As Halloween nears closer, there’s nothing more fitting than to sit back in the comfort of your house, or in my case, my dorm room, and watch a few scary movies.
I’ve been a big fan of scary movies for years now, and I get extremely excited when new ones come out. While recent adaptations, like the cinematic and plot-driven beauty, “It”, as well as those with very creative premises available on Netflix like “Bird Box”, “Hush”, and “Gerald’s Game” have not ceased to captivate my attention and satisfy the fear factor during this time of year, there are a few classic scary movies that will always be at the top of my watch list no matter what new movies are released.
While their release date may have hindered some development in effects or realistic imagery, at their core, these classics are fundamentally frightening, and they set the stage for various films to come. Here is my list of some of my personal favorites.
- “Psycho” 1960
It’s virtually impossible to discuss classic scary movies and omit one of the most influential films to pop-culture. While Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is in black and white and its visuals are comparatively benign, the central, psychological plot is incredible, and ultimately established the genre for future films alike. It was monumental in its killing of a beautiful woman, who was also the main character, creating more tension through the second half of the film as it stands as having one of the most interesting plot-twists in horror film history. The iconic shower sequence has been referenced in various other films and television, and rightfully so. This is a must-see for any film-lovers or anyone wanting a few scares this Halloween.
- “Halloween” 1978
The segway could not be more perfect in that the protagonist of John Carpenter’s “Halloween”, Jamie Lee Curtis, is the real-life daughter of the protagonist in “Psycho”, both of which have made my list of the best scary movies. While “Halloween” has endured countless remakes and sequels, the original is undoubtedly the strongest and has one of the most surprising scary movie openings. Curtis’ character is personally my favorite protagonist of any slasher horror film for her unconventional portrayal in this classic masked-killer, babysitter-stalking thriller. Pop open a bag of popcorn and get ready for some serious Michael Myers’ thrills.
- “The Shining” 1980
I could not write this list and not mention at least one Steven King film adaptation. “The Shining”, while not a slasher film like many on this list, focuses rather on the psychological horror of an aspiring writer, played by Jack Nicholson. The film has an abundance of interpretations, illusions, and ambiguities, making it one you may have to watch a few times, but nonetheless, a classic.
- “A Nightmare on Elm Street” 1984
This slasher film, set in Ohio by the way, focuses on yet another creepy masked killer, but this time, one who invades children’s dreams. The film’s focus on adolescence, as well as the obliviousness of the adults, are frequent tropes present in future films, making this a classically terrifying movie very suitable for the season.
- “The Silence of the Lambs” 1991
While this film may not entirely match the tones of the rest on here, “The Silence of the Lambs” is equally terrifying and artistically crafted as any other. The plot, acting, and even minuscule details like camera angles, create a very unsettling tone for this film that leaves you mildly freaked out, while simultaneously amazed.
- “Scream” 1996
The satirical jabs at the predictable structures of scary movies are what makes “Scream” one of my all-time favorites. The characters recognize the stereotypes of the slasher genre, and while it makes for substantial humor in the film, the plot does not shy away from being mysterious or graphic. The film calls back to and boldly references previous movies mentioned on this list, even utilizing their craft. While the “Scream” franchise now includes three other movies and a television series, the best, per usual, is the original.