With Hallowe’en being only 52 minutes away in my time zone (by time I post this, it probably will be Hallowe’en), I thought I should share some of my favourite horror films.
This is not a countdown list, as I could never decide which I loved the absolute best. And they’re not the scariest films either. Just 5 horror movies that I love the most.
In no order:
A Nightmare on Elm Street
I was 4 years old when the original Nightmare came out (I’ll leave you to do the math…), and not much older when I saw it for the first time. Absentee parenting for the win! I’ve seen maybe 5 Disney films, total. Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers and Leatherface were the fictional characters that shaped my childhood. This film, and the entire series, brings such a sense of nostalgia to me. The series became more and more jokey and campy over the years, but if you go back to the very first instalment, it’s really quite terrifying and intense. Imagine if your bad dreams were actually happening to you? And the only way to fight them was to not be afraid of them?
Carnival of Souls
This is a classic, understated, subtle scare. It’s so creepy and leaves the viewer with a general sense of unease. It has an almost dream-like quality to it, which makes it great for late-night viewing to get the full effect. Never does the movie come right out and say THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING; it leaves a lot unsaid and allows the viewer to draw their own conclusions. Even if you don’t get it, the individual scenes are so creepy that you’ll definitely still come away from it wanting to sleep with the lights on.
I’m a huge fangirl of the Soska Sisters, the twisted twins from Vancouver who created this film. I follow them on every facet of social media I have and love how they’re like most other horror fans I know: they seem super cool and have a wicked fashion sense but when you actually listen to/read interviews with them, you discover that they’re just big dorky fan girls. So I’ve been following American Mary since it was in post-production last year. The film is a masterpiece. It’s so artfully, painstakingly put together. Nothing feels overly gratuitous, even though half of it is set in a strip club and the other half features increasingly extreme body modifications. A cult classic before it was even released, if you see one movie from this list, make sure it’s American Mary.
Return of the Living Dead, Parts 1 & 2
Easily my favourite movies of all time, horror or otherwise.
No, I’m serious. They’re super campy and total cult classics but so entertaining. If I’m having a bad day and need some down-time, I come home and put on one or both of these movies. They’re just so much fun. Until part 1 came out in 1985, no one would have ever thought of a zombie as being a shuffling automaton that just wanted “braaaaainns….” This is the film that introduced the idea that zombies = brain eaters. For a couple of silly, slightly comedic movies, the horror, gore and make up effects are really good. Because of this movie, I rarely see an ambulance parked anywhere without saying out loud “Send. More. Paramedics” (which is a fucking genius thing for a zombie to do! If they have to talk, they best impersonate a paramedic to send more people for them to eat). Because of part 2, new housing developments are scary fucking places at night. Seriously, if you like fun and zombies and 80s camp, see these movies.
Everyone and their dog has seen this movie and has an opinion on it. Now, maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing, but my absolute favourite kind of movie is possession/exorcism movies. If something goes wrong and they have to pray it away, I’m in. The Exorcist is the absolute best of that genre. And it holds up, 40 years later (40 years!). Just watching that YouTube clip has convinced me that there’s no need to go to bed, in the dark, just yet. When I was in my first year of college, they re-released The Exorcist to theatres. None of my new friends had any desire to see it, so I went to the theatre alone to see it. I lived not too far from the theatre and didn’t have a vehicle, so I walked to and from the theatre. Alone. My roommate was out of town that weekend and I slept with every single light on all weekend. Those quick flashes of Captain Howdy, the progression of Regan as a sweet little girl to a horrifying demonic entity, the fucking spiderwalk down the stairs… I’ve seen this movie dozens of times, and will probably watch it tomorrow night, and it never, ever gets any less scary to me. It’s reduced me to tears and nightmares so many times. I WISH there were more movies like this, but nothing else even comes close.
So there’s my 5. Now that said, there are plenty of movies that everyone’s seen that have somehow escaped my attention. I’ve never seen: Jaws, Alien, Hellraiser, Nosferatu, Eraserhead, etc.
And then there’s plenty of critically acclaimed films that I just don’t get: Suspiria, Martyrs, Descent, The Woman In Black… I just don’t like them. And I’ve tried watching them several times.
What are your favourites? What scares you? Leave me a comment with your picks!