Halloween is my favorite non-paid holiday. Fall is in the air, the heat of the summer is (usually) behind us, and even basic cable starts showing decent movies. I’m a big horror movie fan. From Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Nightmare on Elm Street, there isn’t much I can’t enjoy…and at the end of October every year, I try to squeeze in all my favorites.
On the agenda for this week, in no particular order, are what I view to be the best horror movies of all time.
1. High Tension (or Haute Tension)
If you like slashers, this is one of the best out there.
Girl goes home with a friend for the weekend to study. When night falls this big, freaky dude breaks into the isolated family home and all hell breaks loose. From Mom and Dad to the freaking dog, no one is safe. Girl hides as the body count rises and her friend is kidnapped. Alone, Girl goes after dude to rescue her friend.
Okay, my plot summary sucks, but this movie was awesome. The title is entirely appropriate. I didn’t realize until the credits rolled that every muscle in my body had been tensed for 90 minutes.
2. Halloween: H20
I know the vast majority of people prefer the original, but this update is my favorite and no Halloween season is complete without at least one session with Michael Myers. This installment had a sharp, modern feel and plenty of cringe-worthy moments.
Blood and gore are always fun, but it was this quiet, subtle movie that renewed my fear of the dark.
I cannot put into words how exceptional this movie was. It’s the kind of flick you think about long after its over, late into the night. The mood was dark, the characters unsettlingly real. In the remote countryside, where shadows lurk around every corner, and voices whisper in the dark, a buried past fights to repeat itself. I actually–literally–gasped at the conclusion. Great direction, great acting, great movie.
4. When A Stranger Calls
Yeah, I watched the remake. I’m not recommending it.
Carol Kane starred in the 1979 original of my first ever horror movie. I’m sure you know the plot–girl is babysitting and some creep starts calling the house. It sounds simple, and it was. Sometimes the scariest things are what you don’t see. This classic still comes back to me at odd moments, reminding me of how unsettling it can be when you’re young, alone, and a floorboard creaks in another room.
No summary I could write would do justice to this film. From the slow build of paranormal happenings to the all out struggle to retrieve what’s taken, this movie rocked. Though the effects are dated, every performance was solid. I watched this just last year and still couldn’t find fault with Poltergeist.
Expectation is everything. The first time I watched this, I wasn’t expecting much. The film begins with Drew Barrymore getting a crank call. Maybe I’m easy, but that’s all it took to suck me in. Though this certainly wasn’t the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, it was the first in a new generation of horror with an appeal all its own.
7. The Shining
I read somewhere that Stephen King hated this movie. If you’re comparing it to the book, you might have a problem. Judged purely on its own merits, The Shining had it all: awesome soundtrack, creepy kids, an empty hotel, and some truly bizarre ghosts.
For now, that’s it. If I’ve left something out, or you have a recommendation for me, feel free to let me know.