The Perfectly Frightful Halloween Movie Night

by Olivia Starke

What makes a movie really scary, something that leaves you looking over your shoulder for hours and flinching at every creak and groan in the house? Is it the blood, gore, and special affects dismemberment you find in today’s movies? Do you find yourself on the edge of your seat, holding your breath as well as the nearest loved one while watching these? I don’t know about you, but movies with lots of techno-spook such as The Grudge and Paranormal Activity, just to name a couple, don’t really do it for me.
Here are my three picks for a perfectly frightful Halloween night. 

Number 3: Halloween 
(the original 1978 version starring Jamie Lee Curtis)

Why does this movie have such an impact with the viewer? We all have those relatives we think are a little off kilter, but nothing compares to a six year old boy who murders his seventeen year old sister, only to return years later to finish off his other sister who’d been raised by another family.  What Michael does, without the aid of high tech special affects, is terrify the watcher with his complete lack of emotion. There is no joy, no crazed blood lust in his actions. All the murders are done with methodical precision. It’s what he is, who he is, and that touches a place deep within us all. He is the darkness and ugliness that we all fear humans are capable of. 

Number 2: The Blair Witch Project

Yes, I know it has a bit of a cultish following, but anyone who has watched it has to admit that it gets into your psyche. In the movie theater I watched wide-eyed, and as I lay in bed that night I swore I heard the screams of the friend who was lost deep in the woods. Its terror appeal is  it represents what we all fear the most—the unknown—as well as that baser fear of the dark we all suffered as kids (and sometimes as adults.) You never see the Blair Witch nor any particular demon or ghost. All the action is off camera, and it leaves your imagination to go wild with what is actually happening, as with the man who screams all night in agony. What is really happening to him? I know I had horrible images that the movie would be hard pressed to out do. Sometimes what we can’t see, and can imagine, is the most terrifying of all, and this movie manipulates this to perfection.

 And my Number 1 pick for the most terrifying movie of all time…
Night of the Living Dead

“They’re coming to get you Barbara.”
     This independent black and white cult film from 1968 scares the bujeebus out of me. Granted there is no real plot, and the actors are all no names, but it certainly packs a punch. Every time I watch this movie I feel creeped out for about two days. The fearful magic with this movie is that it doesn’t have a plot; people are just going about their daily humdrum lives when all humanity goes to hell. Corpses are suddenly reanimated and we don’t have a real answer as to why—perhaps from radiation fall out, but the reasons are never clear. As the zombies attack people, those who aren’t torn apart and devoured right off become the undead as well. It’s a sickness and no one has a cure. This movie touches on the lack of control, how outside circumstances can change drastically and you are helpless to them. We all have a need to feel secure, that we have a say on the outside world affects us, but the terror of this movie comes when this is ripped away. And in the end, there is no happy ending, you are left feeling adrift and without closure. 

So, dear readers, I challenge you to watch all three of these movies on Halloween—alone and in the dark—if you dare…
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+ comments + 2 comments

October 31, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Very scary stuff. I wonder what I should watch tonight....

October 31, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Nope I am not taking you up on that challenge thank you very much... I know have the theme from Halloween running through my head. :)

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