As we close in on October 31, AiPT! will be reviewing and recommending various pieces of underappreciated scary media-books, comics, movies, and television-to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
There’s nothing better in October than turning off all the lights and throwing on some horror movies to get in the Halloween spirit. I’m a big fan of the horror genre and love when a movie can genuinely freak me out. Sometimes I think the genre is under-appreciated, so I’m happy that October is a time to put the spotlight on horror and give it some love. Picking ten favorites was a hard task, and there are so many other great ones (You’re Next, Funny Games, and The Cabin in the Woods need honorable mentions), but here’s my list.
10. The House of the Devil (2009)
The House of the Devil flew in under the radar in 2009. I didn’t discover it until years later on Netflix, and boy am I glad I did. Ti West wrote, directed, and edited it. It takes place in the 1980’s and truly feels like it’s from that era. The plot revolves around a college student named Samantha who’s hired as a babysitter at an isolated house. Things seem off from the start, and it only goes further and further downhill for her from there. It’s really entertaining, freaky, and pays homage to horror films of the 1970’s and 1980’s. It’s an under-appreciated gem.
9. The Shining (1980)
Here’s Johnny! The Shining is one of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpieces. It’s based on Stephen King’s horror novel of the same name, and it follows a man named Jack and his family who are staying at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado for the winter. Jack is serving as the off-season caretaker there, and he’ll use the time there to focus on his writing. Jack Nicholson gives one of his career best performances as Jack, a man whose sanity deteriorates along with supernatural occurrences at the hotel. The film is so well done and deserves all the praise it’s gotten over the years. And that hedge maze in the snow is such an iconic set piece.
8. [REC] (2007)
I never thought there would be another classic found footage film after The Blair Witch Project came out and many failed trying to imitate it over the years, and then the Spanish film [REC] came along in 2007 and was actually worthy of using the medium. The film all takes place in one building, and it doesn’t let up from the second it starts until the second it ends. It’s suspenseful throughout, and there are genuine scares, especially in the final sequence. If you’ve never seen this one, do yourself a favor and watch it immediately. Do NOT see the American remake Quarantine; it’s horrible in comparison.
7. 28 Days Later (2002)
Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland (a duo that also teamed up for 2000’s The Beach and 2007’s Sunshine), 28 Days Later is a post-apocalyptic horror film that follows a man named Jim who wakes up from a coma 28 days after the accidental release of a highly contagious virus. It’s a refreshing take on the zombie genre and is just well done all around. It’s original, tense, and feels like something that could actually happen in today’s world.
6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Leatherface. One of the all time legends of the horror genre. This is where it all began. This film is so gritty and raw. Director Tobe Hooper produced the film for less than $140,000 with mostly unknown actors from central Texas. The film was banned in several countries upon its initial release due to its violent content but was extremely profitable in the United States, grossing over $30 million at the box office. It’s one of the most influential horror films of all time, and it introduced many elements of the slasher genre.
5. Saw (2004)
The original Saw has my favorite twist ending of all time. Period. I’ve watched it with so many different people to witness their first time seeing it, and the reaction is always priceless. It’s quite gory, twisted, and it introduced us to one of modern horror’s biggest villains, Jigsaw. It’s a very well done horror/thriller movie and Jigsaw is quite creepy. The sequels aren’t as good as this first one, but it’s always interesting to see what new traps Jigsaw comes up with.
4. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Blair Witch was so revolutionary for the genre and also for film marketing. For better or worse, it kick started the found footage trend. Since we weren’t used to found footage films back then, there were some people who thought the story was real. That definitely impacted the marketing positively, and the filmmakers Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez created the legend of the Blair Witch and really went all out in promoting the film. The film itself follows three film students who set out to shoot a documentary about the titular witch. They head to Maryland and into the woods there where the legend originated. Things start to wrong from there, and what’s amazing is how scary something can be that we don’t even see. The final scene kept me up for hours after my first time watching it, and to this day I think is one of the creepiest endings in film history.
3. The Strangers (2008)
I went to see The Strangers in theaters when it came out. I had grown accustomed to disappointing horror films over the past few years. I walked out of that theater shocked at how good and how scary this one was. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman play a couple who are spending time at a family vacation home in a rural area. Three masked intruders end up terrorizing them, and the tension throughout the film is amazing. There’s nothing scarier to me than villains terrorizing other people just for the hell of it…when Dollface utters “because you were home” as to why they’re doing this, I got chills down my spine. It feels like it could potentially happen to any of us, and that’s why these types of horror films get to me.
2. Scream (1996)
Scream is honestly neck and neck with my #1 pick. It’s definitely the horror film I’ve watched the most times. I’ll never forget how hard my parents tried to prevent me from seeing it when it came out and I was seven years old (understandable). Well, I did end up seeing it eventually and Ghostface was my Halloween costume for three years in a row. Scream is both a parody of the slasher genre, calling it out for all its cliches, while in turn being a clever slasher film. The film was directed by the master of the genre himself, Wes Craven, it’s legitimately scary and keeps you guessing, and it also has plenty of laughs. It’s always a fun rewatch, and I personally love every single one of the sequels.
1. Halloween (1978)
In 1978, John Carpenter introduced the world to Michael Myers, and the horror genre would never be the same. After murdering his older sister on Halloween night in 1963 when he was just six years old, Michael Myers has spent his life since that night in an asylum. On October 30, 1978, he breaks out of the asylum and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield on Halloween to murder once again. I truly believe he’s the most terrifying villain in film history. That simple white mask is just so creepy, Carpenter’s score couldn’t be more perfect, and Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic as Laurie Strode. The mystery surrounding Myers and the fact that certain shots are shown from his point of view with just his breathing make it all the more scary. It’s the ultimate slasher film – it hasn’t been beaten since, and I doubt it ever will be.