In an effort to spread the love of good horror cinema in this fine Halloween season, we here at Addicted are making it our duty to inform you of some fantastic scary movie options that deserve your consideration. So every Sunday throughout the month of October, make sure you tune in to Addicted for a new list of 5 scary films from one of our Film Addicts! Kicking things off this week is James Hrivnak:
Just as the summer movie season begins earlier and earlier, so too does the Halloween season. This is, of course, fine with me since I can afford more time to dedicate to watching horror films, which has become an integral tradition to Halloween. Now, there is certainly no limit to the amount of films to choose from, but from my experience, only a scant few are really good, and even less that transcend the genre to be truly great films. In a effort to help you avoid some of the more awful horror films out there, here’s five films to check out this Halloween.
Trick ‘r Treat (2007) If you remember back to the early 1980s, there were a handful of horror anthology films — like Creepshow, Cat’s Eye — but it was a trend short lived. Michael Dougherty‘s Trick ‘r Treat pays homage to those anthology films, intertwining a handful of horror stories (of various subgenres). Dougherty, who co-wrote the superhero fare X2 and Superman Returns, keeps the film moving at a brisk pace, with its tongue firmly in cheek. Trick ‘r Treat is an undeniably fun throwback that has as many scares as laughs. Fun Fact: Completed in 2007, Warner Bros. kept the film on the shelf until it was released straight to DVD in October 2009, and has quickly become a cult favourite.
Deep Red (1975) Next to 1977’s Suspiria, Deep Red is Italian director Dario Argento‘s most well-known film and the pinnacle of the giallo subgenre. When a British pianist in Italy (Blow-Up‘s David Hemmings) witnesses the brutal murder of a psychic, he begins an investigation assuming his memory holds the key to discovering the murderer. With the help of a plucky local reporter (Daria Nicolodi), the two delve into a lurid Gothic mystery. Indebted to pulp crime novels of the 1930s and Alfred Hitchcock, Deep Red excels because of Argento’s impeccable direction. Argento uses his iconic visual style — full of shadows and vibrant, saturated colours — to explore themes of sight, perception, memory, and trauma. With its striking visuals, memorable set pieces, and beguiling score by Goblin, Deep Red is one of the finest horror films ever made.
The Burning (1981) During the heyday of the slasher film following Halloween and Friday the 13th, there was no shortage of poor, exploitative imitators. Tom Maylam‘s The Burning, one of those imitators, is actually quite good, and rivals the original Friday the 13th. It’s practically the same premise — a wronged maniac stalks horny teens at a summer camp — but manages to be pretty scary and features some incredible makeup effects by industry legend Tom Savini. Fun Fact: The Burning marks the film debuts of Holly Hunter, Jason Alexander, and Fisher Stevens. Also, I’m pretty sure the trailer inspired Edgar Wright’s faux trailer Don’t from the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez joint Grindhouse.
The Exorcist III (1990) If there was ever a film that didn’t need a sequel — let alone two sequels and two prequels — it’s The Exorcist. William Friedkin’s film is singular in its unrelenting terror and horror. And yet here we are. William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist III — an adaptation of his 1983 novel Legion — picks up the story of Detective Kindermann and Father Dyer (now played by George C. Scott and Ed Flanders, respectively) 15 years after the events of The Exorcist. Now, I know what you’re thinking, but Exorcist III is actually solid little supernatural police procedural: Kindermann investigates a series of grisly, ritualistic murders that resemble the work of a serial killer called The Gemini, though this killer died the same night of the exorcism in the original film. The film is flawed, to be sure: Blatty’s direction is a little stagey, his screenplay a little talky, and the ending a little too full of studio notes. Yet flaws aside, it’s still a compelling, effective character-driven horror film.
The House of the Devil (2009) While many contemporary American horror films are steeped in nostalgia for its own past by way of remakes, Ti West‘s The House of the Devil evokes its nostalgia on a greater scale. It’s not remake of any particular film per se, but rather an attempt to recreate horror films of the early-1980s. Like Grindhouse, West’s retro-horror uses aesthetic strategies to recapture a filmic past, bringing a new sense of the history of the horror genre. West employs outdated stylistic techniques (like zooms, freeze-frames), as means to rescue them, as oppose to exaggeratedly using them for satiric purposes (like Grindhouse). Combining elements of the slasher and haunted house subgenres prevalent in the 80s, The House of the Devil is a deliberate, suspenseful, and refreshing antidote to the grisly torture porn and tepid remakes that mark horror films of the early 2000s. Oddly enough, West’s film is the most original American horror film in the last decade.
Make sure you tune in to Addicted next Scaaaaaary Sunday for another list of 5 horror films!