Halloween is only a day away, and if you're looking for the perfect movie to watch, Intersections film critics Karen Jin and Do-Hyeong Myeongare here to share with you their five favorite movies to watch on Halloween night.
1. Scream (1996)
A masked killer known as Ghostface terrorizes the small town of Woodsboro, and high school student Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) must try to stay alive as she finds herself the killer’s next target. A simultaneous satire of and homage to the slasher film genre, Scream is clever, gruesome, and darkly humorous and was responsible for reigniting the horror genre in the 90s. In one memorable scene, resident film geek Randy has an outburst (in a video store, no less): “The police are always off track with this shit! If they'd watch Prom Night, they'd save time! There's a formula to it. A very simple formula! EVERYBODY'S A SUSPECT!”, demonstrating both the film’s self-awareness and its whodunit aspect. Scream is one of those movies I can watch over and over again, and after all these years the scares are still fresh, the wit still sharp.2. The Shining (1980)
Tucked away in the snowy mountains, the isolated Overlook Hotel is host to winter caretaker Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and their son Danny (Danny Lloyd). Cabin fever or perhaps an unexplainable presence in the hotel takes over Jack, who begins to turn on his family, while Danny has disturbing visions of the past and future. Stephen King, who wrote the novel from which the film was adapted, was notoriously dissatisfied with the significant changes that director Stanley Kubrick made, but Kubrick’s work is a masterpiece in its own right and stands as one of the most influential horror films ever made. For what it’s worth, I consider The Shining to be the scariest film I’ve ever seen. Fans of The Shining will want to check out the recent documentary Room 237, which explores various theories and interpretations of the film.
3. Misery (1990)
Successful novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) gets into a car accident during a blizzard and is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), his self-proclaimed number one fan. She brings him to her home to nurse him back to health, but it soon becomes clear that she has ulterior motives. Bates won an Oscar for her portrayal of the unhinged Annie. Drawing on Stephen King’s work for source material, Misery makes use of its limited cast and set to create an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia and tension.
4. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
After Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and her husband Guy (John Cassavetes) move into a new apartment, she begins noticing strange occurrences and eccentric neighbors. When Rosemary becomes pregnant, she grows increasingly disturbed and paranoid about the safety of her unborn baby. The suspense builds as Rosemary’s due date creeps closer and closer and viewers try to decide if Rosemary is the victim of a sinister plot or if it’s all in her head.
5. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Rounding out the list is something a bit lighter—a romantic zombie comedy, or rom-zom-com. Shaun (Simon Pegg) is an ordinary guy dealing with his girlfriend, mother, stepfather, and a zombie apocalypse that allows him to put his life back into perspective. Littered with references to classic zombie movies, Shaun of the Dead stands on its own as a clever, seriously hilarious modern classic.Do-Hyeong's picks:
1. Beetlejuice (1988)
After a car accident, young couple Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) Maitland discover themselves trapped in their house with a copy of Handbook for the Recently Deceased. The house is soon purchased by the Deetzes, who try to turn the house into a pastel-toned work of modern art. Horrified, the Maitlands try their best to scare the Deetzes away with the help of Lydia (Winona Ryder), the daughter of the Deetz family. When their attempts are proven ineffective, the Maitlands contact Beetlejuice, a mischievous ghost who specializes in scaring humans away. A classic Tim Burton movie – awkward and gloomy yet darkly humorous and warm – Beetlejuice is one of the most creative movies I have ever watched. If you want some perfect Halloween spirit but are too scared of bloody horror films, this might be the film you want.
2. Let the Right One In (2008)
Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a twelve-year old boy regularly bullied by his classmates. He collects newspaper articles about murders; he keeps a hunting knife under his mattress. One night, he meets Eli (Lina Leandersson), a girl who has recently moved in next door. While the two kids slowly become friends, a neighbor man goes missing, and Hakan (Per Ragnar), the old man who lives with Eli, seems to be hiding something. If you want a vampire movie but don’t want to spend your time meaninglessly watching Bella Swan flirting with Edward Cullen, this might be the movie for you. This movie is very dark; it is realistic, cruel, and desperate. Characters are broken, people continue to die, and reality is harsh. I appreciate how ‘straight’ the director conveys the story; while it would be easy to portray a romantic relationship between a human and a vampire as overly dramatic or rosy, this down-to-earth story of love between bullied boy and bloodthirsty young vampire is both warm and frightening, dark yet delicate. This deep movie allows you to think, sympathize and imagine.
3. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Francis (Friedrich Feher), an old man, shares a tale of his youth to his companion. When he was younger he and his friend Alan (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski) traveled to Holstenwall to visit a carnival. There, they meet Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss), a hypnotist who keeps a man named Cesare (Conrad Veidt) in a coffin and displays him as an attraction. After hearing from fortune-telling Cesare that he would die at dawn, Alan dies the next morning. Enraged, Francis and his bethrothed Jane investigate the death of Alan. This old, silent black-and-white movie is truly a masterpiece; it may seem bizarre at first glance, but it has its distinctive style with angles, movements and lights. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is more than suspense and horror; it is a suspense and horror film with plot and style.
4. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) works in a small flower shop. In order to attract customers he displays a bizarre plant that he bought from a Chinese flower shop. The plant, named “Audrey II” after Seymour’s crush, actually attracts customers and soon Seymour becomes a local celebrity. However, there is one little problem in Seymour’s life – Audrey II devours human blood and flesh. Based on a musical comedy of the same name, this musical comedy film is spooky and hilarious and brings out your wild imagination. This is the movie I would watch again and again when I need a little bit of horror mixed with awesomeness.
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Bored of scaring people every Halloween, Jack Skellington, leader of Halloween Town, which is full of ghosts and monsters, accidentally opens a portal to Christmas Town and gets impressed. The residents of Halloween Town decide to take over Christmas and kidnap Santa Claus. However, Santa gets delivered to a gambling bogeyman, and Jack, with his lack of understanding of the true meaning of Christmas, gets himself in trouble. Despite the title, this is more of a Halloween movie than a Christmas movie. This original, imaginative piece of art is delightful, scary and truly entertaining!