I have been a huge fan of horror movies since I was a kid. For a while, one of the three TV stations we could actually get would run a horror movie late Friday nights, or in the wee hours of Saturday mornings. My mother would set the video player to RECORD, and I would rise the next morning, eager to see what we had captured on VHS tape. While none of those movies have made this list (memorable titles include Children of the Corn II, Leprechaun, and a crazy-ass ‘80s film about an old house and a witch, in which somebody’s head exploded in a microwave, causing my mother to promptly hit EJECT on the machine. Many years later I finally hunted a copy down, after finding out it was called Superstition) those Saturday mornings are still some of my fondest.
Weekend trips to the video store were also a treasure chest of horror (although a very dingy, stuffy one). The collage of VHS covers displayed upon the wooden shelves is still etched into my memory.
But enough with my reminiscing on bygone days, and on with the show, as they say. So grab some candy and a big old bucket of popcorn, and enjoy some of my favorite horror movies (in no particular order).
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Man, this film is great. And embodies all that is so wonderful about this dark and delicious season. Four interwoven stories all take place on All Hallows Eve, and revolve around an adorable, but nevertheless, very deadly, character aptly named Sam (short for Samhain). Trick ‘r Treat has a feel very similar to Tales from the Crypt. It’s a real pity more modern-age horror movies aren’t like this one.
The Orphanage (2007)
The Orphanage is a chillingly beautiful Spanish film. A mother moves back into the old orphanage that she grew up in, with her husband and son. She has plans of turning the historical building into a home for disabled children. Not soon after, her son disappears. A classic ghost story, executed with subtlety and finesse.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
The movie version of the famed novel by Irishman Bram Stoker, definitely does the classic tale justice. Directed by the revered Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), Bram Stoker’s Dracula contains some of the most poignant scenes in modern cinema.
I am a total sucker for 80’s horror, and especially 80’s horror with childhood flashbacks. And even though this miniseries came out in 1990, its (excuse the pun) style is still staple of that particular era in horror movies. Small town kids, now all grown up and scattered to the four winds, return to the old town to finally put an end to a malevolent entity. One time an ex-girlfriend and her friend were over and watching this movie with me, and I snuck out and slipped a plastic clown mask on, and upon surreptitiously returning, proceeded to tap the friend on the shoulder (who was, inappropriately enough – or, is that appropriately enough, scared of clowns). She freaked the hell out. It was great. So is It.
The Wolfman (1941)
Lon Chaney, Jr. stars in this 1940’s black & white classic. Love, death, and the dual nature of man, mark this golden age Hollywood horror.
Let the Right One In (2008)
Another foreign film, and another absolute gem. Swedish Let the Right One In, is an understated and stark vampire movie. A bullied boy befriends a strange young girl who moves in next door. If you don’t dig subtitles, there’s nothing wrong with the American-British version (Let Me In), I just watched this one first, so it made the most impact. I still need to read the book.
Salem’s Lot (2004)
This 2004 miniseries is a hell of a lot of fun. A writer returns to his hometown after a considerable absence, to find it infested with vampires. Again, there is nothing wrong with the 1979 version. I obviously have a thing for vampire movies.
Ginger Snaps (2000)
A brilliant little Canadian horror. A pair of teenage sisters, obsessed with all things morbid, get a taste of it that is a little harder to swallow, when one of them starts turning into a werewolf. The sequel is also great. The prequel isn’t.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
One of the best horror movies ever made, Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (based on the novel of the same name by Ira Levin, who also wrote The Stepford Wives) is a chilling story of a newly-wed woman’s pregnancy. The consummate psychological horror.
The Craft (1996)
I first saw this movie as a kid, and fell in love with it. A teenage girl starts a new high school in Los Angeles, and falls in with three outcasts that dabble in black magic. A complete natural, it’s not long before she finds herself the fourth member of their coven. Obviously, with newfound power, come newfound consequences. The Craft is sexy, cool as hell, and genuinely scary at times. Teenage witches with a little more bang than old Sabrina (though I did have somewhat of a crush on Melissa Joan Hart).