Making a good horror movie in the 21st century is a thankless task. That’s why most filmmakers take the safe and often ineffective route and remake or reboot an already established horror franchise. It’s rare but every so often a movie will come along that stands out amongst a crowed, familiar field. While most people went crazy for this year’s “It Follows”, I ended up appreciating what it tried to do more than what it did. More recently, the Austrian film, “Goodnight Mommy”, found a way to shake a jaded moviegoer (me!) to his core.
But why the sudden talk about the current state of horror filmmaking? It’s Halloween, of course! There aren’t many options in theaters (seriously, seek out “Goodnight Mommy”), so I have compiled a list of five movies I like to watch at Halloween. There is no real rule to the making of this list; they are either horror movies or thrillers, not necessarily Halloween-centric.
Five movies to watch this Halloween:
- Psycho (1960) – Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography is one of many renowned classics but “Psycho” stands out above the rest. Captured in beautiful black and white, “Psycho” is the unsettling story of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who runs Bates Motel. Janet Leigh rents a room for a night, only to find out that things aren’t all they seem to be. From it’s classic score to that signature moment of shocking violence, “Psycho” is a masterpiece to be enjoyed anytime but especially at Halloween.
- Halloween (1978) – How can one talk about movies at Halloween and not mention John Carpenter’s “Halloween”? The story of psychopath Michael Meyers – who spent over a decade in an insane asylum after killing his sister – is a classic slasher film. From the chilling, iconic score to the slow walk and mask that is just as iconic, “Halloween” is a must-watch in October. Of course, it spawned some silly sequels and reboots but nothing beats the original.
- Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Roman Polanski’s film is all about mood and atmosphere. From the opening frame of the film, something seems off and the tension only continues to rise. Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes move into an apartment and things just don’t seem right. Ruth Gordon co-stars as their nosy neighbor, in an Oscar-winning role.
- The Others (2001) – Writer-director Alejandro Amenabar crafted a wholly engaging ghost story. Nicole Kidman stars as a woman who lives in an eerie mansion that must remain dark at all times. She lives with her two children, who cannot be subjected to sunlight. Within the darken house, the kids believe they are seeing ghosts. Kidman is terrific and should have been nominated for an Oscar for her performance (instead of “Moulin Rouge!” which she was nominated for in the same year).
- The Shining (1980) – “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy!” Stanley Kubrick’s stunning film is rarely regarded as one of his classics but remains a personal favorite. Jack Nicholson – who has amassed 12 Oscar nominations and three wins – was not nominated for his convincingly terrifying role. Based on the novel by Stephen King, “The Shining” is a great horror film and psychological thriller.
There are a lot of choices you can watch this Halloween. Leave a comment on some of your Halloween-time favorites!