Thursday, October 31, 2013

Top Five: New-to-Me Horror Films

As I've mentioned a few times before, I'm new to the whole horror game. I used to be both a wimp and a squeamish baby, so I avoided anything that seemed too scary or (especially) gory. But a few years ago I decided I needed to get over it, at least to some extent. And I think I've been doing a pretty good job! The best part is I discovered that horror as a genre is EXCELLENT and I have so many truly fantastic movies to check out since I've missed so many. For the past year I've been more actively seeking out horror films, and I have found a few new favorite movies. So in the spirit of Halloween and watching horror all year round (as I will continue to do- my netflix queue is top-heavy with scary flicks!), I'd like to spotlight the best horror movies I've watched since this time last year. Take note that these are selected only from films that were new to me in the past year, so something like The Shining or The Thing wouldn't count since I'd seen both of those previously. And this is in alphabetical order because I hate ranking things. Ok? Ok!

Carrie (1976)
A year later and I'm still thinking a lot about this movie, mostly that tremendous split screen and also the great jump scare at the end. My goodness, this movie rules. Even though I knew what to expect (to a point), I still was completely captivated by Carrie. It's dark and dreamlike and ultimately surprising, and the double impact of Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie is just fantastic. Also: everyone has fabulous, impossibly big hair. Great job, guys. I'm gonna make it a priority to see more of De Palma's movies over the next year, for sure. I will probably not be checking out the latest remake of this though. The title links to my original review.

The Haunting (1963)
This holds the distinction of being the downright scariest movie I've watched this year, which is impressive since it's also the most understated. Disembodied sounds, breathing doors, topsy-turvy camera angles, and a frenzied internal monologue combine to create a quietly terrifying ghost story. I loved the brooding story and twisted visuals, and the dark implications of the script. Also all the mad sexual repression going on, I mean jeez. The air was thick with the stuff. Like, maybe if these ghosts stopped hollering for five minutes Eleanor and Theodora could finally bang and then they'd be more relaxed and able to handle all the supernatural happenings? Just a thought. The title links to my original review.

May (2002)
Oh my gosh, another one I watched many months ago but it's stuck with me closely. May is super fucked up and super good, and definitely took a lot of bravery on my part because of all the gory parts with eyes (I can't even watch someone put in contacts, eyes are my great weakness), but I don't recall looking away TOO frequently. The film succeeds so strongly as a whole because it takes its time to build character and tension, so that the insane, brutal spiral in the third act is understood while still being an intentionally jarring shift. Angela Bettis is a wonder in the title role, and I kind of want to be her for Halloween some time. I'll even get a little cooler to carry around with all my "pretty parts," won't that be pleasant? The title links to my original review.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This one I saw just a few days ago, and I will be writing about it in my upcoming posts about the Coolidge Corner Theater Horror Marathon. But for now let me just say that I LOOOOOVE ITTTT. This movie is scary and gory and kinda funny and especially thrilling. Like, I did not at any given point know what would happen next (well, except that certain characters would definitely die) and I wasn't sure how dark things would get. It's pretty damned dark but ever so entertaining, with a memorable villain and an admirably determined protagonist. And the kills! My god! Such phenomenal effects! Just amazing stuff all around. And best of all Beth from Better Off Dead is there, because yes that's the only thing I knew her from besides her bit part in Fast Times. Because I have selective pop culture knowledge, clearly.

Poltergeist (1982)
One thing that's nice about being so unfamiliar with horror movies is that I'm still surprised by even the more replicated tropes- I know Poltergeist has provided a template for a certain kind of haunted house movie, but I haven't seen them so it's all new to me! I really fell in love with this one for its visuals, I mean, my god that beautiful demon at the end, and the carnivorous tree, and the house vortex. It's just all gorgeous stuff. I also liked that while there is some attempt to explain things (house built on a cemetery, of course), it's not like anyone is trying to analyze it or fix it. Bad things are happening because bad things are happening, and if this family didn't have to save their daughter they would all get the fuck out of there post-haste and screw this mystery of a ghost meanie. The title links to my original review.

Honorable Mentions
An American Werewolf in London
Onibaba (only an honorable mention because I didn't consider it primarily horror)
Fade to Black
Pet Sematary
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (same note as Onibaba, but so good I had to mention it!)

Well that's it for now, but I still have so many more horror movies to watch! I can't wait!


  1. Oh, May is sooooooo creepy! That's one I've been meaning to revisit. Great list, though I might be the only person in the world that didn't care for The Poltergeist.

    1. Thanks! And I know at least one other person who doesn't like POLTERGEIST so it's not just you!

  2. May was 'eh' to me. You should try "Excision." It's pretty similar, but much better in my opinion.

    1. I'll add EXCISION to my netflix queue, thanks for the rec

  3. Great picks!! I love May so much. It's been a long time since I've seen it but it's a favorite of mine. Really sticks with you.

    1. Totally! It's still on my mind after watching it in January. I should probably buy it.

  4. poltergeist and carrie are two of my faves!

  5. I haven't seen "May" but I've enjoyed all the other titles. Also, "Onibaba" was excellent, I agree. It comes out of another era of "scary" but I consider it to be a Horror film nonetheless. "Ugetsu" is another great title in a similar style, if you're interested. It doesn't get eerie until the third act, though.

  6. Great post! I have seen each except May but reading your post and the comments I think I should add it to my watchlist now. By the way, I have given you a Sunshine Award Have a great week!