With Halloween right around the corner, many people are gearing up for costume parties, horror movie marathons, or taking a younger sibling trick or treating. (Or perhaps you're trick or treating for unicef?) With not so great horror movies like 'Saw VI' and 'The Stepfather' out in theaters now, I've decided to run down my top 10 favorite horror films that are available to rent. They make for a great, scary, and some times even amusing fun.
1) The Exorcist
Often proclaimed as 'The Scariest Movie of all time" The Exorcist does live up to those expectations. Back in 1973 when this film was released, it caused so much hysteria people were fainting in theaters, rushing out of them, One woman allegedly even had a heart attack. While today's generation might not be so sheltered when it comes to gore, the idea of this movie is still a scary one. Linda Blair (only 12 when she shot this) gives an unbelievable performance as Regan, the poor girl that's been possessed by a demon. It's haunting, vulgar, and worst of all it feels real. When I first saw this film at age 8, I honestly slept on my bedroom floor for a month because I somehow convinced myself you needed to be in bed to be possessed. (Stupid, I know) That film had an effect on me then, and it still does now. Although instead of being scared to death, I can admire the film for the great peice of art that it really is. I suggest this to anyone looking for a good horror film. It still is by far, my favorite scary movie.
This Italian film is about a young woman who goes to a ballet academy only to find out that more sinister things are there. Horror genius Dario Argento's film goes all over the place in it's gore and it's story, but it's not a bad thing. It's so interesting and at times very hard to watch. Foreign horror movies are always interesting because they don't have the MPAA that we do. This one is definetly a must-see. If not for the crazy gore and storytelling, for the equally crazy, loud, and mesmorizing soundtrack.
3) The Shining
Heeerrresss Johnny! The ultimate cabin fever scenario. A man, Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) his wife and son are care-taking in an isolated hotel during the winter. Jack slowly slips into insanity as he writes, part due to cabin fever, the other due to the haunting ghosts of former guests. 'The Shining' really gives you that fear of being stuck without any chance of help. Jack's visions are freaky and Nicholson's acting is top-notch. You'll find yourself with the world "REDRUM" stuck in your head long after seeing this film.
4) The Decent
This little British indie made waves back in 2005 when it was released. The film is about a group of young woman who go spelunking only to find themselves miles underground in an uncharted cave only to find out that they don't know the way out. Oh, and theirs some creepy "crawlers" trying to kill them while their at it. This film actually makes you feel claustrophobic. Knowing that our character's are two miles underground, getting killed off one by one and not knowing where to go. It's gory, it's original, and the ending is one heck of a shocker.
I can't make a list of Halloween horror flicks and not include the one that started them all. I'm talking about the original, not the remake (sorry Zombie) I liked how Rob Zombie gave us a look at Michael Meyer's life as a child, but it's not knowing why he turned out the way he did is even more terrifying. Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis shines in the highest grossing indie film of all time. No Halloween party would be complete without it. Not to mention the original film's dialogue isn't tarnished with every other word being a curse word or some sort of sexual reference. John Carpenter knew what he was doing.
6) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Again, we are talking about the original, not the 2003 remake with Jessica Beil. The TCM franchise has been made a spectacle of in the last few years. Did anyone see that horrible "origin" story? I did..it was horrible. What the countless sequels, remakes, and origin stories tried to capture but failed miserably was the film's realism. A group of kids picks up the wrong hitchhiker and end up in the path of the horrifying Leatherface. The original was scary, but it never felt over the top with it's gore. We felt something for Sally and her friends as they tried to escape. The campy, grainy way it was shot made it more terrifying.
Ok, so it's technically not a "horror" film, but this thriller starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman is just as creepy as the rest. Two detectives try to hunt down a killer that is murdering his victims for their "sins". It's gory, it's interesting, and the ending is amazing. I'm sure the majority of you know that Kevin Spacey is the killer, when this film first came out it wasn't marketed around him, it was a surprise. Still, even knowing who the killer is, it doesn't make the outcome any less effective. Helpful tip: Don't eat anything when your watching this..especially in the first 20 mins of this film.
8) Dawn of the Dead
For once I'm talking about a remake! Sure, the original film is unintentionally hilarious, but Zack Snyder's remake does it justice. I would go as far to say that this film is even better than the original (and trust me..you won't hear me say that often) She kept the original concept. Zombies are taking over the world, a group of people take shelter at their local mall while they try to find a way to fend them off. Zombie movies are a fun genre. George A. Romero does it best with his screenplays (see also: Night of the living Dead. Day of the Dead)
9) 28 Days Later
Often mistaken for a "Zombie" film. This British flick (done by the wonderful Danny Boyle) is not about Zombies, but about people that are infected with the "rage" virus. The film starts with some animal activists that accidentally release some infected chimps. 28 Days later and we follow our main character, Jim (Cillian Murphy) he's one of the few people left in London that does not have the rage virus. While the premise is quite like Dawn of the Dead, Jim finds some other un-infected people, they try to find their way to safety. The way 28 Days Later is shot makes it scarier. The camera shots are quick, the infected are loud, and the fact that the origin of the virus is explained makes it all the more interesting.
Saw has become a staple in the horror franchise. For the past 6 years they've released one every October, and while they are getting worse, the one that started it all deserves to be singled out. Saw made a splash at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. James Wan and Leigh Whannell showed their grainy, low-budget horror film about a man that kidnaps and tortures people to teach them a life lesson and were so well received that they got to re-edit their film for better quality, and it went from a limited to a wide release. The original film felt dirty, creepy, and also featured one of the best wtf endings of all time. Sure the name is now tarnished as it's spawned 5 horrible sequels (I don't count Saw II, because that was also surprisingly good) You have to give the original creators credit. They made one hell of a scary movie, created a franchise that is making them millions, and made us pay a bit more attention to detail.
Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and the Polterguiest. All great franchises that are good for Halloween. Sure they've gotten repetitive, but they are fitting for this time of year.