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The Halloween Horror Movie Canon (Plus 10 You Might Have Missed)

Check out Patch's picks for the scariest films to watch this holiday weekend.

Are you too old to go trick or treating and too impatient to contend with the crowds at this weekend’s Halloween events?

Then, turn out the lights, lock the doors and be prepared to cover your eyes. Here’s our Halloween Movie Canon – a rundown of the greatest horror classics to watch this holiday weekend – as well as a list of 10 scary films you might have missed.

But, be forewarned – many of the films mentioned below are definitely not for children or the faint of heart:

If vampires are your thing, then you won’t want to miss either F.W. Murnau’s silent classic, “Nosferatu,” or Werner Herzog’s atmospheric 1979 remake of the same name.

For a more ambiguous vampire tale, check out George Romero’s “Martin” or French filmmaker Claire Denis’s “Trouble Every Day.”

Zombies have infiltrated movies, television shows and even Jane Austen novels. You may be over the undead, but Romero’s zombie classics “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead,” a wicked satire on consumer culture, are two of the greatest horror films ever made.

Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later” is the best among the recent batch of zombie movies.

In terms of horror genres, the slasher film is the most prolific. Alfred Hitchcock’s great “Psycho” could be considered a precursor to such varying films as “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Scream,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “When a Stranger Calls,” and “Halloween,” which I still find to be one of the most terrifying films ever made.

If possession is your obsession, then your first stops should be “The Exorcist,” one of the few horror films to be nominated for Best Picture, and Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby.”

But be sure to also catch Alan Parker’s creepy “Angel Heart,” which combines elements of film noir and horror and includes a terrific Mickey Rourke performance, as well as Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “Carrie” and Sam Raimi’s first two “Evil Dead” films.

If otherworldly invaders creep you out, then look no further than Ridley Scott’s classic science fiction thriller “Alien” and Don Siegel’s 1956 version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

For killer fish and flying fiends, your best bets are Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster “Jaws,” Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and David Cronenberg’s “The Fly.”

The psychological horror genre includes some of the most frightening stories ever filmed, especially Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” which traumatized more than a few of my childhood friends.

Some other terrific titles include Jonathan Demme’s Best Picture winner, “The Silence of the Lambs,” Bill Paxton’s “Frailty,” Polanski’s “Repulsion,” Georges Franju’s 1960 French classic “Eyes Without A Face,” and “The Night of the Hunter,” which features a truly sinister performance by Robert Mitchum.

Our picks for the greatest haunted house pictures are “Poltergeist” and the 1963 version of “The Haunting,” which is based on a novel by Shirley Jackson.

Most of the aforementioned films appear regularly on lists of cinema’s greatest horror films. So, check out our list below of 10 movies you might have missed that Douglaston Patch’s film critic believes should be ranked among the greats.

Cure – This film by Japan’s Kiyoshi Kurosawa is more unsettling than “The Ring” and “The Grudge” combined. In the picture, a detective investigating a series of suicides discovers that each victim spoke to a mysterious man with no name just minutes before their demise.

Don’t Look Now – Based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier, this haunting film follows an architect reconstructing churches in Venice who refuses to accept his psychic abilities after losing his daughter in a tragic accident. I first saw this film in the middle of the night. Bad idea, but a great film.

Dust Devil – A woman on the run from her abusive husband in South Africa encounters a mysterious hitchhiker, whom the locals believe is a deadly spirit.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer – This ice-cold chronicle of real life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas features a hypnotic performance by Michael Rooker. The film was shot in 1986, but not released until three years later due to its disturbing content.

Jacob’s Ladder – Tim Robbins plays a psychologically unbalanced Vietnam War veteran who begins to have creepy visions.

Let the Right One In – This Swedish vampire film landed on a number of “best of the year” lists in 2008. It’s both a solid horror movie and coming of age tale. The 2010 film, “Let Me In,” is a rare example of a remake that expands on the original.

Near Dark – Before winning the Best Director Oscar for “The Hurt Locker,” Kathryn Bigelow shot this stylish tale of vampires on the road in the American West.

Peeping Tom – Director Michael Powell’s 1960 classic was the British answer to “Psycho.” In the movie, a disturbed young man terrorizes his victims with a camera.

Suspiria – Italian horror maestro Dario Argento’s 1977 film about a young woman who makes shocking discoveries at her ballet academy includes some of celluloid’s most heart-pounding sequences and a chill-inducing score by Goblin.

The Wicker Man – It’s become commonplace in horror films (“The Sixth Sense,” for example) to pull the rug out from under the audience’s feet in the final frames. But this eerie 1973 thriller, in which a British police lieutenant investigates a disappearance on a remote island, did it first.

Jay November 09, 2011 at 02:55 AM
Great read!... as a horror freak I feel I must add a few things and movies to the list. First off the whole horror genre has kind of lost it's way in Hollywood. The real meat and potatoes content is coming out of Europe at the moment led by the French, see "Frontiers" , "Sheitan" and of coarse Spain, the [REC] series... the UK, 28 Days Later, Outpost,... the European movies have over the top exceptional actors, even the children (which usually annoy me with unconvincing US performances) are fantastic... the lighting, the score, the atmosphere is incredible. Unlike Hollywood, they don't get great looking plastic actors with super white porcelain teeth and big fake boobs... the European Directors get great, REAL looking believable actors. Most of the time you forget your watching a movie the acting is so good. The original "Let the Right One in" is scary real because the acting is just THAT GOOD.... There are a ton of great European horror movies coming in 2012... get stoked!

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