The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. This week’s theme: your go to movies for Halloween. For me this means we get to discuss one of my favorite genres: horror. Now most horror movies do not scare me at all. I love B-movie horror schlock like Friday the 13th (though I will never understand how Jason drowned as a little boy but came back as a hulking menace) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These days horror movies are so involved with gore that they forget about having a decent plot or any real scare factors. But there are some movies out there that genuinely give the creep factor. Here are some of my favorites. Most of them may be movies you have not seen as they are not your typical flicks, but if you are looking for a fun evening, I would suggest all of these. I know I do when it comes to the Halloween-y times. What are your favorites?
THE STRANGERS (2008)
Plot : Inspired by true events, this heart pounding, nail-biting frightener mercilessly explores our most universal fears, where simply opening the door to a stranger leads to a grueling night of terror one could never imagine. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star in this relentless suspense thriller that will keep you up at night and make you never want to answer the door again!
Why It’s Good : “Because you were home.” It’s unsettling. It’s creepy and works because of how simple it is. There are no huge sets, creepy CGI effects or even haunting score (though there is one). Instead, it relies on rattling the viewer with a story that could happen. We don’t get a clever back story on the villains. They don’t need one. They are perfectly menacing just the way that they are. The sound design is amazing and a skipping record of folk country music has never been more creepy. In fact just thinking about the unease this film creates gives me the shivers, especially since I live in the middle of the country. And can never ever watch this at home by myself due to said reasons.
Plot : Jessica Harper stars as Suzy Banyon, a young American ballet dancer who arrives at a prestigious European dance academy run by the mysterious Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett of DARK SHADOWS) and Miss Tanner. But when a series of bizarre incidents and horrific crimes (including what Entertainment Weekly calls "the most vicious murder scene ever filmed") turn the school into a waking nightmare of the damned, Suzy must escape the academy's unspeakable secret of supernatural evil.
Why It’s Good : Thanks to my best friend Paul, I learned the joys of Dario Argento. This stylishly beautiful film has the creeps and scares you would expect in a horror film. It has one of the best opening scenes I have ever seen and the bizarre color palette, haunting music, and menacing atmosphere doesn’t stop until the very end. While the plot may be a little convoluted, it doesn’t matter. Any film where a man’s Seeing Eye dog attacks him is certainly worth watching, don’t you think? And Ugh maggots in your hair and hairbrush, it’s enough to make this girly girl cringe every time, but that is why I love it.
or at least I am assuming my seven year old self connected with. They were horses, but with horns and magic.
Plot : May never really fit in and growing up with a pirate's patch to cover her lazy eye did not make things easier. Even as an adult her best friend and sole companion is a doll given to her by her mother... until she sees Adam. In awe of his beauty especially his hands she pursues a relationship for the first time in her life. But she soon finds out that people are not 100% perfect... only certain parts of them are.
Why It’s Good : I love this film. May is a mousy, socially awkward girl whom you cannot help but love. Angela Bettis plays her with a fragile beauty and her attempts at romance and friendship are ones you can relate on some level to. She spends her evenings confiding in a doll her mother would never let her take out of its glass casing and wishing she had someone to call her own. When she finally feels comfortable enough to venture out and away from her isolation things don’t go the way she had planned. The film is part black humor horror film, part bizarre romance and part tragedy. It’s a great film (I even went as May one Halloween dressed as her Halloween costume) that most people overlooked. They shouldn’t have.
THE DEVILS BACKBONE (2001)
Plot : During the Spanish Civil War, young Carlos is abandoned at a completely isolated orphanage. The tensions therein have been building for years, exacerbated by the unexploded bomb resting menacingly in the courtyard. Bullies scheme, tempers flare, and a ghost that visits Carlos's bed seems to be the key to it all.
Why It’s Good : From the mind of Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy), whom I adore, comes a film that is more a drama with ghosts in it rather than just a straight horror film. It is stylish and well-paced with a great atmosphere that relies on as much foreboding as your typical horror film. In my opinion it has some of the best ‘ghost’ effects that I have seen with ‘The One Who Sighs’ from the minute little water bubbles to the blood in water effect. The orphanage holds more than the murdered boy and watching it all unfold is a delight. So worth checking out.
THE FRIGHTENERS (1996)
Plot : In the sleepy little town of Fairwater, a monstrous evil has awakened...an evil so powerful, its reach extends beyond the grave. For Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox), death is a great way to make a living: ridding haunted houses of their "unwelcome" guests." But he's in cahoots with the very ghosts he promises to evict! It's the perfect scam...until Frank finds himself at the center of a dark mystery. A diabolical spirit is on a murderous rampage, and the whole town.
Why It’s Good : Peter Jackson (yep of Dead Alive and Lord of the Rings fame) directed this little gem that is part black comedy, part horror and part thriller. The performances are great especially Jeffrey Combs’ demented little agent. I find it clever and a great little blend of elements. Plus it has few minor chills and I love Michael J Fox. He’ll always be my Alex P Keaton.
What are some of your go to scary films that you watch every Autumn or Halloween season?