Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Trick or Treat! The 10 best ever Halloween Movies

Because Halloween wouldn't be Halloween without a touch of silver screen, because movies are as important to October 31 as candy, and just in case you're tired of watching Saw and The Exorcist over and over again and are in need of a little film inspiration, I have put together a list of some of my favourite Halloween titles. 
Not all of the movies I have chosen are scary. I do like to be scared as much as anyone else (although if I have to sleep alone afterwards I might spend the night hidden under the duvet terrified that Jack the Ripper/ Norman Bates/ Linda Blair/ the Monster Under The Bed is coming to get me) but I think there's more to Halloween than just the scary part: it's about celebrating the obscure, the mysterious, the supernatural. It's about black magic and embracing our dark side. Each in its own way, all these movies convey that. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the wickedest celebration of the year!

10. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Classic horror at its best! Monsters! Crazy scientists! Electricity machines! Boris Karloff! And of course the unforgettable Elsa Lanchester dressed as the terrifying bride of Frankenstein... But the reason I love this movie is because of the way James Whale directed it: it's simple, tender and compassionate without being sentimental, and it has flashes of humour and a couple of welcome touches of Hollywood kitsch (that gothic castle in the Scottish moors of Culver City, Ca?). In a way it set the standards for later horror movies, but it is also quite unique in the way it approaches the relationship between monsters and humans. A true must-see. 

9. The Omen (1976)

Okay, this movie is kind of average really. But it features a mature Gregory Peck, and that's good enough for me. The story is pretty standard as well: loving couple has a son who turns out to be an evil child and the Devil's messenger or something, and kills everything and everyone in gruesome ways. On its strong points, the ending is not as deceiving as it usually is in this kind of movies, and it's fun for a rainy afternoon in. Oh, and, you know. Gregory Peck. 

8. The Day The Earth Stood Still (1958)

Nothing beats a good alien movie with retro-designed flying saucers and that howling music they make. The thing that sets apart The Day The Earth Stood Still is the fact that aliens are the good ones in this film, coming to Earth to try and explain to humans that all violence must cease and that Cold War and The Bomb are bound to destroy the Universe. But... will humans listen to their message?

7.Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

For me, this is the number one Halloween comedy. A film in which two old witches bake cakes, kill lonely men and store all the corpses about their house; a film in which a scar-covered Raymond Massey psychologically tortures an Igor-looking Peter Lorre; a film about madness, death and poison... which turns out to be a rom com. Only Frank Capra (and Cary Grant at his best).

6. Carrie (1976)

A bit of genuine fear is always good in Halloween, so what better than Carrie? This movie is unsettling (what's with all the nudity at the beginning?) and terrifying, especially if you're watching it for the first time. Me and eight of my girl cousins watched it together years ago and I can still remember the moment in which we all yelled in utter horror. I think we scared the neighbours, and just that made it worthwile. Also, Sissy Spacek's eyes when all that blood is running through her face... always gives me the willies.

5. The Village of the Damned (1960)

A group of blond children (supposedly the kids of aliens although I secretly suspect they're just nazis) read into the minds of adults and control their actions, causing them to self-harm. This iconic movie is actually quite well built and it's got George Sanders in it for once not playing the villain. Also, who can resist evil aryan kids talking with a British accent?

4. The Blob (1958)

Pure B-series drive-in material! Who could turn it down? For once, it's not about monsters, Frankensteins, aliens, Godzillas or creatures of the Black Lagoon attacking people; here it's all about a sort of giant jelly which looks like it might be cherry-flavored although I think it's actually the blood which gives it its distinctive red color. It eats teenage boys and their full-skirted, buxom girlfriends in their cars and in high-schools and in ice-cream parlors. Luckily there is Steve McQueen to save us all.

3. King Kong (1933)

For those of you craving a monster classic, here's King Kong, the movie that has everything: the Empire State building, stop-motion dinosaurs, a screaming Fay Wray and a deliciously 1930's story. It never ceases to amaze me how it stays fresh, entertaining and surprising after almost a century. If you haven't watched it yet, you should definitely put it in your Halloween to-do list. 

2. Ed Wood (1994)

Before he married Helena Bonham-Carter and started making stupid films about monkeys and chocolate factories, Tim Burton was a great director. No, seriously, this is one of my all-time favourites and I guess it could be defined as a meta-Halloween movie: it's more than a Halloween movie, it's a movie about all Halloween movies. Johnny Depp is Ed Wood, a director so bad he was genius (you should also watch some of his work, it's a lark). He's friends with a decadent Bela Lugosi and has a girlfriend played by Sarah Jessica Parker (who's just as unbearable as good old Carrie B). Burton tells his story with understanding and tenderness towards Ed, his freak friends and their failures. Fabulous in every sense.

1. Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Meet Gary Oldman, aka the hottest Count Dracula that's ever been. I have always been a fan of the original 1931 version of Dracula, but you just gotta love Coppola's version as well (and hey, any movie starring Winona has to be cool, no?): all the symbolist inspiration and  the winks to Cocteau and to the Bela Lugosi movies just make it great. The costumes, sets and special effects (no weird computer things which would have spoiled the whole mood) are all fantastic; Anthony Hopkins is extra as Van Helsing... all this combined with the fact that Keanu Reeves is at his most boring (are there really times when he's more boring than others?) and that Gary Oldman as Dracula is basically sex on legs, will make you want to turn into a vampire asap.

1 comment:

  1. I was actually going to mention that I kind of like old terror movies like Carrie, The Omen and stuff like that... I mean, I get scared really easily so there is something in those films that can scare me, at some point, but due to the old-style effects on it I certainly know what is going on in there is no real.

    So, the thing is I was really going to say all that and then I got to Coppola's Dracula and yesss, that would be my perfect choice! :)



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