To commemorate Halloween I thought I would compile a list of some of my favorite scary movies.
I don’t see horror films as much as I used to, I find them too gratuitous and I am not into torture porn. From my list it seems I was really into scary films from the mid 70’s to early 80’s – the golden age of horror or should I say blood red age?
( 1976) My favorite scary movie by far. Directed in virtuoso style by Brian DePalma and based on a novel by horror writer Stephen King. I don’t find it particularly scary but it does have a shock ending that is still imitated today. Sissy Spacek plays a bullied schoolgirl with strange powers who gets her revenge at the high school prom. Her dominant religious nut mother (Piper Laurie) plays a big part in her tortured life.
2. THE EXORCIST
Pea soup, spinning heads and a foul mouthed child- what more could you want? This 1973 film was a huge box office sensation. Linda Blair played a young child who is possessed by the devil. Based on a successful novel by William Peter Blatty and directed by William Friedkin it was a very serious horror film, realistic in approach which made it all the more horrific.
Dario Argento’s 1977 horror classic about an American ballet student (Jessica Harper) in Italy, who discovers that her new dance academy is staffed by a coven of witches. Argento assaults the senses and nervous system with mood, atmosphere, gore, garish set design, and creepy music. Operatic in tone it is an over- the- top masterpiece of horror.
4. THE EVIL DEAD
Sam Raimi’s 1981 controversial cult horror film. It has tons of black humour and has incredibly graphic gore and violence. The story of 5 college students on vacation in a cabin in the woods. They uncover an audiotape which releases some nasty evil spirits. It features some very inventive camera work and was made on a miniscule budget. I like it because it has its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. It’s a lot of fun!
This 1978 horror flick was a huge success and most probably paved the way for the new wave of horror to come. Directed by John Carpenter, it starred Jaime Lee Curtis who went on to earn the title “scream queen” after a succession of horror movie roles. On Halloween night a mentally disturbed man, who killed his sister 17 years earlier, escapes from his mental institution and heads back to his home town to wreak murderous havoc – preying on a young teenage girl (Jaime Lee Curtis). In the film the killer dons a white mask that has since become iconic. It has lots of scary jump- outta- your- skin moments.
6. THE INNOCENTS
An oldie but a goodie this 1961 film is more frightening because it uses lighting, music, and direction for its effect rather than gore and shock factor. It is just plain spooky.
Based on the novel “The Turn Of The Screw” by Henry James, it is the story of the governess of 2 children who becomes convinced that the house they live in is haunted by 2 previous employees. Deborah Kerr is excellent as the repressed governess and the cinematography by the great Freddie Francis is outstanding, Jack Clayton directed.
7. FRIDAY THE 13TH
This 1980 movie really delivered on the shock moments as I recall. A group of hedonistic and careless camp counsellors gather at Camp Crystal Lake and are one by one killed off in gory and horrific ways. It had a surprise outcome and a “Carrie” shock ending that introduced us to Jason Vorhees (apparently an afterthought) which led to many sequels and a horror icon was born. It wasn’t particularly well made or stylish – just very scary. I think you recieved a certificate for surviving when you left the theatre.
8. DAWN OF THE DEAD
The ultimate zombie movie. George A. Romero’s 1978 follow up to his classic “Night Of The Living Dead” is a shrewd comment on an American consumerist society. Set entirely in a shopping mall – the zombies are drawn to out of instinct. I particularly liked the type of zombies – a hari krishna, a nurse etc… ordinary folks in an ordinary setting. Has its scary moments and its gory ones too.
9. THE BROOD
David Cronenberg’s creepy 1979 film tells the story of a woman (Samantha Eggar) who through a weird psychotherapy experiment gives birth to a brood of mutant children who act out all her negative emotions.
A sci-fi horror movie from 1979. Ridley Scott directed the film about space miners who hear an SOS from another planet. They go to investigate and encounter some hideous and scary alien forms. Sigourney Weaver heads a great cast. It has some genuine thrills and had the great tagline -“In space no one can hear you scream….”. The face huggers and birth of the alien sequence were truly horrible. It spawned many sequels and made Sigourney Weaver a major star.
This is only a small sample of horror movies I have enjoyed, there are a lot more good ones out there.
I hope you have a happy Halloween- watch a scary film tonight.