Happy Halloween!! When my six year old finally collapses from his sugar-induced frenzy and falls asleep, I like nothing better than to settle on the couch with a glass or two of wine, and watch a few Halloween scary movies, particularly ones that give me a Halloween thrill and drive me to spasmodically gnaw on mass quantities of Tootsie Rolls: spooky music, creepy shadows, the things you’d want to encounter (or not) in a haunted house, and then some. Narrowing the list down to ten was excruciating. I wanted to include some more contemporary films in with the classics. I know I left out lots of great, creepy movies. Please chime in the comments with some of your favorite Halloween watches!
Scream. Really an appropriate title. Lots of people scream. Drew Barrymore screams. How was that for an unexpected GOTCHA right at the beginning? Surely they won’t kill a famous actor such as Barrymore so soon. Wes Craven must have giggled himself silly when he thought of that one…or he screamed. I screamed. We all screamed for Scream. Another iconic horror director, Wes Craven, revived the slasher genre in a unique, meta way and provided some good scares with a cool twist at the end. (I was torn between including Scream and his other classic, Nightmare on Elm Street.)
Halloween. The granddaddy of them all. Carpenter does an excellent job of setting mood and tone. (I mean whose skin doesn’t crawl when they hear that piano riff?) And Donald Pleasance is creepy even when he’s playing a good guy. There’s a subtle beauty to Carpenter’s stuff (except for maybe The Thing). Carpenter does not show the rending of flesh in Halloween, yet I felt it, and when I think of that movie, I always seem to remember lots of gore. That’s skillful filmmaking.
Fright Night. Chris Sarandon gives one of my favorite vampire performances ever. “You have to have faith for that to work on meeeeeee.” There are so many amazing scenes, moments in this movie that elevate it beyond teen horror camp. Roddy McDowell as the washed up Vincent Price-ish, tv personality, Peter Vincent Vampire Killer. And an often overlooked but great performace by Stephen Geoffreys as Evil Ed. A great character not given justice in the remake. The scene where he visits Peter Vincent after becoming a vampire was chilling.
Evil Dead. Did Sam Raimi know when he filmed his low budget masterpiece, that it’d become one of the iconic movies of its genre, inspiring many more to come? You can’t beat Sam Raimi for campy, no holds bared horror blood fest. And Bruce Campbell is fantastic. Raimi apparently used his own brand of method acting to inspire real fear in the actors. For example, he flung real glass at them during filming. Bruce Campbell sprained his ankle during filming and Raimi would poke at the aching wound to elicit emotional responses. No wonder Campbell went totally nuts.
Evil Dead 2, also great, is streamable on Netflix.
Psycho. So ahead of its time. The birth of the slasher, this movie list alone contains movies with elements inspired by Psycho. Jerky camera work, and super creepy score. And oh how Hitchcock loves to manipulate the audience. That movie unsettled me. And once again, no gore, but talk about messed up mom and son Oedipal horror. I always say Dario Argento and Clive Barker are wonderfully disturbed, but Hitchcock definitely is the godfather.
The Conjuring. I’d been waiting for a great, contemporary Amityville Horror type movie to come along and The Conjuring did a great job providing scares and a rather intense, horrifying final act. I wanted to scream in delight just in the way the film opened. Before the credits stopped rolling, they hit us with that creepy music that harkens back to some of the classics, like Omen and The Exorcist, and slithers into the primal parts of the subconscious. Then Wan gives us Annabelle’s creepy eyeball then more creepy music. Then we meet Ed and Lorraine Warren and get their story typed on the screen in Courier because you know it’s scary if written in Courier. James Wan studied the masters. Oh, he also provides a great horror movie teaching point: take family dog along when house hunting. If dog is afraid, do not buy the house.
Have you seen a picture of the real Annabelle? She’s a big Raggedy Ann doll. Someone gave me a big Raggedy Ann doll as a Christmas gift when I was a kid. She sits in the closet in my old room at my parent’s house. I will never remove her from the closet in my old room at my parent’s house. If my parents ever sell the house, I will tell the new owners to never remove the giant Raggedy Ann doll from the closet.
House of the Devil. I watched a lot of weird, atmospheric horror movies as a kid in the seventies. It’s probably what warped me. Ty West does an excellent job of recreating that same mood in House of the Devil. It’s a slow burner but does it burn and the climactic ending is both horrifying and shocking.
Dracula. Todd Browning’s classic still holds up, in part due to Bela Lugosi’s haunting, wonderful performance as our beloved Count. The opening scenes are still some of the best in any movie. Very atmospheric, macabre, lovely.
The Changeling. A damned good haunted house movie with a tragic, great story and rewarding reveal at the end. George C. Scott gives a great performance as the tortured John Russell, recovering from the death of his wife. Peter Medak, the director, carefully layers on the creepiness leaving us completely unsettled without quite knowing why.
The Others. I figured this one out half way through the movie, but it still didn’t ruin my enjoyment. The overall canvas of this movie was painted in chilling, beautiful images. Just the scene where the weird people approach the house from the outside. Yikes! Wonderful creepy stuff.
And for fun, with the kiddies: Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, and The Adams Family.
The Necromancer’s Betrayal
The Necromancer Series
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: ImaJinn/Belle Books
Number of pages: 226
Cover Artist: Debra Dixon
Her powers have been hobbled. Her enemies are growing stronger.
Old loves challenge her. And her worst betrayer may be herself.
Necromancer Ruby Montagne is battling for her life in the realm of demons. Unfairly branded for the death of a fellow necromancer, she’s got to prove her innocence without the full use of her magic. And the real culprit is still on the loose.
While someone is stalking her friends among the witches, Ruby searches for answers inside the dark intrigues of both the demon and necromancer worlds. Ruby must confront this new, sinister threat while reconciling her feelings for her former lover, a demon warrior. Only it’s difficult . . . because a sexy vampire is making it clear that he’d like to be a lot more than just friends.
The competition for Ruby’s trust heats up as the enemy pushes her toward a dark side that could threaten the entire realm. Yet what can Ruby do when she’s not even sure what she is? With the fabric separating the realms at stake, she must decide whom to trust. But will the ultimate betrayal be her own?
Available at Amazon
About the Author:
Mimi Sebastian raised herself on books and the strange and unusual, and an unhealthy dose of comics and movies. When a career as a punk guitarist failed to materialize, she completed her degree in urban planning, spent two years in the Ivory Coast with the Peace Corps, and another three years in Brazil. By day, she debates the merits of transport oriented development, by night she writes about necromancers and pirates. She’s convinced she could live off coffee, ice cream, and comic books, but is sure only one of those is good for her health.
She's a member of Romance Writers of America and the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA. A transplant from the beaches of Florida, Mimi now wanders the desert in Phoenix, AZ, and attempts to balance writing with a day career, fantastic family, and household diva: her Amazon parrot.
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