It’s that time of the year again, that most wonderful time when children can dress up in potentially offensive costumes, go to strangers’ doors, get candy and no one seems to find this odd; when you go to a costume party and ten people are the government shutdown, or VMA Miley Cyrus & Robin Thicke, complete with creepy teddy bear; and most importantly, when the latest installment in a slasher franchise dukes it out with the indie horror flick (the slasher wins).
It’s Halloween, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Sure Halloween is on a Thursday and most of us will have class the next day, but that shouldn’t stop us horror movie lovers from being able to have the living daylights scared right out of us and stabbed mercilessly on the ground.
Sure, watching classes slashers like Halloween and Friday the 13th is great fun—no one denies the joy in seeing voiceless killers roaming the landscape for horny teenagers—but I propose expanding your horizons this time around. Instead of pure visceral terror, why not give your fragile and splintered mind a ride it won’t soon forget? Maybe you need to have a little fun while being terrified, or just want to see Willem Dafoe having weird sex with Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Well fret not, these horror movies should satiate your troubled psyche:
Let’s start off with something for the art-house movie buff: Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist” does a great job at not only offering up disturbing images of evisceration and bodily disfigurement, but it captures the despair and grief of losing a child, as well as one’s grip on reality, in truly horrifying scenes that will keep you watching until the end. Even the trailer does a good job of letting you know just what you’re getting into, which few movies actually do anymore, and it’s probably a good idea, as this movie isn’t for the faint of heart. Serious trigger warning: self-mutilation.
Ok, something lighthearted and satirical to counteract the pure horror: “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” is in the same vein of “The Cabin in the Woods” — both movies pick apart tropes in slasher movies — but this movie full-on parodies the hillbilly slasher subgenre by making the supposed villains two innocent hillbillies that must make sense of the “teenage suicide pact” that is happening around them.
“The Conjuring,” which came out this summer, seems like so many “haunting” movies that have been made over the last few years — and it’s true that this movie revolves around a family whose new house is possessed by demonic spirits. Nothing new, I know, but what this particular haunting story does so well makes it stand out, namely recreating the creepy 70s feel of classics like “The Exorcist,” where the scares aren’t just cheap gimmicks that make you jump, but really leave you unnerved. A focus on paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), both on the ghost-hunting job and as people that are as frightened as the people they are helping, as well as camera work makes viewers feel like they’re in the haunted house, and really go the extra mile in creating an atmosphere of unsettlement.
Let’s move to Japan, and “Marebito,” made by Takashi Shimizu, who also directed the original “The Grudge” movies. The main character, Masuoka, carries a camera with him everywhere he goes, and witnesses a man commit suicide by sticking a knife into his eye; noticing the fear in the old man’s eyes as he killed himself, Masuoka seeks to understand what could make him so afraid, which leads him into an underground city of ghosts, people that walk on all fours, and a young girl named F. What follows is a strange mix of unsettling phone calls, shadowy figures lurking in the darkness, and plan mind-numbing terror. Just what you need to get you through midterms.
Finally, the 1980s version of “The Thing,” which has gained cult status over the decades by virtue of its star being Kurt Russell and its director John Carpenter, of “Halloween” fame; still, it’s a creepy, Lovecraftian story of the unknown, with just enough 80s action to keep you interested.
An Alaskan sled dog is found by an American research team in Antarctica, which, unknown to them, is actually the eponymous alien hitching a ride in the dog’s body; the alien is able to morph into any form it chooses, creating distrust and strife amongst the team. There are remnants of the original 1958 sci-fi film, which has remnants of the original sci-fi tale written in the late 30s, but what Carpenter adds to his vision is the monster itself, a mass of visceral weirdness. Plus there’s tons of flamethrower action, and who doesn’t love that?
So there you have it — a short list of movies to watch as Halloween rapidly approaches that will give you the chills, a few laughs, or will straight up eat at your undying soul. Proceed with caution, and whatever you do, stay far, far away from “The Human Centipede.”