There’s no time to watch a scary movie like the fall. With Halloween approaching and the gloomy whether setting a spooky mood, now is the time to get your horror fix.
Being that horror movies have been coming out for over 90 years, since the release of “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” in 1920, there is a vast array of films to choose from. You can find quality cinema in the horror genre from the 20’s until now, and these are five great films to watch this Halloween.
Starting off with an obvious choice, “Halloween” brought actress Jamie Lee Curtis, director John Carpenter and the slasher subgenre into the mainstream when it was released in 1978. From the opening of the film where Michael Myers brutally murders his sister with a kitchen knife until the chilling conclusion, “Halloween” is a landmark horror film that any fan of the genre can enjoy.
Almost 35 years after the film’s release, the John Carpenter film holds a 93 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Acclaimed film critic, Roger Ebert, called the film a “merciless thriller” and noted its comparable to Alfred Hitchcock's beloved 1960 film “Psycho.”
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“Halloween” wasn’t the first slasher film, with “Black Christmas” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” being released four years prior, but the film perfected what would become one of the most popular style of horror movies over the next decade. “Halloween” spawned seven sequels, as well as a remake in 2007 by director Rob Zombie, and a sequel to that film.
“Night of the Living Dead” (1968)
Zombies are inescapable, and if you love the mindless monsters on “The Walking Dead,” or anywhere else, you should take some time out to see where they came from with George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead.” Far from the first zombie movie, this 1968 movie introduced the idea of the infectious, flesh-eaters.
Before “Night” kicked off the “… of the Dead” franchise, zombies were reanimated corpses or people in comatose states placed under spells and controlled by a person. Now, that image of the zombie is just a footnote in the fandom that has spread from film, to a worldwide phenomenon.
The film gave new meaning to zombies, and was continued with five more films by Romero. The “… of the Dead” series includes “Dawn,” “Day,” “Land,” “Diary,” and “Survival,” but nothing capture the brain-dead creature like “Night of the Living Dead,” which has a 96 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film also pioneered gore in horror, and was one of the first American films to feature a black protagonist.
“Let the Right One In” (2008)
One of the more recent trends in horror is romance, with the “Twilight” series coming to mind first. Where the story of Bella and Edward carries weight at the box office, “Let the Right One In” is a vampire-romance for horror fans and critics. This Swedish film is about a young, outcast boy who falls in love with his new neighbor, a vampire girl.
The description might not grab every horror fan, but don’t judge “Let the Right One In” in haste. The horror-romance holds an impressive 98 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and is one of the best horror films in recent years. The film’s setting will draw you in, and the characters will keep you invested as things spiral out of control.
The story might sound familiar, as it was remade as “Let Me In” in America, and some might even complain that it’s just a “Twilight” rip-off. On top of being a better story than “Twilight,” this horror romance is based on a novel of the same name, which came out a year before Stephanie Myers first novel.
The film is in Swedish, so keep that in mind if subtitles play a factor in your horror selection.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
In the midst of the slasher craze, that included films like “Friday the 13th,” “My Bloody Valentine,” “Prom Night,” and many other unimaginative attempts to recreate “Halloween,” Wes Craven made something innovative in “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” The 1984 reality-bending film introduced Freddy Krugar, a killer who haunts you in your dreams.
The idea seems tired now, after five sequels, a crossover with Jason Vorhees of “Friday the 13th” fame, and a 2010 remake, but in a simpler time before the fall of the Berlin wall and the rise of Johnny Depp – who made his acting debut in this film – this was a high point of creativity. The tone was also more serious than the sequels, where Freddy took on a more comical persona.
After he got off on child murder charges, due to a technicality, the parents of Elm Street decided to take the law into their own hands and burned Fred Krugar alive. He returned years later in the dreams of their children to take his bloody revenge, and to earn himself a 95 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
As different as “Nightmare” was in 1984, the film’s success has made it an obvious choice. For people who are acquainted with the classics. like “Nighttmare,” “Halloween,” and “Psycho,” there’s always Dario Argento’s cult classic “Suspiria.” The Italian art horror film has a following of its own, but still remains obscure to many genre fans.
The film plays out like a fairy-tale, and has a fitting score for the fantasy-esque tone. The biggest thing that “Suspiria” has to offer fans that you can’t get just anywhere is the beautiful gore; bright red blood and dramatic lighting make the murder scenes unlike any others.
It takes its time to get going, but if you’re looking for something new and don’t mind the wait, this bizarre foreign film could be exactly what you’re looking for on a cold, dark night. Although it has been missed by mainstream audiences, the film holds a 94 percent freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Not to mention that the film is in English, so there’s no pesky subtitles like in “Let the Right One In.”