Believe it or not, I kind of like the horror genre of film (GASP!).
I like being scared for a couple of hours and I especially like it when I'm scared for a couple of hours after watching a film. I know a lot of people out there do not like scary movies, but for those of you who DO like horror films (aka "normal people"), I'd like to recommend just a few of my favorites so you can watch them around this Halloween season. I've tried to include a variety of horror movie types, and accommodate for various audiences, but for some reason I couldn't think of any vampire movies that I really like at the moment- oh well, the world is flooded with vampires right now anyway.
So without further ado. . .ok, one more ado.
Note: I must stress that these films are ones that I, personally, have enjoyed. I am not forcing you to like them, nor, as I have said before, do I think that any film is universally liked by all (except for Mom and Dad Save the World - but that is the ONLY exception). These are merely suggestions/personal recommendations.
Now here's the list (no, they're not in any specific order and yes, I own most of these):
The Ring (2002)
The Plot: A tape circulates that, if you watch it, will kill you in 7 days.
The Pitch: One of my favorite horror movies and on most people's "scariest" lists. It's a lot of scare with little blood and no gore - now that's impressive!
Content: It's very intense. My wife won't watch it with me a second time. :)
Best Viewed: On a television set with poor reception in your own home all by yourself.
The Plot: A great white shark does what it does best.
The Pitch: It's scary because it's realistic. Sharks really do eat people sometimes. Plus, it's just a well-made movie all around.
Content: Blood, child peril, more blood, some language and still more blood.
Best Viewed: At sea. Or, if you can't get that, on a tube in a lake or pool.
The Plot: A woman steals some money and ends up at the mysterious Bates Motel.
The Pitch: Alfred Hitchcock's finest film. The plot and twists have been endlessly parodied and referenced, but if you still don't know what this movie is about, you're in for a treat!
Content: Some violence, and the first flushing toilet allowed on a movie screen ever - shocking!
Best Viewed: At a motel. In the shower, if possible.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
The Plot: Aliens slowly but surely infiltrate the human race.
The Pitch: Most movies from the 70s scare me anyway, but this one is especially hard for me to watch because it stresses me out so much. And it has a really young Jeff Goldblum.
Content: Disturbing images and brief nudity (because the pod people don't grow clothes) in one scene.
Best Viewed: With a group of friends late, late at night when you're all tired and need to sleep, but can't!
The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Plot: A little boy sees dead people.
The Pitch: Once again, if you haven't had this movie spoiled for you already then it's an awesome watch. Even after the first watch it's still fun. It doesn't rely on jump-out moments - it uses more atmospheric terror.
Content: Child peril. Some violence. And there's that first scene with Donnie from New Kids on the Block. *shudder*
Best Viewed: With everyone wearing red.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Plot: In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittesville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary. . .A year later their footage was found.
The Pitch: So it's not true, so what? It's still brilliant filmmaking and it holds the record as most profitable film of all time!
Content: Lots of language. Some implied violence. I recommend the TV version for those that don't like large amounts of cursing (like me).
Best Viewed: While camping as far out in the woods as you can get - on Dramamine (the camera is a bit shaky).
The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
The Plot: Based on true stories, a mysterious "Mothman" haunts a town West Virginia and one man tries to find out what this creature is.
The Pitch: It's based on true events! My wife actually finds the real-life story (found on the Bonus features) scarier than the movie, but I like the fact that it's highly suspenseful and not very bloody or even that violent.
Content: Some violence, brief strong language.
Best Viewed: When you don't know where you are or how you got there - and you have some Chapstick on your person.
The Changeling (1980)
The Plot: This does NOT have anything to do with the recent film of the same name with Angelina Jolie. A man's family is killed in an accident and he moves into a large empty house that is, as it turns out, haunted.
The Pitch: One of the creepiest PG movies out there! There are a few images in this film that will haunt me forever. As a bonus, Angelina Jolie is not in this film.
Content: Child peril, disturbing images, mild violence.
Best Viewed: In the attic of that old mansion that you just inherited.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The Plot: Well, it's a night where there are living dead people.
The Pitch: The birth of the modern zombie! George A. Romero's low-budget film offers high-budget horrors. It still scares me.
Content: Black and white zombie violence, disturbing images and sounds, and a partially naked zombie or two.
Best Viewed: In black and white. The color version isn't that good - unless you have the Mike Nelson commentary.
The Plot: Crop circles appear around the world, one family tries to figure out what they mean and how to defend themselves.
The Pitch: I don't find aliens that scary, personally, but this film offers scares and laughs, and I like that combination. And, yes, this is my second M. Night Shyamalan film on this list.
Content: Mild language, disturbing images, violence against aliens.
Best Viewed: In the middle of a corn field, if you've got one.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The Plot: Two Americans find out that backpacking across Europe isn't all it's cracked up to be.
The Pitch: One of the best blends of horror and comedy. Plus, the transformation scene is AMAZING!
Content: Pretty much everything. I'd recommend the version they play on TV all the time for those that don't like graphic violence, language and nudity.
Best Viewed: At a remote pub in England.
Phantom of the Opera (1925)
The Plot: It's the same plot as the musical you know, only without sound and with less romance.
The Pitch: One of the most faithful adaptations of the book, I feel. Lon Chaney is unrecognizable as the Phantom. A great "starter" horror movie for children. I plan on showing this to my daughter in a year - when she's 3.
Content: Some disturbing images and violence, but TAME compared to today's movies.
Best Viewed: In any catacombs that you can find.
28 Days Later (2002)
The Plot: A guy wakes up in the hospital to find that London is deserted, except for a few "people" who are infected with rage.
The Pitch: It's not a zombie movie, claims director Danny Boyle, but it's as close as you're going to get. The infected are insanely fast and they don't have to bite you for you to get infected.
Content: Gore, violence, nudity and language. If you're not a fan of those, I'd recommend the edited version.
Best Viewed: In protective goggles and a mask. You don't want to get of the splatter in your mouth, nose or eyes.
The Plot: A normal suburban family finds out the house they live in has a terrible secret.
The Pitch: Yes, I have two Steven Spielberg movies on this list, too, so sue me, but this one genuinely terrifies me. When I buy a house, I'm going to have the grounds properly inspected and I will have no trees nor clowns on the premises.
Content: Disturbing imagery, child peril, some violence.
Best Viewed: On an Indian burial ground. Trust me.
The Plot: A group of people all get trapped at a motel on a rainy night and discover what they all have in common as they get killed off one by one.
The Pitch: This is not a slasher movie, it's a psychological thriller. And it's got John Cusack in it, so it's got to be good. Right?
Content: Plenty of violence and language. Language and graphic violence not your thing? That's fine, they play this one on television also.
Best Viewed: At a ratty motel with a bunch of strangers.
The Wolfman (1941)
The Plot: A guy gets bit by a werewolf and becomes one himself. Simple? Yes, but that's ok because this set the foundation for all werewolf movies after. Hopefully the upcoming remake won't suck (because it's not a vampire movie! HA! Get it? Suck! Vampire! ZING!).
The Pitch: One of the classic horror movies from Universal Studios. Lon Chaney, Jr. does a wonderful job portraying the poor, tortured soul who transforms every full moon. I still don't get why the Wolf Man strangles people, though. I mean, he has claws. . .
Content: Stranglings (as mentioned above), and an animal attack (as mentioned above).
Best Viewed: When the wolfsbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.
The Plot: A child killer is on the loose and the police have to figure out a way to catch him.
The Pitch: A classic thriller! They were barely using sound at this point in film history and yet they came up with this clever and intense film.
Content: A child killer is on the loose, but no real violence is shown.
Best Viewed: With people that speak German (although it is subtitled).
The Plot: A venomous spider from South America hitchhikes north to find a companion and raise some kids, so they can TERRORIZE THE TOWN!
The Pitch: Real arachnophobes should stay away from this one, it will give the bravest bug killer the willies.
Content: Spiders biting people and people dying - it ain't pretty.
Best Viewed: While trying to resist the urge to swat at that tickle going up your leg.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The Plot: Shaun is having trouble committing to his girlfriend, until a zombie attack brings them together in this hilarious romantic comedy.
The Pitch: This is my current favorite movie and has been for some time. It's the perfect mix of horror and comedy. I call this one the "gateway horror movie" because even people who don't like horror films tend to like this one. So much fun!
Content: Zombie violence/gore, and language. I own the edited version if you ever want to borrow it.
Best Viewed: With cricket bat in hand.
The Grudge (2004)
The Plot: Sarah Michelle Gellar goes to Japan and works in a house that is cursed.
The Pitch: It's a complete popcorn flick. Don't take this movie seriously and you'll enjoy it. Plus, there are some creepy sounds/images that come with this movie.
Content: Disturbing deaths, creepy movements.
Best Viewed: With a large group of people who like being scared - and with popcorn.
. . .And scene!
Now, I know I've forgotten some good ones, but if I keep thinking about this the list could double again (it originally stopped at 10 movies).
Anyway, I hope that even if you don't watch any of these films on my recommendation, that they at least inspire you to watch one of your own favorite scary movies.
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