Top eight blood-curdling Halloween movies
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As Halloween rapidly approaches, the perfect opportunity arises to dim the lights, pop some popcorn, and be transported into this spooky season. Here are the best movies to terrify and entertain you this Halloween!
1. “The Exorcist”
Often cited as the most terrifying film ever made, “The Exorcist” remains infamous over forty years after its initial release. “The Exorcist” is one of the most unsettling and disturbing films ever made, yet it is strangely captivating.
The film is about an adolescent girl named Regan who makes a rapid transformation from normalcy to pure evil after it is believed she has been possessed by the devil himself. Two priests are called to the house to combat Lucifer via an exorcism. Her possession takes the form of head-spinning, uncontrolled vomiting, convulsions, and screaming of profanities. After watching the movie, the viewer will most likely have trouble sleeping and will be haunted by images of Regan in her possessed state. For the viewers who enjoy the terrifying side of Halloween, this is the film for you.
In 1978, John Carpenter released “Halloween,” an independent film with a budget of just over $300,000. Little did Carpenter know, the film would gross $47 million in the U.S. alone and become a cultural phenomenon which would spawn numerous sequels and rip-offs. It is often cited as the first slasher film, and many of the genre’s cliches come directly from it.
“Halloween” is the story of Michael Meyers, a disturbed man who was sent to a mental institution after he murdered his sister on Halloween night in 1963. Fifteen years later, he escapes to return to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois. When he returns, he stalks and kills several local teenagers, including Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), and causes mass panic.
The film is incredibly tense and continually builds the viewer’s sense of dread. While the movie is violent, it relies very little on actual on-screen gore, leaving most of the terror up to the viewer’s imagination. The movie’s iconic score is another noteworthy feature. Its simple repetition of piano chords and the use of synthesizers is bone-chilling and matches the intensity of the rest of the film and the character of Michael Meyers. “Halloween” is an absolute essential for the season and cannot be skipped!
3. “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”
Released in 1974, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is one of the first cult slasher films, and its violent content shocked viewers around the world. The director, Tobe Hooper, made the film with the intention of it receiving a PG rating. However, Hooper’s emphasis on subtlety and off-screen violence left more to the viewer’s imagination and made it more shocking.
The plot is extremely simple: a group of friends travel to an old family homestead where they cross paths with a family of cannibals. Leatherface is a member of this family, and his bloodied apron, chainsaw, and mask of human flesh makes him one of the most disturbing and iconic parts of horror movie history. The cinematography, lighting, and low budget of the film make it startlingly realistic and easy to forget that the movie is fictitious. Stories of horrific conditions while filming directly caused by the meager budget, including intense heat and the use of animal carcasses, add to the legend and lore surrounding the movie.
4. “Night of the Living Dead”
George Romero created the cliche zombie horror movie with slow-moving undead that hunger for human flesh and travel in groups that is still recycled in modern films today. Romero shocked audiences around the world with the oldest and most controversial film on this list, “Night of the Living Dead.” Not only did the film contain graphic on-screen gore, but the protagonist was an African American male in a time when that was not socially acceptable. The film’s content led it to be banned in many places and even received an X rating.
The film’s brilliance comes from its ability to be horrific as well as socially conscious. It makes the viewer reconsider the status of law and order, race, and familial structure. The plot itself revolves around a group of individuals brought together in a house for the purpose of survival as a wave of mass murder breaks out as a direct result of the living dead. This film is for viewers who enjoy learning about the early roots of horror and do not have a weak stomach.
“In space, no one can hear you scream” was the tagline of this 1979 science fiction movie starring Sigourney Weaver. The film takes the viewer on a terrifying journey on the spaceship Nostromo where crew members are awakened from their deep sleep after they receive a mysterious transmission that they believe to be a distress signal. They land on a nearby planet and discover a chamber of hundreds of alien eggs and an unknown creature attached to a crew member’s face. This attachment leads to one of cinema’s most iconic scenes where a baby alien bursts from his chest as the crew is eating dinner. Throughout the rest of the movie, the crew struggles to survive as the terrifying creature stalks and kills. The xenomorph alien from the movie has become a pop culture icon for its ghastly and horrifying appearance. “Alien” is an incredibly tense and terrifying movie that perfectly blends sci-fi and horror.
When the horror movie genre is mentioned, it is impossible to not cite “Psycho” immediately. This 1960 masterpiece from visionary director Alfred Hitchcock remains one of the most unsettling and riveting films ever made over fifty years after its release.
The story revolves around a young secretary who instead of depositing her employer’s money into his account goes on the run to start a new life. Her decision to flee leads her to check in at the mysterious Bates Motel where she meets a man named Norman Bates. The audience soon realizes that Bates is not a typical hotel owner and that his relationship with his mother is out of the ordinary.
The film garnered a large amount of controversy for its portrayal of violence, as well as its policy upon release that no theaters could allow late admission to any screening of the film. The movie is also famous for its shower scene, which set a new standard for violence, terror, and nudity on screen. An unknown figure swipes away the curtain and brutally stabs a woman, complemented by a bone-chilling score composed by Bernard Herrmann. “Psycho” is an absolute must-see for everyone for its historical significance and its compelling story.
7. “Rocky Horror Picture Show”
“Let’s do the time warp again!” “Rocky Horror Picture Show” holds the record for the longest-running movie in history, and forty years after its release, audiences still view the film at midnight every Saturday around the world. Theater N in WIlmington, DE is one of the theaters that still shows the film in 2016. The cult following of the movie includes audience members dressing up as the characters and acting out the film, as well as interacting with each other during certain parts.
The movie is about a newly engaged couple, Brad and Janet, who end up at a strange castle after their car gets a flat tire. Inside they are transported into the strange world of Dr. Frank N. Furter, a mad scientist and “sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania.” He is hosting an annual convention and shows off Rocky, a muscular man whom he created as part of an experiment.
The film is absolute insanity. It contains elaborate dance numbers and incredible music, as well as nods to horror and sci-fi “b-movies” (movies made with extremely low budgets that accompanied main films as part of a double feature). “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” embraces the zaniness of Halloween and is perfect for those who want to have a good time in preparation for the holiday.
This movie, which everyone knows and loves, stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis and is pure Halloween fun. “Ghostbusters” blends elements of horror and comedy seamlessly into a classic film that is immensely enjoyable. The movie is the story of three quirky scientists who start a business to take care of supernatural occurrences around New York City after they lose their jobs at Columbia University. From the amazing theme song to the fantastic “Stay-Puft” marshmallow man scene, Ghostbusters is one of the few films that everyone can agree to watch.
Edward Benner is a News Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.