Halloween is that crazy time of the year when we can escape ourselves by dressing in costumes, eating tons of candy and watching scary movies that keep us trembling under our blankets. We’ve all seen the horror film classics, such as The Exorcist and The Shining, but there are many horror gems out there that also provide some spooky fun. Here’s a list of several horror films to watch on Halloween.
Shaun of the Dead
MPAA rating: R
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost star as Shaun and Ed: two slackers who have been playing video games and hanging out at the pub for years, and need to get their lives together. They pick the best time to do so in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Shaun is desperate to win his girlfriend back in the process and wants to prove to her that he can change by leading the group, consisting of his friends and his mother, to safety.
This film is the perfect mix of horror and comedy, as it’s a romantic comedy with zombies. Shaun of the Dead is rather charming, and the chemistry between Frost and Pegg is flawless. The film is a love letter to horror films, specifically zombie flicks. It is billed as a parody, but it's way too hilarious and has too much heart to be thrown into the same pile as spoofs; it stands alone as something unique.
Watched it already? Try this: Zombieland, Evil Dead II
The story revolves around a woman, four months after her husband’s tragic death, on the brink of giving birth to her first child. She lives alone in a house that’s way too spacious and a bit on the eerily dark side. One night, a mysterious woman stalks her home, interested in taking her child by way of a very large pair of scissors.
Inside, or À l’intérieur, is a sharp French horror film that re-invents the killer cat and mouse plot line that’s been done to death, injecting a soul into both the antagonist and protagonist. Director Alexandre Bustillo creates progressive tension that leaves your head in a vise cranking in, making sure you feel every speck of fear. This one isn’t just scary; the story is built on a very real drive, and the ending will burn the mind.
Watched it already? Try this: Eden Lake, The Descent
MPAA rating: R
A woman named Laura returns to her childhood home, bringing her family along, and opens up an orphanage for handicapped children. Her son, Simon, doesn’t really have anyone to play with, but one day he finds a friend that nobody else can see. Simon’s friend seems to be harmless, a creation of the mind, until Simon disappears.
This film builds an atmosphere of mystery that truly sends sharp chills down your spine. The quiet moments make this film, stringing the tension with precision. The hunt for Simon puts you in the moment with Laura, struggling to piece together a horrible mystery. Despite the heavy horror in this film, the ending is surprisingly touching.
Watched it already? Try this: Pans Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone
MPAA rating: R
Seven strangers with a variety of personality traits and backgrounds wake up in a mysterious maze, filled with high-tech ways to die, not knowing the why, who or what about the whole scenario. The audience gets to observe people reacting in a panicked nightmare where the sole universal fear is in play: being immersed in the unknown.
Inspired by the Twilight Zone episode “Five Characters in Search of an Exit,” this sci-fi horror flick stirs up the gore factor, and it also has a gripping plot that you can really wrap your mind around, teasing your need for closure to make one hell of a viewing experience. If you enjoyed the first Saw film, this is one of its inspirations, along with David Fincher’s classic film, Seven.
Watched it already? Try this: Dark City, Seven
MPAA rating: PG-13
A fearless writer, played wonderfully by John Cusack, who used to write heartfelt material, now writes solely about his paranormal experiments since the death of his daughter. He checks into allegedly haunted locations and often spends a night there, only to be disappointed that nothing happens. Out of the blue, he gets a postcard from a hotel, daring him to stay in room 1408, an evil room that seems to contort reality.
Cusack is fantastic as the fearless, darkly funny writer that takes on the challenge of staying in room 1408. This film is based on a short story by the legendary Stephen King, and it’s a fun, creepy film that also comments on the possibility of an afterlife. Like The Shining, the film creates a genuinely scary atmosphere that comes at you from all directions. You’ll never listen to “We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters in the same way ever again.
Watched it already? Try this: The Others, Angel Heart
MPAA rating: PG
An 11-year-old girl named Coraline Jones, voiced by the talented Dakota Fanning, walks through a special door and right into a parallel reality that is eerily similar to her normal life. Despite the unsettling atmosphere, Coraline is too fearless and adventurous to let it keep her down. Initially, she finds the place to be better than her reality, until the characters in the alternate world want her to stay permanently.
This film, based on Neil Gaiman’s international best-seller, is well-crafted, creepy and also a beautiful projection of the imagination. This film is up there with The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach, using stop-motion animation rather well. Coraline tells a story of bravery, even in the darkest of places, and it becomes something of an inspiration. The film is a bit unsettling for kindergartners, and is more suited for kids who are old enough to take in the mix of weirdness and wonder.
Watched it already? Try this: Corpse Bride, Monster House
Where you can rent it locally:
8810 Jamacha Blvd.
Spring Valley, CA 91977
1299 E Main St.
El Cajon, CA 92021
Search "91977" to find Redbox locations. There are several in Spring Valley, but the availability of these movies or unknown.