FilmNerds Recommends: Halloween Edition
Happy Halloween, FilmNerds! Today we begin a new (hopefully) monthly feature called FilmNerds Recommends in which the FilmNerds contributors give you our recommendations for the perfect DVD rental for your special occasion. Obviously, this month we’re getting you geared up for Halloween with our recommendations for the perfect Halloween Night horror marathon. But we know not everyone has the same taste when it comes to horror films, so we’ve separated out our picks according to the speed of scary movies you like best. Best of all, every FilmNerds recommendation is currently available on Netflix so if you see a pick you like, simply click on the DVD cover art to link straight to the movie’s page on Netflix.
George Romero’s third film in his original zombie apocalypse trilogy takes the gore levels to staggering and impressive new heights while also including some compelling philosophical debate. There’s a shot of a man’s head being ripped off his body while the head continues screaming (I’m still not sure how they did it).
A tame pick, definitely, but I find Tim Burton and Andrew Kevin Walker’s take on the legend of Ichabod Crane to be essential October viewing. It’s got a few fun gory moments and creative beheadings, but the real treat here is the film’s atmosphere.
Early-era Peter Jackson zombie movie that features gallons upon gallons of fake blood, zombie horror, and gross-out humor galore. Not for the faint-hearted, but also hilarious, in a way.
David Cronenberg’s black comedy will certainly gross you out if you’re not a fan of bones snapping on screen or acid-snot melting through flesh. Plus, Jeff Goldblum’s Brundlefly makeup will either haunt your sleep or make you cackle. A milestone for Goldblum!
Sam Raimi returned triumphantly to the genre that garnered him international acclaim (see the EVIL DEAD movies) with this excellent box office-underachiever. Where to begin? A mouth full of embalming fluid… a staple in the head… yeah I’ll stop there.
Classic Horror (pre-1980)
The first time you see Roman Polanski’s classic tale of demons and paranoia, you won’t believe it was made in the ’60s. Terrific performances and way ahead of its time in style and tone and feels every bit like a modern psychological horror film.
James Whale’s original adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel is still the king of biological horror films, perfectly boiling down the shocking idea of creating life out of dead tissue. Add to that the film’s iconic moments and the great Karloff performance, and you’ve got – in my opinion – the most resilient classic Universal horror movie.
Dario Argento’s horror classic set inside a dance studio run by – well, by something evil, to not spoil it – is a feverish nightmare of a horror picture, anchored by an appropriately terrified performance by Jessica Harper, some of the most demented murders depicted in film, and an awesome score by Italian rock band Goblin.
Some of the scariest images, sounds and situations I’ve ever seen. End-all-be-all example of evil artificial intelligence via HAL 9000, who compromises his crew’s mission, putting his astronaut colleagues in the worst danger imaginable. The lip-reading sequence freaks me out, man.
Sci-fi horror at its finest, though it’s 10% sci-fi and 90% horror. This series may have descended into schlocky wackiness but in Ridley Scott’s original film, it’s a simple formula: woman trapped in dark cave with gooey, toothy monster. The alien’s “birth” scene is still among the best jaw-dropping horror scenes ever made.
When thinking of scenes in which humans are attacked by unreasoning non-humans, I don’t think there’s a more effective and masterful scene than the Tyrannosaurus attack in Spielberg’s dinosaur adventure. One of the film’s many merits is its ability to see its monsters as both miracles of life and dangerous antagonists.
Jaws counts here, right? It’s a freakishly big shark in a place where it shouldn’t be — and unquestionably a horror classic, even if near the end it turns into more of an adventure film. Anyway, Jaws is great, but that’s self-evident by now.
If David Mamet wrote a horror movie…Director John Carpenter really cemented himself as a horror pioneer in the early 80s with this one only to fizzle out with questionable projects and inconsistency. Carpenter scores here with good gore, legitimate suspense and grade-A performances from all of its cast members, especially the mega-bearded Kurt Russell (and a rare Wilford Brimley with no mustache!).
Modern Classic (last 10 years)
American’s may know its sub-par studio remake Quaratine but rest assured, this Spanish found-footage thriller is among the most original, taut and gripping film experiences I’ve ever seen. If you want a good adrenaline rush, wait for the final 15 minutes.
Edgar Wright’s hilarious ode to classic zombie movies is sure to stand the test of time. Here you have great character arcs and heart combined with true scares and legitimate tension.
Brad Anderson’s low-budget horror film set in the abandoned Danvers State Mental Hospital, one of the scariest places in America, amps up the tension and the chills until one gut-punch of an ending. This movie is scary as hell.
The always creepy David Lynch served up his best and creepiest movie in this California psycho-mystery where a chipper actress (Naomi Watts) arrives in Hollywood where she soon finds herself entangled in murder, intrigue, nightmares and confusion. I’m 25-years-old, and I still cover my eyes when they approach the dumpster behind the fast food place.
One of the most underrated thrillers of the 2000s, Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar created the best Haunted House picture of the modern era. The mere thought of Nicole Kidman approaching what appears to be a decrepit old woman wearing her daughter’s clothes still gives me chills.