This might be the least spooky Halloween movie season in some time, with “Carrie” leading October’s “terrifying” contributions (I use quotes here to signify my skepticism of the actual terror). Too bad the third remake of Stephen King’s prom-gone-wrong novel, “Carrie”, can’t even muster up an eerie tone to make a Miley-lovin‘ tween think twice about bullying.
Chloë Grace Moretz (Hit-Girl in “Kick-Ass” and vampire Abby in “Let Me In”) adequately depicts the socially awkward senior ready to exact some telekinetic revenge on her peers at the biggest dance of the year. Who hasn’t wanted to do that? Alas, corny effects, minimal disturbing imagery and poor pacing can’t save this one from those dusty shelves in vanishing Blockbuster stores. The only real horror is Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother, Margaret, but it’s difficult to tell if the horror here is her performance or the insult to her career.
While the box office doesn’t offer much in the way of spine-chills and slashes at the moment, there’s no reason to just sit at home … unless you want to bask in the comfort of that home with some of horror’s best. Whether you’re feeling a classic or an exceptional sleeper hit, ‘tis the season to be on the edge of your seat. So hunt down a Blockbuster, update your queue or check what’s streaming for these 15 recommendations.
15. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984): Freud would have a field day with a monster who works best in your dreams (I mean nightmares) donning a pre-hipster top hat and a brutal right hand that Edward Scissorhands would envy … more coffee please.
14. “High Tension” (2003): Before director Alexandra Aja repulsed so many audiences with “The Hills Have Eyes” remake, he re-imagined the straight razor’s disturbing potential in this disturbing French slasher. Prepare for a twisted story and an unexpected plot twist.
13. “[REC]” (2007): Before “Quarantine” (2008) premiered, its Spanish inspiration transported zombies into the found-footage realm. But “[REC]’s” disjointed point of view filming and abrupt cuts aren’t as biting as the origin of the outbreak.
12. “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” (2005): If you want something with a little more heart and soul, “Emily Rose” is a stellar, based-on-a-true-story depiction of a Catholic church-sanctioned exorcism gone awry. You’ll be left wondering if demons really do exist.
11. “Nosferatu” (1922): The German silent film depicting king of the night, Count Orlok, might be the most shameless copyright infringement of the “Dracula” story, but Max Schreck’s undead performance remains just as haunting as the lower levels of the Queen Mary during a full moon.
10. “The Cabin in the Woods” (2012): It’s hard not to love such a self aware film that toys with every horror convention in the most comedic of ways. Smart, occasionally gruesome and ludicrously clever, your stomach will hurt from laughter, not nausea.
9. “The Descent” (2005): They might appear undead, but these the crawlers in “The Descent” will make you question the line between human and monsters. If spelunking isn’t your thing, then avoid this U.K. monster film; the tight spaces can make the strongest of viewers claustrophobic. When the monsters arrive at last, halfway through the film, it’s almost a welcome relief.
8. “The Orphanage” (2007): Acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro doesn’t always produce the best horror films, but this Spanish-language ghost story knows how to make you jolt without relying on excessive special effects. It’s all about what you don’t see, but when those dead orphans finally appear, it’s about what you can’t look away from.
7. “Drag Me To Hell” (2009): If decapitation and loosened limbs is not your thing, perhaps a gypsy curse is. Few films offer as much scary, grotesque and campy fun. Trust me, it’s OK to laugh and scream within seconds of each other. How else should you respond to a demon’s invisible hand slapping everyone in a room?
6. “The Exorcist” (1973): Linda Blair in her career-defining role as demon-possessed Regan MacNeil –– enough said.
5. “Let the Right One In” (2008): Perhaps the most beautifully filmed vampire movie ever, this Swedish adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 novel reveals the seductive power of immortal creatures, and some stellar child acting as well.
4. “The Evil Dead Trilogy” (1981, 1987, 1992): When director Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” turned out to be more funny than brutal, he embraced hilarity in “Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn”. How else could he justify a decapitated hand giving its previous owner the bird? Then “Army of Darkness” hammed up the entire franchise, producing some of the best one-liners the big screen can offer. When Ash (Bruce Campbell) holds his damsel and states, “Gimme some sugar, baby,” while defending Lord Arthur against the Deadites, it’s hard not to join the cinematic insanity.
3. “The Thing” (1982)/“Alien” (1979): Horror sci-fi flicks prove that our galactic endeavors just might end in catastrophe for humankind, whether in the form of the most gruesome claymation monsters ever (“The Thing”) or the awful realization that “in space no on can hear you scream,” as Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) learned the hard way (“Alien”).
2. “The Birds” (1963): When natures calls, just get out of the way or you might need some eye transplants (and that’ll just land you in another horror franchise if you end up with the eyes of a murderer) similar to one unfortunate victim of a fowl attack. “Psycho” gets all the love — often rightfully so — but Alfred Hitchcock’s wildlife exploration basks in an ambiguity not easily found in his other films.
1. “28 Days Later” (2002): Psychedelic director Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting” and “Slumdog Millionaire”) changed the zombie game. Before Jim (Cillian Murphy) awoke 28 days after the rage virus infected England, zombies staggered towards their human meals in George Romero’s zombie canon. For the first time these creatures — “The Infected” as they’re called — ran, and they did so with the rage of a Dodger’s fan after last Friday evening.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.