Despite the fact that I am no longer a kid (damn!), Halloween remains my all-time favourite holiday. I live in a condo so unfortunately I don’t get to decorate or hand out candy every year – so I indulge in other ways. Mainly by scaring the crap out of myself with horror movies! (Oh okay, and maybe also by inhaling mini chocolate bars like they’re going out of style..but that’s irrelevant).
I’m an amature horror buff year-round but there are a few key films I watch every Halloween. Some of them are scary (to me anyway!), some, not so much. Without further hesitation, I present you with a few of my MUST-WATCH Halloween favourites:
I know this movie gets a lot of mention this time of year, but in my opinion it’s well-deserved. It’s not Halloween until we’ve watched The Shining at least once in my household, preferably late at night with all of the lights turned off. The opening credits alone make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. The ominous music, wide open shots of expansive trees, snowy mountains and winding road have me shrinking deeper under my blanket before the first word of dialogue is even spoken. Stephen King may have hated Stanley Kubrick’s vision of his novel but to me and many others, Kubrick got it chillingly right.
On the flip side, I also highly enjoy watching The Simpson’s take on The Shining, from Treehouse of Terror V. Who doesn’t love the part where a menacing Homer-as-Jack Torrance advances on Marge, sees his own refection in a mirror and shrieks, falling backwards down the stairs. I’m laughing just thinking about it!
Shaun of The Dead
I’ll preface this one with a small fact about myself: I love all things zombie related. I also suffer a crippling fear of zombies. Despite this affliction, I continue to see nearly every zombie movie that comes out, collect zombie things, and subject myself to The Walking Dead every Sunday and the inevitable nightmares that follow.
I remember seeing the trailer for this movie back in 2004 and knowing IMMEDIATELY that I had to go see it. I had a feeling I’d love it and I wasn’t wrong.
Shaun Of The Dead is a brilliantly written “zom-com” that somehow manages to make me laugh out loud often, and absolutely TERRIFY me at the same time. There’s a certain somewhat “serious” scene that takes place at the local pub that scares the hell out of me every time. There’s also this magical scene, an expertly choreographed battle with a zombie all set to the tune of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. If this doesn’t make you love this movie, you might already be dead!
Dawn of The Dead (2004 remake)
I have only ever managed to sit through this entire movie once. It scared me so badly that I’ve only been able to watch it in bits and pieces since then, even though I TRY every Halloween. I loved this movie when I saw it in the theatre, I screamed, hid my face, and laughed along with everyone else…but I also had horrible nightmares that night. The beginning of the movie where Sara Polley’s husband is attacked by the zombie-child from next door haunts my dreams to this day. Talk about an intense opening to a movie! Maybe I’ll try again this year because this movie is definitely a Halloween winner.
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark
This one might seem out of place in my mainly horror-and-zombie filled list but I have to include it because we watch it every year (pretty sure the Mister doesn’t mind). When I was a kid I wanted to BE Elvira. I thought she was the coolest lady alive! I wanted to host crappy b-movie festivals, wear my hair in a beehive and drive a sweet 1958 T-Bird with leopard interior. What can I say, I was a weird kid.
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is a campy movie starring b-actress turned modern day witch Elvira. After inheriting her late aunt’s estate, Elvira is forced to move to small town U.S.A. where all hell breaks lose. There are cheesy special effects, corny one-liners and boob jokes, and oodles of bad acting (hello Bob, I’m looking at you chewing the scenery!) – yet I love it. One of the funniest things about this movie is noticing how many BLATANT double entendres and innuendos went straight over my head as a kid (this is a good thing). In any case It’s a fun film to add to your Halloween party screening.
I’ll close with underrated creep-fest Session 9, which gets a spot on my list in spite of the fact that it stars a pre-CSI Miami David Caruso. This movie with it’s undeniable nods to The Shining follows the horrific unraveling of some workers at an abandoned Mental Asylum. A particular scene involving a frightened worker with a paralyzing fear of the dark, being “chased” down a hallway has my heart leaping out of my chest every time. If you enjoy slow, creeping build ups, messy frontal lobotomy scenes, and hair-raising voices on tape recorders, Session 9 is a must watch.
Happy Halloween everybody and…UNPLEASANT DREAMS!