alloween may be seen as a day for younger generations, but regardless of your age, there’s one thing we can all enjoy on this holiday; taking in some great horror movies. We all have those films that we grew up with that still gives us nightmares to this day. Sometimes we revisit those movies and find that the scares just don’t hold up as well as we remember. Yet there are some that pass the test of time and become classics. likewise, this generations has it’s fair share of horror gems that may remind you of the Halloween favourites of your youth.
So with two weeks to go before Halloween, enjoy some old and new in the horror genre.
Then: The Exorcist (1973)
Directed by William Friedkin
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
This was a film that terrified an entire generation and birthed some of the most iconic images in cinema history. The story of a mother whose young daughter is possessed by a demonic spirit and the two priests who seek to help rid her of the evil. Even today, this movie is shocking. On a rewatch, you might be surprised at what the filmmakers her able to get away with. The ultimate “evil child” movie will have covering your eyes but unable to stop watching the powerful story in front of you.
Now: The Babadook (2014)
Directed by Jennifer Kent
Starring Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
A common complaint of modern horror movies is that they rely on the cheap “jump scares”. Therefore, when a film comes along that gets its scares only from the atmosphere of unease, it is a breath of fresh air. Such is the case with this film, an Australian horror indie with no stars to speak of but one of the more memorable movie monsters in recent years. It deals with a mother simultaneously recent grief and her troubled son who begins to fear a mysterious creature from child’s book has come to life to torment her. It’s a supremely creepy film but once its over, you realize there is a much deeper message than to provide a few scares.
Then: The Thing (1982)
Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
Here is a rare example of a horror remake that surpasses the original in every way. Based on the cheesy 1950s invasion film, The Thing from Another World, this version deals with a secluded Alaskan research facility that is stalked by an otherworldly creature that can copy and imitate anything it touches. It’s a paranoid and gory alien thriller that will have you suspecting everyone right down to the closing credits.
Now: It Follows (2014)
Directed by David Robert Mitchell
Starring Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi
Keeping with the paranoid feel, It Follows will leave you unsettled long after you’ve seen it. It concerns a young woman who is the unwilling recipient of a curse in which she is relentlessly stalked by a deadly force. What’s so disturbing about the film is that the evil presence in the film has the ability to look like a a normal perform and stalks its victim simply by walking towards them. In many scenes you’ll see people in the background walking towards the main character, unaware if of potential danger.
Then: Jaws (1975)
Directed Steven Spielberg
Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
The film that kicked off the summer blockbuster trend as well as make you second guess going swimming in the ocean. When a summer beach town is terrorized by a great white shark, the local sheriff teams with a marine biologist and a salty sea captain to track down the beast. You may think that the mechanical shark used in the film looks unconvincing all these years later, but the way it is concealed to show as little as possible is still an effective method of creating an unsettling mystery below the water’s surface.
Now: The Mist (2007)
Directed by Frank Darabont
Starring Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden
Stephen King has been responsible for a lot of legendary horror stories and this is another one to add to the list. The monster tale follows a group of people who are forced to take refuge in a supermarket after a heavy mist descends on their town containing some otherworldly characters. The movie takes a similar method as Jaws in that the monsters are largely kept unseen, but they aren’t the only dangers. The film examines how society falls apart and people turn on each other when faced with a terrifying situation.
Then: The Shining (1980)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
Another Stephen King adaptation and perhaps the most famous movie to come from one of his works. It’s a claustrophobic, small scale horror tale of a family who move to a isolated hotel to act as caretakers for the off-season. However, things take a bad turn when the evil spirits on the grounds begin influencing the father towards violence. Jack Nicholson is very memorable as the unhinged man slowly going mad. The whole atmosphere of the film is one of creepy foreboding and there will be moments that are hard to shake from your memory.
Now: Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Directed by Drew Goddard
Starring Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison
The cabin in the woods template is one that has been used in horror films for many years. A group of young people take a getaway to a remote location and fine themselves besieged by some evil force. This is the movie that forever destroys that genre. Without spoiling anything about the inspired reveals, this movie takes a very unique approach with plenty of humour. It all concludes with one of the most insane and shocking final acts in any horror movie ever.
Then: Alien (1979)
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
The film that started a franchise, this is the tale of a small crew of a space vessel who investigate a mysterious beacon in space only to unknowingly bring a vicious alien creature on board their ship. The simple setting of a small ship with lots of dark spaces makes for an eerie, inescapable place where this iconic monster slowly hunts the crew down one by one. While the creature design is undeniable, it also introduced audiences to Ellen Ripley, the rare female hero of a film like this.
Now: The Descent (2005)
Directed by Neil Marshall
Starring Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid
While this film stands on it’s own two feet just fine, it certainly does owe a lot to Alien. Another dark and confined thriller that has a number of strong female characters anchoring the horror elements. It follows a dysfunctional group of friends who go on a weekend trip exploring caves, but end up awakening the terrifying creatures dwelling in the caves’ depths.
Then: Halloween (1978)
Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran
Yes, of course this film would make the list, how could it not? One of the earliest teen slasher films and still one of the greatest. It’s the story of a deranged man named Michael Myers, who after escaping from an asylum, returns to his childhood neighbourhood to wreck havoc. Myers has now become a horror icon, and Jamie Lee Curtis still holds the mantel of Scream Queen. It’s a great old-fashion scary movie that still can go toe-to-toe with today’s offerings.
Now: You’re Next (2011)
Directed by Adam Wingard
Starring Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen
This film follows the same genre set-up that Halloween inspired so many years ago. The tried-and-true home invasion thriller where the innocents are terrorized by masked killers. However this film works hard to turn those conventions on their head. The home-dwellers may not all be as innocent as they seem and the so-called damsel in distress has a few secret of her own that might make the killers wish they had picked a different house.
Then: Carrie (1976)
Directed by Brian De Palma
Starring Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving
Just as Jaws made you nervous to go swimming, Carrie made you wish you were always nice to that quiet girl in school. The film tells the tale of a shy, lonely high schooler whose constantly watched over by her overbearing mother and tormented by bullies. When her abuse reaches a breaking point it unearths a terrifying power within her. It’s an interesting concept to have the source of so much horror also be a sympathetic character. Also it brings us one of the most memorable and disturbing prom scenes in history.
Now: Let The Right One In (2008)
Directed by Tomas Alfredson
Starring Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar
Another tale of a bullied child and a young girl with an unexpected deadly secret. This is a dark and moody Swedish film but it’s well worth the subtitles. It follows a young outcast who finds a kindred spirit in a peculiar young girl who is in fact an ancient vampire. This came at a time when the vampire genre was tired and reinvigorated it. While there is a fair share of vampire films since then, this stands as the best in modern cinema.