It’s that time of the year Autumn is amongst us and Halloween is around the corner. For, those that are old enough to not have to knock on doors for sweets, movies are a great way to spend your Halloween. I have always enjoyed the horror genre and it has become a tradition to watch horror during Halloween. In this blog I would recommend my top 5 movies and I hope they strike your fancy and make your Halloween that much more memorable. I will limit the list to one movie per director.
In making my recommendations I will avoid giving any story details with the possible exception of character names. I would like to solely base my recommendation on my own experience watching the movies and spark interest through descriptive writing.
5) Babadook (2014) dir; Jennifer Kent
The Babadook despite its low key release is in my opinion the most horrific movie released in recent years. In her directorial debut Jennifer Kent creates an atmospheric unsettling psychological thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat until the credit roll. A rather psychological study on the thin line between sanity and insanity as a result of grievance and parental responsibility. The movie portrays this decent in the most natural yet powerful way possible. Essie Davis as Amelia is fantastic her performance is nothing but stellar.
The avoidance of violence and gore is perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the movie. There is no doubt that movies of the 70s have had a major influence on Kent here. One in particular being The Shining. Where portrayal of the decent into madness through the power of long isolation was beautifully portrayed by using atmosphere as the main cause of effect. It would be safe to argue that Jennifer Kent simply has substituted isolation with grievance as the main cause of psychological disturbance, but that is not to say that the movie itself is not original or simply a recreation of The Shining.
The Babadook is intense, generic jump scares are ditched for skilfully creating fear and maintaining that fear and gradually increasing its effectiveness as the movie progresses. The best way to describe the movie would be to compare it to a roller coaster. You get on the cart. The cart slowly starts to elevate at this point your heart is racing due to adrenaline and fear. Once the cart has reached the top it stops for a second to allow you to catch your breath and boom. The decent its intense so you scream or shout in excitement and fear. Until you reach the stop. In this case the stop being the end credits.
Therefore, if you want to make your Halloween shit scary this would be my pick. Its unsettling, yet visually beautiful and extremely powerful in its message.
4) The House of the Devil (2009) dir; Ti West
THOTD is a love letter to the horror movies of the 70s everything from its pace to the moody atmosphere. The movie itself was shot using 16mm film therefore encapsulating the grainy, stylish movies of that era. For those familiar with 1970s horror you would also know that atmosphere and tension was everything that made the movies great. Having said that the movies were also very slow and to enjoy the viewing one had to remain very patient.
As with all things inhabiting this world change is something we all experience whether it is through aging or life changing experiences it’s all a part of life. The same can be said for the horror genre. In the 70`s the genre demanded its audience’s attention consequently the movies were more story driven; character development, and the effects of the tragedies they faced was the driving force in the movies. In recent years however the genre has shifted from this style of movie making and introduced violence and gore as the selling point in the genre. Therefore, watching this movie was a very stimulating experience and a break away from modern horror movies. As a fan of 70s horror it’s hard not to feel nostalgic whilst watching THOTD. There is nothing ground breaking here however, Ti West replicates the work of the great masters from the past and somehow manages to make it his own.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the soundtrack and the movie sound work. It helped create a very unsettling and tensioned filled movie experience.
Why you should watch it?
You are a fan of 70s horror. The movie is very slow but like a Beethoven piece it concludes with an abrupt and loud manner. In other words, you have to remain patient. Attention to creating an atmospheric and moody film is certainly captured successfully. The acting is stellar. It is probably Ti West’s best movie. A great movie for Halloween with some friends.
3) Suspiria (1977) dir; Dario Argento
Not many would know about this movie and I am sure not many would know who Dario Argento is but for those of us who love horror he is perhaps the most revered if not the most influential slasher movie director of all time. The Italian native has numerous masterpieces on his resume however none have been more effective and powerful as Suspiria. Watching a Dario Argento movie is like being in a dream or perhaps experiencing a hallucination. The vivid use of colours and brilliantly composed soundtracks make his movies stand out from the conventional slasher films. They are more than that they are a work of art. His unique style of movie making has separated him from all other horror directors and put him in the genre coined as Giallo who Mario Bava another Italian native had helped bring the genre to public attention. Mario Bava perhaps being Dario Argentos biggest if not the sole influence on his work.
What makes him unique was the methods he adopted using the camera. He would often use point of view from the killer’s perspective before a gruesome kill. Therefore, making the audience think they were somehow involved in the act. This has made his movies feel more personal and slightly more unsettling. Such a technique evokes two types of emotional reactions the sadistic celebrating the death of the victim or the second most likely reaction being the feeling of disgust and a sense of guilt.
Unsurprisingly, the director has been very controversial often criticized for using women as the victim of brutal murders and for extreme use of violence that certainly shock the viewer. However, his influence can be seen in almost every single horror movie released today. Whether this be the adoption of POV camera technique or vivid use of colour his influence is evident.
In my opinion Suspiria is perhaps the one movie that describes Dario Argento the best. Not only is it a great introduction to his work, but also a dreamy movie experience. Visually stunning accompanied by powerful movie soundtrack make this his best movie.
Why you should watch it?
If you like art house movies this is perhaps the artiest horror movie out there. It`s almost like watching a painting on a canvas tell you a story. The use of red and blue to illustrate danger and loneliness is achieved beautifully. A great story accompanied by memorable soundtrack make this the overall horror movie experience. Perfect for Halloween.
2) The Exorcist (1973) dir; William Friedkin
When I was 8 years old I was at my cousin’s house and at night he decided to watch a horror movie. However, this wasn`t just any horror movie this particular movie just happened to be the Exorcist. I sat along and watched with him what I saw terrified me. I was so terrified sleep had become a thing of the past for at least a week and the thought of making night bathroom visits on my own was out of the question. The movie had scarred me. It is perhaps for this reason to this day it has become the one horror movie I cannot fully watch. Even though I have become immune to the effect of Horror movies.
That basically sums up my experience. The movie deals with the struggle of good vs bad and general morality and faith. Despite numerous sequels and prequels, the impact of the first movie cannot be replicated. Atmospheric, moody and claustrophobic are just some of the ways to describe the film. The iconic soundtrack and the corruption of a sweet young girl by the supernatural makes this movie extremely disturbing. Despite the year of release the movie holds well.
Why you should watch it?
Considered widely to be one of the greatest horror movies ever made and perhaps one of the most unsettling movie experiences. The movie will make you question faith and maybe seek answers about the possibility of life after death and the existence of a higher power. If you want your Halloween to be truly memorable then look no further. You would never look at a crucifix the same way ever again.
1) Halloween (1978) dir; John Carpenter
The granddaddy of all Slasher films and the one movie that introduced the genre to mainstream media. John Carpenters Halloween was revolutionary it changed horror forever. Due to budget issues and time restraints the movie was made in less than a month with a budget of only $325,000. The movie also set the blueprint on how to make a slasher on budget. Through the use of effective lightning and slow POV camera shots, as well as John Carpenter being the editor, composer, producer and director of the project less people had to be hired to make the movie possible. It went on to make $70 million dollars at box office.
The film went on to become a franchise, Michael Myers became an iconic character in the world of horror and beyond. Jamie Lee Curtis made her acting debut in this movie and she did a perfect job. The movie was initially released to mix reviews some calling it nothing but a violent pointless piece of cinema. Whilst some saw the potential and considered it something special waiting to be appreciated.
Despite the movies legacy Halloween really is a great movie. The portrayal of Michael Myers this devilish invincible entity adds to the terror. Is amazing how the movie manages to briefly give some backdrop to Mikes past despite the time restraint. Nonetheless the movie touches on subjects such as abuse, obsession, mental illness and the dilemmas faced by adolescents. There are moments of real horror in this movie. The closet scene is maybe the most terrifying scene in the whole movie or the slight reveal of Mikes face before it dissolves into darkness. Guarantees to send chills down your spine.
Why you should watch it?
It is a terrifying yet fun movie to watch. It would be the perfect Halloween movie. How ironic. Grab the popcorn, grab the drinks, call some friends over and enjoy.
That`s all folks
Hope you enjoyed the movies mentioned on this list let me know your thoughts and do comment on the movies you would recommend. Peace out.