Its not yet Halloween (though its easy to forget if you say, walk in store, turn on the tv or walk around your neighborhood), but since everyone else is already ‘celebrating’ Halloween, I thought I’d get a jump on things and get in the mood with some seriously creep-me-the-fuck-out movies this week. I live alone and have the backbone of jello so its not hard to do. And after a few hours of scary movie watching this past weekend, I had to sleep with the light on and check the closets every time I woke up.
Now of course the first and ‘go to[ horror movie of all time is Return of the Living Dead (1985) which is neither scary or horrific. Per the Smartest Man in the World (aka Greg Proops) “The true story of what happened after Night of the Living Dead. The Government used a secret poison gas called trioxin and let’s not get too technical, the government created zombies that eat human brains. There are naked ‘80s punk girls, undead Civil War veterans and a bitchin’ death rock soundtrack by .45 Grave and the Cramps. You’ll want to be drunk to watch this one”.
But lets say you’re not in the mood for zombies and you actually want to be scared. What to watch? Now most of us are familiar with the usual ‘go to’ creepers – the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ ‘Poltergist’ ‘Amityville Horror’ and yes, ‘The Ring’ but some of the oldies make up for lack of gore and sudden shocks with some serious psychological weirdness and disturbing creepiness. Clowns anyone?
So if you need an excuse to stay in, turn off the lights and grab a cushion to hide behind this weekend, here’s some seriously creepy movies you’re probably less familiar with. All will give you a whole new appreciation for Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin.
1. Willard (1971). Yes, don’t bother with the remake (though Crispin Glover + rats should be scary enough for most people). The original is a hells kitchen of claws, tails, Ernst Borgnine and one seriously run down mansion. 27 year old Willard lives with his mother and step father (typical Millenial) and, with few friends, befriends the manse’s rat population. When step father kills one of his rat buddies all hell is let loose. Its B movie schlock but for tone, overall creepiness and something which will stick in your head for days.. Willard scared me stiff age 11 and still keeps my feet off the floor most evenings.
2. Repulsion (1965). You want creepy? Roman Polanski always delivers (Rosemary’s Baby anyone?). And this, his first English language film while not always classified as ‘horror’ is as awful and disturbing as any modern movie I’ve watched (ok, maybe not Human Centipede levels, but its up there). Two sisters living in London, one a virgin, one slutting around with a married man. When Ms. Slut heads off for a dirty weekend with her man, virginal sister loses her mind. Mental disintegration, hallucinations and then she just all out loses the plot and goes on a rampage. More chilling than Pyscho and one to watch through your fingers. Certainly made me take a second look at my sister.
3. The Loved Ones (2012). I will bet money that non of you have ever seen this movie by Aussie director Sean Bryne. Prom queen gets mad and psycho rampage ensues. Its funny, horrifically violent, weirdly off beat and her chosen weapon is often a drill. Yes its torture porn, but how it gets there is creepy and scary, yet funny while being oh so dark. Edible roadkill, frontal lobotomies, teenage psychopaths and Kasey Chambers music. What else do you need?
4. Ringu (1998). Yes, The Ring is one of my favorite go to freak-me-outs, but the Japanese original can’t be beat for creepiness and twisted nightmare endings. For anyone who’s been trapped under a rock, its based on a story that after watching a specific video, you die. And boy, those Japanese beat the American version of horror hands down. You’ll be changing your phone’s ring tone before the credits roll.
5. The Innocents (1961). Like your chillers with children? While the movie is based on the Henry James novel ‘Turn of the Screw’, this isn’t a Masterpiece Theatre piece. Governess arrives to take care of children. Children might be possessed by something. Starring Deborah Kerr and Michael Redgrave, its superbly acted, undeniably creepy and weird, plus kids possessed by demons..? Aren’t they all? Plus the ending will leave you reevaluating your kids, nieces and that precocious tyke from next door.
6. Don’t Look Now (1973). Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie get creeped out by dead kids, spirits, unexplained murders and a blind psychic on the streets of Venice. Another torturous and chilling escalation of fear. This one should only be watched in the afternoon. And preferably behind a sofa back.
7. Freaks (1932). Yes its black and white, yes its old. But if dwarfs, circus people and revenge murder is your thing, this is a winner. Even if you don’t watch this movie for its entirety (it is slow), the imagery is weird and creepy, and almost every shot is disturbing since the entire cast is made up of circus freaks (armless and legless people, ‘pin heads’, Siamese twins and lots and lots of clowns). Upon its initial release, Freaks was greeted with such revulsion from movie-house audiences that MGM spent the next 30 years distancing themselves as far from the project as possible. If that doesn’t sell you, nothing will.
8. Drag Me to Hell (2012). Sam Raimi (Spiderman) went slumming and wow, he should do it more often. Chances are you’ve never seen this movie – no one did. But this camp spookfest is equal parts funny and scary, it’s not quite the gore expo that is Evil Dead and it has the best ‘hammer to the head’ ending you’re not expecting.
9. The Wicker Man (1974). Not even in the same universe as the Nic Cage remake, the original Wicker Man is cramped full of eery strange visuals, creeping claustrophobia (I kept shouting at the screen – “LEAVE”) and a village full of liberal witchy English people who deny the existence of a missing girl. A paganistic ritual based schlock movie, Edward Woodwood and Christopher Lee make it totally worth an afternoon of goosebumps. Not as terrifying as it is disturbing.. it still makes my cut if I’m feeling more wussy than usual.
10. Deep Red (1975). Argento’s masterpiece and one of the ultimate original thriller, slasher, horror movies out there. This movie has everything from the occult, murder, suspense, a seriously creepy childrens rhyme and true 70’s style theme music. There are more gruesome movies, films that will make you jump or horrific death scenes, but this one is a masterpiece worth renting for its nightmarish ending alone.
So there you have them. 10 slightly less famous horror creepers for your lead up to Halloween. Remember if the call is coming from inside the house.. you’re already dead.