by Dustin Olson
The weather has changed and soon the leaves will follow. The sun has been yielding ever earlier in the evenings to the darkness. Soon the harvests will be finished and dried leaves will crackle underfoot. Crisp winds bite flesh and in theatres and homes across the nation, zombies bite into the flesh of their victims. And why not? It is, after all, Halloween.
There are several ways to find scares in the fall: haunted houses, gothic novels, campfire stories, and political campaigns, to name a few. Horror movies, though, are where most will find their thrills and chills.
Here, for your consideration, are recommendations for the holiday season.
The Exorcist (1973). The Exorcist revolves around a single mother’s fight to help her daughter, who is possessed by the devil himself. What makes The Exorcist so effective is the atmosphere and the physical effects.
The Woman in Black (2012). In The Woman in Black, Daniel Radcliffe stars as Arthur Kipps, a recent widower who is settling the affairs of a deceased client. As Kipps spends more time in her house, though, the more the children of the village begin to die in horrendous ways.
The Shining (1980). Although Stephen King may have hated this adaptation of his novel of the same name, The Shining continues to frighten movie watchers to this day. The story follows Jack Torrence, played by Jack Nicholson, as he oversees a hotel through a harsh winter. Soon, though, Torrence’s mind begins to break and his family witnesses odd events throughout the hotel, which lead to a stunning conclusion.
Note: It was pure circumstance that led me to picking these movies. Just as it was pure circumstance that every movie on this list was inspired by the true story of Wisconsin’s turn-of-the-century serial killer Ed Gein in one way or another.
Psycho (1960). Psycho is the grand-daddy of all slasher movies. Directed by master film-maker Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho is a film that is usually listed on lists pertaining to great films, because it is one.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Often thought of as one of the 1970s’ bloodiest movies, it may surprise some - even after watching it – to know that there is never really any blood shown throughout the film.
The Devil’s Rejects (2005). The follow-up to rocker turned director Rob Zombie’s first film, House of 1000 Corpses follows the Firefly family on a murderous rampage as they flee from the authorities chasing them. Possibly the most terrifying part of this film is the effect the Firefly family has on the viewers. There is not a single decent act which they are part of. There is not one single redeemable act they perform, yet, in the end, you root them on.
Alien (1979). When Ridley Scott directed Alien, what he envisioned was a mix between Star Wars and a classic haunted-castle story. The original Alien birthed a franchise six films long, not to mention the return of Scott to the Alien world Prometheus in early 2012.
Night of the Living Dead (1968). Let’s be honest. Zombie movies could have had an article of their own. George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead shocked audiences with its grotesque gore and radical (at the time) stance on racism in America.
Jaws (1975). The summer of its release, Jaws was the highest-grossing movie of all time. It’s simple premise was so effective it left this reporter unable to swim in a pool by himself, let alone the ocean, for years.
Clearly, with the amount of horror movies out there, good and bad, this list is far from finite. However, if you are in the mood for blood, ghosts, goblins, devils, or serial killers, this list wouldn’t be the worst place to start.