It is a bit late, but in honor of Halloween I decided to add a list of horror film recommendations.
***** 15 Horror Films to Watch Halloween Night *****
1. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Premise: A Vietnam War veteran’s life unravels after experiencing a series of strange occurences. A case of PTSD and a growing identity crisis turn into full blown psychosis.
Reason: It is terrifying in the existential sense and deeply phillosophical once you understand its meaning. The movie is like a dream mirroring reality slowly turning into a nightmare.
2. Phantasm II (1988)
Premise: An otherworldly necromancer is wiping small towns across America out. The only two survivors of his conquest attempt to save a young woman with whom one of the survivors shares a telepathic bond as the necromancer under the guise of an undertaker slowly takes control of her small town.
Reason: The blurred line between dream and reality is constantly questioned. The road trip exploring the effect of the Tall Man’s conquest creates a nightmarish panorama. Death is around every corner and the homemade weapons are a marvel to see in action. Fair warning: many scenes are not work appropriate.
3. Halloween (1978)
Premise: On a stormy night the day before Halloween a nurse and a psychiatrist drive to a mental asylum to pick up a dangerous catatonic patient to transport the patient to court. Upon arriving they find the front gates wide open. They have a run-in with the homicidal maniac and he takes their vehicle to make his way to his home town. After delivering a key to a haunted house on Halloween morning under the request of her mother, a young woman and her friends become the target of his demented obsession.
Reason: It is the slasher flick that had the budget, writing, soundtrack, directorial vision, and cast to make it an icon. It is a slice of innocence under the threat of impending doom from the embodiment of evil.
4. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Premise: Two members of a television station staff and two SWAT team members take refuge in a mall at the peak of a zombie outbreak.
Reason: The mall is an inherently interesting place, making it a key to survival makes it more interesting, and throwing zombies in the mix pushes the movie over the top. Despite dated special effects, the movie at its core is timeless. In contrast to the remake, it has a set of relatable protagonists in the foreground and philosophical overtones in the background.
5. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Premise: Alien lifeforms grow into human doppelgangers and slowly replace the human race.
Reason: The progression of this planetary conquest from the point of view of the protagonists is a sight to behold. Uneasiness turns to paranoia and then full blown fear as the protagonists realize their loved ones are gone forever. It also stars Leonard Nimoy, which is neat.
6. The Mist (2007)
Premise: A town becomes shrouded in mist and overrun by creatures from another dimension. For many a supermarket becomes a last refuge against the unknown.
Reason: The film adaptaion of Stephen King’s novella knocks it out of the park with great visuals, great acting, and an unforgettable plot.
7. The Shining (1980)
Premise: A caretaker and his family stay in a remote hotel isolated by snowstorms and are terrorized by supernatural occurences driving them to the brink of madness.
Reason: Based on one of Stephen King’s best novels, featuring Jack Nicholoson in the lead role, and directed by the visionary Stanley Kubrick it is sure to entertain.
8. 28 Days Later (2002)
Premise: A bike messenger wakes up from a coma in an abandonned hospital. He ventures outside to find abandonned streets. He ventures into a church seeking answers, but only finds an infected priest. A chase ensues and he becomes the target of an infected mob. He is rescued by a pair of survivors, where he is informed of the calamity that has befallen the world and a new adventure begins.
Reason: The audience is equally as confused as the protagonist at the start of the movie, but over the course of the movie the audience becomes more and more invested in the protagonist and the relationships he forms while venturing out into the post apocalyptic world filled with the infected. The pacing is superb, the acting is fantastic, and the nature of humanity when faced with disaster is laid bare.
9. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Premise: On the night of their graduation four friends become involved in a hit and run. Out of fear, they dispose of the body at a nearby dock and make a pact to never bring it up. A year later they all end up receiving matching notes from an anonymous source that vaguely implicate them in the events that took place on that faithful night. They begin a search for this anonymous source and suddenly become the target of a mysterious killer.
Reason: It is a run-of-the-mill slasher flick, but its execution is impeccable. Its pacing, writing, atmosphere, and character relationships lift it far above others in its category.
10. Art of the Devil 2 (2005)
Premise: Six friends are reunited by the suicide of one of their fathers. They take a trip to a remote village to pay respect to an old teacher. All seems well, but as darkness falls all hell breaks loose.
Reason: Black magic has never been as painfully gory and overwhelming as it is in this film. The atmosphere and storytelling together with the element of otherworldly evil make this film undeniably memorable.
11. Grave Encounters (2011)
Premise: Paranormal investigators investigate a closed down psychiatric hospital, but they find more than they bargained for.
Reason: It starts off like a paranormal investigation TV show before editing has taken place, but as the film progresses what transpires is genuinely frightening and disorienting.
12. Prince of Darkness (1987)
Premise: Under the request of a priest, a professor and his outgoing graduate student perform a study on a mysterious giant cylinder inside the basement of an old unused church. As night draws near a mass of possessed people swarms around the church and the seal on the container breaks loose unleashing the evil inside.
Reason: I am a fan of John Carpenter and this movie hits all the right notes to be an atmospheric and memorable experience.
13. In the Mouth of Madness (1995)
Premise: A private investigator searches for a missing author, whose work has taken the world by storm and incited acts of violence among its readers. After somehow entering a small town serving as the author’s home a strange turn of events brings chaos.
Reason: There are not many films that are considered good adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft’s works and it happens to be a well made film under the directorial vision of John Carpenter. The few flaws in writing are easily overcome by great acting, great casting, interesting twists, and treats of visual splendor.
14. Event Horizon (1997)
Premise: A crew of astraunauts sets out to investigate an old vessel with experimental space warping technology that had disappeared 7 years before and reappeared around Neptune’s orbit. Upon arriving they find signs of a massacre and bizzare video messages. Strange things begin happening as they investigate the ship.
Reason: Space is in many ways the embodiment of isolation and the unknown. This film skillfully twists both elements into an amalgamation of horror.
15. [REC] (2007)
Premise: A reporter and her cameraman follow a couple of firemen responding to a call about a screaming woman trapped inside her apartment. When they arrive they are also joined by two policemen and are escorted to the woman’s apartment. When they confront the woman, she becomes hostile and attacks one of the officers. Upon carrying him out of danger they find the building sealed off and things begin to spiral out of control.
Reason: It is a patient zero zombie story that is very well executed and directed. It is so well done that you could almost picture yourself in the situation.