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Jenny’s Halloween Film List 2018

Hello my spooky chums, and welcome to another blog post dedicated to visual Halloween delights. Did you catch my 2016 horror film round-up? Or my recent linky list of vegan-friendly halloweeny stuff to make/do/read/watch? If so, and you still want MORE then read on, friends, because today I bring you another 10 excellent horror films that would make perfect Halloween viewing. Each holds a special place in my heart and is well worth a watch or re-watch. So grab your popcorn and a cushion to cower behind and turn off all the lights so the neighbourhood kids don’t know you’re home and you can eat all the chocolate yourself and read ON.

1. Suspiria (1977)

I recently heard this film described as a phantasmagoric delight, and I can think of no better description for the full-on assault on the senses delivered by Dario Argento’s 1977 giallo classic. Once upon a time, I religiously attended the Bradford Media Museum’s annual horror and sci-fi film fest, FANTASTIC FILMS WEEKEND. One particularly joyous year, we were treated to a screening of Suspiria with a brand spanking newly remastered version of the soundtrack by Argento-soundtrack-regulars Goblin. The festival’s curator asked the (relatively small) audience if we’d mind awfully if he cranked that all the way up to 11. We chuckled in delight and said OK LOL. I was, at the time, accompanied by my pal, a very strange Italian chap with a huge love for horror cinema and a childhood spent in Rome hanging out with Dario’s daughter, Asia Argento. Fronds, even his adoring ears couldn’t cope with the aural onslaught. IT WAS SPECIAL. And painful. Suspiria’s re-make is due soon and I’m cautiously optimistic about Thom Yorke’s re-imagined soundtrack. The primary-coloured delight of the original simply can’t be recreated though, and Suspiria (1977) is best watched on a big HD screen with an excellent sound system.

2. Pet Sematary (1989)

I read this Stephen King classic when I was far too young a well-rounded young adult fully able to cope with the themes of human and animal mortality and resurrection. And though my memory of the cinematic adaption has been sullied somewhat by Edward Furlong’s screeching in the pretty terrible 1992 sequel, I’ve always held a special place in my black heart for this, the novel’s first adaptation. Directed by Mary Lambert (a woman! directing a horror film! in the 1980s!) this film goes where most others wouldn’t dare to go: the death of a child. And the resurrection. And the zombification. The usual. This is also due a re-make (2019) and I’m actually pretty excited for it for once; Stephen King has stepped up to co-author the script and hopefully we’ll see him pick up his bible and give us another cameo.

3. Wolfen (1981)

This wins the award for one of the most random horror films I’ve ever accidentally watched (RIP Lovefilm) but as a vegan and environmentalist I absolutely love the idea of the earth and its creatures becoming so enraged by our mistreatment of it and of each other that it decides to take revenge. It was also made in the year of my birth; clearly a year of the birth of GREAT THINGS. Wolfen is based on a Whitley Streiber novel that I’ve never read, but I did read his one about aliens and the film of that Messed Me Up. Albert Finney, who usually annoys the heck out of me, is absolutely bearable as a NYPD cop investigating some of the strange happenings in a crumbling Bronx, torn apart by poverty and class inequality, and a very young Tom Noonan (who appears later on in this list) makes an appearance as an almost completely normal character. Which is unusual for Tom Noonan. I’m including Wolfen if only for this quote: “In arrogance man knows nothing of what exists. There exists on this earth such as we dare not imagine; life as certain as our death, life that will prey on us as surely as we prey on this earth.” YUP.

4. The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

I’m not ashamed to admit that the Quatermass films scared the complete flipping heck out of me when I was wee. My father, who was, shall we obliquely say, not the finest of parents, would often watch weird sci-fi/horror films of the preceding decades late into the night and pretty much allow me to sit there in youthful innocence while my poor malleable brain was awash with mad stuff I didn’t understand. But I do now! There was a spaceship! It came back to earth missing two of its three astronauts! But where did they go?! And what else came back?  What indeed. There was a great live BBC version of this made back in 2005, starring Mark Gatiss and David Tennant, and they all did a very fine job of it. Honestly, I pretty much love anything Nigel Kneale cooked up or touched and this is no exception. This film features the finest horror movie monster I have ever seen sitting atop scaffolding in Westminster Abbey.

5. House of the Devil (2009)

In my last movie round-up I mentioned The Innkeepers, a very fine haunted house romp from 21st century horror movie maestro Ti West. House of the Devil is another of his creations and a near-perfect homage to 1970s horror but recreated in 2009. Tom Noonan pops up early on and you KNOW things are about to go south when Tom Noonan pops up don’t you? And sure enough, there’s blood and murder and the Devil and the Devil’s demon seed and so on and so forth. I really hope we haven’t seen the last of Ti West and that he gets back to feature films soon.

6. The Thing (1982)

Blog-regulars will know that I LOHHHF John Carpenter and I’ve previously gushed about The Fog and Prince of Darkness. Today I’ll gush a little about Kurt Russell’s swooniest movie moment as R.J. MacReady, helicopter pilot for an American scientific research station in Antarctica. I made Mr J-M watch this on New Year’s Eve 2016 which was pretty much our 3rd date. Thankfully he came back for a 4th – big phew! This is a film I’ve been lucky enough to catch on the big screen a couple of times now, with the soundtrack and conversely the eerily quiet deep Alaskan winter making for a great cinematic experience. If you want to see a different John Carpenter offering in the pictures, though, there are screenings up and down the UK at the moment as part of the release of four 4K classics, so catch ’em while you can!

7. The Possession (2012)

This is one of those more contemporary releases that seemed to fly under the radar, perhaps due to its fairly generic title, or maybe it was swallowed up in the tide of James Wan successes, but to me it stands out as a really solid possession/exorcism tale that offers something a little different. In the very capable hands of Sam Raimi as producer, this movie seems as though it might be a possession-plot like any other, until a Rabbi is called in to perform the exorcism. A very welcome break from those Catholic exorcisms to be sure (though I heart you Father Karras, for always) and well worth a Halloween viewing.

8. The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)

Fans of 2015’s The Witch might enjoy this early 1970s folk horror classic. Set in rural England in the early 1700s, it follows a small village fallen victim to strange happenings, suspected witchcraft, and some odd bodily appendages. Almost certainly an influence on 1973’s The Wicker Man, this has everything a good folk horror should: chanting, boobs, moral panic, and some quite charming British countryside.

9. Teeth (2007)

Another below-the-radar low budget movie that deserves some attention is the delightful Teeth, a very satisfying coming-of-age tale wherein the young Dawn discovers something unusual about her down-belows when a classmate and doctor both attempt to sexually assault her. It’s ultimately a story about consent and revenge acted out via a pretty fanciful plot that’s nevertheless well conceived and executed and quite pleasing to watch. Personally I am not against the idea of vagina dentata SHRUG EMOJI.

10. Lake Mungo (2008)

If you enjoy a really really slow burn that’ll eventually explode in your face, then this is another low budget horror that’s worth a watch. In truly creepy mockumentary style, this film explores the strange happenings before and after the tragic drowning death of Australian teenager Alice Palmer via interviews, video clips, and fuzzy 2000s mobile footage. This is definitely one to watch with the lights off and the sound up and a nearby hand to hold…

What’s on your watch list this Halloween, dear readers? Let me know!

Header image via Pixabay. Thanks Pixabay!


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Woodcut of leaping deer.

YASSS!

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3 Comments

  • Reply Joey

    These days, I am far too feeble and easily scared to watch a horror film (though did really enjoy It Follows not so long ago) but when I was a kid I loved horror films, no matter how dodgy. I watched a LOT of Hammer horror and John Carpenter. I still have a soft spot for They Live!

    November 1, 2018 at 21:30
    • Reply Jenny

      I loooove They Live. I think it’s actually terrifyingly prescient in many ways. Prince of Darkness is my favourite JC I think, but that’s closely (jointly) followed by The Fog and The Thing <3 We're seeing Prince of Darkness in the cinema in a couple of weeks and I can't wait!

      November 2, 2018 at 08:27
  • Reply Jennifer

    So many favorites from school! I went to film school so we watched Suspira and The Thing in class. My husband and I recently went to a showing of a rare Italian film copy of Suspira. It was really cool watching it in Italian, and the editing was a little different. The quality of the print was garbage, it has never been remastered or anything, but it was really cool seeing it in a slightly different way. And there was a Q&A session at the end with Jessica Harper. I am skeptical about the new version, but the trailer does look cool, and the movie is heavily based on visuals… soo… *crosses fingers*

    Speaking of film school I remember the big splash Teeth made, so I just assumed EVERYONE knew about it. I was totally wrong when I mentioned it to my husband and he seemed confused. lol. Everyone I mentioned it to was pretty clueless, so oops?

    November 5, 2018 at 12:47
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