What is Halloween without a good scary movie? The horror genre tends to split in two different directions: the spine-tinglers that make you sleep with a light on for a month or the gut-churning blood baths that always invent some new horrific way of killing a half-naked blonde. The best ones can always find a good balance of the two and may even mix in a few laughs to knock the victim, I mean viewer, off balance. If the “Saw” franchise isn’t exactly your cup of blood here are some other fright night flicks worth your screams.
“Psycho” (1960) – Before Alfred Hitchcock, movie monsters consisted of men in rubber costumes with zippers in the back. “Psycho” introduced a new movie genre, the psychological thriller. When Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) embezzles $40,000 she seeks refuge at the Bates Motel. Here she meets the proprietor, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a shy young man who lives with his mother and has a perfectly normal and uncreepy fascination with taxidermy. Besides altering your hygienic habits for a little while it will also have you screaming, if nothing else, “cut the cord already!”
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975) – On the surface “Rocky Horror” appears to be another cliché horror film: bizarre butler, mad scientist and a chick in her underwear. So what makes it different? Well, it has musical numbers, Meatloaf, and Tim Curry in drag. The movie opens on Janet (Susan Sarandon) and her fiancé’s car breaking down and they unknowingly knock on Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s (Curry) castle door for help. It’s time to don your corset and fishnets and do the time warp again.
“The Shining” (1980) – Isolated location, check. Creepy kid, check. Jack Nicholson as a homicidal maniac, double check. Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” is based on Stephen King’s novel by the same name. It is about Jack Torrance (Nicholson), who takes a job as a caretaker for a remote hotel and moves his family there for the long, lonely winter. Torrance begins to be influenced by the hotel’s ghostly inhabitants while his telepathic son tries to warn his mother and get out. The horrifically gory images will have you screaming bloody redrum!
“Beetlejuice” (1988) – Halloween without Tim Burton is like macaroni without cheese. And while it’s hard to choose just one, “Beetlejuice” narrowly beat out his other work like “Sleepy Hollow” and “Corpse Bride” because of the brilliant comedic performance of Michael Keaton who is unrecognizable as the title character. The movie is about a newly deceased couple (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) who want Lydia Deetz (Winona Ryder) and her family to move out of their old house. The couple elicits the help of Beetlejuice and hilarity ensues. You’ll laugh, you’ll scream, you’ll have a new love of calypso music.
“Scream” (1996) – Leave it to Wes Craven to satirize the entire horror genre while single-handedly resurrecting the career of Drew Barrymore by killing her off in the first five minutes. The film centers on Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell); a small-town teenager who becomes the target of a serial killer’s spree. The murderer first calls his victims, then taunts them with horror film trivia before stabbing them. “Scream” is a self-aware film that points out the stupidity of every scary movie cliché and then goes on to include each one. It is a perfect blend of chills, thrills and clever one-liners. This movie is the reason why caller id was invented.