This is Halloween! And we at Geekquality are pretty stoked about it, if you can’t already tell. It’s like Cosplay Christmas, what’s not to like! In the spirit of celebration, we have compiled a list of films we love to watch with the lights off. Not THOSE kinds of films: horror films. We hope you like them as much as we do. A Halloween night filled with any of these picks is sure to make a great alternative to handing out candy to babies (unless those babies are dressed like Gallagher).
Ju-On (The Grudge):
When I watched this movie for the first time, I slept on my stomach for an ENTIRE MONTH because of one particular scene. It’s been almost ten years since Ju-On first came out and I still can’t hear that croaking moan without panicking. To be frank, I don’t understand the backstory of how this curse (or grudge) came to be, because I watched more than half of this movie through my fingers and I’m still too wary of looking it up because of the pictures. The American remakes were pretty terrifying in themselves.
I actually prefer the American remake of this J-horror franchise, which is a rarity. The actual Ringu series really takes its time to get to the scares, which are few and scarce, and relies on more philosophical/atmospheric horror. True, the American remake does clip a lot off, but it’s more efficient in its time and storytelling, with scares that are more forthcoming and frequent. This article actually does an excellent job in analyzing the differences between both.
28 Days Later:
I get a lot of flack from Romero fans who are deacons in the Church of the Slow Zombie, which is great if that’s your speed (har har). But what makes an exceptional zombie movie is how sly and relevant its social commentary is, and 28 Days Later really struck a chord with me the first time I watched it. People tend to focus on how to fight the undead, but we all know that it’s really humans you have to watch out for. As a woman who navigates rape culture, my dread alarms started going off immediately as I watched some of my worst nightmares unfold on screen. Also, my queen Naomie Harris is in this movie as a badass mofo who knows what’s up.
This movie is so awesome on so many counts. A seemingly impossible monster to fight against, a group of badass women with pickaxes, a subterranean trap (the entire movie takes place in a CAVE), and lots of ass kicking and gore. YES.
Before the SAW franchise just spiraled down into torture porn, with folks just flocking over to watch the gore, it struck with the chilling poignancy of a horrific short story. The first movie was innovative and refreshing to the genre, and the sequel managed to follow through in its own way. Don’t waste your time after Saw II, though.
Evil Dead II:
There is actually a sentimental reason for this being on my favorites list, as this is the first true-blue horror movie I saw when I was a kid. For the most part, I tend to prefer psychological thrillers to straightforward horror movies, but there’s no denying this classic. When I first saw it, I think I went past scared and right into emotionally anesthetized territory, and I watched the whole thing without closing my eyes. The basement lady scene is both horror and comedy genius.
This movie has everything… alchemy, an ancient clockwork insect, vampirism, and Ron Perlman in a turtleneck breaking some faces. It’s stylish, it’s creepy, and it’s Guillermo del Toro’s first full feature film. Seriously, talk about making an entrance as a director.
The Fly is a pretty darn good horror movie, even though it’s technically sci-fi. The obvious reason is all the grotesque monster stuff: peeling limbs and creepy secretions. Just… gross. But the movie also gets the sadness of human-gone-monster perfectly right, the terror and the abandonment. This is also another one of those movies I saw way too young and it really frightened me. It might explain my tendency to shudder whenever flies are around.
Let the Right One In:
This Swedish gem covers all the bases for me: excellent story and script, understated acting, stark Scandinavian scenery, and vampires without over-the-top lore. It’s a satisfying, subtle horror movie that also explores relationships and emotions well. It’s just so good that I don’t even want to bother with the US version.
You know what’s really scary? The idea that in someone’s heart could be such dark, horrible feelings, and that someone’s mind could be driven to scheme up awful, despicable crimes. There are plenty of movies out there about real life serial killers and their murderous sprees, but Fincher and his impeccable cast (Ruffalo, we love that guy around here) knocked it out of the park. It may not be a horror movie, but I couldn’t sleep for several nights after I saw it, and to this day Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” sends shivers down my back. So I’m including this one here and you can fuss all you want, I won’t budge.
I couldn’t quite tell you if this is a an actual horror movie, or Kaiju action sans rubber suits. I can say that this Korean film is an excellent, breakneck riff on giant monster disaster flicks, with just a touch of sociopolitical commentary. The tone careens from action to comedy to gross out horror with abandon, but I’m kept riveted by the Park family’s determination in the face of terrifying circumstances.
The Cabin in The Woods:*
Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s nearly-lost masterpiece is scary, funny, thrilling, existential and bathed in buckets of blood. Anyone who loves American horror owes it to themselves to see this film. The fact that it managed to both keep me guessing and give me exactly what I want puts it way, way up there on my list.
*Pretty much everyone on deck has mentioned this film. So, watch it. Think of it as NextGen Scream. ~Moxie
Before I get into Slither, I want to make clear I love Horror Comedies, but I’m only mentioning films that lean more toward the horror side (which means I’m not listing things like Shaun of the Dead, Dead Alive or Tucker & Dale vs Evil). Slither makes it over that line, but just barely. Yes, the cast, lead by Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks, have excellent comedic timing, and there’s a goddamned zombie deer, but this alien invasion/zombie apocalypse/fleshy tentacle monster flick is a quease-inducing, jump-scare-filled, exceptionally fun B-movie homage. Also, let’s recall that so much of this movie is essentially a critique of unfettered penises, and happens because Starla’s husband Grant is a sexist idiot.
Banned for nearly 30 years in the US for being too realistic, Cannibal Holocaust was the original horror mockumentary. A group of unsuspecting documentary makers go searching for a lost tribe in the Amazon, and are eaten. I love this movie because it’s so ridiculous how anyone could actually believe that this was a real snuff film. It’s so beyond violent in its gore factor, and so overly-liberal with the fake blood, that you can’t help but laugh at it. Compound all that with the most ridiculous soundtrack ever, it’s no wonder this one stays a midnight cinema classic.
Shaun of the Dead:
You can pry this one from my cold, dead, zombie hands. It’s hilarious, it’s self-aware, and it’s British. It’s everything I could ever need from a movie. So hush your faces.
I have to start off with a classic. Not only is The Shining a visually stunning film, it’s perfectly creepy. Jack Nicholson’s infamous portrayal of Jack Torrance and his descent into madness while acting as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel is legendary for a reason. And of course, I’ll never forget the image of elevators filled with blood spilling out into the Overlook lobby.
Can you tell I’m a fan of psychological horror? What makes a good scary movie, for me, is tension, and John Carpenter’s The Thing has that in spades. Aside from the multitude of grotesque forms the titular “thing” assumes, the scariest part of the movie is knowing that it could be anyone and anything.
Come on, who doesn’t love a good B-horror movie? My uncle introduced me to this gem from 1954 about giant mutant ants in New Mexico when I was a kid, and it’s been one of my favorite ridiculous monster movies ever since. (Come to think of it, this movie probably explains my irrational love of SyFy’s original monster movies.)
Every favorite scary movie list needs at least one “woods killer” movie, right? Severance is a British-German comedy-horror film in the style of Shaun of the Dead, the perfect mix of scary, funny, gory, and smart. And it’s on Netflix Instant!
The Omen, if you don’t know, is one of a trilogy (there’s a 2006 remake of the original as well, but just ignore that one), and it is one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen in life. The main concept is that the bespoke child pictured above is the actual Antichrist, and is bound and determined to bring about the apocalypse. The first one is classic, the second is necessary but not as enthralling, and the third is terrifying because you see Damien and his dream being realized.
I know, this movie is classic almost to the point of being a cliche. But don’t tell me it’s not one of the most entertaining scary movies of all time. People have tried to recapture the pure terror this movie artfully evokes since its release. Why else would The Haunting Of Emily Rose have ever been made?
This may not be the movie you think of when you think Hitchcock, but it is one of the first scary movies I had the pleasure of seeing, and it has definitely informed my taste. This is the prototype for “helpless horror,” people who find themselves in situations so dire that there’s absolutely nothing they can do. We’re not talking contrived serial slashers and haunted houses with exits here, we’re talking real deal Holyfield pissed off Mother Nature. What’s scarier than that?
I don’t know, maybe it’s not a true horror film. But don’t tell me the Baseball Furies wouldn’t kill you in cold blood, drag your body through every alley in dystopian New York, and then eat the remains. That is some scary stuff. And scarily badass in the case of The Lizzies (the hottest all girl gang on the street). This movie is pure Halloween, creepy stuff, choreographed violence, themed costumes…what’s not to like?
I Know What You Did Last Summer:
Let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that outside of Harry Potter this is the best YA to screen adaptation to ever grace this green earth. Is it scary? Who cares? You love it, I love it, and the world would be a better place if we just came to terms with that fact. The end.