10 horror movies you can't miss...
Hallowe'en may be over, but that doesn't mean you can't sit back with a big bowl of popcorn and enjoy a scream or two. Or better yet, get a group of your friends or your favourite honey to come over and scream right along with you. ¤ C.Ho.
If you like haunted houses:
The Shining (1980)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall
Plot: Jack Torrance (Nicholson), a writer, becomes the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. But things start to go wrong when his son is inflicted by a force called "the shining." Soon, the family begins to see ghosts lurking in the hotel, and Jack eventually goes mad.
Why It's Scary: If the ghosts don't scare you, than Jack Nicholson's axe-wielding madness will. Also check out The Amityville Horror (1979) for a good scare.
If you really like haunted houses:
The Changeling (1980)
Director: Peter Medak
Starring: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas
Plot: John Russell retires to an old mansion after his wife and son are killed in an accident. But not everything is what it seems, and John starts to suspect there's someone in the house besides him. But what are they trying to tell him?
Why It's Scary: This movie is packed with suspense and a mystery to boot. After viewing this, you'll be afraid of bouncing balls on staircases too.
If you like witches:
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Director: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez
Starring: Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams
Plot: Three student filmmakers disappear while researching the myth of the Blair Witch in a remote Maryland forest.
Why It's Scary: This is truly one of the most frightening movies I've ever seen. Some people may disagree, but then again, they're not writing this column, are they? Terrifying in its simplicity, it plays with the viewer's imagination rather than shocking them with gruesome images. But please, skip its evil sequel, The Book of Shadows (2000).
If you like evil children:
The Omen (1976)
Director: Richard Donner
Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner
Plot: The Ambassador of the United States, Robert Thorn, has more than just a political agenda on his mind. When his wife has a stillborn son, he switches babies at the hospital. But oops, he accidentally brought the Antichrist home with him.
Why It's Scary: Come on, evil children are always scary.
If you like campy horror:
Friday the 13th (1980)
Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby
Plot: A bunch of gruesome deaths occur at Crystal Lake. Could it be the ghost of Jason, who drowned in the lake eleven years ago? Hint: For once, Jason isn't as guity as it may appear.
Why It's Scary: It's not really scary as it is gory and campy. But still, the granddaddy of slasher flicks certainly deserves a second screening.
If you like gothic:
The Others (2001)
Director: Alejandro Amenabar
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Alakina Mann
Plot: Grace and her children, Charles and Anne, live in an old mansion that is perpetually enshrouded in fog. After a series of strange events, she becomes convinced that there are others also inhabiting the house.
Why It's Scary: Nicole Kidman's acting is excellent, and the cinematography will leave you breathless. Bonus points for an unconventional plot twist. If you liked this movie, also check out The Turn of the Screw (1994), based on the eerie Henry James novel.
If you like freaky serial killers:
Black Christmas (1974)
Director: Bob Clark
Starring: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin
Plot: A sorority house is plagued by crank calls during Christmas, which eventually lead to murder.
Why It's Scary: Shot in Toronto on what must have been a $500 budget, this little-known gem is the crazy spin-off of the serial-killer-in-the-house urban legend. Plus, the ending is very creepy.
If you like classics:
The Exorcist (1979)
Director: William Friedkin
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, Linda Blair
Plot: A little girl plays with a ouija board and ends up being possessed by the devil. Hilarity ensues. Just kidding - it's pure terror!
Why It's Scary: The cinematography, the direction, the imagery, the special effects (well, on a 1979 standard), the acting, the story, it's all there. Just make sure you're not eating anything when Regan decides to spit up her pea soup. For added chills, watch The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen, which has deleted scenes absent from the 1979 theatrical version.
If you like space thrillers:
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
Plot: In space, no one can hear you scream, or so they tagline goes. A crew ship receives a strange signal from a distant planet and discovers the colony of an unknown creature. Never ones to leave anything alone, they take a specimen back to their ship to investigate, unaware that these aliens use humans as their breeding host.
Why It's Scary: The pure suspense will have you jumping out of your skin. Also check out Predator (1987), but skip Alien vs. Predator (2004).
If you like imports:
Director: Hideo Nakata
Starring: Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani, Hiroyuki Sanada
Plot: An urban legend is brought to life when a mysterious tape starts circulating in Japan, killing viewers within seven days of seeing it. A reporter gets her hands on a copy of the tape and must work against the clock to solve the mystery and save her life.
Why It's Scary: The plot is the most interesting asset of the movie - sheer terror from the get-go. And when the girl climbs out of the well, I dare you to not pee in your pants. Skip the American version (which does not do the original justice in the scariness factor) and get your hands on this one.
The Unnameable (1988)
Not only does this movie suck sour lemons, but I couldn't even pull up the information on the Internet Movie Database, prompting me to suspect that either this movie does not exist, or it is so bad that it doesn't deserve a mention anywhere (thus earning its title). Ridden with plot holes, bad acting, and even worse special effects, it centers around a group of frat boys and sorority girls who stay the night at an abandoned mansion on a dare. One by one, they're killed off by the unnameable, an androgynous lump of cheap fur and bad teeth. It's your standard slasher/monster film, except without the gratuitous sex and cheesy one liners. It's not even so bad that it's good - it's just bad.
Update: A kind reader wrote in and asked me if I had any information on this film, and lo and behold, the Internet suddenly popped up with tons of goodies. For instance, here is the Internet Movie Database listing, and here is where you can buy this film. The movie is loosely based on H. P. Lovecraft's really short story, and is distributed by Anchor Bay. For some inexplicable reason, a sequel in 1993 was made to round out the badness.