So much is happening this Halloween on cinema and tv screens all over the world. Stranger Things’ Season 2 is ready to be binge-watched on Netflix, the new IT is still at the cinema and even Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is being re-released on October 31st. But how do we choose the one film that we should watch? Here are our suggestions.
How scary does a film have to be in order to be classified as “Halloween material”? Do we prefer “Psychological-Scary” The Shining, “Clever-Scary” Stranger Things, “Art-house-Scary” Only Lovers Left Alive or “Box-Office-Scary” IT? And again, what about “Classic-Scary” A Nightmare on Elm Street or “Hilarious-Scary” Zombieland? Or even “Hilarious-and-Not-Scary-At-All-But-We-Don’t-Care” Young Frankenstein?
While I would definitely recommend Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece starring Jack Nicholson as our favourite psycopath over Andres Muschietti’s superstar clown (read my review of It here to find out why), I can’t deny that, to me, a Halloween film doesn’t really even need to be scary. When it’s time to pick a film to watch for Halloween, I find The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho and Silence of the Lambs pretty much as enjoyable as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
From the terrifying to the absurd, here is my Top 5 of films you should watch this Halloween.
5. WOLF CREEK 2
Director: Greg McLean
Did you love the first Wolf Creek movie? Were you not very impressed by it? Or perhaps you haven’t even seen it? It doesn’t matter: you will love Wolf Creek 2.
Think kangaroos jumping on stolen trucks while music plays from the radio. With a serial killer (John Jarrat aka Mick Taylor) whose sense of humour you can’t help but loving, and all sorts of trivia on Australian culture.
Wolf Creek 2 is the horror film that will make you laugh out loud and give you chills at the same time, while you change your mind on which character to side with as you take in another absurd but weirdly comical scene that will make you change your mind once more. And not only this: it’s also an extremely clever reflexion on one of the most relevant and worrying dangers of our time.
4. BATTLE ROYALE
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
You say Hunger Games, I say Battle Royale. Before Katniss volunteered as tribute, Japanese high school students were forced by the government to fight to the death on a remote island as a means to control the rebellious youth after a massive economic recession. Battle Royale was so violent and its content so controversial that it was originally released in only 22 countries. It reached the US a few years ago, but it still isn’t an easy film to watch. The blood, the emotional impact, the bleak message. An excellent Takeshi Kitano as the teacher. The intense psychological journey into the characters’ minds, and the disturbing way being forced to become killers to live will change even the best of us.
Battle Royale is not for the weak of heart, that is certain. But what scares me the most is that this dystopian movie is not so dystopian after all. If we strip it of its metaphors and focus on the message, it depicts a terrifyingly accurate portrait of a society that looks more familiar by the day.
3. SHAUN OF THE DEAD
Director: Edgar Wright
Genre: “A Romantic Comedy. With Zombies.”
Those who like it love it. Those who dislike it are really confused by it. I find it absolute genius. Because, after all, if you take Edgar Wright’s brilliant imagination, put it together with the legendary Simon Pegg / Nick Frost duo and also ask Bill Nighy to make an appearence... What can you get if not a “romantic comedy with zombies”?
Shaun of the Dead is the gory and hilarious parody of Night of the Living Dead we all needed, that will make you an expert zombie-killer and also help you with your romantic conquests. But be warned: it will also make you want to binge-watch the other films in the Cornetto Trilogy (Hot Fuzz and The World’s End) and, most of all, it will leave you with an unexplicable need to go to the pub.
2. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
Director: Jim Sharman
Genre: Comedy, Musical
This movie had to be in the list, and the reason is simple: it’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The “Science Fiction/Double Feature” comedy horror musical that is as weird and kitsch as it is satirycal and transgressive. It was ahead of its time in 1975, and on some level, it still is.
So how can we resist (re)watching our favourite “Sweet Transvestite from transexual Transylvania” (Tim Curry) as he gives Brad and Janet (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) the tour of his castle while doing the Time Warp again? In Dr Frank-n-Furter’s words, “I see you shiver in ANTICI—–
1. THE ORPHANAGE
There’s no denying it: there’s nothing scarier than children in horror movies. Especially if the movie in question has been co-produced by Guillermo Del Toro and is about odd disappearences happening at a mysterious orphanage.
El Orfanato (The Orphanage) is all about anticipation, and it is the fear of what will happen next that keeps us glued to the chair and with one eye on the screen (the other eye is, of course, covered by our trembling hands). The Orphanage is, to me, the Horror Film by definition. Director J.A. Bayona showed us that a movie can be terrifying, suspenceful and entertaining even if our screens are not covered in blood.