Well, shop I hope you have better taste than to answer that question with ‘Scream’. Now I’m a massive horror movie fan, but it’s always baffled me entirely. Why DO people like to be on the edge of their seats ready to scream like five year old girls? What’s the thrill? I mean there are people (like me) who cannot get enough of them, having huge horror collections on DVD, catching the latest scary flick on opening night, etc. Research tells us that our blood pressure and heart rate is up after watching one, so I guess it’s just a free shot of adrenaline for thrill junkies. A bit like riding your favourite rollercoaster, (FYI I’m terrified of rollercoasters).
Anyway, I just thought I’d count down my top five personal favourite horror films in celebration of Halloween, (Yes I know it was last week, but I’m a busy girl!). Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree!
5. Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
I thought I’d start with a classic. Surely we’ve all seen Halloween, given that it shares it’s title with the scariest night of the year. It has all the classic qualities of your generic slasher film. From the clueless teenage cast, to the ridiculous variety of murder weapons used. Anyway for those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s a quick plot overview, written by yours truly.
Halloween is set in a fictional town in Illinois. It opens with a scene from Halloween in 1963, showing a very young Michael Myers brutally murdering his older sister with a kitchen knife. Fast forward 15 years and we have an older Michael escaping his psychiatric ward and returning to his childhood home, where he sets upon stalking teenager Laurie Strode and her friends. All of whom have heard the terrifying tale of the murderous child who lived on their estate all those years ago.
Now, it’s one of my favourites simply because it is a classic. It was one of the first horror films I ever saw and spurred me on to watch more and more. Nowadays I get bored with the typical slasher qualities of films like this, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Halloween.
4. Mirrors (Alexandre Aja, 2008)
Skip ahead thirty years and we have one of the creepiest movies I have ever seen. Although it only actually gained three out of five stars on IMDB it kept me up for a good few nights afterwards. Mirrors was one of the first films to genuinely freak me out. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, afraid to miss something and trying my hardest not to soil myself.
Former Cop Ben Carson is hired to work as the night security at an abandoned department store that had been partially destroyed by fire years before. Upon setting on his first rounds he discovers that all the mirrors in the place are impeccably clean and is later informed that the past security guard had an obsession with the mirrors. After a few nights of working there, he begins to see weird images in the mirrors, but writes it off as being tired. Upon finding his younger sister Angie dead only days after he discovers that there is an evil force in the mirrors that is hell bent on murdering his family. His only problem is getting his ex-wife to believe him.
Now, I have a real problem with seeing children under attack. Any kind of film that puts them in a vulnerable, unsafe position makes me feel very uncomfortable, but one of the main reasons this film stuck in my head was because of the events the protagonist’s children went through. I’m not going into detail, but do watch it and let me know your opinion!
3. Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008)
Martyrs is a French film. One of the best and most deeply disturbing psychological horror films I have ever seen. I wouldn’t advise watching this if you’re under 16, given the discomfort of the torture scenes. I’m not lying when I say they can be visually scarring. This is only one to watch if you’re a major horror junkie. To other people it would just be disturbing and uncomfortable to watch. I almost turned it off the first time I watched it, but the storyline interested me too much.
A group of people have spent their lives torturing and manipulating people into a near death. Their leader believes that if they push their victims so far they will have a true idea of what comes after death. Lucie was captured early on in her life, but managed to escape. Years later Anna, a girl Lucie met in a children’s home is also captured and tortured by the group, but she survives the ordeal, being able to give the group the answer they are looking for.
I found it hard to write this overview simply because there is so much plot there to play with so this doesn’t even cover half the storyline. I’m just going to repeat myself again here, Martyrs does NOT make pleasant viewing, so please don’t watch it with a younger sibling.
2. Friday the 13th (Sean S. Cunningham, 1980)
I’m returning to the classics here. I’m definitely guilty of having seen all 12 of these films, although none compare with the first. I know I said earlier I have little patience for slasher films now, but this is one film I can watch over and over again without getting bored. I have no idea why, but I find them really entertaining and I find myself whispering to the tv, telling the characters to run and hide. I know it’s pointless, but it entertains me.
A group of teenagers return to the site where a child had drowned in years previous, due to the neglect of the camp counsellors. The teens have high hopes of returning the site to its previous glory and re-opening a summer camp, but end up becoming victims of a murderous stalker.
Like Halloween, this is worth a watch for the creative ways the ‘murder weapons’ are used. It’s an easy watch and isn’t likely to scare anybody. Definitely something you could stick on at a sleep over, or before bed and not worry about nightmares with!
1. REC (Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, 2007)
By far my favourite horror film in the world. It hovers somewhere between a zombie film and and an exorcism film, it has you biting your nails to the skin from start to finish. After watching this for the first time, I used the toilet at a friends house where the bathroom light promptly blew with a loud ‘bang’ causing my then 16 year old self to scream the house down. If a film can leave your heart racing from start to finish the way this one does, it’s a winner.
A young television reporter and camera man are dispatched to the local fire brigade for the night, to give viewers and insight on how their local heroes live. However, following an emergency call they and the fire crew become trapped within a block of flats. Chaos ensues. They cannot leave the building and something strange is happening to the people within. There’s just one thing the reported refuses to do. Turn off the camera.
Just a little warning if you do watch REC, it’s in Spanish with subtitles and also filmed with a moving hand camera, (Think Blair Witch Project). It won’t be for everybody but it’s my favourite without a doubt.
Feel free to leave your opinion on my little list! I would have written more, but I found it way too hard to pick ten. Please do let me know if you watch any. Obviously I’d recommend all five!
Until next time,