Movies to Get You Ready for Any Scare-A-Thon
by Marcus Luera
I love Halloween and horror films so I thought I’d put together a list of my recommendations to make any Halloween movie night a fun and scary experience.
The classic: Frankenstein
Frankenstein is a wonderful black and white classic Universal film about a scientist who plays god with horrible results. If you have not seen this movie, that’s a shame, because it still holds up today. Note: The creature doesn’t have a name, but people often think the monster, not its creator, is Frankenstein.
The Slasher: Halloween
This is a simple and beautiful film that gets a bonus for having the holiday in the title. I consider it a masterpiece. The story is very basic; an escaped mental patient stalks and kills babysitters on Halloween night. It is the template for a lot of what followed it in the ‘80s.
The Savage Cinema: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The story of why you should never pick up hitch hikers. A group of friends are traveling and they meet a family of cannibals. The stuff of nightmares ensues. The funny thing about this movie is that it is not the gore fest everyone thinks it is. While there are gory elements, it is in fact very light on blood. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Texas, but for me, this is the scariest movie ever made.
The Sci-fi: The Thing
The Thing is a remake and given a tone by John Carpenter that fit the ‘80s like a glove. Scientists are in the Antarctic where they discover an alien. The alien can shape shift, so you never know who the alien is and who isn’t. “Who do you trust?” is its main question.
The Franchise: Friday the 13th
There are ten movies, one crossover, one documentary, and a re-make that make this a very distinguished franchise. A group of people arrive at Crystal Lake, engage in vice and are bumped off one by one. It has a very simple formula, and for better or worse, many movies have copied it. This is perhaps one of the most fun horror movies out there.
The Sequel: A Nightmare on Elm Street: Part Three – The Dream Warriors
The dreaded sequel. The horror genre is plagued by bad sequels, but this not one of them. Nightmare 3 comes closest to giving us the same trill of the original. Freddy is back to finish off the last of the Elm street kids, but they are aided in their fight by Nancy, the lone survivor of the first Nightmare film. It also beat the threequel curse.
The Remake: I Spit on Your Grave
This is the story of a woman who seeks solitude to finish writing and is attacked by a gang of locals. She then seeks revenge on them. This remake honors the original (it’s just as difficult to watch) and does what a good remake should do—make improvements where needed and tell a good story.
The Psychological: Spiral
This is all about a lonely man who may be hiding a deadly secret. Are there better known movies? Yes, but Spiral is a favorite of mine with good performances and a good story.
The Torture: Hostel
A group of Americans unwittingly become part of a sadistic game of torture and murder. Not a huge fan of this subgenre, but Hostel has its moments and good points. If you want a real gore fest, then this is the movie for you.
Honorable Mention: Scream
When a killer begins a murder spree using the lessons of the horror movies they watched, Scream became the new template in the ‘90s. It took all the lessons from what came before and used them to great benefit. Also, very rare as well, it maintained its three leads for four movies.
In addition to the list above, there are also two documentaries I recommend: Going to Pieces and Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue. Both give us good looks at not only the movies and filmmakers, but the metaphors behind them. All that’s left to say is Happy Halloween!