Favorite Horror Films – ALL
Go Directly To : 1 SKULL – 2 SKULLS – 3 SKULLS – 4 SKULLS – 5 SKULLS – ALL FILMS
Check back throughout the month because we will be updating it weekly with a ton more great films for your October.
The Curse of Bridge Hollow (2022)
Its surprisingly difficult to find horror films that aren’t too scary, but also have good production values, effects and acting. Family-friendly horror usually falls short in at least a couple areas. However, The Curse of Bridge Hollow is able to hit all the marks and be a safe Halloween hayride of a film. The movie follows a family moving from Brooklyn to the Halloween obsessed town of Bridge Hollow, which is haunted by a pumpkin wielding demon named Stingy Jack. When the family’s only child, played by Priah Ferguson (who you may recognize from Stranger Things), accidentally lights Stingy Jack’s magic jack-o-lantern, she revives the spirit and brings all of the town’s Halloween decorations to life. Her and her science teacher and over the top skeptic dad then need to find a way to trap the spirit back in a pumpkin. Great effects and some funny lines, elevate this movie out of the kiddie corner, and into the realm of Halloween movies anyone can enjoy.
Juan of the Dead (2011)
Juan of the Dead is something unique in the horror genre: a Cuban horror movie filmed in Cuba, about Cubans. This change of perspective makes the movie a completely fresh take on zombie horror/comedy which has almost become its own genre. Filmed in collaboration with a Spanish production company, the film has very solid production values and acting, along with some well-done gory special effects. The story follows Juan and his band of miscreants, dwelling in Cuba as they watch their friends and family leave for better circumstances abroad. This is only accelerated when an army of zombies over takes the island. At first, Juan and his crew are thinking profit, and seek to open a zombiehunter-for-hire business. Unfortunately, their customers tend not to survive. As the living population drops lower and lower, Juan and his team decide to make a break for America themselves. It’s a fun film, elevated by the Cuban perspective on life, money, and death, that is an exciting change for international audiences.
X is a horror film about an adult film production gone awire; a somewhat iffy premise, but it has grown on me since its release last year. X follows a crew traveling to a farm in the 1970’s to make a porno, an observes as the team starts to get the know the owners and the land itself. However the shoot does not go to plan, and without giving too much away, what comes after is a classic slasher film formula, with a twist that makes it worth it in the end. Since the release of X there’s already been a quickly released prequel titled “Pearl”. Yet, by itself, X can stand alone. It’s commentary on sex and horror is not nuanced in any way, but it has some subtle things to say, while giving a nod to those fans engulfed in the horror genre and its tropes.
Now, I know that Ex-Machina is more considered Sci-Fi or even a “thriller” than horror, but I think it crosses over the border into horror just enough to be included in this list. Caleb, played by Downhill Gleeson, finds out that he won a prize to visit the CEO of his company. A man named Nathan who is an alcoholic, and greets Caleb with a bro-like attitude. The true reason for Caleb’s visit though is not to have a sleep over, but to conduct a test of an A.I. named Ava. The film’s commentary on manipulation, sensory, and intelligence are artfully baked into the film’s cinematography and superb screenplay. To some this film actually is scary; as the years have progressed and technology has become more of a necessity, and less of a tool in people’s lives, the reality of A.I. or other intelligence becoming baked into our everyday lives is caving in. Ex-Machina questions what that may look like and the nature vs nurture of technology in a biological world.
The Night House (2020)
Can somebody please give Rebecca Hall some kind of award? She is a highly underrated actress in general (crushed it in Haunting at Hill House), and her performance in The Night House is next level amazing. The film follows Beth, a widow living in the house that her late husband built for her. She is starting to dream of her husband, but these are not sorrowful memories. These vivid dreams reveal secrets of the past, which Beth chooses to investigate. What is revealed is a shocking truth of a man she once knew which makes Beth question everything she thought she knew about her beloved husband. The lighting and score of this film are what really brings it all together for me. The contrast in colors between her dream sequences and reality, alongside the absence or presence of sound, set the tone for what the audience should expect. This is a great film on grief and what comes after someone has left.
The Witch (2015)
If it is cold, rainy, and/or cloudy where you are, stop what you’re doing and do watch The Witch. Taking place in colonial America, a family must leave their town after a dispute with the church. They settle near a forrest, and shortly after, their baby gets taken away. The mother of the family shattered, the children believe it must’ve been a witch from the forrest. As a joke, the eldest child, Thomasin, says that she is the witch. Yet what she doesn’t know is that more sinister events will transpire, and her joke is no longer funny. The film’s dialogue and color tone is what drives the film from being just another historical horror to a masterpiece. Anya Taylor-Joy, who was very young when she took the role of Thomasin, delivers an excellent performance. With this being director, Robert Eggers, debut, it certainly sets a precedent for what to expect from him in his future films.
“What. The. Fuck.” is exactly what I said, after this film ended. An A24 release, the film follows Jessie, a young woman who decides to rent a home in the British countryside for a few weeks after a tragedy results in her husband’s death. However, what she realizes as she continues to explore the property are several men, all with the same or similar face. Each of the men she encounters settles into a male trope and gaze of women. I won’t say much more, but the ending of the film is one that is not for a sensitive viewer. Many critics and horror movie fans were torn by this film. The title itself lended to many discussions about what the film’s intention or message was, and if it actually was well received or not. For me, I thought it was excellent. Grotesque, graphic, yet subtle, the film evoked a message that was specific to the character of Jessie, but had universal undertones. I’m not sure if I would ever re-watch this film, but it certainly will stick with me.
The Thing (1982)
Why it’s taken me so long to see this classic John Carpenter flick, I do not know. However, after watching it for the first time only last weekend I can safely understand why John Carpenter has said that this is his favorite film that he’s made. This film (a “remake” of a very different 1951 film) takes place in an isolated research facility in Antartica. It begins with a team of male researchers being bombarded by a Norwegian helicopter attempting to kill a sprinting dog. After dispatching the pilot, the team decides to take the dog in, but unfortunately it reveals itself to be a disguise for something much more evil and sinister. The discomfort and paranoia that the team faces during the film hooks the viewer in and creates a sense of betrayal. The enemy could be behind any corner. There’s a reason why this film stands the test of time, and continues to be a staple within the horror community.
Midnight Mass (2021)
Mike Flannagan’s third limited series, Midnight Mass, is unequivocally his best. Following a priest’s arrival to a dying, island town, and the miraculous yet strange events that happen after, the show does more for its spooks than previous Flanagan projects such as The Haunting of Hill House or The Haunting of Bly Manor does. The worst scares don’t fall on the supernatural as they are more mundane in passing. And perhaps that’s why this story sits with a viewer long after it’s end because it causes one to feel disturbed again by things they haven’t been afraid of since they were young— religious fanaticism, mob mentality, loss of identity, and the fear of the unknown after you die. The dialogue is beautiful. The acting is superb, the hyperbolic expression of Catholicism is perfectly executed. It’s best if one goes in with as little knowledge as possible, because Midnight Mass and it’s overarching theme is something you won’t soon forget.
Let’s be honest. The storyline of Suspiria isn’t the most unique, but that doesn’t mean a dance academy full of witchcraft and cults isn’t destined for pop culture greatness. If anything, the reason Suspiria is such a classic, for me, personally, is because of its vibrant cinematography, unsettling soundtrack, campy nature, and brutal albeit abstract use of violence that is rare to see meld together seamlessly. The building tension is wonderful, and it has parts that feel art house-y in technique which is always a refreshing approach to horror films. Suspiria is definitely a different type of haunt, but if you stick with it, you’ll be rewarded with a phenomenal climax that is still one of my favorite movie build-ups of all time.
Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
What isn’t there to say about The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Based on the Richard O’Brien musical that was created as an homage to B-rated horror films and campy science fiction from cinema past, the film is meant to be wonderfully weird and freaky and full of parodies. Put that beside the funky costuming and stellar soundtrack full of earwormy tunes, and you’ve got a gleefully kooky cult-classic. Not to mention that The Rocky Horror Picture Show has transcended generations with its themes of self-expression and inclusion. Also, Tim Curry in his entirety as Frank-N-Furter. Also following along to “The Time Warp” dance sequence is absolutely something that boosts my serotonin every single time.
The worst but also the best D-rated splatter film you’ll watch this season is Triggered. Imagine any generic horror plot about brainless friends meeting in the woods for a camping trip, but this time they wake up with time bombs strapped to their chest as their captor watches their inevitable spiral betraying one another and killing one another to stay alive. This is mixed with horrible acting, awkward love triangles, and incredible one-liners that’ll have you genuinely laughing out loud. It’s so bad it’s good, and I’m obsessed with it. I need you to be obsessed with it too.
There’s nothing more I love than a thrilling sci-fi film. Throw in an eerie atmosphere, limited environment, and unique premise, and I’m hooked. 2014’s Coherence does all of this on a low-budget. The film focuses on a group of friends as they get together for a dinner party before a power surge occurs, and the strange heaviness that grows throughout is hard to shake. It’s mind-bending and uneasy. If you like cosmic horror with cleverly constructed plots that’ll keep you guessing, I cannot recommend this film enough.
The Invitation (2015)
A dinner party that goes horribly wrong is the driving premise for 2015’s The Invitation. It’s a psychological thriller that builds up its tension through clever uses of sound, lingering thoughts, and quality characterization. Your heart will flutter from the moment the protagonist arrives at the party, and it won’t slow down until the red flickering light fades to the credits. Best left unspoiled, The Invitation is a super slow-burn with a breathtaking climax that is worth the journey it takes to get there. Fantastic storytelling. Uncomfortable atmosphere. Chilling end. It’s wonderful.
I Am Mother (2019)
Think about your favorite Black Mirror episode and mold it into a film. That’s basically how one feels when they watch this 2019 sci-fi thriller. I Am Mother follows a young woman, the robot mother that raised her, and a mysterious stranger who all touch on human nurturing vs. cyber-nurturing in the twenty-second century. A frustratingly engaging yet heartbreaking take on advanced technology, dystopian societies, and humanity, it’s a story that will sit with you for a while— and for good reason. It’s executed beautifully.
The Endless (2018)
A film about a UFO cult with a very low budget shouldn’t be as spectacular as it is, yet The Endless exists. It relies on mind-bending twists and turns, a mysterious plot, and the need for belonging to examine karma, free will, destiny, and evolution between two brothers. More than meets the eye, you might need a couple watches to fully grasp the gravity of the film’s intricate construction, but it doesn’t stop you from feeling unsettled throughout its entire runtime. Great acting, few environments, and eerie framing is what makes The Endless the sci-fi triumph it really is.
Interview with the Vampire (1994)
Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise are gay vampires in puffy sleeved shirts and top hats. Its an old timey vampire tale of violence despair love and revenge. Also there is an interview with a vampire, as promised. What more could you ask for? (Also should’ve been the film Tom Cruise won an Oscar for but I digress).
Relic follows a mother and daughter who go to their grandmother’s house after being reported that she has gone missing. Once at the house, it is noted that their grandmother has dementia and the state of the house begins to reveal the severity of her diagnosis. When the grandmother returns, she is acting unlike herself, and worried about a creature hiding within the house. This all leaves the viewer to question who is to be believed and can this family survive. Relic beautifully and hauntingly showcases how dementia can affect a family, and the generational effect it can partake on its victims. Through the lens of horror, Relic tells the tale of a family coming together. No matter how gruesome it may be.
Please don’t watch this movie while you’re eating. Swallow is portrayed through the lens of the perfect housewife, Hunter. A young, beautiful woman who is married to a successful business man and spends her days cleaning the house and cooking dinner for her husband. As she reluctantly becomes integrated into her husband’s life and family, her sense of self begins to dwindle. Once she finds out she is pregnant, Hunter begins to swallow small objects around the house. With each one, a sense of arousal and satisfaction appears on Hunter’s face. Once these objects start to interfere with Hunter’s pregnancy, her life of servitude turns to a life of monitored decision making. Swallow is an excellent critique on a “perfect” life. Seeing how a lack of individuality and sense of purpose can push people to put their own lives at risk to find a sense of belonging within themselves.
The Invisible Man (2009)
The Invisible Man is literally about an invisible man. Well, it’s more complex than that. Cecilia, played by Elizabeth Moss, escapes her controlling and abusive ex-boyfriend and ends up living with her sister. When she finds out that her ex is dead, Cecilia begins to sense his presence around her. Remembering him saying that he will find her, even when she thinks she doesn’t see him. A series of encounters including taking photos of her while she’s asleep, finding her in the shower, and pulling a knife on her, make Cecilia believe that her ex has found a way to be invisible and kill her. The way the film shows how women are not believed in such situations is brilliant. Everyone around Cecilia doubts her and tries to get her to believe that she is mentally ill. Many victims of abuse do not report their incidents due to the simple fear of not being believed. The Invisible Man shows this through the simple invisibility of the perpetrator. The figure that is there and tormenting the victim, yet is not visible by anyone else. Which poses a question to the other people in the film, how can we believe something to be real based on words alone?
I can’t believe it’s taken this long for us to recommend Coraline. Commonly thought of to be directed by the claymation master himself, Tim Burton, it was actually directed by Henry Selick. The film, based on a children’s book of the same name, follows a young girl, Coraline, who has just moved into a new home. While her parents are preoccupied by work and unpacking, Coraline explores her new home, and finds a small door where a path opens at night. Coraline follows this path and enters a new world where her parents are attentive and caring, there’s food she loves, and things that cater to her interests everywhere. Yet, there’s a catch, everyone in this world has buttons for eyes. When proposed to stay in the new world by sewing on buttons for eyes, Coraline begins to see this fantasy world unravel. Now as an adult, I can see how this film not-so-sneakily looks at how lack of attention to a child can have a great impact on a child’s life. As the parents become more and more annoyed and engulfed in their own tasks, Coraline frequents the new world more and more. Luring her into what turns out to be a horrifying place. Coraline also does an incredible job in animating the entire film. Mostly done in stop-motion Claymation, the textures, color, and feel of Coraline’s worlds are masterfully depicted in this animation style. It’s rare to see a film animated in this way. Coraline made me fall in love with Claymation and stop-motion animation when I first saw it when it came out. The film has stuck with me as a nostalgic return to the whimsical world that animation can bring us.
They Live (1988)
John Carpeter’s 1988 They Live tells the story of a construction worker—played by wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper, filling the spot usually occupied by Kurt Russell in Carpenter’s movies—who stumbles upon a pair of sunglasses that allow him to see under the surface of the media bombarding us every day. The glasses reveal the subliminal messages of mass media, as billboards and advertisements are replaced by words and slogans like “OBEY,” “CONFORM,” “CONSUME,” “STAY ASLEEP,” and “THIS IS YOUR GOD” and some people are revealed to be grotesque aliens hiding openly in society. This is a John Carpenter movie, so it may not be subtle, but that’s not the point—the social commentary rings as true today after thirty-some years of neoliberalism dominating America’s politics since Reagan. But it’s also fun as hell, and it’s worth a watch if only to see Rowdy Roddy Piper walk into a bank with dark shades, hoisting a shotgun, and calmly proclaiming “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.”
Vampires vs The Bronx (2020)
Vampires vs The Bronx is the most fun horror movie of 2020. It features 3 teens from the Bronx (obviously) who are seeing their neighborhood taken over by gentrifiers who are buying out all of their favorite businesses. Also 1 of these corporate vampires happens to be a group of real life vampires. The teens along with the help of their local bodega owner (The Kid Mero), seek to take the fight to the vampires and protect the neighborhood. Yes, its basically a NYC version of Attack The Block, but its still great so get over it.
As someone who lives right on the edge of the Dominican Bronx community featured in the film, I can say that they very well represented the attitude of the people, their culture, and what their response would be if vampires really started showing up. A little bit scary, but also a lot of fun. I mean, Method Man plays a priest. This is going to be a great addition to my favorite October films.
The Halloweentown Trilogy (1998, 2001, 2004)
Counted among the quintessential Halloween movies, most kids of the ‘90s grew up with dreams of the beloved Halloweentown. The Cromwell kids and their magical grandmother, Aggie (Debbie Reynolds) find themselves whisked into a magical, mysterious world of Halloweentown. This family-friendly adventure follows 13 year-old Marnie (Kimberly J. Brown), 12 year-old Dylan (Joey Zimmerman), and 7 year-old Sophie (Emily Roeske) as they discover their family’s secret clan of witches, but not without a run-in with town mayor turned dark evil, Kalabar.
In later sequels, the Cromwells face off against Kal (Kalabar’s mega hot son) in Halloweentown 2: Kalabar’s Revenge and the Halloweentown councilman Dalloway in playful teen outing Halloweentown High. Magic and monsters are always the center stories, but scene stealing Debbie Reynolds makes us all believe in a world where magic can overthrow greedy politicians and there’s a place for all in Halloweentown. – Amanda
Fright Night (1985)
Fright Night is the perfect 80’s vampire movie despite feeling significantly less 80’s than its companion film The Lost Boys. Both have perfect amounts of silliness, sexiness, and respect for the horror classics. Fright Night follows sexually frustrated and horror obsessed weirdo, Charley Brewster, and his girlfriend, Amy, as they notice that their new neighbor may be a vampire. Out of their element, the crew consult the 2 best vampire fighters they know of: Evil Ed (a creepy lunatic kid from school), and Peter Vincent (a horror tv host that only a teenager would believe in). To be honest, it goes better than you might expect.
Fright Night is a haunted rollercoaster of a film that is just so much fun from start to finish. The seductive vampire, the brutal familiar, the damsel in distress, this is one of the last “classic” vampire movies that is a true success, and it should be a mainstay in any horror fans catalogue, especially for the top notch practical effects.
The Cube (1997)
There have been a bunch of movies that are essentially the same plot: a bunch of random people must escape a super complex and sadistic trap, Saw of course has become the most famous for repeating this concept in all of its sequels, but there have been many films that follow this pattern. However, 1997’s The Cube was the first to really do this trope well, and therefore has become a truly influential film in the horror genre.
What makes it so great? It has a crazy and interesting concept, good acting, a beautiful set, and just enough twists to keep the viewer guessing. The film follows a handful of seemingly unconnected people who wake up in a deadly maze which seems to be in the shape of a giant Rubik cube. Each square is a different room, and can access all the squares neighboring it, but some rooms are equipped with deadly traps. Can the crew figure their way through the maze and each other to the exit? Tune in to find out. Its that simple, or is it.
Horror movies are able to tell stories that other movies can’t (or won’t) tell, usually because those stories are difficult or less marketable. This is why it’s so nice to see horror films now more than ever broaching upon race, gender, and sexual orientation issues within our society. Spirals is one of those films in that it is the story of an interracial gay couple, Aaron and Malik, that move into an isolated suburban town with their daughter to get away from the stresses of the city. However, their new neighbors are not as nice as they appear.
What initially seems like a safe place, turns out to be homophobic, dangerous, and downright evil. When Malik notice their neighbors performing a strange cult ritual, he becomes suspicious, but Aaron feels he is just imagining the bigotry and danger he senses. Of course, things only get worse from there. The film is held together by strong performances of the actors, especially Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Malik) and Jennifer Laporte who plays his daughter. There is a very limited use of gore and special effects, but sometimes it’s the emotional trauma that is the scariest part.
Over the Garden Wall (2014)
The Cartoon Network animated miniseries totals up to about the duration of a movie if watched back-to-back, and its storytelling captures nothing short of the magic of Fall. In fact, I kick off every single Halloween season with a viewing of the entire series, just because it captures that feeling of cool air, leaves changing, and Halloween thrill. Brothers Wirt (Elijah Wood) and Greg (Collin Dean) find themselves lost in the Unknown, a strange forest filled with unique characters. The pair are joined by snarky blue bird Beatrice (Melanie Lynskey) and pursued by the mysterious Woodsman (Christopher Lloyd) and the Beast (Samuel Ramey). As they wander through quirky villages like Pottsfield, Adelaide’s terrifying witch cabin, and other odd spaces, they grow to understand their relationship as siblings and their own world back home. A perfect fall cartoon to make you feel good. – Amanda
Hereditary was one of the most talked-about horror movies of the last decade, and with good reason. A slow-burning family drama as much as a terrifying demon possession film, Hereditary relies not on jump scares or gore but on a feeling of dread that permeates every scene. It follows the disintegration of the Graham family after the death of its matriarch and portrays starkly the realities of loss. After another unfortunate accident strikes the family, things really start to take a turn for the worse. – Zac
Troll 2 (1990)
In the genre of B-movie horror-comedy, Troll 2 stands alone. Unlike most horror-comedies, nothing about Troll 2 is tongue-in-cheek. The film was made to be a straight-up horror, and it’s all the funnier for its self-seriousness. Troll 2 follows Joshua, a child whose family takes a vacation to the town of Nilbog, a picturesque country town occupied by vegetarian goblins who disguise themselves as friendly country folk ruled by a Druidic witch. Along the way, he’s aided by the ghost of his grandfather. If it sounds bonkers, that’s because it is. The goblins are little more than actors in burlap sacks and Party City masks, the cast is made up of amateurs, and the script was written by a man who spoke exclusively Italian. It is an undeniable masterpiece. – Zac
The Platform (2019)
The Platform showcases one of the many true horrors of the human experience:
capitalism, hunger. The film opens up with chefs cooking a gigantic meal packed with all different assortments of food and arranged on a large table. When Goreng enters a “vertical self-management center” and wakes up in a cell on level 48 with an older cell-mate, his confusion, regret and disdain for his choices bubble up. He soon finds out that a platform of food drops down once a day with the leftovers from the 48 previous levels. He and his cell-mate have a limited amount of time to eat the food until it drops down to the next level. You cannot hoard food or else there will be severe consequences, some resulting in mortality. The film showcases what hunger does to one’s psyche, and the ways in which those with more forget those who have less, which are realities more horrifying than any creature in a movie can portray. – Sarah
Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (2019)
If you’re craving something different to feast your eyes on, and your… other senses, may I suggest the Finnish film, Dogs Don’t Wear Pants, which brings in all of the elements that make a good film, shock, awe, Mes en Scene, BDSM, and a Euro-cool soundtrack. Featuring an incredible cast and a unique story, this film hits in all the right places.
Dogs Don’t Wear Pants follows the story of the talented but grieving surgeon, Juha, who forges a bond in the most unlikely place, a dominatrix, Mona. The relationship between Juha and Mona is complex and deep and suffocating, providing a narrative on sex and grief, unlike anything you’ve watched before. The film boasts a stark Finnish landscape that’s brutal and sleek. Through the film, the viewer explores a world with a sexy underbelly that Juha, played by the incredible Pekka Strang, enters on accident, and meets the mysterious Mona, played by the captivating Krista Kosonen. Autoerotic asphyxiation is the main star of this series, and as Juha descends into the depths of BDSM, we journey through the culture with him.
What makes this feature incredible, is its use of European Auteur story-telling, similar to a Chabrolian or Bergman feature, this is a slow burn that fills us with unease the further in we go. Watching the steady surgeon, expertly calculated and patient, lose his trademark characteristics and risk his life and relationships for more of Mona. It’s a domestic drama and thriller that leaves us on the edge of our seat as we try to guess how far Juha will go to escape his grief. Overall, this film has everything, sex, suspense, Scandinavian minimalism, and a narrative that burrows itself into your brain long after the credits role. – Konstantina
The Babadook (2014)
As a mysterious children’s book presents itself in the home of widow Ameilia and her son Sam, their world shifts out of reality. Dealing with the loss of her husband, Sam’s father, Ameilia is exhausted and is trying her best to cope with her son’s behavior on top of her looming grief. The main character of the book, the Babadook, haunts Amieilia and Sam, beginning in the night and transitioning into daylight as the hauntings become more severe.
The Babadook symbolizes mental illness, and the film makes for a very thoughtful discussion of living with struggling mental health, but on a more direct level, it is an incredibly creepy and scary story. The Babadook, lurking in the shadows, is never for than 1 bad day away. The Babadook does an excellent job of keeping viewers on the edge without losing track of the deeper message. – Sarah
The Haunted Mansion (2003)
The Haunted Mansion is incredibly cheesy and not at all what you’d expect in a ghost movie, until you remember it is in fact a Disney movie. But despite what the critics said at its release, I actually love this Eddie Murphy comedy. Based around the Disney attractions, we follow the Evers family as they venture into seemingly real estate jackpot, The Haunted Mansion. The family unravels the mystery of the deaths of Edward Gracey (Nathaniel Parker) and Elizabeth Henshaw (Marsha Thomason), but not without the interference of the mega creepy Terence Stamp as ghostly butler Ramsley.
We get plenty of storytelling nods to beloved favorites of the Disney attraction, from the singing busts to charmingly scary Madame Leota. Though I’d love to see a ride-based remake at some point, this movie is playful and works as a great entry into ghost stories for families or scaredy cats like yours truly. – Amanda
It Follows (2014)
In another decade It Follows would’ve been a wreck. A film about a supernatural curse passed along through sex, this movie could be a schlocky excuse for gratuitous nudity and gore. Instead, it’s the patient and charming story of a group of teenagers trying anything they can to survive. There is in fact no nudity, little gore, and, shockingly, a lot of depth to each character. It reminds me at times of a slightly more mature take on Stranger Things – a group of kids are thrown into a terrifying situation but never lose the opportunity to just be kids. – Zac
A classic by Ridley Scott, Alien, follows a crew of astronauts as they answer a distress call on their journey in space. As they explore the planet that they land on they investigate eggs of an unknown creature. One crew member gets exposed to one of the creatures as it latches onto their face. What follows is a series of fear-based decisions, lies, and deception. As the alien creature grows in size, the crew are left to fight back for their survival on the ship. This film launched the careers of Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver, as well as a series of sequels. It was groundbreaking in the Sci-Fi/Horror genre, and remains in my opinion required viewing for any fan of cinema. – Sarah
Tower of Terror (1997)
Buzzy Crocker (Steve Guttenburg) and his niece Anna (Kirsten Dunst) investigate a shuttered hotel where five hotel guests disappeared after a lightning strike in 1939 on Halloween. There they encounter the ghosts of singer Carolyn Crosson, actor Gilbert London, child star Sally Shine, nanny Emeline Patridge, and below Dewey Todd, who turn out to be cursed to haunt the hotel. It’s up to Buzzy and Anna to help uncover the truth and break the curse before it claims lives of new victims aboard a newly repaired elevator.
The movie is a new story set to an existing Disney ride, which was originally created based on a story from The Twilight Zone. Here we get to see a young Kirsten Dunst in a chilling ghost story, but still with enough Disney magic to it to keep the scare factor in a sweet spot. – Amanda
Adapted by the book of the same name by Steven King, Carrie follows teenager Carrie White as she goes through her days in high school. She is tormented and bullied by her fellow students as well as her overprotective religious mother. The movie explores femininity and the ways in which women are often demeaned. One of the many plot points of the film involving Carrie getting her period for the first time. The students bully her for it, and her mother deems it as a sin. In revenge for receiving detention for bullying Carrie, the students plan a prank on Carrie on prom night. In response Carrie reveals a kept ability of hers resulting in a supernatural disaster. Now analyzed for its portrayal of feminism, Carrie is an absolute stand-out film in the horror genre. – Sarah
The Terror (2019)
The Terror is a horror series with incredible acting, writing, effects, and production. While AMC has hosted many horror tv series, this by far has been the best. The single season series gives an alternative history of what happened to the unsolved mystery of a group of British navy explorers who set out to cross the ice north of Canada. Unfortunately, their ships get stuck in the ice, and it didn’t get any better from there. None of them were ever seen again.
Essentially Master and Commander meets The Thing, the series hypothesizes that the crew, sick, half frozen, and poisoned by rotten food, were then attacked by a beast ancestral to the ice. But the monster isn’t the scariest part. The Terror really conveys the horror that is attempting to cross the ice in an era sailing ship, the disease, backstabbing, and environmental torture. Every character, from the captain, to the doctor, to the stow away, are dynamic and interesting. You will be entranced by the beautiful settings, and disgusted as they turn dark with violence and death.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
No movie has captured the hearts of a generation quite like Salem-set coming of age film. The Sanderson Sisters of Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Najimy) are brought back from the grave after teen virgin Max Dennison (Omri Katz) insists lighting the legendary Black Flame Candle to impress his classmate, Allison (Vinessa Shaw), and sister Dani (Thora Birch). It all goes wrong when the child-hungry witch sisters are back with a vengeance to suck the lives of all of the children of Salem to live forever young and beautiful. Joining in the menagerie cast is cursed to live as a forever feline Thackery Binx (Sean Murray), who acts as a guide in the kids’ escape from the witches.
Between the hijinks of fleeing the Sanderson Sisters through graveyards, Halloween parties, and high school, the chase of ancient magic and 90s living is nothing short of delightful. The cast is nothing short of spell-binding, and that includes the Bette Midler song-and-dance sequence of “I Put a Spell on You” that will leave you swearing yourself to be a Sanderson sister. – Amanda
Hell House LLC (2016)
Horror is a film genre where low budget projects can thrive, (Paranormal Activity, Blair Witch Project, etc.). Especially with the development of cheaper cameras, productions have been able to succeed and even craft convincing scares without a Hollywood budget. That’s not to say that every cheap horror movie is a success, far from it, but sometimes it works, and Hell House LLC is one of those.
Hell House LLC is movie about a bunch of friends putting together a haunted house, except the house they are building it in, happens to already be haunted. First you see the footage of their disastrous opening night, but then you are led back through the history of their haunted house adventure and see how things went so wrong. Yes its DIY, and not the best acted film, but it has its scary moments and feels just believable enough to stick a thought in your head next time you’re on line for a haunted house. – Henderson
Ghost Stories (2017)
I nearly skipped over this movie because of its nondescript title, but I’m glad that I gave it a chance because it’s a very smart and underrated UK horror that introduces a couple new ideas to the genre. The film tells the story of a “debunker” aka someone who goes around proving that ghosts aren’t real. One day out of the blue he receives a message from his hero, a past debunker who had gone missing. The message is a challenge and a warning, ghosts are real and if you don’t believe me, go visit these three people. Our debunker star refuses to give up on his life’s work, but as he visits each of these characters and hears more about their stories, things become increasingly creepy. Each of these visits becomes a film of it’s own in many ways, making Ghost Stories almost a horror anthology. Well-acted, and pretty well written considering the heady concept, Ghost Stories is a film that won’t leave your mind. – Henderson
The Lodge (2019)
The Lodge is a film about being a step parent, children dealing with the suicide of their mother, and the isolation of winter. If that doesn’t sound grim enough for you, there is also a mass cult suicide involved. So I will just lead off with that, but intertwined with all that is the story of a step mother that cant tell if she is losing her mind, and two kids who can’t tell if their step mother is a maniac. When the three of them are left behind in a winter cabin together for a week, good things do not ensue.
This movie is more of a slow burner in the style of Hereditary or House of the Devil, but it got far less notice than those films. Give it a watch next time you are looking for a real upper. Okay, not really, but its a phycological thriller that you might not be able to completely predict. – Henderson
Mom’s Got a Date with a Vampire (2000)
Have you ever considered setting your mom up on a date with a stranger so you can get to the gig? That’s exactly what Adam Hansen (Matt O’Leary) and his sister Chelsea (Laura Vandervoort) thought they were doing, but it turns out mom Lynette (Caroline Rhea) has fallen into the charming trap of Dimitri (Charles Shaughnessy). Following vampire lore, only true love can break the spell of a vampire once his victim is ensnared. It’s up to the Hansen siblings with little brother Taylor (Myles Jeffrey) and one vampire hunter Malachi Van Helsing (Robert Carradine) to break up the wacky date. The tone of this move is all over the place, but you won’t grow tired of the absurdity of seeing Aunt Hilda of Sabrina the Teenage Witch on a date with Mr. Sheffield from The Nanny, all pursued by Lizzie McGuire’s dad to catch them. Whew, that was a lot of 90s show plugs that just feel right. – Amanda
Haunt is a bloody mess of a movie. It’s a Eli Roth produced film about a pop-up haunted house attraction run by a bunch of real sickos that want to create some real scares. Part Saw trap fest and part slasher, its really all just about which of the teens will make it out alive. I came into this one with low expectations, but was surprised by the effects, the background characters, and the complexity of the haunted house itself, which becomes its own character in the film. Give it a chance, but get your popcorn ready, cause this one is a blood-soaked murder party. – Henderson
Pumpkinhead is a weird movie, and yet, a classic! It’s a film about a poor rural dude whose son is accidentally killed by a group of rowdy biker teens. Naturally, he wants to get revenge, so he visits the local witch lady who helps him summon a murderous swamp demon known as Pumpkinhead. Pumpkinhead then sets out on what could only be described as a rampage. The special effects for the monster are the perfect balance of hokey and spooky, and the acting is equally cartoonish and sincere, and somehow it all works. Pumpkinhead might not make a ton of sense, but it’s a classic for a reason, it’s just a good time. – Henderson
Sinister is a movie that is legitimately scary, and I say that as someone who watches a lot of horror movies. It’s a bit of a mindbender and follows a writer, played by Ethan Hawke, who begins to find videos of horrific murders. Each of these murder tapes is a creepy little snuff film, and yet you (the viewer) and Ethan Hawke (the character) are both engrossed by them. Ethan sets out to solve this mystery of how these murders occurred and why they are connected, but unfortunately what he learns is not good news for him or his family. Great performances, a dark screenplay, and some true scares make for a seriously frightening film that might just have you leaving the lights on for a while. – Henderson
PS if you can handle the first one, the sequel is somehow nearly just as good, and builds on the mythology of the tapes.
Don’t Look Under the Bed (1999)
Everyone talks about “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” as the scariest entry in kids’ thriller television, but may I introduce you to the “Boogeys” of Don’t Look Under the Bed? Mysterious things like dogs appearing on roofs, alarm clocks setting off in the middle of the night, and “B”s painted everywhere begin to appear in Frances Bacon McCausland’s (Erin Chambers) hometown of Middleburg. When her little brother’s imaginary friend Larry Houdini (Eric “Ty” Hodges II) appears only to her, it’s up to the duo to try to catch the Boogeyman before it’s too late for Darwin (Jake Sakson). The Disney Channel Original draws on some of the scariest tropes in horror, from moving dolls to shadowy creatures under the bed, but also tells a powerful story of family trauma and healing. For all of its heart, it will still have you checking under your bed and pulling the blankets over your head in fear of your neglected Boogey. – Amanda
It’s in this French film’s underlying premise that makes Raw an unforgettable act of horror. Mixing together coming-of-age with cannibalism, the thriller is a masterpiece at depicting a more dramatized version of how we view ourselves and the transition of who we, ultimately, are destined to become.
This is one of those movies where audience members were fainting from its gore at film festivals, and it lived up to the hype, building to be one of the best body-horror films of the last decade. It details a young girl’s life as she goes off to college, obtaining an addictive taste to off-menu options. Littered with social commentary and conversation starters, Raw is an exploding feminist, female-body politic piece. If you get queasy quite easily, be weary of watching, but the movie’s lasting impact is worth it. It really is. – Hope
Evil Dead 2 (1987)
The title may fool you, but Evil Dead 2 is really more of a remake than a sequel. Sam Raimi burst on to the horror scene with his classic splatter fest Evil Dead in 1981 on a shoestring budget. A few years later, he set out to remake the same film again but big, better, and bloodier. It’s evidence of his directing chops that he was able to succeed and make something so special on it own merits.
Evil Dead 2 is a absolute blast, with stunning practical effects, zany acting, and a screenplay that exemplifies the best of the horror/comedy genre. Bruce Campbell plays the lead and carries this film even more than the first. This performance is what really cemented him as horror’s wacky protagonist, and led to him appearing in dozens of similar roles and spin offs. The film takes place in a remote cabin when a few people stumble upon a book of dark spells and accidentally summon demons, which they then have to fight in a battle to the death. There are demons outside in the woods, demons possessing them, and even demons in the basement. “Someone’s in my fruit cellar! Someone with a fresh soul!”. More silly than scary but a good amount of both, Evil Dead 2 is the kind of film that unites the easily frightened and horror diehards, its indisputably good. – Henderson
I Sell The Dead (2008)
I Sell The Dead is the story of a pair of grave robbers in old timey England, who steal bodies to sell for some cash. Who hasn’t been there themselves, amirite? While laboring through their profession and schemes, they come across some vampires, zombies, and other crazy creatures, which they realize are worth even more money than your traditional dead peasant dude. Talk about a dark plot, but the black humor keeps things fun.
The effects are simple but well done, but the writing and actors make the movie. Right off the bat you’ve got Dominic Monaghan from Lord of the Rings/Lost as an imprisoned grave robber and Ron Perlman from Hellboy as a drunk monk. Death is present in every scene but everything down to the soundtrack has a silly feel, making for just under an hour and a half of dark jokes and good performances. – Henderson
The Innkeepers (2011)
I absolutely love a good ghost story. There’s something about it, that you don’t get in a slasher, or demon movie. Innkeepers is one of those traditional ghost stories and it is executed to perfection. Luke and Claire are 2 bored hotel employees and amateur ghost hunters. With their hotel closing down, they decide to take one last look around for any ghosts. Expecting to just have one last good time on the way out, this ghost hunt turns out to be far more successful than the past. Unfortunately, it’s also a little too much for them to handle.
Director Ti West (The Roost, The House of the Devil) is a master of slowly building tension. This movie starts out with some fun introductions the characters, but due to the great acting and thoughtful writing, you actually care about them. Then it starts to ramp up with the ghosts. There is a scene with a piano that scares the shit out of me even after seeing it multiple times. All along the way, a dash of comedy and well placed scares keep you on the edge of your seat. – Henderson
This film is essentially a French 28 Days Later, aka your standard gritty 2000’s zombie movie, but its well executed and original enough to be worth your time, especially if you’ve already seen all the English language classics. Well shot on a low budget with a small cast, this film builds tension and creates a story without a huge set or massive special effects scenes. Don’t worry, there is constant action. You are just sort of dropped right into the fray, watching 4 survivors racing away from the mutants and searching for a supposedly safe military base. Soon 4 becomes 3, and then 2. There is hope for a cure! But can they live long enough? Doubtful.
This film mostly sticks to the traditional fast zombie mythology. Rabid biters just flinging themselves around at people. It’s all made a little more hectic and scary because this film never really explains what is going on. It is left to the viewer to figure out, what the character’s are up to, and what might be the next step in their plan. It’s an intelligent way to make films, and it’s refreshing in the zombie genre where most films are mind numbingly simple. – Henderson
The Host (2006)
The first time I wrote about this movie, director Bong Joon-ho was a little know Korean filmmaker, years later I revised it to mention that he had also worked on the successful films Snowpiercer and Okja, and now he is known as the guy who shattered all the records at the Academy Awards with the release of Parasite. The point is, he has long been an extremely talented filmmaker and he is now becoming only more popular and recognized for his work. However, The Host has remained one of the lesser known gems of his past work.
This true creature feature, is the story of a blue collar family who owns a snack stand by the Han river in South Korea. The slacker dad, his darling daughter, the kind grandfather, the athlete aunt, and the businessman uncle, all scratching out a living on the edge of the city. Unfortunately for them, that also happens to be the place where an American doctor is dumping chemicals, and a giant mutant squid creature arises.
Incredibly well acted performances by the entire cast, an engaging screenplay, and CGI that somehow continues to hold up, make The Host a truly special work by the young future icon, and also its a ton of fun. I mean there’s a freaking squid eating people. – Henderson
Krampus is a holiday horror film about a giant evil Santa and his demented elves who will come murder you if you aren’t nice to your family on Christmas. Not exactly a plot that puts your mind to the test, but Krampus is a good time. Not a good time for its characters particularly, they are forced to fight off a horde of “demented fairy tale horseshit”, but this is one of those fun films where you can grab your popcorn, and make predictions on who you think will survive the onslaught.
What makes this film work is the constant action and engaging comedic performances from Adam Scott (Parks and Rec) and his shithead brother in law David Koechner (Anchorman). By 20 minutes in there are monsters already attacking, and the back half of the film is pure mayhem. It also features some really interesting creature designs and even some practical effects. Its one Christmas horror that is still worth your time in October. – Henderson
The Ring (2002)
When I first watched The Ring at a middle school sleepover, I was rattled to my core. I rewatched it later in life thinking that it couldn’t possibly be as scary as I remember, and yeah no, its really scary. The Ring is an American remake of the Japanese horror classic, Ringu, and is a classic in its own right. It stars a fantastic Naomi Watts as a young mother who watches a creepy cursed VHS tape (remember those), that will kill you 7 days after you watch. Immediately she begins investigating the tape and trying to figure out how to survive. When her strange son watches it, the quest becomes twice as drastic.
The film is a mystery as well as a terrifying film. As you follow along on the quest to find the origin and meaning of the tape, you become even more engrossed with each creepy element of the video and the surrounding circumstances. The more it pulls you in the more it gets to you. There are a couple jump scares, and a little bit of gore, but its the psychological grind that really makes this film so scary.
Horror as a genre has produced a ton of awful remakes, but also a few that separate themselves and perfectly execute their vision, The Thing, The Fly, etc. The Ring belongs with those among the best of the best. PS, if you have the guts, The Ring 2 stars the same cast and is somehow nearly just as good, as it continues with the story of the tape. – Henderson
Marianne is a super creepy and distinctly French horror series about a tortured horror writer, Emma, who heads back to her hometown after giving up writing scary stories, only to find that the horrible witch she wrote about, Marianne, was not at all a figment of her imagination. While the plotline isn’t completely unique, everything about the series is well executed, from the scares, to the effects, to the acting, hey even the English dub is decent!
What makes the series special though is the monster. Marianne has the power to possess anyone, and uses their bodies to worship Satan, cast spells, and murder anyone in her way. She will not stop until Emma is back at her desk spreading her satanic gospel around the world. As Emma and her friends attempt to take on this entity, everything and everyone becomes a suspect. Marianne’s primary host, an old woman, is the single most terrifying actor in horror I’ve seen this year. Marianne is definitely one of the best French horror series of all time, and a contender for horror fans in any language. – Henderson
Attack The Block (2011)
John Boyega has become known for his role in Star Wars, but that wasn’t the first time he was fighting aliens! Attack The Block is an alien invasion movie that takes place in a housing project in London. Instead of a worldwide takeover, one project building is just getting pelted with bear-like space creatures who are hungry for humans. John Boyega and his crew of teenager fight the monsters and try to save the block!
This film has great acting from the entire crew of teens and children, a nonstop action storyline, and nice support from the creature design which is memorable and fun without being too terrifying. I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t enjoy it, especially with it’s short run time, and it helps that under its popcorn sweetness, there are scrappy working class ethics and a deeper message. – Henderson
The Others (2001)
The Others, like The Sixth Sense, is a movie that is ruined if you give away too much of the plot, so I won’t do that. But if you go into this film with no prior knowledge or summaries in hand, you will be surprised and scared throughout by this classic ghost story. Nicole Kidman (star power) plays a mother of two children in the early 1920’s. Her husband has been missing at war for some time and she has started to lose it. Now the children (who are allergic to light?), have begun to see ghosts in the house. But when the Mother starts to see things too, she really begins to go nuts. The new staff of servants however seem unbothered by the disturbances. Are they in on it?
I first watched this film as a kid in my uncle’s hunting cabin and it scared the wits out of me. Something about the fog, darkness and creepy historical setting stuck with me. The film relies on a few too many jump scares sure, but it’s really the atmosphere and the mother’s unnerving performance that make the film work. There is very little gore and special effects in this film, so it really is a traditional ghost story. The powerful performances and spooky happenings will keep you up. – Henderson
ParaNorman is an animated children’s movie that is a fun watch for horror fans and scaredy cats alike. Like the classic Nightmare Before Christmas, this film combines exciting animation, great voice acting, and a meaningful story, to form a great film all ages can enjoy. ParaNorman is the story of a boy named Norman who has the power to see ghosts. However, unlike the boy in the Sixth Sense, he isn’t at all scared by the ghouls, at least not usually. Instead he converses with them at ease while they float around and do their thing. Even his own grandmother is hanging around watching TV. However, that is not to say that this power is a blessing. The local townsfolk think he is a freak and he is mistreated for being different.
When his uncle (who has similar abilities and is also outcast) passes away, he reveals that it is now Norman’s duty to read a story book to an ancient witch grave, or else the dead will rise. Uh what? Yeah this is a wacky one, but that is what makes it so fun. Unfortunately for him, the local bully (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse aka McLovin) prevents him from getting there in time, and now he has to stop the undead and the ghostly witch with his dorky friend and their older siblings. Watch this film and encourage any youngsters in your life to do the same. It makes for a great introduction to horror with a much needed message. – Henderson
When I initially saw the trailer for Frozen, I was unexcited by the idea. Kids stuck in a ski lift try to get down. That’s it? Perhaps you feel the same. Being stuck on the lift sucks, but in the same way waiting at the DMV does, it’s not exciting. What could possibly happen? Well, a lot of really horrible things happen, and because the characters are relatable, you’re actively rooting for them to survive throughout.
The movie provides the feeling that this could happen to anyone, and it’s that realism that makes this movie so terrifying (especially for someone like me that fears heights and large dogs). This movie has only a few splashes of gore, but it’s the things you can’t see that are the most haunting. Watching this film is an ordeal in itself, and when things go wrong for the characters you can almost feel their pain. This film took it’s simple plot to the absolute limit and succeeded. I hate ski lifts now. – Henderson
This film takes a very simple and frequently done horror film setup (group of people fight off bad thing in an isolated place) and does it well. I will tell you right now 99 out of 100 films with this exact setup suck for one reason or another. Either the creature is stupid, or the characters are unlikeable, or the acting is pathetic. Somehow Splinter avoid all of these pitfalls and is a very cool, well done, entertaining little adventure.
The film starts when a raccoon infected with the splinter virus attacks a gas attendant turning him into a mangled splinter monster himself. The Splinter creatures are really unique and interesting. Splinter, for lack of a better name, is a spikey blood mold that infects humans and animals through their blood and then controls their bodies. Think the ‘The Thing’ meets ‘Terminator 2’. If it cuts you, you’re either infected or dead or both. Strap in yourself in for the ride. – Henderson
Re-Animator is certainly a contender for the best B movie ever. Sure it doesn’t really make “logical sense”, but it plays by the rules of its own wacky universe. Like other classic B movies, (Braindead, The Stuff, Evil Dead) this film attempts to gross you out with cartoonishly gory scenes and zany one liners. But unlike most average films of the genre, the result is hilarious. Is this a good movie? Questionable, but I guarantee that you will enjoy it.
This is a film that starts with a doctor’s eyes exploding out of his head, and the main character exclaiming in dead pan, “I gave him life.” Uh, not exactly. The plot is pretty basic. A mad scientist med student (Herbert West) discovers that by injecting dead things with his “re-agent” they will come back to life as murderous zombies. A+ invention if you ask me. He gets his roommate on board, and they start injecting everything they can find. It goes about as badly as you can expect. The practical effects and unpredictable plot keep things moving, but it is the singular performance of Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Herbert West that makes Re-Animator (and the excellent sequel) so enjoyable. Definitely give this one a watch and let the madness flow. – Henderson
In 1408, John Cusack (yes, John Cusack!) is a depressed C rate horror writer who goes to scary places and writes about them. Haunted as he is, he has never even seen a ghost. Creepy bed and breakfasts beg him to stay to increase their sales, but one New York City high rise hotel does everything they can to persuade him from staying. The hotel’s room #1408 is a ghostly deathtrap where there have been 56 deaths. It’s sort of like The Shining but contained to a single small room. As Samuel Jackson says, “It’s an evil fucking room.” Despite all that, the author demands they let him stay in the room, and eventually they relent.
What he finds in 1408 is much more than meets the eye. Initially he is talking shit, but once he starts getting spooked (radio playing, baby crying), he takes it as a challenge. What he doesn’t realize, is that the room is a place that is truly haunted, and not just haunted. The room itself is a psychological trap that lures in anyone who stays there and never lets them leave. Cusack nails the role, and he carries almost the entire film by himself in the hotel room. Samuel Jackson plays the hotel manager and aside from a Tony Shaloub (Monk) cameo that’s pretty much the entire cast. The solid special effects combined with the tricky writing, makes for a movie that is scarier than you’d expect, and sticks in your head for your next hotel stay. – Henderson
Pontypool is a thoughtful mindbender of a movie about talk radio and zombies, so it had me hooked from the start. It opens with an isolated rural radio host (Stephen McHattie) and his small staff chatting conspiracy theories on the airwaves, but they begin to notice that strange things are happening in their small backwater community during a frozen Canadian winter.
The film stays almost entirely in the radio studio and among the staff, and it’s a unique way to watch a zombie apocalypse take place, but that isn’t the only thing that is unique. These are also not your traditional zombies. Sure, they try to eat you alive, but they spread in an unusual and intriguing way. There aren’t many truly new things in horror, but Pontypool found at least one truly new idea in this script. You don’t even notice that this was a low budget film, and you have to give props for that level of DIY expertise. – Henderson
Dale and Tucker vs Evil (2010)
Often hillbillies and country folk are the monsters in horror movies (Wrong Turn, The Hills Have Eyes, etc.), but what if we were just misunderstanding them? This very simple question makes up the plot of the horror-comedy Dale and Tucker vs Evil.
The film is the goofy gory story of 2 country dudes, Dale and Tucker, (very charmingly played by Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk), who head off to the country for vacation and encounter some college kids looking to party in the woods. The college kids instantly think that the country folk are monsters that need to be avoided. When one of the college girls falls into the lake and is saved by Dale and Tucker, the college crew assume she is going to be murdered. The movie then proceeds to show as the frat boys continually injure and murder themselves in an attempt to “save” their friend. Dale and Tucker just keep being stuck in situations that do not look at all like they’re innocent. This simple silly story is carried by the good acting by the leads and the overall cartoonish feel of the whole film. – Henderson
WaxWork, (not to be confused with the inferior House of Wax) is an 80’s horror comedy that is a perfect mix of creepiness, practical effects, blood splatter, wacky storyline, and insane quotable lines “BUT MOM, I NEED THE CAFFIENE, BADLY”. Basically, it’s the story of a bunch of rich college kids that enter a wax museum where the figures come alive. “Weird place for a waxwork, maybe they don’t like customers.”
As they enter each exhibit, they get sent into the world of each setting, its just too bad that instead of celebrity wax figures, they are all murderers and monsters. It’s pretty basic and predictable plot, and the characters are pretty standard 80’s horror fare, but the setup allows the teens to fight against all sorts of different monsters including vampires, the phantom of the opera, a werewolf (played by Gimili from LOTR), a goblin alien thing, and more.
Is this a “good” movie? Hmm… no not really, and I don’t think it even tries to be, but it’s a fun watch. If you like what you see, the sequel is somehow equally as insane and even features a little Bruce Campbell. Like I said, this plotline allows for some pretty fun horror setups. – Henderson
Scream has become one of my favorite horror movies and might be Wes Craven’s masterpiece. It’s one part meta criticism of the horror genre, and one part murder mystery, all caked in a sense of dark humor, suspense, and classic horror movie tropes. I found myself questioning my trust in the characters for the entire movie, and it still kept me guessing until the film’s climax. It is perfectly 90’s. The music, clothing, and slang are all so of their time and place, that it added another level of relevance as the film ages.
The first twenty minutes are completely unexpected, and there is really no set up. The suspense begins right in the very first moments of the movie and ends in shock. At a very basic level, it is about a masked killer, who targets a group of teens for an unknown reason, but it unfolds into a much larger conspiracy. The plot left so much room for variation that even after 3 sweet sequels and 3 surprisingly decent seasons of a TV series later, a new Scream film is in production and horror fans are stoked. That said, nothing beats the original, and Scream is the perfect movie to start your Halloween season without completely sacrificing your ability to sleep, but maybe your ability to answer your phone. – Ryan B
Ari Aster (Hereditary) both wrote and directed Midsommar, however, his sophomore film is little like his debut. The plot of the film follows a young couple, Dani and Christian as they are struggling to keep their relationship together. After Dani goes through a great tragedy, they decide to embark on a trip to the Midsommar festival in a small town in Sweden. As they experience the festival, the distance between Dani and Christian grows stronger. Aster in multiple interviews doesn’t label this film as horror, but as “a break-up film.”, which I agree with, and I think is really the most haunting part of the film.
The way communication operates in romantic relationships is, in my opinion, the key to success. The way that Dani and Christian communicate throughout the film is heart wrenching. Having very little to no communication with each other, and at many points, Christian complaining to his friends of the burden that Dani’s trauma and anxiety puts on him. As Dani finds family and community throughout the festival, Christian steers further and further away from her. Then, things start to get even scarier and more brutal.
Removing the gore and other horror elements scattered throughout the film, Aster does really make a movie about a break-up and all of the stages that a break-up goes through. He tells it in a very gruesome setting, but between the visuals, dialogue and soundtrack, Aster conveys a contemporary break-up classic. Something that makes you reflect upon your own relationships, past or present. – Sarah
The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick’s classic thriller, The Shining, is a must see for any film fan, let alone horror fans. Kubrick masterfully unravels the story of a family of three who move to The Overlook Hotel to essentially be a house-sitter for the winter season. As the family settles in, they notice strange things happening in the hotel and eventually the Hotel gets to them.
Kubrick’s use of cinematography in The Shining is exquisite. From the long drawn out shots of Jack sitting at his desk to the reverse carpet scene with Danny, it’s the small details that really make this movie grand. Jack’s slow descent into madness and how the family pretty much gets engulfed by the possession of the Hotel is what makes this film terrifying to some viewers. The iconic line “Here’s JOHNNY” with Jack Nicholson’s face framed by a broken piece of wood in a door can be recognized even by people who’ve never seen The Shining.
The slow burn the family has into nearly tearing each other apart is what makes The Shining a master of thriller. Each detail is given full attention, making not only for a stunning screenplay and story but also a visual narrative. The Shining is a must see for all. – Sarah
The Gate (1987)
Not everyone wants to be absolutely horrified every time they turn on a horror film. Sometimes you have a mixed crowd or just kids present. The Gate is the perfect movie for those situations. It’s the story of 2 kids who find a magic hole in their yard that leads to “a sleeping race of demons older than the bible”, (sure), when home alone for the weekend and haunting ensues. As with many horror films, this entire movie is carried by a handful of excellent child actors. The crew enlist the older sister and her grouchy 80’s friends to fight back the demons and close the hell gate.
This one borders just the right level of spookiness and animation without getting too horrifying for a rookie horror fan. Even better, its one that not many people have seen before. Which if you ask me, makes for a happy haunted Halloween for the whole family, or just a good night in on the couch. – Henderson
The Ritual (2016)
The Ritual is a scary film about a bunch of British dudes who decide to go hiking in Sweden “its like the Appalachian Trail but more history than hillbillies”. Unfortunately, they decide to take a shortcut through an old forest, and it turns out the history they find there is not so fun. Like Blair Witch Project and other similar films, this movie is made scary right off the jump because getting lost in the woods is a terrifying experience. You don’t know which way to turn and there’s no one to help you. This is made even more scary when you are being hunted by some unknown creature, and once you learn what that creature is, then things get maximum scary. Well acted, violent, and not overly long, this is definitely one of the better and most intense horror films Netflix has released so far. – Henderson
If my childhood is any indication, Tremors was the best horror movie ever, resulting in 9-year-old Hope watching it anytime it was on and annoying my parents until they bought me the entire Tremors saga. Even though this campy, sci-fi film about killer worms in the earth was mocked endlessly on release, there are others out there like me that have an undying appreciation for this tailspin of a flick.
Reaching cult-like heights, there is something about this b-rated, horror-comedy-western (?) featuring incredible dialogue by Kevin Bacon, himself (The man says “motherhumpers” seriously in one scene) that is preposterously lovable. It plays to its strengths, never pretends to be anything but a game of “Don’t Touch the Lava” with “graboid” monsters (that were taken as inspiration for Stranger Things’ Demogorgen), and has just enough action intertwined with a funny script to keep it a horror classic that anyone can watch and find something they enjoy. And if you do, there’s several sequels that are just as ridiculous as the first. – Hope
Goodnight Mommy (2014)
An instant worldwide success in the horror community, this Austrian, psychological fright follows the perspective of twin boys, Elias and Lukas, who come home to their mother having her entire face wrapped up in bandages, which acts as an unsettling visual element for the majority of the movie. As their mother recovers from her cosmetic surgery, things around the house and the behavior exhibited by her turns dark. This enacts Elias to believe it isn’t really their mother underneath the mask but something impersonating her.
Goodnight Mommy is mostly quiet in dialogue and score, making any loud noise or raised voice even more effective, and its prolonged run-time gives the audience even more time to be lulled into a disturbing case of paranoia. The entire last half of the flick is momentous and rises to insane heights, coming to an end that’ll have you scratching your head for a while after. – Hope
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
The Blackcoat’s Daughter is a movie about 2 catholic boarding school girls who stay behind during a winter break. Rose the troublesome senior, and Kat the awkward freshman are stuck together in the cold empty school, after meeting for the first time in the headmaster’s office with only a couple nuns to watch over them. However, both of them have more secrets than they are letting on, and the school itself is hiding something even bigger and darker.
This film is a psychological thriller as well as a horror movie, and it lunges forward with a disjointed non-chronological timeline that keeps the viewer off balance. This is one of those scary movies that drills itself into your mind and settles in there. As you ruminate on each one of the characters, you pick up on more that you may have missed, and suddenly become even more terrified. This film also breaks somewhat new horror territory, what happens to the possessed when the demons are gone. I don’t want to give away any more than that. – Henderson
Kill List (2011)
As someone who has seen their fair share of horror, from all varieties, nothing could’ve prepared me for the dread that the Kill List gave me and continues to give me each time I remember it. British-made, the film’s budget of only $800,000 didn’t hinder it’s overall impact, something that is much darker and more unexpected than you are led to believe throughout the film.
The film follows the journey of Jay, a former soldier and now hitman, the first-half of Kill List is basic in it’s premise. Him and his best friend, Gal, are sent on this assignment to kill three men who have done irreputable things, ranging from pedophilia, sexual assault, and other violent crimes. The standout scene from the first half of the film is the grimly execution of the pedophile, something that shouldn’t feel as satisfactory as it does. But, it is in the Kill List’s second act where the damn bursts and everything comes to a heart-pounding climax. Revealing elements that no one would’ve guessed beforehand, the visuals and psychological trauma portrayed is as disturbing as it gets, something that should be applauded for by the way it is filmed. At the end of the movie, you’ll want to go back, immediately, and hunt out clues while the fading of the last scene will have you saying “What the Fuck” over and over again. – Hope
10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
J.J. Abrams followed up to the shakey camera P.O.V. monster-flick, Cloverfield with a sequel that is far from the original. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat with suspense and occasionally disgust. The film follows a young woman, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, after a car crash that leaves her kidnapped (or saved?) by a man named Howard, played by John Goodman. Howard claims there has been an alien invasion and they need to stay in his bunker, but he seems a little too comfortable with the situation.
The writing is superb, swinging the audience from feeling safe to the verge of extreme danger. The entire film feels as if you don’t know what will happen next, hacking into those spaces when the audience and the characters feel vulnerable and tearing that all down. Abrams does an excellent job at maneuvering the camera to assert the character’s power or lack there-of. Overall, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a ball of terror and suspense. A good watch for those who aren’t a fan of jump-scares but also want to be shaken to the core. – Sarah
V/H/S is a film that terrifies me, because it feels like something dark and real that anyone could stumble onto in a video collection or a strange blog. The movie is an anthology of different P.O.V. or home-video style videos containing the supernatural, the possessed, and anything in between. The low quality of the film itself is what makes the film so scary and realistic. It’s “found footage” style is what makes it feel as if it could happen to you or anyone for that matter.
Watching it for the first time, I had serious doubts, but as each sequence continued, I realized this is not your typical B movie anthology. It scares you when you least expect it and has such a wide range of creatures and monsters that there’s definitely something you will be afraid of. The stories are loosely tied together, but mostly you can just tune in for the roller coaster of frights. If one doesn’t get to you, the next one will. – Sarah
In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
In the Mouth of Madness is John Carpenter’s best movie. That’s right. I said it. I know what you’re thinking. “What about The Thing? Or Halloween? Or Big Trouble in Little China? Or Escape From New York? And to you I say “Ok, In the Mouth of Madness is John Carpenters fifth best movie”. But John Carpenters fifth best movie still puts Mouth of Madness in the hall of fame for any cinema fan.
In the Mouth of Madness is set in a town that doesn’t exist, Hobb’s End, New Hampshire. But we soon discover that Hobb’s End is far from fiction. Madness follows Sam Neil (Jurassic Park) as a private investigator who’s hired to track down a man named Sutter Kane, a best selling horror author and this universe’s Steven King (although canonically, King also exists in the universe). There are strange reports of Sutter Kane’s new novel causing insanity in its readers and the author himself has gone missing. What follows is too spoiler-ridden to discuss here but suffice to say In the Mouth of Madness is home to an uncommon brand of horror. A creeping feeling of dread more akin to Lovecraft than Blumhouse, and rarely captured on film. On that alone I’d recommend this movie, but thankfully there’s a lot more that makes In the Mouth of Madness worth the watch. – Ryan Manns
Grave Encounters (2011)
When you’re a diehard horror movie fan, you’re almost like a ghost hunter. You’ve seen a lot of spooky shit, but you’re still searching for something no one has seen yet, that’ll still scare you. If you’re like me, you may have also did some amateur ghost hunting of your own. I think that’s why I like movies about ghost hunters so much. I can 100% verify that there are people this stupid, and there are so many ghost hunter shows on TV, which makes for a very realistic scenario and a good excuse for everyone to have cameras.
Grave Encounters is a movie about one of those ghost hunter groups, that struggling to keep their show from getting cancelled, locks themselves in an abandoned asylum overnight. As the caretaker says, “I don’t know if ghosts exist, but if they do, this would be a good place to go looking for them.” At first, they are begging for ghosts, then they are begging for no more ghosts.
There are so many “found footage” fake documentary style films out there, but this is one that is particularly well done. It feels just like you are watching an episode on cable that went too far, and that makes it feel particularly spooky. The effects aren’t amazing, but they are good enough to give you a scare. When hunters realize they aren’t escaping out the front door, the fear factor ratchets up. Sometimes when you’re horror hunting, you find a real one. This is one of those. – Henderson
The Changeling (1980)
After an old composer dude loses his family in a horrible car accident, he becomes super depressed and moves into an old house which happens to be haunted. The old classic formula, but this movie is 1 of the OGs of the genre. Its pretty serious, and more gray and sad than frightening terror, but sometimes that’s just the sort of horror movie you need. Dealing with death is mostly sad and gray and cloudy, not usually a thrill a minute.
The ghost brings itself out slowly at first, but as the hauntings grow in intensity you will feel more drawn into its story. Who knew about the ghost? Was this house purchase a trap all along? This film, along with the Poltergeist, created the genre which has been much imitated, but this film might be one not every horror fan has seen. No gore. Good Acting. No CGI, a pure classic. “Its an old house, it makes noises”. A well made spooky film. – Henderson
The Stuff (1985)
The Stuff is a nearly perfect film. Its silly, its weird, its creepy, its full of quotable lines, and it has a powerful and thoughtful anti-capitalist message. Yeah, this one has meaning folks. For some reason, films that critique our consumer society don’t get the press they deserve. Hmm… well this is like a 1980’s version of Sorry To Bother You, and it cuts just as deep while still being a fun watch even a one-percenter could enjoy.
The Stuff is a movie about a great new food product that everyone loves, it tastes good, and once you try it, you want to have more! It practically sells itself! Does anyone even know what it is? Who cares! Its spreading so fast and everyone is getting rich! The only people investigating the tasty blessing are The Stuff’s competitors, big ice cream corporations through a spy named Mo “Money”, a cookie entrepreneur “Chocolate Chip Charlie”, a disgruntled former employee, and a random child who happens to see The Stuff moving on its own. The film shows as The Stuff dominates American society and becomes the most popular food item on the planet, before exposing its… side effects. The first time you watch this movie you will be tuning in for the roller coaster ride and fun practical effects, but on the second watch you’ll be taking notes for your Marxist thesis. – Henderson
Channel Zero (2014 – 2018)
Channel Zero is a horror series inspired by reddit posts, and it’s on the Sci-Fi channel. That sounds absolutely destined for failure, but despite all that its good! Each season is about 3 hours long and tells a riff on a story from an internet creepypasta. Season 1 is about a demented children’s show that captures those that watch and it stars that guy from Parks and Rec (no the other guy, the other other guy). Season 2 follows teens entering a haunted house that’s just a bit too scary and a bit too difficult to leave. Season 3 contains a mysterious family of ghostly cannibals and a city beneath their grasp. Season 4 is the story of a troubled marriage, a new house with a tiny basement door, and the murderous contortionist clown that lives there. All 4 are well acted and contain just the right amount of creepy visual effects. They stray away from bad CGI and almost all of the writing is well done. Each season I thought the quality would decrease but it hasn’t, and it ended up becoming an anthology horror series that is worth your time. – Henderson
Get Out (2017)
The culprit in a horror film is typically out of one’s control and difficult for some to perceive as legitimate. Racism checks those boxes, making it suitable for the genre. In Get Out, Chris is understandably uneasy about meeting his white girlfriend’s family, as interracial dating can be a point of contention, but still strives for open-mindedness when Rose assures him he’ll be welcomed. That glimmer of hope is eroded when he becomes yet another victim in the family’s tradition of hypnotizing and manipulating people of color. Soon, Chris finds himself defenseless and panicked.
Horror films often fabricate something fantastical to incite terror, like a demon clown or a ghost, but Get Out demonstrates that preexisting aspects of day-to-day life can be horrifying, too. It still employs exaggeration, which is on-par for the genre, but it’s heavily rooted in our horrific reality. Get Out is a case study in the excellent work that members of marginalized groups can produce when they’re given a chance to flourish as creators, and the truly unique stories they are able to tell. – Bineet
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