Like bones in a graveyard, hundreds and hundreds of Halloween movie lists are scattered across the Web, touting the scariest, the best, the goriest, you name it. But long lists can be overwhelming. Here are four must-watch movies to add to your freaky list. File them under “Disturbing,” “Chilling,” “Terrifying,” and “Sort of Stupid.”
IT’S OK TO BE AFRAID OF YOUNG BLONDE TWINS
When people talk about movies that have stayed with them for days and days, I recall THE OTHER (1972). This disturbing, rarely shown classic, stayed with me for not just days, but for years. Because of THE OTHER, I still have a need to avoid blonde twin boys. Never trusted them; never will. And I’m slightly afraid of farms as well.
With direction by Robert Mulligan (he of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, for one), score by Jerry Goldsmith, and star power like Uta Hagen and Diana Muldaur, how can this movie miss? There are no ghosts or demons, but sheer suspense, true to the nail-biting novel by Thomas Tryon by the same name.
YOUR PATHETIC, BANAL LIFE ISN’T SO BAD
SECONDS (1966) is unquestionably one of the most chilling films I have ever seen. What were my parents thinking when they took me to see it when I was only 12 years old? I think they were thinking that if it starred Rock Hudson, it must be a happy family film. In reality, it is a decadent, modern twist on making a pact with the devil.
This stylistic thriller, complete with skewed camera angles and distorted images, was directed by John Frankenheimer of MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE fame.
Rock Hudson totally pulls out his acting chops for this one, playing unhappy and down trodden Arthur. He is so beat up by life that he likes the sound of an enticing proposal. From workaday drone to swinging playboy? What could go wrong?
As soon as the drill goes into Hudson’s neck, you know that Arthur should have consider his decision a little more carefully. This film also has one of the best drunk scenes ever recorded (and in reality, Hudson was totally tanked during the filming of it).
DON’T ENTER THE SUBWAY IF YOU HEAR SCREAMING LIKE THIS GOING ON
Filed under “What Are You Watching?” Home Projectionist fan Jonathan Stacy writes:
“If you want a truly terrifying Halloween movie with cult status (particularly in Europe), try POSSESSION (1981) by Polish director Adrezej Zulawski with Isabella Adjani and Sam Neil. It’s a strange hybrid of marital drama, ROSEMARY’S BABY, and early eighties freak out. (And in my opinion, it was a major influence on Lars von Trier and his ability to cull strong performances from women despite dubious feminist interpretations; Gainsbourg in ANTICHRIST is the obvious daughter of this work). Think a mish-mash of KRAMER VS. KRAMER and IT’S ALIVE!
Adjani won best actress at Cannes for this film, the central piece being her miscarriage (from a demon?) in a subway. Frighteningly over the top and horrifyingly real all at the same the same time.”
You’ll want to watch this scene more than a few times:
CURIOUS CASTING COMBINATIONS WORK FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER, LIKE JOAN COLLINS AND A DWARF
And like a trainwreck you shouldn’t watch, THE DEVIL WITHIN HER (1975) is custom made for when you’re in the mood for hootin’ and hollerin’ and makin’ wisecracks. The world doesn’t need another cheap imitation of ROSEMARY’S BABY but there’s Joan, a demon dwarf, a devilish baby, and a dastardly wig — plus sex!
Happy Halloween! May the demons be with you.