Anyway, at last it’s Halloween. You’re at the video store, or scrolling through your Netflix Instant Play list, or trolling Hulu looking for something thematic and atmospheric. You’ve been reading my columns on the subject, but, to be honest, you’ve forgotten most of the movies I mentioned as being good ones, or couldn’t really decide if the author (that’d be me) liked them or hated them because he’s a really bad reviewer. And you think to yourself: “So what horror movies should I watch?”
Here are my recommendations. If you’re wanting to dip into the movies that will keep scaring, year after year, viewing after viewing, then pop these into the Blu-Ray player. Call ’em the Canon of C, in no particular order, with twitter-worthy commentary and plenty of spoilerage:
“Halloween” (1978): When you never know if it’ll be a yowling cat or Michael Myers behind that door.
“Friday the 13th” (1980): When you never know if it’ll be a yowling Kevin Bacon or Jason Voorhees behind that door. Oh, and axes to the head.
“Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984): A murder that takes place on the ceiling. Committed by an invisible force. With lots of blood. Then, later, a very creepy body bag. Ohhh yeaaah.
“The Fog” (1980): When your ghostly leper pirates can cause a tape recorder to catch on fire just because a piece of their wrecked ship happens to be nearby, you know you’ve got some serious ghostly baddies.
“The Shining” (1980): Twin girl ghosts and a Big Wheel. Shudder.
“Carrie” (1976): Last scene. Nightmares for years afterward. Enough said.
“The Omen” (1976): Priest skewered by a lightning rod. Classic.
“The Exorcist” (1973): Priest drenched with pea soup vomit. Classic.
“Candyman” (1992): This one was filmed in the very real projects with very real danger. Dunno whether the actors knew that before they signed their liability waivers.
“Amityville Horror” (1979): Creepiest flies in any movie, any time.
“Blair Witch Project” (1999): Despite the snotty nose shot shown on the DVD cover and in every promo made, this slow burn Found Footage pic gave me an honest-to-goodness nightmare as an adult. Gotta love that.
“The Ring” (2002): The beginning of the English-language versions of Japanese ghost women who crawl around in a very disturbing fashion and who have nearly sentient hair.
“Alien” (1979): Space. Difficult to hear screaming. Also, beware who you have lunch with.
“Scream” (1996): The movie that revitalized the horror movie in the 1990s. Gotta give it credit for that. It was also a clever, self-referential masterpiece of writing. Now, of course, it’s been imitated so much that you’d never know it was once fresh.
“Jeepers Creepers” (2001): Pretty sure the Creeper drives the same truck as can be seen in “Halloween: H2O”. Also, he’s creepy.
“Saw” (2004): The sequels got old very fast, but the original was, well, original. Smarter than I expected and not as bloody as one might think it’d be for something called “Saw.”
“I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997): Fun slayings of silly yutes. Who can complain?
“The Faculty” (1998): Pretty teens fighting an alien tentacle menace. Scarier than you might think. Also, a pretty good soundtrack.
“Final Destination” (2000): It’s never quite the final destination after all, but the first one has a nice angle.
And, for when you want a break from the mind-numbing horror of it all, or at least want a few laughs interspersed with your screams:
“Ghostbusters” (1984): Source of more movie quotes (“Don’t cross the streams!” than anything other than “Aliens” (“Game over, man! Game over!”)
“Shaun of the Dead” (2004): Grab a bag of popcorn and a box of vinyl records and watch this movie for the first time or the hundredth. It’s worth every record thrown at a zombie head.
“Zombieland” (2009): Join the quest for the world’s last Twinkie(tm). You want some rolick with your zombie hunting? Here ya go.
“American Werewolf in London” (1981): The humor here is woven expertly with the horror so that you’re never quite sure which is coming next .
“Idle Hands” (1999) Seth Green in the moralistic tale of what happens when you’re a slacker and live in your parents’ basement for too long.
“Scary Movie 2” (2001): The “Ring” parody is actually scarier than the same scenes in “The Ring”, but also funny. Very, very funny.
“Dead Snow” (2009): Not much overt comedy, but, um, it’s zombie Nazis in the snow. That’s frackin’ funny.
“Tremors” (1990): Kevin Bacon. Giant worms. Not that scary, but loads of fun.
There you go. If you can find half a dozen movies to watch on All Hallow’s Eve out of that bunch, then, well, I’ve done all I can for you and you need to move on to the Rom Coms.
Happy Halloween, everyone!