Halloween is, indeed, upon us. That one night of the year where you can dress like a sexy lamppost and it is deemed acceptable (Not so much in the office, Kyle.) It’s actually a night of change and finality; a bewitched eve where spirits walk the plane with us. In film land, it is a place where we celebrate ghastly films that are filled with plenty of corn syrup good stuff to keep us in chills.
So a couple of writer’s have gotten together to talk about their favourite horror films.
The Descent (2005)
by Jo Johnstone
It is hard to pick a favourite Horror film. Of course, I like the classics, (Nightmare on Elm Street, The Shinning) but the modern trend feels like gore over engrossing narratives. One modern film, that stayed with me long after I watched it in cinema is The Descent.
Centred on a group of female adventurers, a year after a tragedy has struck, the group reforms to go caving. Unknown to all but one, they are not in the planned caving system and the women become trapped. As you might have guessed, they are not alone and creatures begin hunting them down.
What struck me about the film, besides its all female strong and able cast, is the claustrophobia created by the camera. You genuinely feel trapped inside the cave with the characters and wonder just how you will get out. The film is an early project from British director Neil Marshall who also directed Dog Soldiers and Doomsday. The film also brilliantly plays out the emotional human dynamic, alongside the gritty and yes at times gory visuals. The Descent is a hidden British gem and my pick for this year’s favourite Horror film.
by Alli Kett
The Descent tells the tale of a girls weekend away, adventuring through a previously uncharted cave, stalked by unknown creatures. Powerfully led by a female cast, it is remarkable for the diverse female characters, women with differing personalities and lives led outside of the film narrative. And it’s scary. The unknown creatures, the crawlers, stalk the friends, picking them off one by one. The women fight back, but their own descent into madness, surrounded by the depravity of watching friends die builds an unrelenting claustrophobic tension.
As a flip side to the alpha males populating his previous excellent film, Dog Soldiers, Neil Marshall, brings us genuine women outside of the horror stereotypes, fighting for their lives. The low light of the caves, the action set to a mostly subtle soundtrack, this is low-budget, low-key terror at its creepy best.
Night of the Living Dead (1868)
by Matthew Hansburg
I know that zombies are becoming rather played out now, but I still remember the first time I sat down to watch Night of the Living Dead. I was fourteen years old and my parents had gone out for the night, leaving me to watch whatever I wanted on TV.
Unfortunately, my older brother decided to leave his VHS copy of Night in the open, and I decided that I would be brave and watch it!
To this day, I’m not entirely certain whether or not I made a mistake in choosing to watch the film. One thing I do know is that it helped awaken a curious urge within me, and I could not stop delving into the most depraved films I could find to satisfy this twisted desire. I still turned out completely fine though. Just ask my collection of stuffed animals.
They’ve never steered me wrong in my decisions.
The Thing (1982)
by Graham Osborne
I first saw The Thing all alone on a rather dark, damp and dreary Halloween night.
It was a fitting time to watch it, as I completely freaked out and started to believe that my cats were the titular Thing and intended to lure me into a false sense of security before killing me… Or they wanted more food, they can be quite greedy.
Regardless, I was captivated by the fantastic atmosphere crafted by the claustrophobic conditions from the snowstorm and the utterly astounding practical effects used to create the alien parasite as it was impersonating its victims.
Whilst the climactic battle between Kurt Russell and the Thing felt a little over the top, the final shot is a great way to end the entire film, creating a cliffhanger that will leave you guessing all the potential possibilities for what is the ultimate fate of everyone at the research station and the rest of the world in general.
Truly, The Thing is a masterpiece of John Carpenter’s storytelling.
by Sarah Cook
I’ve already spoken, in great length, about how much I love Candyman. The sultry scary tones of Tony Todd stalking the screen with eloquent horror still makes my spine crawl.
I remember Candyman being one of the first ever horror films I watched and it’s stuck in my mind forever. it tells the story of an Urban Legend running amok among The Projects of Chicago and a rambunctious professor gets caught in the myth with terrible consequences. Starring Virigina Madsen as Helen, she is about to face one of her greatest fears.
Bernard Rose splatters the screen with visceral grim scenes of bloody murders as the spectre literally tears Helen’s life apart. But the movie is meditative, slowly unravelling and intensifying with each turn. Whilst the eerie atmosphere is there from the beginning, heightened by the stalking piano of Philip Glass, it is drawling burn of a film that makes the fear and frights more palpable. It is modern Gothic and reads like horror movie poetry, tonguing your ear seductively whilst bloody mayhem streaks across your eyes….
What’s your favourite scary movie?