Nerve Spook-tacular: Fright Night Movies

Evil Dead II

So we’ve made it to October and we all know what that means… Halloween candy goes on sale, Thorpe Park opens fright nights and some annoying companies start their Christmas marketing campaigns … WHY?!

But if you’re like me, then its that time of year when you promise to watch more horror films to get into the spirit of things, but ultimately chicken out and watch The Nightmare Before Christmas or something… BUT NO MORE I SAY! NO MORE!

Here are just a few films I truly believe are worth watching from behind the sofa during 2017’s spooky season:

1) The Evil Dead (1981)

Sam Raimi’s classic 1981 no-budget horror film is one of my all-time favourite horror films. Although you could easily watch ANY of the Evil Dead films, including the 2011 remake by Fede Alvarez, The Evil Dead established everything we’ve come to love of the franchise and stands as the most iconic cabin in the woods films ever.

2) Get Out (2017)

The best-received film of 2017 and Rotten Tomatoes best horror film of the last 20 years, is a film I urge everyone to see. Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is one of cinema’s best as it combines comedy, horror and social commentary into a subtly complex and ingenious satire on racial stigma and low key racism… Not all black people love Tiger Woods…

3) It Follows (2014)

Recently added to Netflix and it’s finally getting the recognition it deserves, I saw It follows 3 years ago in cinemas and had a panic attack in the cinema screen… Please don’t let me being a wimp put you off. It’s brooding atmosphere and surreal images work beautifully together with one of the most spine-chilling scores since John Carpenter. It’s a film that will chill you to the bone and follow you long after the credits roll.

4) Saw (2004)

“When the cow is milked dry, make beef from it.” A saying I’ve just coined to accurately express how I feel about Jigsaw bringing the Saw franchise back out of retirement. Nonetheless, it’s worth remembering how it all started. James Wan’s debut is a psychological thrill ride that subverts everything you’ve come to know about the franchise through the sequels. Surprisingly goreless, the first Saw film fantastically unsettles by asking one simple question; what would you do to stay alive?

5) Evil Dead 2 (1987)

One of the few times the sequel has topped the original, the second Evil Dead film is my personal favourite as it cranked up the insanity and horror comedy into a whole different dimension. The film delivered everything and more from the original and is the film where I believe Bruce Campbell turned on the charm and charisma as the lovable rogue, Ash Williams.

6) The Conjuring (2013)

Another Wan film that would start a cinematic universe/ franchise, the first Conjuring movie is a homage to classic horror cinema that is easily Wan’s greatest work. Perfectly blending atmospheric horror with well-timed jump scares, James Wan genuinely wants to scare you and expertly uses horror convention and audience expectation to do so in the Conjuring. The universe is doing good thus far, but nothing has surpassed the expertise on display in the original.

7) The Babadook (2014)

Having become an LGBTQ+ icon earlier this year, there is something I’ve certainly missed when I saw the Australian horror masterpiece that is the Babadook. Incredibly intellectual, the film merges supernatural with the natural to create a dark film which gets even darker with each layer you unpeel. Jennifer Kent’s haunting use of symbolism is something that demands to be rewatched and reinterpreted again and again.

8) Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Guillermo Del Toro’s Spanish WW2 fairytale is one of cinema’s greatest foreign language films and definitely worth the effort of reading the subtitles… I know how you are. Del Toro’s gothic style is stunning in this genre hybrid piece about a young girl escaping her brute of a stepfather through a fantasy world. The horror in the film subverts expectation and with Del Toro’s The Shape of Water getting Oscar buzz, it’s worth revisiting his most iconic work to date.

9) The Descent (2005)

When the Splat pack were in full swing, Neil Marshall directed his best work with The Descent. Marshall both builds slowly and suddenly escalates in this claustrophobic gorefest. Like the very best horror films, The Descent merges human fear with supernatural fear in an action-packed horror film with an ending that I’m sure will stick with you.

10) Train to Busan (2016)

Korean filmmaker Sang-ho Yeon made his live-action debut last year with the emotional and politically relevant zombie horror film, Train to Busan. Favouring subtext and visual horror over the conventional jump scare, Train to Busan is a breathtaking evaluation of humanity and a scorning critique of the ruling class in society. It’s much more than just “BRAINS!! BRAINS!!”

11) The Thing (1982)

Made in cinema’s year of sci-fi, where classic releases such as; Blade Runner, Tron and Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan hit the screens, legendary horror filmmaker, John Carpenter would make his mark with the sci-fi horror hybrid that is, The Thing. Tense, action-packed and brimming with paranoia, The Thing will leave you thoroughly entertained and discussing the films final moments at length.

12) Insidious (2010)

Another James Wan film makes the list because well…. He’s created three of modern horror’s most successful franchises. Taking heavy influence from the work of Italian horror director, Dario Argento, Insidious is a haunted house movie that evolves throughout its runtime, going from the classic haunted house to the further. Fun for both conventional and unconventional horror fans alike, Insidious is yet another example of Wan’s competence as a horror director 

13) Fright Night (1984)

1984 was the year of the horror film. A Nightmare on Elm Street, Gremlins and The Terminator all debuted, and familiar faces such as, Jason Voorhees took what should have been his last bow in Friday the 13th: the final chapter. However an understated classic this year brought about was Fright Night. Quintessentially 80’s, Fright Night is a meta-horror comedy, poking fun at horror whilst utilising its techniques to the best of its ability. Ahead of its time with the success of meta-horror Scream in the 90’s and surviving the remake machine in 2011, it’s worth revisiting this understated gem of the mid-80’s.

14) Hush (2016)

With his new Netflix film, Gerald’s Game having been released to rave reviews, I believe it’s worth watching director, Mike Flanagan’s first Netflix horror film, Hush. As the name suggests, the film doesn’t rely on sound, seeing as the protagonist is a deaf-mute, instead, it builds tension through the use of character positioning and confinement. An intense and thrilling watch, it’s definitely worth putting on even if to end the hour-long disagreement on what to watch… Everyone with Netflix knows what I mean.

15) The Cabin in The Woods (2012)

The Cabin in the Wood is what happens when, the director of the Avengers and the creator of the Netflix Daredevil TV show, came together to write a horror film about the horror film formula. It does star Chris Hemsworth but don’t expect to see Thor the God of thunder. Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard prove they know more than just how to make a great Marvel production. Cynically symbolic, the film merges horror and comedy excellently, in a meta/spoof horror that works on every possible level.

16) 28 Days Later (2002)

Arguably one of Britain’s greatest horror films, made by arguably, Britain’s greatest filmmakers, Danny Boyle and Alex Garland. 28 Days Later is a zombie horror film with emotional weight and a real sense of atmosphere. The films score and cinematography are phenomenal, as well as, the films incredibly strong British cast, most of whom would go on to make it in Hollywood. Although I don’t recommend the sequel to anyone, I definitely recommend this British Horror classic.

17) The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

One of only three films to win the big 5 Oscars, The Silence of the Lambs brought the world two of cinemas greatest acting performances; Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter and Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling. Being the only horror film to win the best picture Oscar, the film is nothing sort of a milestone and thus certainly worth your time, whether you’ve seen it before or not. More of a psychological thriller than a typical horror film, The Silence of the Lambs is perhaps the most accessible of the 17 films, taking from many genres and lacking the dreaded and overused jump scare.

Of course, there are many more horror films I could recommend such as The Shining, Alien, Psycho and most recently, Mother! But these should get you ready and in the mood for this years Halloween. So prepare yourself some liver, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti, and Enjoy.