penultimate installment of the much loved wizard series is one of the darker films of the lot. Harry and his chums are no longer within the cosy confines of Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and are let loose at large in a wizarding world that’s becoming more fragile by the second…. Harry, Ron and Hermione must locate the remaining Horcruxes which are keeping Voldermort alive before he regains total control. And the crucial question – whose side is Snape on – comes into the forefront of the film. It’s tense, but it should stop you (or the kids) sleeping)
AND SOMETHING FOR THE SCARDY CATS…
Shaun of the Dead (2004):
How can a cast of Simon Peggy, Bill Nigh and Nick Frost scare you? The answer is they can’t! This film is a tongue in cheek parody of Zack Synder’s Dawn of the Dead set in suburban England. Main character Shaun is still living with his best mate Ed much to the dismay of his girlfriend, Liz. He works in an electronics shop and plays video games in the evening. A zombie epidemic breaks out and the trio find themselves barricaded in their local pub The Winchester. The movie is a farcical take on zombie mania. Clever and fun, you’ll still get your fix of gore – without the pounding heart.
Young Frankenstein (1974):
A Mel Brooks classic. The story of Frankenstein is given a revamp for comic effect. Gene Wilder plays the disenchanted Dr Frederick Frankenstein (or Fronkenstein), grandson of the original Dr Frankenstein, Marty Feldman plays Igor his trusty sidekick. The script is full of comic malapropisms … and things don’t quite go according to plan when Dr Frankenstein attempts to recreate his grandfather’s experiment. It’s been called a horror comic masterpiece.
Compiled by Zoe Dudgeon