Film & TV

Top 5 Movies to Gear Up for Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching and there are important decisions to be made: what costume to wear, what party to go to and, of course, where to get the best deals on candy the next day. But the most important decision is what to watch in order to get in the Halloween spirit. There are a lot of options when it comes to scary movies, but not all of them are worth your time.

In order to separate the slightly scary and the wholly horrifying, The PHOENIX put together a list of five films to satisfy that craving for fear we get every Halloween.

Alien (1979)

Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt and Ian Holm

The Plot:

A crew of space truckers on their way back to Earth unwittingly discover a new alien life form on a deserted planet. After the creature gets aboard the space truckers’ ship by viciously attaching itself to a crew member’s face, it begins to quickly grow into a full-fledged killing machine, disposing of everyone aboard the vessel with terrifying efficiency.

Why you need to watch:

Arriving two years after the original Star Wars film, Alien presented a vastly more mature vision of the future that played on our fear of what hides in the dark corners of space. Director Ridley Scott uses the tight, claustrophobic halls of the spacecraft to create an atmosphere of dread, leaving you in fear of what’s around the next corner. The alien itself is iconic, with its gaping jaw, acid blood and tendency to burst out of people’s chests. No one in space can hear you scream, but your neighbors definitely will.

Fear Factor: 3 out of 5


28 Days Later (2003)

Directed by Danny Boyle
Starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris and Christopher Eccleston

The Plot:

Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma in a hospital to find the entire building abandoned. After exploring the deserted streets of London, he discovers that over the last 28 days, Britain has been ravaged by a mysterious sickness called the Rage Virus that turns its victims into animalistic killers. In order to survive, Jim teams up with fellow refugee Selena (Naomie Harris) to find an uninfected part of the country.

Why you need to watch:

28 Days Later changed the zombie film genre forever upon its release in the early 2000s. The movie updated the genre for the 21st century by replacing the slow and lumbering undead with fast and feral infected that can kill you in the blink of an eye. Director Danny Boyle gave 28 Days Later a unique look and feel by using a handheld camera to shoot most of the film, making it grittier and more raw. With plenty of blood and scenes that will make you jump out of your seat, this modern classic is perfect for your Halloween movie night.

Fear Factor: 4 out of 5


The Fly (1986)

Directed by David Cronenberg
Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and John Getz

The Plot:

In an attempt to woo a journalist, Veronica Quaife (Geena Davis), eccentric scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) tests his new teleportation device on himself. In the process, he accidentally splices his DNA with a common housefly. What follows is his slow and grotesque transformation into a combination of man and fly.

Why you need to watch:

Despite being a remake of a 1950s film of the same name, director David Cronenberg’s version remarkably stands on its own. While it follows the same basic plot as the original, Cronenberg turns the concept into a true “body horror” with its unnerving practical effects that show the gnarly transformation from man to fly; it takes an iron will to not feel nauseous as you watch Seth peel off his own fingernails with startling realism. Despite this, there is a touching love story at the center of all of it. The chemistry between Seth and Veronica makes the whole transformation all the more tragic.

Fear Factor: 3 out of 5


The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

Directed by Drew Goddard
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly and Anna Hutchison

The Plot:

A group of teenagers heads out for a fun weekend getaway to a cabin the woods and, as you might expect, things go south from there. The twist is, their deaths are not just an act of chance. As the teens get slaughtered in purposefully cliché ways, they are being watched by a room of office workers who are actually controlling the horrific events.

Why you need to watch:

Written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator, Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods serves as both a straight slasher flick and a tongue-in-cheek parody of horror cinema. The film throws as many horror stereotypes at the audience as possible, all the while working to a conclusion that you will never see coming. After the first viewing, you will either love or hate this movie. But keep in mind that it is all about the journey, not the destination.

Fear Factor: 2 out of 5


The Exorcist (1973)

Directed by William Friedkin
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow and Linda Blair

The Plot:

Based on a true story, the film follows two priests as they attempt to expel a demon who has taken over the body of a 12-year-old girl. The process proves difficult as the possessed girl fights against the priests’ efforts to save her soul.

Why you need to watch:

The Exorcist has often been described as the scariest movie ever made and with good reason. Audiences in 1973 were absolutely terrified by the movie, so much so that some believed there was actual evil contained in the film reel. Watching a child walk upside down like a spider, bleed from her mouth and spin her head 180 degrees will haunt you for life. The Exorcist is a milestone of not just horror cinema, but American cinema as a whole.

Fear Factor: 5 out of 5

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