By Christian DiMartino
Halloween is just around the corner, and some celebrate it by simply choosing a good scary movie and watching it with the lights off. But what is there to watch? To get in the spirit of things, here are the five scary movies to watch this season, and the five to ignore at all costs.
5. The Shining (1980): What do you get when you put a great director in the reigns of a Stephen King adaptation? You get The Shining, Stanley Kuberick’s take on Stephen King’s dark and disturbing tale of madness. There is a lot to say about it, most notable of all is the terrific performance by Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrence. Nicholson has a gift for playing crazy people, and if it wasn’t for the fact that he immerses himself the role of Jack, then this movie might not have been the classic it is today.
4. The Omen (1976): Here’s what you need to know: the Thorn family (Gregory Peck and Lee Remick) adopt a child named Damian, only to realize five years later that Damian is the son Satan. That’s something about The Omen that is fascinating. Making the child the villain is one of the most horrifying things about the movie. The Omen is a frightening movie because it is so grounded in reality. This is one of those overlooked scary movies, and it should be seen to complete the Halloween season.
3. Sleepy Hollow (1999): Visionary director Tim Burton’s take on the classic tale by Washington Irving is bloody, dark, and over-the-top. But is every second of it great? Yes. Easily one of Burton’s best movies, no movie gets me in the Halloween spirit more than this one. Johnny Depp gives his all as Icabod Crane, the film’s hero. Even if the thought of the Headless Horseman being able to see is tough to grasp, it’s irresistible. The movie promises that heads will roll. They do, and I am in love with it.
2. Jaws (1975): That tune is burned in the mind. That tune that pops up anytime you enter the water, or see a gray fin from the distance. Buh-dum… buh-dum… the rest goes without saying. Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg’s first smash hit may have aged a little, but even with repeated viewings, it still has not lost its surprise. The movie works well as both a horror and a summer blockbuster, but definitely more on the horror side. The key to the movie is the way that the movie is shot, the way that almost every scene with the shark is from the shark’s point of view. Though at some points cheesy, it admittedly gave us all the chills at one point or another.
1. The Exorcist (1973): Nowadays, some criticize William Freidkin’s The Exorcist because its scares seem a little dated. Give the film a break, it is almost forty years old. What was scary then is still scary now. The last time I watched it alone, I turned the lights off, and within five minutes I had to turn them on again. Just the introduction creeped me out. Linda Blair’s Oscar-nominated performance as young Regan is one that will definitely invade your dreams, and not in a Freddy Kruger way either. Sure The Exorcist is a bit dated, but it’s one of the few horror movies to win Oscars, and you can’t argue with that. Bottom line: this movie is the definition of horror.
The below movies should never be watched seriously. They might be good for a few laugh, but if you’re looking to get in the spirit, these movies are not it.
5. Pet Sematary: Sometimes a great Stephen King adaptation will come along, such as The Shawshank Redemption or The Shining. For every great adaption, there is always a dud. Pet Sematary is one of those duds. The book was fantastic, but the movie is just wrong. Why? Well, the actors are very annoying. The movie is more bloody than the book, but that doesn’t bother me, until downright corny. Just skip it.
4. The Happening: The Happening is a horror movie that focuses on this couple (Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel) as they travel around America fighting to stay alive. What are they fighting? Wind. That’s right. They are running from wind. The wind carries a toxin that causes people to commit suicide. I was actually looking forward to this one when it came out, but once again, M. Night Shyamalan disappoints. There is no twist, it is basically what I told you. It is a shame that the two lead actors involved had to stoop to such a level, because they have too much talent for this.
3. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) : When Halloween III: Season of the Witch comes to mind, there is only one word I think of: awful. If you notice, Halloween and Halloween II contain a creepy masked guy named Michael Myers who goes around killing babysitters. Myers shows up in the other entries in the series, but is no where in sight in the third one. The burning question is… why is it called Halloween III? This is easily the most pointless horror movie in recent memory. The plot, which involves a mask company that’s trying to kill kids… with masks, is ludicrous. The actors are bland, and every single on of its 98 minutes are painful.
2. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959): Ed Wood’s terribly beloved 1959 film contains aliens (who, might I mention, look like humans and speak English. Also, their race seems to only contain three individauls), vampires, zombies, and zombie vampires. Working with a $16,000 budget, the only signs of terror involved are inconveniently slow walking zombie vampires and an alien space ship that is basically a paper plate with two Styrofoam bowls glued to the top and bottom, covered in tin foil, and dangling from a string. The legendary Bela Lugosi (made famous as Dracula) shows up, but as it turns out, he died during filming, so Ed Wood took clips from another Lugosi movie, and threw that in there. Why have him show up at all?
1. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) : The sixth sequel in the Nightmare on Elm Street series is pure torture. Freddy Kruger (Robert England) is meant to scare us, but he keeps making these wisecracks that deprive him of all surprises. There is no way that a screenwriter could have sat down in an office, drafting this, and thought, “Wow, this is actually good.” The original film was good, but the rest pretty much crashed. This one is stupid, lazy, and eye-burning. Yes, eye-burning. Its title is a lie also, because three more movies were made after this one. Please, put the nail in the coffin and give it a rest.
Those are the my picks. As you may read, not even Freddy Kruger can escape my wrath. Michael Myers might have gotten my wrath… had he showed up for Halloween III. Please, enjoy the treats that I’ve offered. Happy Halloween!