So Halloween is nearly here. The pumpkins are carved, the apples are candied, and the plastic bats are flying high. It’s time to ask ourselves once and for all, what’s all this fright mare crap really about. Let’s face it, when was the last time we were really scared. Honestly that’s what horror fans want. We watch all the paranormal ghost hunting reality shows and book are hometown haunted house tours. We pay highschoolers holiday wages to roam the local amusement parks and jump out of the dark hopefully scaring more than just the admission prices out of us. Sadly the fear is few and far between. Finally we reach for our last hope, the movies. Here are ten films, in no particular order, that never fail to deliver the shivering unease that we crave.
10. Deathdream (1972) – Director Bob Clark takes the classic tale of “The Monkey’s Paw” and combines it with the seventies horror that was Vietnam. Christine Brooks (Lynn Carlin) prays for her son Andy (Richard Backus) to return alive from the war, and she gets more than what she hoped for. The atmosphere is thick with tension as Andy falls deeper into a kind of unwholesome malaise that leaves a trail of death in its wake.
9. The Blair Witch Project (1999) – The one that started the found footage craze in American horror, this story of college students on the hunt for a legendary witch in the woods of Burkittsville, Maryland is a love it or hate it proposition. As aggravating as it is unsettling, this independent phenomenon does delivery the scares. Its final found house in the forest chaos delivers a creepiness that will keep you thinking of it for days.
8. Silent Hill (2006) – This film adaptation of a horror video game is anxiety producing from beginning to end. Rose and Christopher Da Silva (Radha Mitchell and Sean Bean) are worried about their adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland) and set out on a journey that leads them to some very frightening realities. The town of Silent Hill is an abandoned shell of decay and deceit that houses the sad and cruel answers to all their questions. Both frightening and unsavory this film will call you to repeat viewings.
7. It: The Terror from Beyond Space (1958) – This film is just plain scary. It may be because of the claustrophobic nature of the space ship or the hugely menacing monster trapped on board, but for whatever it is it works at bringing a chill to the bones. Some have said that 1979’s ‘Alien’ drew somewhat from this black and white classic about space travel, uncharted planets, and frightening extraterrestrial terror.
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – Robert England is Freddy Krueger, and in this original dreamland fright he is nothing but malevolence. A child killer left to forever roam our dreams is fear incarnate. Don’t let all the black comic hokum of the nightmare sequels fool you this is horror at its baser best.
5. Session 9 (2001) – An abandoned state hospital is the site of this atmospheric gem. A group of asbestos removal specialists are hired to clean up this mysterious site. Each of the crew has problems and as the job goes on an ugly influence begins to take its toll. This is a very eerie film that will stay with you long after its final frame. Peter Mullan and David Caruso are wonderful as troubled on edge characters easily influenced by the evil that dwells the wards of Danvers.
4. REC (2007) - Spanish film directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza created a claustrophobic joyride complete with repulsive gore, sacrilegious implications, and anxiety producing havoc. 'REC' and its sequel 'Rec 2' raised the bar for all filmmakers in the terror genre. Foresee a night with the lights on after you experience this classic.
3. The Conjuring (2013) – If paranormal evil exists on this planet Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) know where to find it and kick its ass. This based on a true story tale is edge of your seat scares from start to finish. You will see the grotesque sights from this Harrisville, Rhode Island haunted house for dark hallway laced years to come.
2. Sinister (2012) – There is just something vile about super 8 footage. Perhaps it’s the age of the film itself or the sound of the spinning overheated projector. Maybe its ones imagination run wild in hopeful glee of something wicked to come. Well in the case of ‘Sinister’ we get our wish. This story of a writer and his family, the new house they move into and the box of found footage that plagues them is pure horror genius.
1. The Exorcist (1973) - When you think of the genre of dread you think of ‘The Exorcist’. William Peter Blatty wrote the book and William Friedkin delivered the celluloid love. People actually ran shrieking from the theater when this terror tale hit the big picture show. This saga of a priest (Max von Sydow), an actress (Ellen Burstyn), her daughter (Linda Blair), and the man (Jason Miller) who saved them all from the devils damnation is scary movie history. If you love the category of fright please see this film.
So there you have it, a selection of beauties to try on for repugnant size. The season is upon us, that witchy time we all long for. So why not cuddle up with a few of these frightful films, and satisfy the nightmarish needs in us all.