October movies: the scarier, the better
The world is divided into two categories: those who flock to horror films and those who shun the genre. In the former category, screaming in theaters, gripping hands in terror and spilling popcorn at the jump scares is a thrill. For the latter group, peaceful sleeps and dreams and not being scared of the dark is the idea.
If you are still reading this, it means scary movies are on the docket and a walk down horror lane might narrow down the choices for what to watch this Halloween season.
In the early days of theater, Hollywood produced some classics, Dracula, Bride of Frankenstein, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, to name a few. And then the master, Alfred Hitchcock, stepped in with cult classics like The Birds, Rear Window and of course Psycho, which is at the top of most lists as the best horror film of all time – although mild in comparison to the 1970s-to-modern-day scary films.
The 1970’s horror flicks saw a significant shift in content to reflect the changing culture. America was reeling from the Vietnam war; the energy crisis was in full salute; there was a significant increase in divorces, increase in moral decay and a general mistrust of the government.
As the saying goes, art imitated life. The Exorcist, about a girl possessed by the devil complete with her head spinning around and exorcism, scared the dickens out of movie goers and is perennially ranked as the scariest movie ever made. The film won two Academy Awards. Jaws showed rebellious teens getting high and having sex, which led them to being eaten by a giant shark. Both movies were the highest grossing hits in 1973 and 1975 respectively – something that hadn’t happened before in the horror movie genre. The 70s also gave us Alien, Carrie, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Halloween and The Amityville Horror.
Technological advances like animatronics brought monsters to a realistic light in the 1980s. This era also introduced humor with horror. Ghostbusters was one of the highest grossing movies of the time. Other spooky blockbusters from the decade were The Shining (also always highly-ranked), Poltergeist, The Thing, The Fly, An American Werewolf in London and Nightmare on Elm Street.
The 1990s brought an end to the Jason, Freddie and Michael Myers-type films whose plots were believed to have become stale. Serial killer and thriller movies became the trend. Silence of the Lambs was and is arguably the best psychological thriller ever made winning five Academy Awards. Some other 90’s gems: Seven, Misery, Jacob’s Ladder, The Sixth Sense, and of course the cult classic, Scream, which is a horror movie with characters making fun of all the cliches in traditional horror flicks. The Blair Witch Project gets a mention since it was the first documentary-style film reflecting the power of the fledgling Internet.
It’s no surprise that scary films after the beginning of the millennium reflected more zombie apocalypse-themed movies. A Quiet Place, The Others, The Ring, Saw, The Descent, Sinister and The Poughkeepsie Tapes are a few for consideration.
A few in the last few years to raise the blood pressure: Hereditary, Get Out, Midsommar and Scream (remake). If going to the cinema is preferred, Barbarian, Don’t Worry Darling and Smile are currently in theaters. Hellraiser is due to the box office on October 7 and Halloween Ends debuts on October 14.
Grab the popcorn and get screaming this Halloween.
By Hollen Wheeler; courtesy photo