You guys, I just realized we are 12 days into October and I haven’t done my annual YOU SHOULD WATCH THESE SCARY MOVIES FOR HALLOWEEN post yet!
That’s what happens with deadlines. :(
On the plus side, at least I didn’t realize it on October 31st. Phew.
And because Halloween is my favourite time of year, let’s make this post a list AND A GIVEAWAY. If you are in the US or Canada–many apologies to my overseas readers–leave a comment and let me know what the scariest horror movie you have ever seen is or if you’re not big on scares, what your favourite Halloween movie is (to make it hard on you, you can only recommend one) and you will be entered to win a DVD of one of the greatest Halloween movies ever…
Who doesn’t love Hocus Pocus?! I know. If you don’t already have it, trust me, you want it.
(Make sure you comment at courtneysummers.ca and not a feed!)
NOW LET’S DO THIS THING. Here are some movies I think you should watch for Halloween! Starting with…
Birds take back the earth! Tippi Hedren is gorgeous! But you know what’s not going to help you when birds take back the earth? Your looks. Everything about The Birds satisfies, from its clever use of (nearly) no music, to the sense of isolation that Alfred Hitchcock so expertly conveys in each frame. Bodega Bay is so painfully picturesque, it makes the whole thing that much more horrifying. Also: you can practically smell the ocean. And that ending!
I have avoided putting this on my lists in previous years because it seems pretty obvious, but you know what? It is terrifying, so there you go. The all-female cast is stellar. The sets alone are terrifying. The struggle for survival is breathtaking. The monsters are unforgettable and gross. I have never felt one way or the other about caving, but since seeing this movie I have become vehemently opposed to it. WATCH THIS MOVIE AND BECOME VEHEMENTLY OPPOSED TO IT TOO.
Is it a windy, rainy day? Do you have a nice quilt to curl up under? Is your pantry stocked with popcorn? Your fridge with apple cider? Do you want to enjoy a scary movie for Halloween without feeling like you want to die at the end of it? Then this is the movie for you. Dracula Dead and Loving It makes me so happy except for the part where it makes me miss Leslie Nielsen. I love the sets and I love the set-ups.
The Fog is a go-to for me because I enjoy its atmosphere. It’s so OCEANY. There is this scene where Adrienne Barbeau drives all the way to work and then walks 5,000 steps down to her lighthouse radio station and I swear to goodness you can feel the chilly ocean air. I could probably watch it over and over for that moment alone which probably makes me weird. It only teases at the worst special effects and gore that took over a lot of eighties horror (maybe because it was made in 1979?), instead relying more on a subtle, spooky undercurrent to carry it. As a creepy little ghost story, I think it delivers.
Here is the scene I was talking about, by the way:
FEEL THAT OCEAN AIR.
If you’re going to watch any series this Halloween, maybe you should watch Friday the 13th! But if you can’t make time for all 500 of it’s installments, I would suggest these two. Friday the 13th Part 2 is the introduction of one very special guy, Jason Vorhees, but more than THAT, it stars one of the most capable and interesting heroines in the whole series–Ginny. Amy Steel brought something really great to this role and I don’t think we’ve seen the likes of her since, which makes me sad.
And yes, A REMAKE IS ON THIS LIST. I know. For some reason, I really love the F13 remake. Maybe because Jason X was a thing that happened before it? I don’t know. A lot of what is wrong with the horror genre is in here but I liked the way it looks and I like how Jason was more animal instead of paranormal. Also Dick Casablancas.
My second Hitch pick of the list. Psycho is a wonderful, moodily paced movie. If you haven’t seen it, I am secretly disappointed in you. There is a reason this film endures, so what’s the point in talking anymore about it? Even if you know the twist, Anthony Perkins’s unnervingly sympathetic portrayal of Norman Bates only gets stronger on repeated viewings. Also Alfred Hitchcock’s daughter has the best cameo ever. It makes me smile every time.
Reincarnation is about a young actress who is cast in a movie that is about a real life massacre at a hotel. The director holds the shoot at the hotel the murders took place, and soon the cast discovers they are more connected to the victims than they could ever imagine. One thing I like about the Takashi Shimizu films I’ve seen is that there is a sort of inevitability to them. You know the outcome for the characters likely won’t be good, but their impending doom is so intensely and interestingly presented that the journey stays full of tension.
Earlier this year, over at The (wonderful) Readventure’s blog, I did a Book vs. Movie post about this one and I had a lot of nitpicks. In spite of them, I called it ‘serviceable.’ It’s not a perfect movie by any means but as I said over there, “there’s something extremely satisfying about a horror movie that plays to the tropes or even the cliches of the genre because despite the predictability of those kinds of scares, there’s a timelessness about them that can make them quite unnerving.” Which is my way of saying IT KIND OF SUCKS BUT IT’S SCARY TO LOOK AT. And sometimes that is all you need.
More lists! Joey Comeau has posted a list of his favourite horror movies that don’t have sexual violence in them, which you should check out. You should also check out Will’s Halloween Countdown! And here is AFI’s 100 Most Thrilling American Films for good measure.
AND TO FURTHER EXTEND YOUR HALLOWEEN…
2) MarbleHornets is one of the scariest webseries of ALL TIME and you can watch it from first entry to the latest on YouTube. Once you meet Slender Man, you will never be the same. Speaking of Slender Man, you can download Slender: The Eight Pages game for free. I have watched many videos of people playing this but have not YET been brave enough to try it myself.
3) Here are three of my all-time favourite horror movies that you can watch free online because they are in the public domain: City of the Dead/Horror Hotel, House On Haunted Hill, and (of course) Night of the Living Dead.
And don’t forget my giveaway for this masterpiece!
Here are the rules, one more time:
Comment on this post recommending ONE horror/Halloween movie that you loved by October 18th. On October 19th I will draw the winner and have the movie shipped out to ASAP! This giveaway is open to CAN/US residents only but if you live overseas and have a US/CAN address I can ship it to, you can totally enter. Once again, apologies to readers based overseas but if you still want to suggest a horror movie, please do! I’m in this for the recs!