by D.W. Lundberg

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I'm currently at work on a Horror retrospective for the blog, but it looks like I'm not going to finish on time (that's the thing about self-imposed deadlines - you know how forgiving the boss can be), so I thought I'd run a quick opinion poll for the time being instead...

Yesterday on Facebook, I asked everyone within eye shot what they'd recommend to a friend if they were asked the question: "What movie should I rent for Halloween night?" This could run the gamut from grossest gore film to funniest scare comedy to zaniest zombie flick - anything they found particularly frightening or family-friendly (or both) for the holiday, and why that particular film should be cherished and appreciated by others. The response was about as enthusiastic as I expected, but the thing I always find so interesting is how different types of Horror movies affect different types of people. From The Blair Witch Project to The Exorcist to Psycho to Shaun Of The Dead... what's scary to one person will often have a different effect on someone else, and it was fun to get at the heart of what really scares the pants off of you this time of the season.

(Also, why no mention of the Twilight movies, even though so many people are clearly so enamored with them? Is it because they're so romantic and googly- eyed? Or does it not occur to people that any movie about vampires and werewolves is, by definition, a Horror movie? Sound off in the comments section below!)

The results are as follows, and will hopefully serve as a last-minute guide on what titles would best serve you tomorrow night. I will also offer up some quick choices of my own at the end, for anyone so inclined.

And here we go...


"The Changeling is all mental and deals with ghosts that are trapped. It was recommended to us as 12-13 year olds and I've loved watching it ever since."
  - Christy J.

"The Changeling with George C Scott. I love knowing that creepy cheesy wheel chair scene is coming each time I watch it and I still jump when it happens. Lady In White is another good one. The moment I realized the dad's friend was whistling the same song... OMG!!"
  - Amanda G.

"I watched Lady In White the other day and remembered how much I loved it!! The scariest movie I have ever seen was The Grudge. I watched this alone one night and couldn't sleep for weeks."
  Liza P.

"I recommend Lady In White. We watched it every year when I was a teen. Takes me back to running to all Blockbusters in Salt Lake County trying find a copy. Ah, memories!"
  Rebecca B.

"Halloween. Best use of music ever and makes me nervous no matter how many times I see it. Also, Cabin In The Woods is the best horror movie in years. The storytelling is just so great. And it's not too scary although it delivers on almost every paradigm of a horror film. I also love the original House Of Wax. It's just spooky enough to be fun. It's a good warm up movie. For kids, Hocus Pocus. I love it. Bette Midler."
  - Meagan D.

"Drop Dead Fred... not really a Halloween movie but I remember it being creepy... plus it's on Netflix!"
  - Heather K.

"Silver Bullet. It scared the crap out of my wife when she was younger. Also, Something Wicked This Way Comes."
  - Brent C.

"Saw. Not really scary but a good intense movie for the 31st. For 90 minutes you know someone is cutting off their foot. Then it happens and you can't believe what you are seeing. So good. [And] Paranormal Activity. It deals with very realistic and very possible aspects of the spirit world and that is what makes it scary. That movie messed with me. I had trouble sleeping for weeks."
  - David K.

"The Others was one that took an eerie twist that I wasn't expecting. I think as far as gore and goes the Saw movies take the trophy in my opinion. The Last House On The Left is perhaps another one I would throw out there for the disturbing factor."
  - Vanessa B. 

"The Blair Witch Project. Stay away from the second one but the first one is genius."
  - Chas H. 

"[Nothing] too scary, buuuuut we have been watching some. The Woman In Black, Insidious, 1408, House At The End Of The Street..."
  - Darbilyn A. 

"I'm always a fan of the M. Night Shymalan movies. I know you probably take multiple issues with that, but that's me. Also you can't have a Halloween party without watching Thriller - as cheesy as it is, but that made me afraid to go into unfinished basements as a kid."
  - Jason P.

"Halloween (the original), Cabin In The Woods, Paranormal Activity, Blair Witch... those are just a few of my favorites."
  - Harley F.

"I am really not a huge fan of horror films, but I do enjoy watching The Sixth Sense for the frightful figures in Osment's house and school. Aside from that, classics like The Shining and IT by Stephen King are favorites because they keep you on your toes waiting for the next time your skin prickles ... the ending twist in The Others was pretty freaky, but interesting."
  - Courtney G.

"Ahhh, how can I forget about IT!!!! I HATE clowns because of IT!"
  - Jenny S. 

"The Pit And The Pendulum (1961) - I still lose sleep at night when I think about the woman staring out of the Iron Maiden. Shaun Of The Dead - because I don't actually like being scared. Ghostbusters - because it's Ghostbusters."
  - Marc S.

"Watcher In The Woods. It's Disney, and it's old now, and kinda cheesy acting, but we watched it with the kids and they were decently scared... and so were we! Exorcism Of Emily Rose... Not for kids. It's awesome cause it shows both sides of the coin ... Was she possessed? Or just sick?"
  - Rebecca McT.

"I really liked Dark Skies, White Noise, The Omen, The Mothman Prophecies, Fire In The Sky and Cabin In The Woods."
  - Jason McT.

"Call me a scaredy cat, but I don't think anything horror is entertaining... [but] I will be super content to watch a Harry Potter movie or two, especially since I just finished listening to the books again. And... Pirates Of The Caribbean. Some might think it cheesy, but what's Halloween without a pirate?"
  - Jenny Y. 

"I think Psycho is a really good one. It's creepy and suspenseful with a simplicity that is not found in a lot of the overdone horror movies today. It was made in the 60's yet I feel like it is more realistic than most films made since. For at least a week after I watch it I'll hear that shrieking in my head (both the music and the scream) and think twice before I go to take a shower... or stay at a creepy motel."
  - Christa B.

"The original Psycho! Oh, and the The Ring with Naomi Watts. One of the only movies I actually turned the lights on. Creepy, freaky, and scary!"
  - Adam McC. 

"Wait Until Dark. Audrey Hepburn is at her vulnerable best as a frail blind woman all alone in her apartment with a crazed homicidal drug dealer who is played brilliantly by comic actor Alan Arkin (yeah, Adam's dad)."
  - JD LeB.

"I'm a nerd but I LOVED Wait Until Dark with Aubrey Hepburn. I also was creeped out by Watcher In The Woods. The Shining with Jack Nicholson was one we watched a few years in a row on TV... so it was edited... but still creepy!"
  - MariAnne A.

"I don't like the gory gross-out movies, but I do love a good scare. The Conjuring freaked me out in the theater. I don't think I have ever jumped so many times.... The Ring had lasting scares, rocking [our baby] to sleep late at night seeing the girl come out of the TV... I was too terrified to stay in his room all by my lonesome, freaking myself out! Wait Until Dark and Lady In White freaked me out as a kid. Lady In White is probably cheesy now but Wait Until Dark will always be a classic."
  - Elisabeth L.

"I like The Nightmare Before Christmas for the kids. Not too scary, but introduces scary elements to them."
  - Adam M.

"The Serpent And The Rainbow, The Prophecy, Stigmata, Frailty, The Mothman Prophecies and The Eye. There are too many to choose from. [The paranormal stuff] typically wins out over gore as far as a scare factor for me."
  - Jo B.

"The Watcher In The Woods or my new favorite, The Conjuring. Anything that involves witch craft/devil worship and demonic possession in a creepy old house in the woods gives me the heebie jeebies. Might be because I grew up in a creepy old house that had been the site for séances before we bought it and saw some messed up stuff myself. They are both great horror films that don't have gore or nudity in them - a bonus in my book."
  - Ruth C.

"I just watched The Conjuring for the first time last night. I thought it was pretty creepy until the end when it suddenly turned cheesy. However, there are a few movies that always seem to creep me out. Poltergeist, A Nightmare On Elm Street 1 and 2. All the other Freddy films are just stupid. I would also recommend Mama. Very cool scary movie for Halloween."
  - Jonny C. 

"Freddy Krueger is my favorite. Scares me every time!!!"
  - Cathie G.

"Alien and Aliens always scared the crap out of me. I still can't sit through them."
  - Megan C.

"I'd have to say The Exorcist. I remember watching that on the big screen and having to sleep with the lights on for two weeks straight. The demonic imagery was subtle yet terrifying. The notion of possession of those who submit themselves to the power of the adversary and his followers is all too real & possible."
  - Keith E.

"I think the scariest movies are those that have the potential of actually happening. The Exorcist movies freak me out."
  - Jason McC.


A great list of titles all - and a good jumping-off point for what the genre truly has to offer. Nice to see so many plugs for Watcher In The Woods and The Lady In White, too, and Halloween (naturally), and Wait Until Dark... staples for many households, I'm sure. A deeper dive into my own list will be forthcoming, but for now, you could do worse than these classic indie shockers:

Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

The zombie movie par excellence, and the template for all other trapped-in-the-house-while-the- monsters-outside-try-to-kill-you flicks that followed it. Roger Ebert wrote an article here in which he describes a '68 Saturday showing of the movie, attended by children - because there was no rating system yet in place to warn parents of the movie's content. Needless to say it did not go over well.

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

The best of the Nightmares, because it a) returns director Craven to the franchise that made him a household name, b) stars many of Elm Street's original actors as fictional versions of themselves (never before had a horror series poked fun at itself to such an amusing degree) and c) it restores wisecracking Freddy Krueger to his former glory and makes him officially scary again. Nightmare aficionados will have a blast spotting the film's many cameos and in-joke references to previous chapters.

Kairo (Pulse) (2001)

One better than The Ring or The Grudge - and not a black-haired, vengeful demon girl in sight! Also the only Horror title in history (not counting its miserable remake) in which our beloved social networking sites - so prevalent today, we can scarcely imagine our lives without them - prove to be our ultimate downfall. (I go on a bit about Kairo's particular pleasures here.)


Happy Halloween, everyone! Comments will remain open... keep sharing your favorite scary movies! Let's keep the list growing for next year!


  1. I like some of the Twilight movies, but they just don't compare to the books...😉😁

  2. "and it was fun to get at the heart of what really scares the pants off of you this time of the season." Uh...Darin?...Why are you trying to get into my pants?

  3. The newish movie "woman in black" is creepy, spooky, intense with also some horror. The perfect Halloween movie.