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Horrible Halloween Horror

Halloween is the one time every year where we are expected to sit down under our blankies and switch on a horrible horror film. We all like to be a bit startled during this time of year, whether we partake in the festivities or not. In this issue, I decided to make an overview of films within four different categories of horror: slasher for the people who like a gory horror movie, BOOO films which can really give you a good jump-scare, zombie films for the apocalypse enthusiast, and finally the supernatural category to cover the horrors from beyond. Hopefully you will have a nice selection for your evening scare! Pick your poison, but be sure to keep a pillow and a spare pair of pyjama pants close by...

For a real good slasher-film scare the Saw franchise (started off with Saw in 2004) is the best choice for you! The antagonist, Jigsaw, just wants to play a little game – with your life at stake. A series of horrific tasks need completion, all with a theme. Jigsaw likes to kidnap people who do not value their lives, and wants to teach them a much needed lesson in appreciating what you have, because it might all disappear in a second... Beware though; these films are not for the squeamish.

In case you no longer flinch from the escapades of Jigsaw, then you might be interested in an older release: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), recently revamped in 2003, and again in 2013, this time in 3D – hurray! The original film cover reads: who will survive, and what will be left of them? Need I say more?

The classic A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) featuring Johnny Depp’s film debut. A group of teenagers have similar nightmares, and struggle to stay awake to avoid the common source of their night terrors; a masked, disfigured gentleman with razor-sharp blades attached to his glove. In this “oldie but goodie” Freddy will literally give you nightmares for nights to come.

The Hills Have Eyes (2006): This remake of the 1977 film is, by far, a more gory version. A family on a road trip take a wrong turn, and end up in an old nuclear bomb test area. Before long they discover that the place was not uninhabited when the bombs went off. The inhabitants of the area have been exposed to a lot of radiation, and do not take kindly to strangers in their land...

Trick ‘r Treat (2007): Finally a horror movie with Halloween as a theme! In this film we follow five stories: one short and four long interwoven storylines which all take place on a fateful Halloween night. As the film starts off we are reminded that rules are meant to be broken, but traditions should not be. It breeches with tradition to take the decorations down before Halloween is over – but the first tale covers just that, as Emma blows out her jack-o-lantern before midnight. She quickly learns why that is against the norm.

By FAR the category of films I attempt to avoid at all cost. Be it in videogames or in films, zombies terrify me beyond reason. Give me a ghost, vampire or demon any day!

Dawn of the Dead. Be it the original from 1978, or the remake from 2004, it is sure to scare the socks off of the best of us. Z-day has arrived and the zombie apocalypse is upon us. A plague is sweeping the nation, and nurse Annie finds herself oblivious to the television broadcasts reporting worldwide breakouts of horrifying symptoms. When her own husband turns into a flesh-hungry zombie after a bite, she needs to escape and seek refuge from the sudden outbreak enveloping the whole world. She soon finds herself in a mall with other survivors, but the zombies are closing in on the scent of human flesh...

The Resident Evil movie franchise (2002, ‘04, ‘07, ‘10, and ‘12). Loosely based on a videogame, these movies are seriously scary – containing a plethora of increasingly horrifying evolved zombies hungry for human flesh. The whole series follows Alice (Mila Jovovich) in her battle against the Umbrella Corporation, creators of the deadly T-virus. In this battle, there is tons and tons of terrifying action. After all, Alice and her various companions need to save the world from sure doom, and eradicate the zombies. What I find most terrifying with these films are not the zombies themselves, but how the creation of zombies is scientifically explained – it is suddenly ten times more realistic, and I am hiding under my bed.

Ghosts and demons: the greatest source of inspiration for horror-film producers. After all, what is more terrifying than what we do not understand? Following is a list of mustwatch movies that fall under the supernatural phenomena category:

The Exorcist (1973): Oh, the original scary movie! A 12 year old girl’s appearance and behaviour has changed greatly. She is violent and hateful, and utters shocking things to anyone who dares approach her. Her mother sends for a priest in hopes that he can help her, as all signs indicate that mommy’s little angel is possessed.

Poltergeist (1982): A seemingly friendly band of ghosts move household items around, which amuses the residents of the house at first. Things quickly take a turn for the worse though, as the young daughter of the family, Carol Anne, communicates with the beings through the static snow of the television. The spirits break into the physical world, and in the middle of their reign of harassment, Carol Anne goes missing. A medium is contacted to help, and the battle to save Carol Anne and clean the house of supernatural influence begins...

Paranormal Activity (2007): Experience the film that took the internet with storm in 2007. Rumoured that it was a true story, this movie has its fair share of creepy moments, as well as a great build-up of suspense. I for one had a hard time sleeping after seeing this film in the cinema. Sadly the sequels tore down all illusions of a low budget real-life ghost story. In my opinion, the first film is the best, and the rest are reduced to a commercial gimmick.

The Ring (2002): “7 days...” The Ring is truly a terrifying film based on the Japanese horror Ringu (1998). A videotape shows up playing strange images. The catch is that after seeing the film, the viewer dies mysteriously seven days later. Compelled by her niece’s mysterious death after having seen the tape, journalist Rachel Keller decides to look into the mystery of the cursed tape.

Ju-On (2002), the Japanese original The Grudge: A meowing white child-spirit haunting the house he was murdered in? A curious social worker aiming to help? Recipe for disaster!

The Mist (2007): A lightning storm hits a village, and afterwards a lingering mist follows. Things take a turn for the horrific as monsters emerge from the mist and a group of people, barricaded inside a supermarket, have to defend themselves. Much of the scare factor of this film is that the sight is so limited, and what you cannot see is, usually, what terrifies you the most. The enveloping fog creates a claustrophobic feel, and is sure to scare you on a dark October night!

This is a small selection of all the great horrors hiding out there in the world of cinema. I hope you have found one or two that piqued your interest. After all, we have several dark and frightful autumn nights ahead of us that we need to fill with entertainment. Happy Halloween, and don’t forget to leave your pumpkin lit till after midnight!

By Benny Baumann