…you should see right now.
So not everyone loves horror films, so some people will avoid these suggestions. I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love to be scared yet most scary movies are simply just bad movies, so the pickin’s is sometimes slim. If you love being scared as much as I do, I present to you some films that walk that fine line between being scary and being a watchable. My rule of thumb is if I would watch the horror movie more than once, then it was worth my time. (Exception being Paranormal Activity, which for some reason I watched twice.)
Some of these movies are not your typical horror films and some are totally well-known classics, so hopefully this list does not simultaneously confuse and bore you.
[REC]: I saw [REC] with no idea of what to expect or any idea what it would be about. This is kind of how I want you to watch it as well, but I suppose by even writing about it, I’m giving you some preconceived notions about the film.
Hopefully you have not seen the American re-make, Quarantine, because I’m sure it’s not as good. I’ve never seen it and that’s my inner movie snob talking, but c’mon, rarely does the American remake surpass the foreign original. I digress. I watched this movie with 2 other people and we were all delightfully terrified throughout and came to a breathless consensus when it was over that we had just witnessed something awesome. Don’t want to give too much away. Just trust me when I say this is my favorite horror film ever.
Other horror films with subtitles: The Orphanage, A Tale of Two Sisters, Let the Right One In, The Host (But really only watch the opening, the rest is too long)
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil: More of a black comedy, this strange little gem employs all the well-known conventions of backwoods hillbilly slasher films but puts a twist on events that make you laugh and cringe at the ensuing bloodshed.
The film pits a group of typical partying, pot smoking vapid college kids against Tucker and Dale, two loveable good old boys who are excited for their first weekend at Tucker’s ‘vacation home’. Things spiral out of control as the body count rises and Tucker and Dale are left scratching their heads. One strange thing about this film is that it was released only via Netflix, so if you don’t have it, find a friend with a subscription and enjoy!
Other black comedy horror films: Young Frankenstein, Shaun of the Dead, The Orphan (Not really a comedy, but I laughed the entire time)
The Descent: This movie appeals to my personal fascination with caves. Whenever possible, I begged my family to go visit roadside cave attractions and my mother indulged me with various trips to local caves (thanks, Ma). The Descent is a solid B-movie. This film really doesn’t need a whole lot of set up, and I appreciate that they don’t really try. One character has a semi-meaningful storyline, but the rest I don’t even want to know their names– I just want to see them go spelunking.
Yes, there’s gore and icky creatures but what I found most terrifying is the complete sense of claustrophobia in the scenes of the women navigating the cave system. You almost don’t need the things that go bump in the night to make this film scary. But you do have them, and it makes for an enjoyable, creepy excursion.
Other horror B-movie guilty pleasures: The Strangers, Friday the 13th, Event Horizon
The Changeling: Haunted houses creep me out. I thought my house was haunted when we first moved in 2 years ago but it ended up it was just unemployment cabin fever, I hope. Anyway, The Changeling is about a man stricken with grief who moves inadvertently in to a haunted house which contains a terrible secret. The house is a mammoth gothic structure with gorgeous interiors and creepy secret passageways which almost just makes the movie for me.
The storyline has twists and turns which keep things interesting and having George C. Scott as the main character means this movie will at least have excellent acting. This movie is a product of slower storytelling than today’s thrillers, so mood is everything when watching.
Other horror films with creepy things happening in houses/structures: Insidious, Them, Poltergeist (Duh.)
Freaks: Considering my love of circus sideshows since middle school, it should be no surprise to those who have known me a long time that I would be interested in this 1932 classic horror film. In a world where now CGI would likely be used on actors portraying circus freaks to avoid political incorrectness, this film employed actors who actually worked on the sideshow circuit to portray the characters. Its the type of film where you question whether you should be watching it at all in the name of good taste. Considering it was banned in many places upon release, even depression-era critics questioned its good taste, so you know it’s shocking.
The film skirts that uneasy place of sympathetically presenting the ‘freaks’ as normal, emotional human beings and making them out to be monsters, which leaves the viewer questioning what the message was exactly supposed to be. My favorite character hands down (no pun intended) is the limbless Prince Randian aka ‘The Living Torso’. The scene in which he lights a match and his own cigarette all with his mouth is pretty amazing.
Other black and white horror films: Night of the Living Dead
*of course there are a ton of b/w horror films, I just wouldn’t particularly suggest them.
As always, please be a responsible when watching these horror films. Dim the lights, pull up a blanket, and view with no more than 3 other people who do not attempt to chatter the fear away.
Fellow horror movie fans–suggestions? Feedback?