The air’s brisk. The apple picking photos are coming in full force. To a lot of people, that means one thing: Halloween is just around the corner. While fall is festive in its own rights, sometimes the Halloween spirit takes a few weeks to kick in. Well, not this year.
I’ve put together a few of my favorite movies to get you into the fright-night spirit. Check them out:
The Descent (2005):
This perilous monster flick has “future classic” written all over it. Only a few years old, the movie hits all the right strides for a terrorizing film. The plot follows several young female adventure-seekers as they go cave-diving somewhere in the remote U.S. A large part of the movie is spent slowly unveiling the true terrors in the cave. Hint: it’s more than just claustrophobia.
The movie breaks normal horror conventions in that it employs strong females characters in the lead roles, making it a truly epic example of how completely awesome action girls can be. Plus it’s gory, jumpy and well-filmed. Always a plus.
The Shining (1980):
Most “Best of” horror lists make a point not to leave out this Stanley Kubrick classic (and for good reason!). The story goes that a young family spends a desolate winter at an abandoned Grande Dame hotel as care-takers during the off-season. Of course, the hotel turns out to be haunted and the family begins to change their perspective on what’s “crazy” and what’s not. This Stephen King original truly stands the test of time, still delivering a healthy does of scares even by today’s standards.
The Paranormal Activity Franchise (2007, 2010, 2011, 2012):
It was hard for me to decide on just one of these movies. They seem to work really well as a set (can anyone say “horror marathon?”). These found-footage mockumentary thrills took the horror world by storm with the depiction of a series of families being terrorized by unseen forces—all caught on security camera. The films are simple but the jumpy scares and lasting fears are not. Check it out, but don’t plan on getting any sleep for a few days after.
The Others (2001):
This paranormal flick is an oft-overlooked foray into the all-too-explored haunted house genre. In this one, a young mother played by Nicole Kidman lives in a giant mansion where no light is allowed in because her two children have an affliction where they can’t be exposed to direct sunlight. It’s an interesting (and a little too convenient) plot point that leads to plenty of dark corridors and creaky rooms. It’s not super jumpy, but the twist at the end is absolutely brilliant. Highly recommended for classic haunted horror fans.
The most recent film on our list, V/H/S employs an interesting premise that’s never really been explored before. This is another installment in the shaky-cam, found footage genre. In this case, though, there are a series of several shorts, all of which have their own angle on horror. Their plots cover everything from vampire-stalkers to demonic rituals to roadside serial killers. It’s a really cool take on the anthology concept. Keep in mind, though, that many of these are pretty gory and all of them are sufficiently disturbing. You’ve been warned.
The Ring (2002):
Another movie on the list that really needs no introduction, The Ring is a Japanese reboot that depicts the story of a videotape that, when watched, spawns terrifying ghastly visions and ultimately kills its viewers. There’s plenty of atmosphere in this one and a pretty cool backstory. Plus, at PG-13, it’s a solid movie for a younger audience that wants a scary movie without a whole lot of gore. Who says you need blood and guts to achieve the shock-and-awe factor?
This one isn’t really a horror movie in the traditional sense. In fact, half the movie sits pretty fittingly in the sci-fi thriller category. But, by the second act, the film pivots to a deep-space horror flick of epic proportions. In short, the story follows a crew of astronauts and scientists sent to the surface of the sun to reignite it before it burns out. The movie is beautiful, intense and terrifying. Keep in mind—when you’re that far out in space, there’s really no chance of rescue…
Hocus Pocus (1993):
We’ve covered a pretty broad spectrum of horror with this list. And sure, horror movies certainly set a nice, dark tone for that quintessential Halloween. But, just as Home Alone is to Christmas, Hocus Pocus is to Halloween. This family classic is a standard witch story where kids summon a coven of witches past who wreak light-hearted (and ultimately, surprisingly intense) havoc on a small town. The production design is perfect and whimsical, and some of the scenes are actually pretty creepy. It makes for a nice, all-ages movie night. Didn’t think I’d leave the families out, did you?
While some of these movies will send scared dates running from the TV faster than drunk newlyweds to a Vegas divorce lawyer’s office, I tried to offer a few options for the fainter of heart, too. Enjoy your all-hallowed movie night!
- Photo credit: smartphotostock.com
Adrienne is an entertainment and lifestyle writer who loves putting together fun movie roundups.