I suppose now is as good a time as any for me, your humble blog host and co-manager of the Hollywood Theatre, to show my hand. Before watching any of these (or any other scary movie during the Halloween season), I recommend watching something short and light. Along the lines of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Garfield’s Halloween (which used to terrify me), or any of The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror episodes. Don’t forget to check out Dan Halstead and Justen Harn‘s picks! Now to my picks, in chronological order:
Peeping Tom (1960)
The film that effectively killed Michael Powell’s career (who, along with Emeric Pressberger directed such classics as Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes) because of its subject matter. A disturbed man films his victims as he stabs them with his tripod. Peeping Tom was released the same year as Psycho (both feature bizarre parent-child relationships) and explores many of Hitchcock’s favorite themes.
The Innocents (1961)
A fantastic creepy kid, haunted house psychological horror film. Striking cinematography, overwhelming atmosphere and Deborah Kerr’s incredible performance are the highlights of The Innocents. Based on Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw,” it’s perfect to show impressionable youth. It’s classic literature!
The Thing (1982)
If my friends were horror neophytes, I would blow their minds (and their gag reflex) with The Thing. A remake (kind of) of the Howard Hawks’ production, The Thing from Another World, Kurt Russell battles against an alien force that can mimic anything and anyone. This film is exhibit #1 as to why CGI should be banned from horror movies. So, FX artist Rob Bottin was hospitalized after the film was completed because he worked so hard. Look at the results! Totally worth it.
The Monster Squad (1987)
I always like to describe The Monster Squad as “The Goonies, with monsters.” In other words, The Goonies, but better. Dracula, the mummy, creature, wolf man, and Frankenstein’s monster are on the loose and trying to take over… the world? Well, something. And it’s up to a group of kids to stop them. There is far too much awesome in this movie to describe. And for some reason, movies in 1987 loved to end with vortexes to other dimensions.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Neil Marshall’s (The Descent, Doomsday) first feature and he nails it. A group of soldiers on a training mission in the Scottish highlands get attacked by… something. They are whisked off to a cabin and held under siege by werewolves! Then things get crazy. Features homages to films such as The Evil Dead and Aliens and werewolves in The Howling stlye. I guess I agree with Justen… werewolves rock!