More Blood & More Masks: a 2016 Halloween movie collection.

Jane Levy

Well, it’s that time of year again. The pumpkins are carved and ready, people have their costumes ready (or already were in them if you go to Halloween parties), scary movies are being watched, candy is being devoured…yes everyone, tomorrow is Halloween. Halloween has always been kind of a funny holiday to me, because everyone dresses up, eats candy, drinks a lot (if you’re an adult), and everyone’s getting scared but I never really loved all that. Sure, when I was younger I would go to people’s doors and ask for candy with friends and be so happy when I would finally get home and empty my huge bag full of candy, but now especially, I really don’t find myself getting that excited for Halloween. I think I always preferred the buildup and the whole essence of Fall more than the actual holiday itself. I don’t know, am I weird? Am I the only one who thinks that? I’m sorry I’m just more of a Christmas person! The thing I do love about the month of October though is getting to watch a bunch of horror movies (not like I don’t during other months but still), and so I thought I would continue what I did last year and share what my Halloween movie picks for 2016 would be. Now, I thought it would be best to add a little diversity into the collection and rather having it be just all straight up classic horror or slashers I would mix in some others that I really enjoy. So let’s get this started!

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15. The Neon Demon (2016)

Like I said, I didn’t want to make every movie a straight up horror and this is the perfect example of that. I saw Neon Demon about a month ago, so I was a little late to the party by the time I watched, but man when I finally was brought into this crazy world I knew I was in for something interesting. It actually took me two sittings (the second time while I made my friend watch it with me), to full appreciate and kind of understand what this movie was about. I wouldn’t completely banish this movie from the horror genre though because there are moments of terror and I would fit it into the psychological horror/body horror category at least. As far as my criticisms go for the movie in general, I didn’t think it was perfect, it had some weak scenes that could’ve either been cut out or maybe just given one more take, but they’re nothing that really take away from the movie completely. Elle Fanning is good for what she has to be in this, a young small town girl trying to get into the modeling business, but I really thought Jenna Malone was the star of this whole experience. I don’t wanna say anymore because I feel like there could be potential spoilers if I do, so I’ll just say give it a shot and see what you think.

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14. The Witch (2016)

This is not a movie that I would recommend to everyone. I would say that you have to know what you’re getting into with this and don’t watch the trailer because it’s wildly misleading. The Witch is a slow burn about a family that has to move away from their town and into an area where certain situation occur and slowly start to break them apart. So yes, this is similar to Neon Demon in the sense that it isn’t specifically a horror movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s without it’s share of pure chilling scares. It’s not surprising to me that this didn’t receive very positive reactions from audiences because like I said, this isn’t for everyone and the marketing is so misleading it’s easy to think that you were walking into a completely different movie. When I finally saw this one I had kind of heard that this was more of a slow burn than expected and that people didn’t like it as much because of that, so I went in knowing what kind of atmosphere this was going to be in. I really loved it, I don’t mind a good slow burn as long as it leads to something, and oh man does this movie build to a climax. It’s not a traditional scary movie but it’s definitely one that will keep you enthralled, or at least that’s how it was for me.

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13. What Lies Beneath (2000)

I’d say What Lies Beneath heads a little more towards the horror direction, especially when you get to the third act. Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford are great in this chilling story about a wife seeing strange things and assuming the worst all while she’s not sure if what she’s seeing is real or not. It was fun for me to go back and watch this one because it had been so long and I remember really loving it the first time I saw it, and let me just say, it still held up for me and I found it creepy as ever. Sure it has a few cheesy over the top moments towards the end, but I think it’s a fun little mystery movie. Most probably remember this from the scene with Michelle Pfeiffer seductively walking towards Harrison Ford in a red dress and I don’t blame you because that’s just one of so many good scenes. If you want a chilly little thriller mystery movie, this is the one for you.

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12. Zombieland (2009)

We don’t want everything to be serious do we? I mean what’s better than a horror comedy with zombies? For me, Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead are two of the best horror comedies out there, they both have dead on hilarious jokes and great commentary about the zombie genre. I was considering putting Shaun of the Dead in here but I thought that Zombieland doesn’t get nearly enough love these days so let’s have fun with that one! This one also has a stellar cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg (no connection to Adventureland, even though I kind of wish there was?), Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin and Woody Harrleson. They all give stand out performances but I think that Woody Harrelson is the standout here with his fast hitting jokes and no fucks given attitude, he’s a blast to watch. There’s also a great Bill Murray scene with a little Ghostbusters love too that I always enjoy, just a side note. If you want to get in the Halloween spirit but don’t feel like being too scared to sleep than I would check out Zombieland.

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11. The Thing (1982)

I thought it would only be right to include some of the classics in here and John Carpenter’s The Thing is definitely one of them. You could watch this movie just for the practical effects alone they’re so good, but obviously that’s not the only reason this is on the list, it’s also a wonderfully suspenseful watch. There’s a whole cast of great actors in this (it’s actually funny thinking about it now that there are no females in this), but for me the obvious standout is Kurt Russell. It could just be that I can never not like Kurt Russell in whatever he’s in, but he makes for a great leading and almost kind of “final guy”, if you will, in this. My only gripe is probably that the ending is a tad anticlimactic but it really doesn’t take away from how great and terrifying the rest of this horror classic is.

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10. Evil Dead (2013)

It’s clear that I don’t love the ideas of remakes, especially if they’re just pointless rehashes of the original but with a current cast and better effects. So when the remake of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead was coming out I was skeptical because I really loved the original, I saw it at a time where I was kind of angry at everything and it was a perfect outlet for me so it kind of has a special place in my heart. Luckily though, when I went and saw it I really loved it. I loved the idea that this was a fully serious version (the original is meant to be serious but there are some undeniably silly moments), and they weren’t going to be afraid to go all out with the gore from what I’d seen in the red band trailer. The amount of times I cringed and still do when I watch this movie is insane, there are so many gross out moments of craziness and gore. I’m sure the ultra bloodiness that I’m describing is probably a turn off for some, and that’s okay! I completely understand people not liking the kind of “torture porn” style, even I don’t really go for those kind of movies, but I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “torture porn” I would just call it a pretty graphic demon movie. But really I think this is a remake done right, it was different enough for me to where they weren’t just copying and pasting the original movie and there were some solid scares in there.

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9. Slither (2006)

I actually find that this movie grosses me out more than Evil Dead does, I think it’s just the idea of worms and things coming to get you that freaks me out more. I don’t know how many people actually know this movie because I certainly didn’t really know about it when I came across it a while back. I knew some of the actors and actresses in it like Elizabeth Banks and such, I just hadn’t really heard of the movie. But little did I know this would become one of my favorites with it’s gross out effects and little funny moments. This one definitely has it’s nasty moments (nasty as in slimey groseness), so I wouldn’t say it’s for the squirmiest of people, but I found the characters likeable and the things/stuff (don’t wanna give it away), that they fight against were interesting to the point where I wanted to see what would happen. If you know James Gunn’s humor (Guardians of the Galaxy was his big one),  this is just that and it’ll be your cup of tea. I always have a really fun time with this one and will always think of it during this time of year.

Jeff Goldblum In 'The Fly'

8. The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg doesn’t really do horror anymore but man when he did they were great, and The Fly is no exception. The first time I saw this I was actually pretty young, probably too young, and I just remember being so confused but also freaked out by everything. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis have some great chemistry and really make you feel for these characters which makes it even sadder the farther you get into the movie. Like The Thing, the practical effects in this are out of this world, and it’s hard to decide but I’ll even say that The Fly‘s effects may be even better than The Thing‘s. This is actually another remake, and this time it’s a remake of a Vincent Price movie from 1958 which I actually have not seen (I know, so much for the research aspect), but I would like to eventually just to see the differences. So like I said, Cronenberg is one of the best directors out there I think, especially of horror when he was in his prime of that genre and I would recommend checking this and his other work out.

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7. Don’t Breathe (2016)

Yes, this is another movie with Jane Levy and YES this is also directed by Fede Alvarez who also directed Evil Dead …I couldn’t help it, this one’s just too good to pass up. I actually watched this one about a month ago, unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to see it in theaters so I was a little late to the party, but I got there! When I first saw the trailer (which is a little too revealing in my opinion), I immediately thought of it as a reversed Wait Until Dark, which has a blind Audrey Hepburn being robbed in the middle of the night. But really to my surprise the movie has a few more layers to it than that, there’s much more to the story than them just robbing a blind guy. Once again, Jane Levy is great in this, she gives some truly fantastic face work with her frantic eyes and gasping face. I also thought Stephen Lang as the blind man that they’re robbing was really great too and gave a chilling performance. There’s not much else to say other than go see this one! It’ll keep you on the edge of your seat and is a great time.

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6. Ex Machina (2015)

Going back to the notion of not straight up horror, we have Ex Machina, which I think is one of the best movies of  last year and I regret not putting on my best of 2015 list. Seeing this movie for the first time is such an interesting experience because, for the most part, you don’t really know what’s going to happen. Looking at it now, the movie as a whole sort of reminds me a little of the show Black Mirror, which is a fantastic show on Netflix that you should watch if you haven’t …but that’s for another list. Black Mirror is an anthology series that deals with the different ways that technology can go wrong, and I see Ex Machina as kind of an expanded version of one of the episodes, in the best way.  The main three actors in this movie, Alicia Vikander, Domnhall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac are all really great and give their all to these characters, especially Vikander (it’s a crime she didn’t get nominated for this but was nominated and won for Danish Girl, I will never understand it). This whole movie oozes with this kind of cold atmosphere in this house that Oscar Isaac’s character Nathan lives in. This movie is perfect if you’re looking for a beautifully stylish thriller with a little bit of horror mixed in there too.

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5. Alien (1979)

There’s something about Sigourney Weaver in the alien movies and just in general that I really love, I don’t know what it is but she has this charm to her that I really love so much. Not only is the way she portrays Ripley in this (and Aliens), so believable but she’s also such a strong character. A lot of people like to debate whether Alien or 1986’s Aliens is the better movie, but I always say they’re two different movies. Sure they’re both related to each other, but Alien is a true horror movie with these few characters trapped in one ship with this alien, where Aliens is more of an action movie (hence James Cameron being at the helm), with more characters and, like the title suggest, more aliens. I think they’re both stellar movies in their own rights but I really don’t think you can compare them so easily. I favor this one a little more just because of how much simpler it is in the way of the setting and how scary it is that there’s just one alien versus a whole bunch. The actual alien is also what I love about this movie, when you finally get to see it up close and in your face it’s horrifying. This isn’t the most fast paced of the horror sci-fi movies, but I wouldn’t say it’s really slow it just has to build to certain points. If you haven’t seen this one I’d suggest checking it out.

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4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

This is another remake where I will admit that I have never seen the original of, and like with The Fly, I’m sure it’s great and I’ll hopefully get to it someday. But if we’re talking about this ’78 version, this movie truly terrifies me. I’m not sure what it is, because hearing the plot of it doesn’t scare me really it’s just the way it’s executed and filmed. There’s an almost claustrophobic feel to this movie when we start seeing that everyone is being taken over by these things, or aliens if you want to call them that. One of the things that really stuck with me too was that these alien type things came from a plant and kind of made their way to humans, that always terrified me. It’s the fact that it’s something so simple that could take over such a huge population of people, and I think that’s also why I like this movie the best of all the invasion type movies, it’s so simple. There’s a good number of haunting scenes that have stayed with me, whether it’s the way that your body gets wrapped in this giant plant thing when you get invaded by these things or just the last scene of the movie in general. It’s one of few movies that really gives me a true sense of terror, and I love it so so much.

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3. You’re Next (2011)

You’re Next is really the only true slasher that I put on this list, I guess you could count The Neon Demon or Don’t Breathe as slashers a little, but even those don’t feel like it as much as this one does. Either way, this is one of my favorite horror movies to come out in the past few years and I feel like I probably would’ve put it on last year’s list, it just didn’t come to me at that time. The second half of this movie is what I really love because it almost turns into a kind of revenge movie and it just gets so fun and sometimes, that’s what I look for in a good horror movie. Sharni Vinson plays who kind of becomes our main character and our final girl, and she’s fantastic. She’s front and center once this movie really starts going and she really owns the role. Another thing that I loved is the kind of dark comedic tone to it, there are some jokes at some points where you wouldn’t expect them to be, yet they weirdly fit in with the flow of the movie, especially when the “twist” is revealed. If you’re looking for a fun, fast paced and crazy slasher then this is your pick.

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2. The Faculty (1998)

My god, I love this movie. I’ve seen this one about four times at this point and it never gets old for me, it probably helps that Kevin Williamson (wrote the scripts for Scream, Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer, etc.) wrote it and that the plot seems slightly inspired by Invasion of the Body Snatchers. There’s also something about the teen horror movies that were coming out in the 90s like Scream that I really love, there’s a certain way to them that I really like. This movie is also just tons of fun and has a jam packed cast of young actors like Elijah Woods, Josh Hartnett and Clea DuVall. There’s oddly a large amount of well known actors in it too like Salma Hayek, Bebe Neuwirth, Usher (?), Jon Stewart and more. I find it funny that this movie got kind of a negative feedback when it came out because I find it so great, but it is possible that everyone was getting sick of these movies when they were coming out, it’s understandable and happens with plenty of repetitive genres today. But coming from me, I’d really say if you haven’t seen this watch it, it’s a fun ride.

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1. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

I knew I really liked this movie when I first saw it, but when I went back and watched it again the other night I guess I didn’t realize how much I loved it. To me this is an almost perfect horror movie. It successfully combines horror and comedy, it’s constantly creative, it has likeable characters and it has so many references from previous horror movies …it’s a meta treat and I love it. Now I know I’ve said “I love this so so much” to pretty much all the movies on this list and yeah, I really do love all these movies (some more than others, but y’know), but this is the one where I mean it to the biggest extent. I don’t even want to explain what this movie is about because it’s so much more fun if you just watch it, go in blind. You can tell that the makers and writers of this movie truly love the genre of horror and wanted to pay omage to it, you can tell that when they make jokes about certain tropes in a slasher that it’s from a place of love. And that’s why I put this at #1 and I think if you really love horror you should watch this movie.

Well, thanks for reading! Hope you like what I had to suggest and have a great Halloween!!

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