Happy Hallowe’en in advance, everyone. Those of you who really know me, know that Halloween is a bit of a sickness for me and my family. I know, you have neighbours who dress up the house and string lights for the holiday. You even know a few who border on excessive.
Sorry, but they’re all amateurs. We DO Hallowe’en. And this is the first year in a long time that we can’t go all out and put on the usual show for the locals (no apologies or explanations here). But we’re going back to our roots and pulling out some of our favourite horror movies for the holiday. We’re going to watch as many of them as we can if the next couple of evenings. Here they are, without a lot of explanation. I expect that you will have your own list of favourites too. Jesse Wente published his list of 10 favourite Canadian Horror movies on the CBC website yesterday, and you may well notice that there is no overlap with my list. Sorry, my list is my list, and I refuse to let it be influenced by a sense of duty to my home Country. But I do want to point out that “The Hauntin g” made my list — a terrific Canadian film that didn’t make Wente’s list. One of my criteria is that I don’t care very much for slasher films — so you won’t find any on my list. I respect them; I just don’t think that’s what Hallowe’en is all about for me. What you don’t see should be scarier than what you do.
So, with no further adieu, and in no particular order, my 13 favourite horror films (at the time of this writing):
Halloween (1978) — Cliché, I know. But we watch it every year. Defined the genre, IMHO
Psycho (1960) — Love psycho-horror, and Anthony Perkins was one of the very best. And Hitchcock had to make the list.
The Blair Witch Project (1999). Proof positive that what you don’t see is waaaaayyy scarier than what you do.
The Haunting (1963) – Canadian. Wonderful.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – People often forget this one, but if you have a faith, this one’s especially creepy.
The Exorcist (1973) – Aw, c’mon. Tell me it isn’t on your list too?
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – Simplicity itself. You can’t believe that the zombies can catch up with anyone, but you watch anyway.
The Grudge (2004) – Okay, this one seriously creeped me out. The original – not the sequel. Japanese storytellers have a very special take on evil, and that makes this very different from the typical North American, happy ending film.
Pit and the Pendulum (1961) – One name – Vincent Price
Ghost Story (1981) – Another one we watch every year. Yes, every year. A true classic with gothic overtones.
The Others (2001) – Newer films look better but don’t always have the heart and innovation of earlier ones in the genre. This is an exception. Wonderful and twisty.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – Bram Stoker — oh yah — Bram Stoker. So glad his name is in the title, as he is the star of this film. He even made me want to watch Keanu Reeves.
Sleepy Hollow (1999) — Johnny Depp, a faithful yet innovative interpretation of a classic tale, and the very best tree in all of horror movies.
Honourable mentions (I could only pick 13 for Hallowe’en, after all!)
Amityville Horror (1979) – What’s better than a creepy house that wants to kill you?
Poltergeist (1982) – I vascillated on this one, but ultimately deserved mention because I like the performance of Carol Ann.
The Shining (1980) – Nicholson can do anything, and this proves it.
The Omen (1976) – I love AntiChrist movies… and this was the best of the genre. And it didn’t have Keanu Reeves – bonus points
The Changeling (1980). Two reasons. George C. Scott was great, and my wife made me add it.