I don’t usually celebrate Halloween readers. Honestly, I don’t celebrate any holiday, if I can help it, May Day being the sole exception.
Nevertheless, we’re always trying to expand our horizons here at Culture War Reporters, and hope that you might be trying the same. To help us both get into the psychotically commercialized spirit of the season (baby steps, people, baby steps), here’s our recommendations for your scary viewing pleasure.
The Mothman Prophecies
I’d honestly be surprised if you had heard of this one. 2002’s The Mothman Prophecies wasn’t a big enough hit or a bad enough flop to gain either fame or notoriety. Regardless of it’s mediocre performance at the box office, I think The Mothman Prophecies is probably one of the most underrated horror/thriller flicks out there. The story follows a journalist John Klein (played by Richard Gere), who in the wake of car accident in which his wife is injured and eventually dies, alternatively hunts and is haunted by a strange, otherworldly presence acting as a harbinger of doom. In a refreshing break from your run of the mill guts-and-gore flick, The Mothman Prophecies forgoes violence in favor of a tense, surreal atmosphere far more disturbing than anything that could actually be shown. If you’re a Twin Peaks or X-Files fan, you’ll probably get a kick out of this one.
The Cabin In The Woods
Part of me is tempted to cite 2012’s The Cabin In The Woods as “Horror for people who don’t like Horror”, only I think horror fans will love it just as much (if not more). The Cabin In The Woods pulls off the well-nigh impossible task of being a satire and an excellent version of the very thing it’s making fun of. I don’t know that you’ll be scared watching it, but the twists on every typical horror trope you’ve come to know and love/hate will keep you on your toes the entire time.
Silent Hill was by no means a perfect movie. Heck, you could say that the ending was a sloppy mess and I really wouldn’t be able to argue with you. All that said, Silent Hill is surreal, fun, and more than anything else a shining example of how visually stunning and downright beautiful a horror movie can be if you actually put money into it. Even if the ending isn’t great, I think there’s enough redeeming quality in the movie, between the amazing cinematography and effects to the disorienting and exhausting feel of the thing, to merit you giving it a shot.
Hitchcock’s most famous movie, surpassing perhaps even Psycho, was filmed back in 1963 and to this day remains an icon of the horror/thriller genre. You’re all already familiar with the plot- people go to remote seaside town, birds go nuts, people try to get away- but you still have to see it to really feel the full impact of it all. Just as a concept, it’s strength lies in it’s simplicity- the sheer randomness really hits home the feelings of dread and powerlessness that a good horror flick is supposed to. If you haven’t seen this one already, go out and watch it.
Another film that did not receive the credit it deserves, Pandorum is a sci-fi-horror flick perhaps most reminiscent of the Alien franchise. While the similarities are there, to say that Pandorum is a imitation would be a grave injustice- the movie brings elements to the table entirely of its own making. The horror of loneliness, claustrophobia, and paranoia all make this movie both unique and really, really good. While not quite as “pretty” as Silent Hill, this is another great example of how good horror can be when it actually gets some half-decent funding.
Marble Hornets is… different. It’s not a movie, but rather, a regularly updated YouTube series comprised of “found footage.” Trailing a series of strange events in a small, unnamed town, a likewise unnamed narrator- citing himself as a film student- examines the footage and finds repeating patterns of a strange, slender, impossibly tall figure fading in and out of many of the segments. Again, not being a traditional movie, it’s tough to peg down Marble Hornet‘s single best selling point, though if forced I’d probably have to say that it’s the eeriness of it. In the tradition of such films as The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity (we shall not speak of the ****ing brood of sequels), the Marble Hornets installments really and truly do feel real, making the departures from reality all the more unsettling. You can get started on the first episode here.
Let’s finish up with a classic. Or the re-make of a classic. The Wolfman, starring Benicio Del Toro, is a remake of the 1940s horror film of the same name. While being a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the original, this latest incarnation of The Wolfman really and truly does pick up on everything the original was lacking, from an exploration of the main character’s background to a more full depiction of the setting, as well as the character’s relationships with each other. What the movies lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in bluntness, with all the good ultra-violence that you really just can’t have a werewolf movie without. The Wolfman also makes good use of something I’d like to call the “double-jump-scare”, which is essentially-
Ah, never mind. When it happens, you’ll know.
Go out and get yourselves some movies people. And watch out for the hands that are gonna grab your ankles as you get out of or get into bed.