Great thing about October

Posted October 5th, 2009. Filed under Movies

… it’s the perfect excuse to watch TONS of scary movies…

This October, I am giving myself a proper education in the classics of Horror.  I’ve picked out 10 of the commonly recognized horror classics that I’ve never seen with the intention of getting through them all by month’s end.  I don’t have very much exposure to horror movies, a fact that is probably made obvious by the inclusion of so many well-known movies on this list.  To give you some idea of where I’m starting, here are the great horror flicks i have seen:

Psycho (1960)

Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986)

The Shining (1980)

The Birds (1963)

Pretty short list, right?  I can think of a few more recent horror movies I enjoyed.

Let the Right One In (2008)

[REC] (2007)

Saw (2004)

So, yea, I have alot of catching up to do.  Here are my 10 (+2) choices for providing myself a proper education in horror films.

The Innocents (1961)

The classic haunted house / ghost story.  This movie earned itself an X rating on initial release 🙂  Also, an audio loop from this film was sampled into the cursed tape of the 2002 film The Ring.


Oscar-winning cinematographer Freddie Francis frames this creepy supernatural thriller adapted from Henry’s James’s novella The Turn of the Screw. When a young governess (Deborah Kerr) accepts a position supervising a girl and her brother in a lonely old house, she begins seeing things — and the children start developing strange habits. Though she’s convinced the house is haunted, its clouded history seems intent on keeping her in the dark.

The Thing (1982)

A monster movie that is supposedly heavy on the gore.  Said Roger Ebert - “among the most elaborate, nauseating, and horrifying sights yet achieved by Hollywood’s new generation of visual magicians”.  As a side note, I’m watching the 1982 remake instead of the 1951 original because the remake is generally more respected and is said to be more faithful to the source material.

The Thing

Scientists working in Antarctica (led by Kurt Russell) are forced to abandon their research after a helicopter crashes near their camp, bringing a lone dog into their midst. But the plot thickens when the otherworldly canine changes form in the middle of the night. As it turns out, the dog is an alien that can take any shape it chooses to attack animals — and unsuspecting humans — in director John Carpenter’s creepy remake of the 1950s classic.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Probably the opposite of The Thing, Rosemary’s Baby is known to be a much more brooding, atmospheric, macabre film.  While The Thing jumps out at you and yells “BOO!”, Rosemary’s Baby sneaks up silently behind you in utter darkness and taps you gently on your shoulder.

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow), the young wife of a struggling actor (John Cassavetes), is thrilled to find out she’s pregnant. But the larger her belly grows, the more certain she becomes that her unborn child is in danger. Perhaps there’s something sinister behind the odd enthusiasm her eccentric neighbors (Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon, in an Oscar-winning performance) have for her welfare. Or perhaps it’s all in her mind.

Halloween (1978)

THE granddaddy of slasher films.  I feel like I know this film even though I’ve never seen it.  It is probably the most influential and most referenced of the films on this list.  Crazy serial killer on a bloody killing spree, pretty straight forward, right?


The first flick in the trilogy from director John Carpenter, Halloween almost single-handedly invented the 1980s slasher genre. Escaped lunatic Michael Myers (no, not the Austin Powers actor) goes on a murderous baby-sitter-slaying rampage on Halloween. Only baby sitter Jamie Lee Curtis (the quintessential scream queen) and psychiatrist Donald Pleasence can stop him.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Roger Ebert said of this film “It is gruesome, sickening, disgusting, violent, brutal and appalling. It is also (excuse me for a second while I find my other list) brilliantly crafted, funny, droll, and savagely merciless…”  It’s a followup to Night of the Living Dead, another film I haven’t seen.

Dawn of the Dead

Picking up where Night of the Living Dead left off, this classic horror flick from director George Romero begins with zombies taking over every major city in the United States. Running for their lives, Peter (Ken Foree), Roger (Scott Reiniger), Stephen (David Emge) and Frances (Gaylen Ross) find refuge in a remote shopping mall, only to discover they must fight a motorcycle gang as well as the undead ghouls.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living Dead was responsible for creating the zombie-apocalypse subgenre.  I’ve actually seen bits and pieces of this, but haven’t ever sat down to a proper beginning-to-end viewing.

Night of the Living Dead

Director George Romero’s low-budget horror classic continues to inspire heebie-jeebies, in part because of the randomness of the zombies’ targets. As dead bodies return to life and feast on human flesh, young Barbara (Judith O’Dea) joins a group of survivors in a farmhouse hoping to protect themselves from the hordes of advancing zombies. But even with assistance in slowing down and killing zombies, soon only one person remains in the farmhouse.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Says Wikipedia:

Time included Invasion of the Body Snatchers on their list of 100 all-time best films[10], the top 10 1950s Sci-Fi Movies[11], and Top 25 Horror Films.[12]

That’s motivation enough for me!

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Something is amiss in the sleepy California hamlet of Santa Mira. Initially, Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) dismisses reports from the citizenry accusing friends and family of behaving like automatons. But the doctor soon makes a startling discovery: Extraterrestrials capable of replicating humans and assuming their identities have invaded Santa Mira. It’s up to Bennell to sound the alarm and almost single-handedly battle the alien forces.

Frankenstein (1931)

Again, a story most people know but few people have actually seen.   Frankenstein’s monster is right up there with Dracula and the Werewolf as a quintessential movie monster.  It was once banned in Kansas for it’s portrayal of cruelty and it’s tendency to debase morals, and as far as I’m concerned, anything good enough to be banned in Kansas is a must-see.


Unbeknownst to his fiancée (Mae Clarke), young scientist Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) — aided by his hunchbacked assistant, Fritz (Dwight Frye) — has been building a monster made of spare parts. But no one is prepared, not even the doctor, when the creature comes to terrifying life. Boris Karloffstars as the iconic Frankenstein’s monster in this classic piece of horror cinema, based loosely on the novel by Mary Shelley.

Les Diaboliques (1955)

I wanted to find a good foreign flick to include in this list and Les Diaboliques is what I came up with.  This movie has some great reviews and is said to be as much mystery/thriller as it is horror.  Of all the films on this list, this is the one about which I know the least, so I’m going in not know what to expect.

Les Diaboliques

Henri-Georges Clouzot helmed this icy masterwork of homicide and Grand Guignol suspense. Clouzot’s real-life wife, Véra, portrays Christina Delasalle, ailing spouse of the sadistic headmaster (Paul Meurisse) of a moldering private boarding school, and sexy Simone Signoret plays his manhandled mistress. Together, the women mastermind and execute his murder, but their plan goes haywire when the corpse vanishes.

The Exorcist (1973)

I’ve heard this movie called the single scariest movie of all time.  I’ve heard stories of people fainting in the theatre during it’s initial release.  I’ve heard people denounce this movie for going too far in it’s portrayal of the evil and the demonic.  I look forward to watching this movie more than any other on this list - these are the things I want to hear about a scary movie.

The Exorcist

If this horror classic doesn’t terrify you, maybe you need a shrink. Movie actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) realizes an evil spirit may possess her daughter (Linda Blair). Against formidable odds, two priests (Max von Sydow and Jason Miller) try to exorcise the demon. A superb meditation about the nature of evil, The Exorcist was created with adults in mind and isn’t appropriate for youngsters.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Here is my +1; a more recent movie in the horror genre that takes a much lighter hearted approach to terror and gore.  Shaun of the Dead has gotten great reviews and recommendations from alot of people.  I’ll be watching this as a followup to all of the more serious, darker movies just to lift my spirits and remind me that it’s OK to laugh and smile at a movie again. 🙂

Shaun of the Dead

Thirty-something slacker Shaun (Simon Pegg) has no clue what to do with his life or with his relationship with girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield). But when the unthinkable happens and zombies begin to roam the streets of London terrorizing residents, including his beloved and his mother, Shaun realizes he must act quickly to save Liz from danger and keep their relationship from spiraling out of his hands forever. But is it too late for heroics?

I’m getting these from Netflix.  Many of them are available for instant viewing too - why not fill up your Netflix queue with some horror flicks so we can all talk zombies and ghosts and monsters?

One Response so far

  1. kwjr says:

    It says “+2” but it was really +1 😛 I was thinking of including Zombieland, but that just came out. I’m sure I’ll see it anyway, but I figured there was no point including it in this list.
    .-= kwjr´s last blog ..Great thing about October =-.

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