Halloween Week Day 2: Top 5 ghost/haunting/possession movies

Day 2 of Halloween Week and I thought I might jump in with another top 5, because I actually have a lot of fun making these.

 

Poltergeist (1982)

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I was like 6 when I first saw this movie and I had nightmares for weeks. I had never been scared of monsters hiding in my closet before, but this movie totally changed that. It’s true, some of the special effects don’t really hold-up, but some are still pretty amazing, like * SPOILERS (I guess)* that scene where Marty (Martin Casella) rips his own face off in the mirror or the infamous clown sequence. *END OF SPOILERS* Plus, when you read about every eery things that happened during filming, the movie becomes scarier. This is probably one of the most iconic movies of the genre and is wayyyyyy better than its 2015 remake.

Beetlejuice (1988)

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Okay, so this movie isn’t exactly scary and it isn’t your typical ghost movie either, but it has a real Halloween vibe to it. Plus, it is one of the great Tim Burton movies (which is becoming quite rare, in my opinion, and it really hurts me to say that because he really was my idol growing up). Newly dead Barbara and Adam Maitland (Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin) want to scare off the new owners of their house with the somewhat unhelpful help of Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton), a freelance bio-exorcist. They also befriend Lydia (Winona Ryder), the new owners’ daughter. It is a really entertaining movie with a quite engaging story and characters. Also, the use of stop-motion animation is pretty cool.

The Shining (1980)

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This movie is honestly one of my favourite movies out there. Jack Nicholson is simply brilliant in his role as Jack Torrence and the movie really succeeds to keep a disturbing, eery feeling throughout. Rumour has it that Stephen King didn’t like the adaptation. Having read the book, I can understand why, but I still think the movie does an amazing job. Plus, it is a movie highly interesting to analyse (if you’re into movie analysis and The Shining, you should check out Room 237 (2012) by Rodney Ascher, some theories are quite interesting). This movie has given us one of the most iconic quotes in cinema, and who could forget that funky hallway carpet?

The Exorcist (1973)

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After all those years, that little girl still freaks me the hell out. Just like Poltergeist, I saw this movie wayyyyy too young (I used to sneak out of my room at night to watch tv…) and it gave me a ton of nightmares. Not only is the makeup disgustingly effective, the acting is really good. The movie was actually nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award, one of the very few horror movies to ever be nominated. I personally haven’t read the novel it is adapted from, so I don’t know for a fact that it is a faithful adaptation, but the screenplay was written by William Peter Blatty, who is the author of said novel. So I guess it is pretty faithful.

The Amityville Horror (1979)

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This movie is not the most entertaining one on this list and it has way too many unnecessary sequels and remakes, but I believe it is an absolute must-see nonetheless. It mainly has bad reviews from critics, but did pretty good at the box-office, and if you are interested in the History of horror movies, this movie is definitely important. Based on an apparently real-life story, and shot in seven weeks, The Amityville Horror gave us one of the most famous haunted houses ever, and a creepy little theme song to go with it. It does have a pretty traditional horror movie story (a couple moves into new house where a mass murder occurred and start experiencing a series of paranormal events), but at the time, it was pretty new and still effective.

Honorable mentions

  1. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
  2. The Conjuring (2013)
  3. The Haunting (1963)
  4. The Sixth Sense (1999) —- This one was actually going to make the list, but according to me, it is not exactly the kind of movie intended for this list. Yeah, it’s a ghost movie, but not the kind you watch on Halloween. Idk, at least I get what I mean.

Halloween Week Day 1 – Part 2: Top 5 most annoying horror movie clichĂ©s

1. The jump-scare

In older horror movies, jump-scares are not that annoying; most of the time, they are put to good use, whether the scare is a real one or not, and there is not one every 10 minutes or so. In most recent horror flicks however, jump-scares, and especially false ones, are over-used and it is becoming truly annoying. How many times has a movie made us jump just because the music suddenly got really loud? Or because the main character bumps into a friend? If used once or twice in a movie, a false scare can be somewhat effective, but I feel like in horror movies nowadays, false scares constitute more than half of the scares in a movie. We are becoming so used to jump-scares that, whether real or not, they are becoming ineffective.

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2. “We should split-up”

Yeah, great idea. Why not just walk up to the killer and gently ask them to slit your throat?

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3. The black character usually dies first

Most horror movies are filled with clichĂ© and token characters: the jock, the nerd, the slut (usually also known as the blonde girl), the virgin, the stoner, the black guy… the list goes on and on. Most of these clichĂ©s and tokens come in a few variations, but one thing is almost always certain: the black guy dies first. Why? Except inculcated racism, I can’t seem to find a reason. It has become so “usual” that every time you see a black character in a horror movie, you have a pretty good idea of what’s gonna happen to them.

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4. The phones don’t work

Whether you’re in the middle of absolute nowhere or in your own home, the phones never seem to work properly. I know it is supposed to give us the isolation vibe, make us understand that the main characters are totally alone against whatever evil is attacking them, but still, it is highly unlikely. And when the phones actually work, the main character often doesn’t even use it to call the police or, when they do, the police doesn’t believe them or gets killed upon arriving at the house. All in all, phones are pretty useless.

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5. The villain has to die twice or just can’t die

Whether you stab it in the heart or chop its head off, it never seems to be enough. The villain either has to be killed twice or just can’t seem to be killed at all. This clichĂ© is mostly used to create sequels (often unnecessary or unwanted ones (isn’t Jason X (2001) the worst?)), or to provide one last “scare”, but we are so used to this clichĂ© that we expect it and aren’t surprised at all when it happens.

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Honorable mentions

  1. The car won’t start/Dropping the car keys
  2. The ankle-grab
  3. Adults and authority figures are useless
  4. People can’t seem to remember how to run

Halloween Week Day 1: Top 5 zombie/contagion/virus… movies

I thought since Halloween is coming, I’d write a post each day up to it, because I quite like horror and sci-fi and Halloween-esque movies. And yeah, I love zombie movies so I thought my first post could be a sneaky little top 5 of my personal favourite zombie/contagion/virus movies.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

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Obviously, George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead had to make the list. Not only is it one of the best zombie movies out there, it is also the movie that defined the genre; It has all the key elements of the zombie movies we know today. Romero’s first feature-lenght film was made with only $114,000 and it has become one of the most successful independent movies ever made. It is genuinely scary and the special effects and makeup work perfectly for the movie. Whether you like zombie movies or not, if you’re a film enthusiast, you should definitely watch this movie. (I also made a scene analysis for a class a few years back, you can read it here if you want.)

28 Days Later (2002)

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This Danny Boyle movie takes place in a rage-like-virus-infected-United Kingdom (what a phrase) and is quite stressful. Not only the infected people look terrifying with their bloodshot eyes, they can run, so yeah, unlike typical zombies, these ones are pretty fast. Little anecdote: I watched this movie with my friend and a vein in her eye popped and her eye turned all red and that was real scary. Anyway, the infected people are not the only threat in the movie; the army is also a quite dangerous group. The movie is quite eery, in parts because of the song that plays thought the film, but also because of the camerawork and the pretty serious themes present in the movie.

Re-Animator (1985)

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Don’t you just love campy 80s movies loosely based on a H.P. Lovecraft’s novella? Cause I know I do. This movie blends many genres, comedy, horror, sci-fi, etc., and the amount of fake blood involved in its making is pretty amazing. It has a Frankenstein-esque vibe to it, mixed with 80s special effects and a spectacular B-movie aesthetic: it is pure gold. Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West is a lot of fun to watch and the movie makes a few references to Hitchcock’s work (if you know me, you know I love to spot references in movies). This movie might not be the best movie ever made, but I personally think it has a lot to offer, both as a cult movie and as an entertaining one.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

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The first of Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, Shaun of the Dead is, in my opinion, one of the funniest movies out there. It pokes fun at the zombie movie genre, by having Shaun (Simon Pegg) telling Ed (Nick Frost) not to say the word “zombie”, for exemple, or by re-using zombie movie stereotypes, only to deconstruct them as the movie goes on. Absurd and genuinely enjoyable, Shaun of the Dead is a great horror-comedy movie, with a pretty cool soundtrack and a fun use of foreshadowing. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost work very well together, as usual, and so does the rest of the cast (Bill Nighy as Phillip, Shaun’s stepfather, is pretty amazing). And watch the other two of the trilogy as well (Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013)), they’re all pretty great.

The Evil Dead (1981)

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This movie is more of a supernatural/demon-possession kind of movie, but the looks of the possessed people is quite zombie-like and therefore, I decided to include it in this list. Anyway. This movie is a bit disturbing, as you don’t always know whether to laugh or to be scared, and it gave birth to one of the most popular cult movie franchise ever. Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) has become an icon of the cult movie type and the movie itself inspired many spin-offs, such as video games and comic books, and more recently, a tv series starring Bruce Campbell. The Evil Dead makes great use of stop-motion animation (as I mentioned in I love stop motion animation) and even though the possessed laughter of a certain character is probably the most annoying thing in the History of cinema, this movie is a great Halloween watch.

 

Honorable mentions:

  1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
  2. Dead Alive (1992)
  3. Zombieland (2009)