The Halloween season may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean your horror movie marathons have to! Here are some hits that may have flown under your radar, including a decent sequel, a golden classic, and something wholly original. These films not only are fun around Halloween time but also can accompany students as they begin to study for midterms and final exams.
5) The Exorcist III (1990)
The third Exorcist film isn’t so much a sequel to its predecessors, but tells its own story about a serial killer known as “Gemini.” Using the Zodiac killer as inspiration, the film writes a very compelling thriller which borrows some tonal elements from the original Exorcist (1973) and manages to separate itself enough from the first film. There are winks and nods to the original, but this movie is very suspenseful and draws on the feeling of cold, plain creepiness which makes for a chilling atmosphere. This is one of the most underappreciated horror/thriller films ever made and should be seen by anyone who remotely is a fan of the genre.
4) Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy has become iconic in pop culture. Drag Me to Hell is the same funny, shockingly scary, and ironic tale of a loan officer (Alison Lohman) who is cursed by an elderly woman after she denies the woman an extension on her mortgage payment. The plot alone is laughable and the movie continually draws on the irony and humor of the situation to propel the story forward. That’s not to say this movie doesn’t get scary, because at random intervals, Raimi will inject horrific imagery into the film with little to no warning. It’s a jump-fest without cheap scares, and for that alone, this is a film worth watching. Everything else in between is great though and the tone is immaculate throughout the 99-minute runtime. Add this to your horror list, because this one’s for the fans.
3) The Dead Zone (1983)
Christopher Walken shines in ‘The Dead Zone’ an adaptation of Stephen King’s 1979 novel about a man who wakes from a coma and discovers he has psychic powers. The vast majority of King’s novels and short stories have been adapted into feature films. Some are masterpieces of horror (The Shining, Misery) and some are not (The Mangler). What is clear upon viewing The Dead Zone, is how so un-horror this movie really is. Sure, there are scary moments and Walken’s psychic visions are entirely unpredictable, which are always followed by a sharp rise in the score. With that said, Walken’s performance, the storyline, the villain (Martin Sheen), and the atmosphere generated by director David Cronenberg make this one of the greatest psychological thrillers.
2) Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
As surprising as it is to see a television show made into a successful feature film, it is even more shocking when that movie turns out to be good. This anthology (comprised of directors John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller) gives us a prologue, four original Twilight Zone stories, and an epilogue. This movie was entertaining all throughout. Sure, there are moments where the movie slows down and the film definitely suffers from the unevenness that anthology films are inherently at fault for. However, as a feature film adapted from a television series, and as a creepy movie period, Twilight Zone: The Movie is definitely worth a watch, even if some of the stories work better than others, and in one instance, a plot point from the series is directly copied and re-used in the film. It has a killer prologue too, one that is sure to catch anyone off guard. Just don’t watch it in the dark.
1) The Exorcist (1973)
In addition to being one of the greatest horror movies of all time, William Friedkin’s original Exorcist film is one of the greatest films of all time. Fans and critics alike will say this movie is the scariest ever made, and they are right. When young Regan (Linda Blair) gets possessed by a seemingly demonic force, an array of priests are called in to come save the girl, while her mother (Ellen Burstyn) grapples with her daughter’s suffering. Between the imagery, the disturbing terror, and the cold feeling this movie evokes, The Exorcist is the greatest, and scariest, horror film ever made, and will always deserve a spot on the best horror movies to watch.