With October just around the corner, I’ve been getting into the Halloween spirit by thinking about my favorite horror films. It’s like playing ‘desert island movies’ by yourself. I’d love to hear about your favorites so feel free to post a comment and don’t forget about All Hallow’s Read.
5. The Changeling (1980)
Nope, this isn’t the Clint Eastwood directed movie starring Angelina Jolie. This is the 1980 horror film starring George C. Scott.
After John Russell (George C. Scott) loses his wife and daughter in an automobile accident he moves to a secluded mansion just outside Seattle. This is where the fun begins. The house is inhabited by the spirit of a child who was mysteriously murdered at the turn of the century. He becomes obsessed with solving the case, finding the killer, and…you’ll just have to see…
It features shots of the greater Seattle area and one especially creepy scene at a grave in Lake View Cemetery. I nearly jumped out of my seat when I saw the headstone.
4. The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Alongside Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone is one of Director Guillermo del Torro’s best films. In both stories, the audience views a war-torn country, amidst political upheaval, through the eyes of a young child. It gives the audience the opportunity to see the world with wonderment and curiosity and the room to believe the fantastical.
The Devil’s Backbone is a ghost story that is as spooky as it is heartfelt. At every moment, you’re worried for the safety and well-being of these characters and invested in their personal struggles. You can only hope that they survive and that they make the right choices along the way.
3. Jaws (1975)
The moments between the shark attacks are the scariest. Don’t get me wrong, the shark is pretty scary, but it’s the human elements that are absolutely chilling. Shaw’s tale of surviving the disaster that befell the Indianapolis during WWII, viewing the remains of a shark victim in the morgue, or the crazy desperation of the town’s Mayor to keep the beaches open at any cost.
2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shaun of the Dead is a near perfect blend of horror and comedy. For the horror aficionado there are references to classics (“We’re coming to get you, Barbara!”) and inside jokes (“You’ve got red on you.”) that require repeat viewings. It’s a pure joy to watch Simon Pegg and Nick Frost work together and Edgar Wright’s work behind the camera is stunning (the opening sequence in particular). Plus, the soundtrack is killer.
1. The Shining (1980)
I was 12 when I first saw The Shining. I was channel surfing Saturday morning TV and I stumbled across a censored version of the film on TBS. I sat there, curled up in a blanket, shaking, unable to stop watching, but desperately wanting it to end. It’s been the same way ever since.
The imagery of The Shining is the most disturbing element. I mean, who are those guys in the bunny masks? What’s with that nude old lady losing her skin in the bathtub? The blood that’s pouring out of the elevator, what’s that all about?
Every scene with Grady the bartender is a gem. They’re funny, unsettling, and you find yourself sympathizing with Jack’s confusion and befuddlement much to your own chagrin.
[Honorable Mention] The Orphanage (2007)
The Orphanage is beautifully filmed. The scenery, sets, and cinematography are luscious. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but it kept me guessing the entire time and it was one of the few recent film experiences where I had no clue to what was going to happen next.