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For Your Consideration: Horror Movie Edition

 

It’s that time of year again, when endless horror movie marathons are on every other channel. A big problem with horror movies, though, is there is a lot of junk to be found. Don’t worry, I’m here to help. Here are some of my favorite horror movies that are bound to scare, frighten, and, in some cases, make you laugh.

If I had to choose my all-time favorite horror movie it would easily be The Shining. Director Stanley Kubrick’s film, adapted from Stephen King’s seminal novel, tells the story of the Torrance family and their horrifying, snowbound stay at the Overlook Hotel. Jack Torrance takes a job as the offseason caretaker of the hotel where the family is plagued by ghosts and other ghastly hauntings. Jack, suffering from cabin fever, writer’s block, and ghostly influences, succumbs to madness and his family must flee for their lives. The story of The Shining and most notably Jack Nicholson’s crazed performance as Jack has been ingrained into our pop culture. What sets The Shining above the rest is Kubrick’s masterful direction. His work almost makes the hotel come alive and become a character in itself. Throughout the film, the empty and secluded hotel never relents in giving off a terrifying atmosphere, never dropping the tension for a moment’s rest. Behind every corner something absolutely horrific could be waiting. Even when nothing is there it still doesn’t feel safe. This is heightened by Nicholson’s classic performance. It feels like he could snap into a frenzy at any moment. The madness is just boiling skin deep and explodes in a bizarre and tense finale.

If tense, snowbound horror is your thing then look no further than John Carpenter’s The Thing. A group of researchers (starring Kurt Russell as a grizzled helicopter pilot) are trapped in an Antarctic camp where an alien entity hides amongst the group as perfect replicas of one of them. Tension, paranoia, and mistrust run deep as the group find themselves stranded thousands of miles from civilization with a grotesque killing machine that could take the form of anybody. Alien monstrosities are only one half of the horror. Carpenter wonderfully plays around the tension amongst the group with a film that is one long nail-biter. Creative creature design is also the cherry on top of this paranoia fest. With heads that sprout spider legs and stomachs opening up to show off rows of teeth, The Thing makes any normal human into a potential grotesque killing machine, an element Carpenter utilizes to keep the viewer firmly on the edge of his seat.

Perhaps you’re in the mood for a bit more of a classic. While lacking the gore and general nastiness of more modern horror movies, they didn’t lack the scares. In Island of Lost Souls, based on H.G. Well’s novel The Island of Dr. Moreau, Charles Laughton plays the infamous scientist. Centering on a shipwrecked sailor, the film explores the cruel, tyrannical doctor and the freakish experiments (one played by horror movie legend Bela Lugosi) that wait on his island.

And what gets more classic than Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho? The shower scene, the score, and most importantly actor Anthony Perkins’s performance as Norman Bates. Perkins’s Bates seems like the kindly boy next door that would help an old lady cross the street or mow the lawn for you. It is that reserve that makes Bates so much unnerving.

Think a silent movie couldn’t possibly be scary? Look no further than the 1922 Nosferatu. The titular vampire is perhaps one of the most horrifying looking monsters put on screen.

After nearly scaring yourself to death, why not lighten the mood a bit? Make sure to not break the horror streak, though. It is impossible to go wrong with Evil Dead II and Shaun of the Dead, both serving as love letters and parodies to the genre. Evil Dead II embraces all the camp that brings down many horror movies. Bruce Campbell’s cavalier performance and ridiculous a-plenty (chainsaw arm) make these a very entertaining horror comedy. Shaun of the Dead on the other hand is a much more down-to-Earth movie. It’s about friendships, relationships, and love….while trying to flee the zombie apocalypse. Cult comedy trio Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and director Edgar Wright create a very witty take on the zombie genre that has flooded the market in recent years.

This is barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes great horror. The Exorcist, the original Nightmare on Elm Street, Hour of the Wolf, The Haunting, the list goes on and on. If you want some great scares seek these out for your Halloween night.

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