So, you want to watch a horror movie? You want to give yourself, or those around you, a real spooky feeling this Halloween holiday? Great, let’s get into our top ten movies to watch for Halloween 2019.
Number 10: The Blair Witch Project
In at number ten is The Blair Witch Project. Now, personally, I wasn’t a fan when this came out back in 1999. To me it felt like a lot of hype (a LOT of hype) and some clever marketing from writers/directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez.
However, I know a lot of you did like it at the time, some of you may even like it now. It’s a “fill in the blanks yourself” type of movie. In that, throughout, you don’t really see anything, it’s all about buying into the film, scaring yourself with what you think could be out there. Each to their own.
Number 9: Happy Death Day
Ok, ok, I can hear a lot of your screaming at this one. Released in 2017 Happy Death Day was a lot of fun and made for a relatively small $4.8 million, returning over $125 million worldwide (hence the recent sequel).
It borrowed, and referenced, a few other horror / slasher films but is perhaps best thought of as a mix of Scream and Groundhog Day as Jessica Rothe (“La La Land”, “Please Stand By”) relives the day of her murder over and over and over again up until she manages to solve her own murder.
Number 8: IT (2017)
Plenty of people don’t like clowns, finding them scary in their makeup and big red noses and shoes. So, when curator of horror Stephen King picked up the clown mantel, he created Pennywise and thus IT was born.
Whilst we could have, quite easily, gone for the 1990 Tim Curry version of IT, we decided that the recent remake, which split proceedings into two movies, would be our pick.
The first half focuses on the children and is full of warmth, humour and plenty of scares, coming courtesy of Bill Skarsgard (“Deadpool 2”, “Atomic Blonde”) as Pennywise.
It has all the hallmarks of a classic Stephen King movie, think Stand By Me but with a demonic clown scaring the kids, and wider town, and you aren’t far off. It’s delightful, a shame the follow-up couldn’t quite live up to it.
Number 7: Thelma
Coming out of Norway Thelma didn’t have the success internationally it deserves. Thelma, in my humble opinion, is a much better modern Carrie, more so than the actual modern Carrie was.
We join Thelma, Eili Harboe (“The Wave”, “Beforeigners (TV)”), a religious girl who is in love with one of her female friends. Confused and feeling alone she represses these feelings with disastrous affects as her subconscious unleashes some serious psychokinetic powers that wreak havoc and don’t get much better when Thelma learns to control them.
Writer and director Joachim Trier (“Reprise”, “Louder Than Bombs”) keeps things simple, stripped back and plays with colours a lot. Together it makes Thelma a delight to watch with a familiarity that works. It deserved a better box-office than it returned internationally, perhaps someone will remake it, let’s hope not.
Number 6: 28 Days Later
Imagine waking up in an empty hospital, no-one is around but there are signs of chaos. You make your way outside to find it’s not just the hospital that’s empty, but the whole of London, later you learn the whole of the UK.
This was what happened to Cillian Murphy (“Dunkirk”, “The Party”) in the Alex Garland (“Ex Machina”, “Annihilation”) written, Danny Boyle (“Yesterday”, “Slumdog Millionaire”) directed 28 Days Later.
Together with a bunch of other survivors, Murphy must first find a way to stay alive whilst finding sanctuary and, hopefully, help, avoiding the fast, blood-thirsty zombies along the way.
Number 5: Midsommar
How about something recent, something based on an actual even that takes place each year, enter, Midsommar.
From writer / director Ari Aster, Midsommar is as crazy as the premise sounds: a bunch of American students are invited to Sweden to witness their friend’s hometown mid-summer festival.
It’s an absolutely bizarre mix of surreal imagery, in-fighting and ritual suicide. It’s a slow-burn horror and some may find it infuriating but anyone who manages to not just put a horror movie in broad daylight, but also pull that off, is a winner in our book.
Number 4: Hellraiser
In 1987 a man from Liverpool wrote and directed a couple of short films. One of them was called The Forbidden, which would later go on to become Candyman but that wouldn’t be for a few years. In between he made a small film, based off his own novella, called Hellraiser. Which could have been called “What A Woman Will Do For A Good F*ck”, but that’s a different story.
Hellraiser brought the world ‘Pinhead’ (a term writer and director Clive Barker apparently hates), played by fellow Liverpudlian Doug Bradley who became so adept at putting on the makeup for his character, he’s actually credited as assistant makeup artist.
The story sees a family move into their childhood home again but, unbeknownst to them, one of them has summoned the Cenobites, lead by Pinhead, a demon (might be one way to see him), who can only be removed by a series of blood sacrifices.
There has been, for many, many years now, a reboot on the cards with David S. Goyer (“The Dark Knight”, “Terminator: Dark Fate”) on writing credits, it appears to have stalled however, given it’s been floating around since 2006, maybe someone can give it a kick soon.
Number 3: Premature Burial
Have you ever given any thought to being buried alive? What it would be like? How would you escape? No? I guess most rational people wouldn’t, but then, most rational people probably weren’t subjected to Premature Burial when they were still in primary school either!
From Roger Corman, who you will probably know from writing and directing The Little Shop Of Horrors amongst the over 50 films he directed in his career, the story is one of a man obsessed with being buried alive.
Ray Milland (“Dial M For Murder”, “The Big Clock”) is the man in question. He overcomes his fear long enough to marry Hazel Court (“The Curse Of Frankenstein”, “The Man Who Could Cheat Death”), but his obsession overtakes him again.
He builds himself a crypt with everything he can think of in case he end up being buried there, including a new invention, dynamite. When he is shocked into a catatonic state his worst fears look like coming true. “Can you possibly conceive it. The unendurable oppression of the lungs, the stifling fumes of the earth, the rigid embrace of the coffin, the blackness of absolute night and the silence, like an overwhelming sea.”
Number 2: Train To Busan
What do you mean you haven’t seen Train To Busan? This 2016 Korean zombie horror-thriller came out of nowhere and absolutely killed it, literally.
Starring a favourite of OC Movie Reviews Ma Dong-seok (“The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil”, “The Outlaws”), it’s sees Yoo Gong (“Goblin (TV)”, “The Age Of Shadows”) taking his young daughter Kim Su-an (“Love, Lies”, “The Battleship Island”) to her mother in, you guessed it, Busan.
Along the way however, disaster strikes as a virus is unleashed turning people into zombies, hungry zombies, and when it begins infecting people on the train, it’s a claustrophobic and intense race for your life that ends in a way you will not expect.
Number 1: Event Horizon
Not something you usually see on these sort of lists but we aren’t looking at your typical Halloween movies here, we’re looking at scary movies, movies to make you jump, make you think, and, in my humble opinion, none do it better than the 1997 classic, Event Horizon.
To give you some view on just how scary I find Event Horizon, I haven’t gone back to watch it since I first saw it back in 1997. It scared the living be-jesus out of me and it’s something I keep meaning to go back to, is it really as scary as I remember? But I can never quite bring myself to do so.
The story is of a ship that has been into a black hole, maybe even to hell itself. It may, or may not, have something onboard. It certainly wants to show the crew that boards where it’s been and the things it has seen.
This ensures Laurence Fishburne (“The Mule”, “Passengers”), Sam Neill (“Hunt For The Wilderpeople”, “Thor: Ragnarok”), Kathleen Quinlan (“Apollo 13”, “The Hills Have Eyes”), Joely Richardson (“Maggie”, “Red Sparrow”), Jason Isaacs (“The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance (TV)”, “A Cure For Wellness”), Sean Pertwee (“Gotham (TV)”, “Dog Soldiers”) and others don’t get much sleep.
I think it’s the constant flashbacks that do it, the quick cuts that director Paul W. S. Anderson (“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”, “Death Race”) puts in, they’re almost subliminal, whilst the sick mind of Philip Eisner (making his writing debut), ensure you are in for a sleepless night.