It’s Halloween and for anyone who wants to celebrate with a big bowl of popcorn and a movie, then we at The Boar can offer recommendations to the horror-haters and horror-seekers alike. I have avoided any infamous exploitation and splatter films simply because Halloween is a time for fun and frolicking and not genuine revulsion. So unplug the phone, turn off the lights, only take four minute showers to save water… sorry that’s for Eco Week, but turn out the lights anyway!
Films for if you want a peaceful night’s sleep
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – Adapted from the rock-musical by Richard O’Brien (former presenter of the Crystal Maze, so suitably topical) this tribute to horror B-movies follows the ‘sweet transvestite’ Frank. N. Furter, and is immensely entertaining. It will have everyone singing and dancing along with no scares whatsoever (unless you find audience interaction to choreographed dance numbers scary, and to be fair who doesn’t?)
Ghostbusters (1984) – I hardly need to introduce this movie, least of all with the recent buzz about the remake, but for Bill Murray and Rick Moranis alone it is hard not to recommend Ghostbusters regardless of the date – Halloween seems especially appropriate though! Be warned however, if you hate being scared maybe try to go and fix a drink when the librarian ghost shows up.
Films for if you want to sleep tonight
Shaun of the Dead (2004) – The first, and second-best (Hot Fuzz is better), in Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy”, this horror-comedy is funny enough, and at times clever enough, that the occasional gore and blood are made less shocking. Scenes worth mentioning are the girl zombie in the back garden and the window scene in the pub – not for the faint of heart!
Coraline (2009) – I was thinking about putting this higher on the list because I know people who have found this incredibly scary, but this adaptation of the novella by Neil Gaiman doesn’t try to scare you as much as enthral you with its twisted alternate reality, which, although unsettling, is made somewhat less terrifying by the stop-motion animation. To paraphrase a famous line from the poster of ‘Last House on the Left’, to avoid fainting keep repeating: “It’s only computer-generated puppets, it’s only computer-generated puppets…”
Films for if you don’t want to sleep tonight
The Haunting (1963) – The oldest film on my list, and perhaps the most dated, this film from Robert Wise is utterly terrifying if you are willing to commit, so turn out the lights and turn down the chatter if you want the full experience. After you have watched this, every passing party-goer or cough from a flatmate somehow still suffering from freshers’ flu will make you jump.
The Evil Dead (1981) – This film is not scary so much as it is completely insane; if you want a film to watch and cringe over with a group of people, then this is perfect. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell produced a trilogy out of this movie, with Evil Dead II (1987) being a much campier and arguably more entertaining sequel, however for the unyielding gore and blood spewing from this film, it gets my recommendation (in spite of my promise not to include any splatter films).
Films for if you don’t ever want to sleep again
Halloween (1973) – This film hasn’t earned its spot on here because of the name, but because it is one of the most terrifying and suspenseful horror films ever made, arguably birthing the entire slasher genre with its creepy music and mask-wearing killer. Perfect to watch alone or with friends, this film will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you never want to be alone in your house/halls ever again.
The Conjuring (2013) – In terms of paranormal horror films I am not a fan of the found-footage stuff and feel like “cattle-prod” cinema is better when directed well and carefully structured. This is why James Wan’s supernatural horror is guaranteed to leave you wetting your nice pyjamas and having to queue for the washing machines behind all the other people who watched this movie.