Halloween is nearly upon us and to celebrate that fact I want to share with you 12 films that I feel are essential to your viewing pleasure this Halloween. I have included new and old films, a few personal favourites and one guilty pleasure to complete the list.
I’m sure not all of you will agree with the list and I’ll be condemned for missing out on a few household names, but this is my list dammit so go make your own! No, just kidding, if you feel I have missed anything or that you would like to make a suggestion of your own, then please say so in the comments section below.
Oh how boring, you picked the most obvious one first! Well yes I did, why, because 35 years later and Halloween is still a fantastic film that has provided the inspiration for every slasher film since. Directed by John Carpenter on an extremely low-budget, Halloween is one of the most successful independently made films of all time. Modern audiences may laugh at the acting or even say it’s not that scary, and to a degree they may be right, but whether viewing it for the first time or the seventeenth, Halloween maintains a tension and raw quality that you don’t see in many modern horror movies. Halloween is a must for any horror fan.
Yeah, that man John Carpenter again! What can I say, he knows how to make a good horror movie. The Fog was Carpenter’s second feature as director and again starred Jamie Lee Curtis, after casting her in Halloween she took an early lead as a scream Queen for the 80’s. The Fog is drastically different to Halloween though, and swaps the slasher genre for a good old-fashioned ghost story. After a strange fog descends on a small town in California, unbeknownst to the inhabitants of the town though, the fog has brought something with it, namely a group of dead sailors looking for revenge after they were killed at sea 100 years ago.
Quite possibly one of the most tense horror movies of all time, The Shining is more than just a horror film, and a quick Google search will let you in on the many conspiracy theories surrounding the film, and how so many people can watch the same film and have so many different answers for what is actually happening. The film stars Jack Nicholson as writer Jack Torrance who moves to an isolated hotel as an off-season caretaker, with only his wife & son for company, Jack slowly descends into madness over the course of the movie. Another film whose impact on popular culture simply cannot be underestimated.
An American Werewolf In London has become a cult classic over the years, its mix of horror and comedy are perfectly blended to make one of the most memorable films of the 80’s stand the test of time. This film has it all, blood, guts, nudity, scares and a great soundtrack. Best of all, much like Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The films impact can be seen on modern-day horror comedies, most notably 2002 film Dog Soldiers. It also had a profound effect on the makeup industry in film, because not only did it win the first Oscar for Best Makeup, it was because of An American Werewolf In London that the category was made at all.
I have to admit, I have only ever seen A Nightmare On Elm Street but once, a few years ago on DVD. However, despite only seeing it once, it remains something very memorable and effective. The original Nightmare redefined the slasher genre, and created a screen monster for the ages. A Nightmare On Elm Street produced 6 sequels of varying quality, and a 2010 remake of largely poor quality. The original remains the best of the bunch, and if you have never seen it then there is another chance to see it on the big screen this month as it is being re-released for one night only on October 31st.
The Return Of The Living Dead is a punk rock zombie movie that took a more comical approach but still left a lasting impact on the zombie genre. The Return Of The Living Dead came about after director George A. Romero and writer John Russo fell out after filming finished on Night Of The Living Dead. Russo went on to create the Living Dead series and brought in Dan O’Bannon to direct the first in the series. The film follows a group of punks and three night shift workers who accidentally release a mob of brain eating zombies on small town America. It’s influences stretch as far as Shaun Of The Dead and the more recent Zombieland, and it’s one of the more fun zombie movies you will ever see.