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In the Halloween Mood: Frightful Flick Fest

Volume One editor Trevor Kupfer picks scary flicks for every taste

Trevor Kupfer

Every Halloween (or thereabouts), there are a few things essential to the time of year and celebration of the holiday. First, fill a bowl with candy corn and those peanut butter things wrapped in orange and black wax paper. Next, take all the elements of your residence’s beds and couches to create the best living room fort ever (make sure it has an opening at the front, like a tent). The most important element to the tradition of Halloween is a huge load of scary movies. Pop those suckers in, take solace in your fort, and work on getting a few cavities. That’s the way to celebr … wait, shhhh, did you hear that?


CLASSIC

Psycho (1960) Long before Wes Craven and M. Night Shyamalan came along, Alfred Hitchcock killed off his main character and concocted quite an end twist for the Ed Gein-inspired killer.

The Exorcist (1973) Audience members passed out, threw up, and reported possessions after seeing William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel.

Jaws (1975) Steven Spielberg inspired generations of pre-teens to avoid the ocean at all costs with what is believed to be the first summer blockbuster.

Nosferatu (1922) FW Murnau’s version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a silent and pulsating piece of German Expressionism, is the greatest of all vampire films.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) Though it wasn’t the first zombie movie, George Romero’s indie flick reinvented the genre and directly influenced every one since.


FRANCHISES
Child’s Play (1988) Despite being nothing more than a creepy doll, Chuckie just doesn’t seem to die. With five movies down (all quite humorous), there’s apparently a remake of the original on the way.

Friday the 13th (1980) The hockey-masked Jason Voorhees is about to see his fourteenth appearance on the big screen, which is funny considering the villain of the original. Ch-ch-ch-ha-ha-ha. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Wes Craven’s “dreamed-up” creation of scarred Freddy Krueger, who starred in eight films, has the perfect combination of gore, comedy, and Johnny Depp.

Scream (1996) This three-film series (with a fourth on the way) started with Wes Craven satirizing the genre he helped create, then unfortunately revived a line of crappy new ones.

Halloween (1978) John Carpenter started the modern slasher genre (though you could argue for Hitchcock) with Halloween, which saw eight sequels and a Rob Zombie remake.


DISTURBING
Audition (1999) In what would otherwise be a tender romance flick, Japanese director Takashi Miike mastered the twist ending that will have you “on pins and needles.”

The Descent (2005) Claustrophobics beware, for this British horror follows some young women on a caving trip gone wrong.

Se7en (1995) With a diluted serial killer bent on punishing the seven deadly sins, this David Fincher flick is like CSI: From Hell.

Don’t Look Now (1973) Disjunctive genius Nic Roeg takes you on a strange Italian ride filled with tragedy, psychics, and red trench coats.

The Shining (1975) Stanley Kubrick brilliantly revamped Stephen King’s story and ingrained unsettling images of creepy twins, red rum, and Johnny Carson.


CREEPY
28 Days Later (2002) This post-apocalyptic flick from Britain’s Danny Boyle makes zombies far more frightening than previously.

The Haunting (1963) The infamous Hill House has spawned loads of haunted house movies, but Robert Wise’s remains the best. You won’t want to hold hands during this one.

Poltergeist (1982) After seeing some of the freaky stuff in this middle class white home, you’ll know not to build anything on Indian burial grounds. Ever.

Eyes Without a Face (1959) Imagine the action flick Face Off as a horror movie, and the scary parts aren’t Nic Cage’s acting. Georges Franju’s French horror has a doctor performing twisted experiments to restore his disfigured daughter’s face.

Saw (2004) Unofficially the standout movie in the “torture porn” genre noted for mutilation, sadism, and other gruesome violence (Hostel, Ichi the Killer, Devil’s Rejects).


WEIRD
Susperia (1977) This strange and colorful trip involving elaborate murders at a ballet school is Italian horrorist Dario Argento’s best, and started the 80s slasher craze.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968) The only thing creepier than the theme song is the plausibility of Roman Polanski’s popular thriller about Satanists.

Freaks (1932) “One of us. One of us. Gooble, gobble, gooble, gobble.” Tod Browning’s “freaky” film about sideshow performers also stars real sideshow performers.

The Wicker Man (1973) Widely regarded as the best British horror film, this one begins as a mystery on an island of neo-pagans and very quickly “heats up.”

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Tobe Hooper’s indie effort (also inspired by Wisconsinite Ed Gein) about a family of cannibals led by chainsaw-wielding Leatherface was originally banned in several countries due to its violence.


FUNNY
The Evil Dead (1981) Bad horror movies often become cult classic comedies, but none are funnier (or ridiculously gorier) than Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series.

Re-Animator (1985) A medical student successfully concocts a formula to revive the dead and do his bidding. Need I say more?

Dawn of the Dead (1978) George Romero’s follow-up to Night of the Living Dead is an ingenious satire on consumerism as zombies flock to “the mall.”

Leprechaun (1992) A family (Jennifer Aniston among them) must ward off an evil leprechaun after they sneakily steal his pot of gold.

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) Wes Craven has made his share of crap, but this one about a family under attack from some desert mutants is ridiculously laughable.


LET’S NOT FORGET ...
The Blair Witch Project (1999) Even if you don’t actually see the villain, this fake documentary from three college students inspired an entire generation of teenagers to pick up a camera and start shooting.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) No Halloween is complete without Vincent Price, and the master of the macabre is especially over the top in this camp classic.

13 Ghosts (1960) William Castle often placed his marketing gimmicks (3-D, buzzers, skeletons on wire) before the quality of his pictures, but this one is a childhood classic.

Make Them Die Slowly (aka Cannibal Ferox) (1981) Thirty-one countries banned this exploitation horror for unbelievable violence and animal cruelty, and I can’t believe it still isn’t banned.

The Thing (1982) John Carpenter’s remake of The Thing from Another World has morph monsters twice as nasty as those things in Dark Crystal.