Many film buffs like to crawl in their bed sheets and watch horrors in the countdown to Halloween. If you are looking for suggestions, here is your horror guide.
I’m not a person, who celebrates Halloween. In fact, my celebration of this day is more about connection with those who are gone.
Despite my approach, I adore Autumn as the best horror season of the year. Whenever I wander around the cemeteries on the Day Of All Saints (that’s the way we call it in Poland), I feel immersed in its peaceful, but also a tiny bit creepy atmosphere.
In order to share some of my experience with some serious knock-downers, I have sketched the following list. You will find a following division of the movies:
- Vintage Horror – my favorite picks of “old but gold”
- Gorefest – Most brutal movies that do not cross the “too dumb” line
- Psycho – psychological thrillers falling into the horror category too
- All time Classics – films that you have to know before Halloween
- Other – all other sinister films that are worth your time
Enjoy and remember to suggest your movies in the comment section!
#1 The Invisible Man
“The Invisible Man” may not be particularly scary due to many years that have past since its release (it’s premiered in 1933). Despite that, it still remains one of the best vintage “spookers” that early Hollywood has sprawled.
The main character is a scientist, who turns himself invisible in an experiment. As a side effect, he also becomes a maniac, who goes n a killing spree in a town nearby. It’s a lovely throwback to black and white cinema. Claude Rains as the Invisible Man is sheer genius and I dare to say it belongs to the same league as “Nosferatu”.
#2 Night Of The Demon
Also known as “Curse Of The Demon” is an old flick from 1957. The movie is fantastic example of a vintage horror movie that – given the technical advancement nowadays – still capably scares. The film tells the story of a professor, who investigates a cult, only to find a terrifying demon summoned by the very man.
The film’s titular demon looks pretty badass, acting is far from the wooden monster movies that were so derivative in the 50s and 60s. “Night Of The Demon” is definitely worth watching.
#3 The Shining
A classic like no other. “The Shining” is – even after all these years – an undeniably powerful, scary movie. The berserk rage of Jack Nicholson is one of his most profound performances in his career (and Jack had plenty of remarkable roles in his lifetime). His lunatic smile and the blood-curdling scenes (like the hatchet scene in a bathroom or “redrum”) are iconic to the genre.
Halloween might be a great opportunity to review that gem once again.
Before people start flooding social media praising the remake, o yourself a favor and see the original movie, because Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” is a masterpiece of horror and a must-see for a respectable cinemagoer.
The story follows a ballet dancer, who slowly discovers her teachers’ secret agenda.
The film bolsters with tremendous visuals, blazing the eyes of the viewers with red in its rich palette. Almost each shot is a painting you could hang on a wall (if you’re brave enough). “Suspiria” is a hallucinatory drug, but don’t worry – it’s not truly addicting.
#5 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Tobe Hooper’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” crawls under your skin and makes your hair stand up.
It’s the first film about the infamous Leatherface – a murderer who sprayed havoc in Texas – and one of the most groundbreaking horror movies ever directed. It scared the **** out of people in the 70s and it proudly continued to do so ever since.
Because it’s goddamn Halloween, isn’t it?
But seriously, “Halloween” has been one of the most successful horrors back in the old days. Mike Myers, with his “steady, I’m about to kill you” face was menacing and deeply frightening. I can’t imagine a horror fan, who didn’t watch the original movie and didn’t enjoy it.
#7 Eyes Wide Shut
Some film fans find this last Stanley Kubrick’s movie repugnant by all means. It wasn’t flawless, but to me, it’s a dreadful story that creeps on you the more you immerse yourself in it.
What I love about “Eyes Wide Shit” is that the film progressively turns into an insane ride. What starts as a thriller is – by the end of the screening – something completely not like earlier Kubrick. The film offers some splendid cinematography bits too and solid roles by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman too.
Ethan Hawk stars in what could be called “the film with the most intense, terrifying sound design in years”. “Sinister” tells the story of a writer, who moves to a new house with his family. While settling in, they discover strange VHS tapes in the attic. These very tapes will soon bring havoc in the life of the family.
If you are looking for a true spine-chilling experience, turn your lights off and watch “Sinister” with enough volume up to hear the majesty of the haunting soundtrack by Scott Derrickson. The jump scares will hit you ten times harder.
#9 The Strangers
While the 2018’s sequel proved itself to be a derivative horror like hundreds released every year, the 2008’s movie starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman was rad.
What made “The Strangers” so impeccably awesome was the unbearable tension, the omnipresent vibe of “things will go terribly wrong”. The murderous family dressed in gunny sacks and kitschy masks were true predators, who thoroughly enjoyed their time quickening the pulse of the couple.
#10 Eden Lake
In my opinion, Michael Fassbender might have a weird affection for brutal, violent films. The guy totally enjoys immersing himself in psychologically twisted roles and scenarios.
He also stars in “Eden Lake”, a British indie thriller from 2008. It’s a story about a couple that drives to a lakeside, only to discover a bunch of local bad kids getting too bored.
The result is a film bursting with violence, served in a very realistic, graphic imagery. Unlike many extreme torture horrors (every “Saw” movie after the first part) that become ridiculous and over-the-top, “Eden Lake” balances on the edge providing a psychological burden for the viewer like only a few films do.
2018 is already a great year for horror movies. “The Ritual”, a completely unexpected British charmer, a lovely, grotesque kitschfest “The Terrifier”, indie darling “Mandy” and most recently “Apostle” – they all deserve credit. But the true winner of the year is “Hereditary”.
It’s a mind-blowing psychological horror, which shakes the fundamentals of your perception. The debuting director Ari Asker turns a broken family story into a deep analysis of paranoia and depression, which spreads like a virus. It’s a brilliant movie and one that you definitely need to watch if you haven’t had the opportunity yet.
The American remake starring Naomi Watts is a decent take, but the original Japanese movie, directed by Hideo Nakata, is a festive of dread and chills sent down the spine from the first minute. “Ring” is terrifying on every front. It’s all about the atmosphere – the sound design, the lighting and all the creepy arsenal that reinvigorates the ghost story in a menacing way.
A less-known horror gem from Japan, “Noroi” is the one found footage you will love.
As is the case with many Japanese horror films, “Noroi” gives you the creeps by orchestrating a plethora of “things you don’t see, but they are there”. The story follows a reporter, who investigates a series of terrifying events that seem to be related to a demon called “kagutaba”.
It’s the kind of horror film, which surely requires patience. However, once you let it grasp you, “Noroi” won’t let you go until you’re terrified.
Take a look at the picture below. After seeing that still, a reasonable question is
Why would you be into “Martyrs”?
It’s a new wave of French horror movies and boy – what a wave it is. The film is ridiculously bloody and graphic, making “Saw” look like a children game. It’s bold, it’s unforgettable. Not sure whether it;s for the good reasons, but either way – “Martyrs” is a perfect horror for the not faint of heart.
I still can’t believe that this completely deranged movie was produced by Xavier Dolan.
#15 House Of 1000 Corpses
Rob Zombie might be a king of gory kitsch. His recent offerings were more or less crap (with “Devil’s Rejects” reigning in that category), but back in the early 2000s, Zombie directed a tiny masterpiece.
“House of 1000 Corpses” is completely over-the-top, sometimes even ludicrous and pointless. Still, every horror fan will enjoy this wicked kind of dark gory humor.
P.S. It’s also the only film, where you will see Rainn Wilson a.k.a. Dwight Schrute turned into a fish. Definitely worth it.
Hardcore Turkish gore sounds appealing to you?
Well, “Baskin” is absolutely barbaric. It’s a simple story of few police officers who receive a call about suspicious happenings in an old mansion. The movie quickly jumps to an insanely brutal show of a derailed cult, which – you guessed it – treats the cops rather unpleasantly. The film is extremely violent , includes a graphic scene of rape, tortures and an acolyte of the cult who also happens to be a horrifying midget.
#17 Rovdyr – Manhunt
The Scandinavian cinema is mostly associated with quiet, stoic dramas, which devastate the viewer with brutal realism. While this is a relatively accurate stereotype, there are some films that boldly represent Scandinavia in the horror league too.
“Manhunt” is vicious to an unbearable extent. It’s a film about teens, who camp in the wrong woods. While the story is a bit cliche, it’s a terrifying experience to observe – the teens, ambushed and hunted like animals, are killed off one by one, but the way it’s done is absolutely wild.
Other Horror Gems
#18 Sennentuntschi: Curse Of The Alps
This Austrian gem is a fantastic mixture that consists of folk, bits of comedy and wicked horror. The story follows two villagers who create for themselves a woman made of hay. Apparently, their devilish creation comes to life.
“Sennentuntschi: Curse Of The Alps” is based on a folklore story. It’s sometimes incredibly weird and insane, but if you are looking for something odd and unprecedented, this is your bet.
#19 The Witch
Robert Eggers’ film was an instant classic, when it hit the cinemas in 2015.
The film had a palpable sense of dread, mostly due to its stunning set design. It all felt almost too real, as if the creators of the movie literally built a time machine. From the vintage linguistic entourage to character design, “The Witch” was a masterful creation.
The story followed a poor family in the medieval Great Britain. The family bought a black goat, which happens to bring really, really bad luck. If it sounds corny, go watch “The Witch” and thank me for that recommendation later.
#20 The Ritual
Yes, the British that Netflix acquired early this year deserves a spot on this list too.
The film follows a group of friends who travel to Sweden. Their hike turns into a bloody encounter with a cult. What distinguishes “The Ritual” from a vast majority of the genre offerings is the psychology. The main character of the film is a conflicted guy, torn apart between his flaws and a desperate need to make amendments. Frankly, it’s also one of the most creative monster movies in years. Highly, highly recommended!
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