A&E staff hail their favorite Halloween and horror-themed movies
In honor of Halloween and the context of fright and terror that surrounds it, our arts and entertainment staff came up with several of their favorite films that are often associated with the holiday and the horror genre.
Nick Keeley, Arts and Entertainment Editor
1. “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
While by no means a full-on horror film, this holiday classic from Tim Burton and Henry Selick (the excellent “Coraline”) is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Halloween. It was one of my favorite films growing up and its excellent stop-motion animation and themes continue to hold up wonderfully. Vividly brought to life through great characters and Danny Elfman’s brilliant music and songs, “Nightmare” is a beautiful look at the struggle to discover who we are and who we want to be. Clocking in at only 76 minutes long, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is well-worth a revisit this Halloween.
2. “Halloween” (1978)
The slasher film that started it all. While some of the scares might not be as effective as they were in 1978, director John Carpenter’s horror classic about what happens when a murderer returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Ill. still delivers a great deal of suspense, thanks to Carpenter’s iconic music and the unnerving POV shots from Michael Myers’ perspective. Also featuring the screen debut of Jamie Lee Curtis and the compelling Dr. Loomis, “Halloween” remains a great piece of entertainment.
3. “Carrie” (1976)
Based on Stephen King’s first novel, the original “Carrie” (not the unnecessary remake currently in theaters) is a captivating and highly relevant look at the brutal nature of bullying. Anchored by brilliant performances from Sissy Spacek as the mousy girl who discovers she has telekinetic abilities and Piper Laurie as her terrifying, religious zealot mother, “Carrie” derives its thrills from a hauntingly real place, which makes its grim climax all the more powerful. It’s a horror film that demands to be seen.
Christian Becker, Staff Writer
1. “Psycho” (1960)
While some of the elements in Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense masterpiece might feel dated, the tension and thrills are still at full throttle. Known for the famous shower scene, “Psycho” was among the first real horror films to break the trend of what suspense films were. Truly a one-of-a-kind horror film, you can’t help but feel tension whenever the character Norman Bates comes on screen.
2. “Scream” (1996)
With horror being a well-respected genre at this point in time, writer/director Wes Craven turns the tables completely. “Scream” is unique because it manages to be a comedic satire on the suspense genre while also acting as horror itself. This film is chock full of references to classics such as “Halloween” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” (which Craven also created) and pokes fun at the stereotypical horror tropes by having its characters repeatedly state the ways in which to survive a horror film. “Scream” also gave birth to one of the season’s most iconic Halloween costumes, “Ghostface.”
3. “1408” (2007)
While “1408” is not the typical horror film you hear about this time of year, it’s on my list for many reasons. Not all horror films should be about blood and gore, but, instead, most should be about twists and psychological mind games. “1408” brings out the best in both those elements. Based on the short story by Stephen King (you really didn’t think I’d leave a story by him out, did you?) about a writer who finds himself trapped in a haunted hotel room where supernatural beings are out to get him. If you are looking for something a little out of the norm this Halloween night, “1408” may surprise you.
Jonathan Hielkema, Staff Writer
1. “The Fly” (1986)
Canadian director David Cronenberg’s remake of the 1958 original represents an apex for both creeping body horror and practical special effects. The film’s depictions of Jeff Goldblum’s transformation from mild-mannered, if obsessive, scientist into horrifying fly creature is a chilling spectacle, and the film has an admirable lack of jump scares. “The Fly” is one of the best horror films of the ‘80s.
2. “The Invisible Man” (1933)
This Universal horror classic features both a charismatic and delightfully campy performance by Claude Rains and groundbreaking optical effects to bring an invisible monster to life. Few films — past or present — capture the sense of wonder and sheer enjoyment as this one. Although it is not overtly terrifying most of the time, its thick atmosphere and expert pacing lend it an inspired creepiness.
3. “Tidelands” (2006)
After several bruising and failed attempts to get projects off the ground, Terry Gilliam directed this independent film on a tiny budget, still managing to pull off his wonderful blend of surrealism and, in this case, outright horror. Telling the story of a young girl left alone by her drug addict parents in an old house in Texas, it was widely panned at the time but has remained a favorite of mine since I first watched it. Approach with caution and a sense of curiosity.