I know it's not Halloween, but nothing beats a bloody good scare...
Night of the Living Dead
The original zombie movie (discounting anything with Dracula of course), Night of the Living Dead was a huge phenomenon when it came out and has spawned more sequels, remakes and copies than most films put together. It’s the story of the dead returning to life, and a group of people who have barricaded themselves in a house away from them. This is not just a horror film though; it poses some very serious questions on race – with an ending that will truly leave you stunned – even after all of these years.
I read the book that this film is based on and I must say, director Alex Garland has managed to translate the sense of dread and unease from the page directly onto the screen. It’s a major triumph – filming a book that many thought unfilmable and it’s one of my most favourite horror movies of all time. Unsettling, disturbing and weird as shit – this is everything you want a horror film to be (and more).
Much like the Blair Witch Project, this was made on a pittance and so the best thing about it is that you don’t actually see anything. There’s a consistent feeling of dread and terror here, and you’ll find yourself willing the characters to not go to sleep because you are shit scared about what’s going to happen. I’ve still never watched right to the end – I’ve always been too scared. Maybe I’ll do it tonight.
The recent remake of the early 90s TV movie, IT is the story of a bunch of kids being terrorized (and killed) by a clown, a clown who has managed to hypnotise all of the adults in the town so they don’t even know what’s going on. This remake has a few dodgy bits in it that shouldn’t ever have left the editing suite, and it’s way too long, but it’s mostly an effective and scary experience. And the kids are all really, really good.
Joe Wilson and I left work at 12pm on a Friday afternoon to go watch this in the cinema with the hope of being scared absolutely shitless. It worked. Kind of. Hereditary is an odd one – if you’re looking for a film to give you jump scares every couple of minutes – you’re out of luck. This film is a real slow burner with a few ‘WTF!?’ moments in there that will leave you rather disturbed indeed. Plus, Toni Colette is outstanding in it.
The Blair Witch Project
A cultural and marketing phenomenon back in 1999, The Blair Witch Project literally came out of nowhere to scare the socks off us all, and revitalised the ‘found footage’ genre. It was so effective because everyone thought that the footage was real, and because when you do actually watch it – they don’t reveal a thing – keeping everything ambiguous. This was obviously because they couldn’t afford to do much, but here – it’s very, very effective.
The Cabin in the Woods
Not the scariest horror film in here but it’s definitely the smartest. More of a spoof on the tropes that you’ll find in most horror movies, watching The Cabin in the Woods is a strange experience – as it cuts from a group of teens in a cabin (in the woods) and a couple of geezers working in some kind of control centre. It soon all becomes clear and the final 30 minutes are absolute genius.
A film that seems to me to be an allegory for the perils of sexually transmitted diseases, the concept of It Follows is simple. There’s this curse. One where you’ll get followed (slowly) by a ‘thing’, that’s usually disguised as someone you know or someone from your past. If ‘it’ gets to you – it’ll kill you – so you have to keep running your whole life. The only way to get rid of it is to pass it on by having sex with someone. If they die though it’ll then pass back to you. Good idea that innit!?
This film is a bit like those TV movies that you used to watch late night on ITV back in the 90’s – well, it starts off like that anyway. Adapted from the Steven King novel, Gerald’s Game is the story of a woman who, after engaging in some kinky sex games with her husband, ends up stuck – because the old fucker dies. It’s not scary-scary but there are a couple of bits which will proper give you the chills.
Silence of the Lambs
Is this a horror movie? Is it a thriller? A crime movie? Whatever it is – it’s scary. Winner of multiple Oscars, Silence of the Lambs features star turns by Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins – and not forgetting the outstanding Ted Levine as the main villain of the film – Buffalo Bill. It’s primarily on this list for its final act – which is pure horror all the way and one of the best uses of darkness in any film ever.
What’s that? You don’t think the story of a possessed car is scary?! Well, okay it isn’t that scary and it’s really, really weird but it’s also a great watch thanks to the capable hands of director John Carpenter. This is also a novel from Steven King, who must really have been in the deep depths of his cocaine period to come up with something as mad as this.