My Favorite Monsters

     Tis the season for horror movies. Even though Halloween is over, there’s still time to enjoy some fear-filled flicks before the holiday movie onslaught begins. Here’s a list of my favorite fright films if you’re looking for something scary for a fall Friday night:

Night of the Living Dead (1968):
Hands down the scariest movie ever made. Director George A. Romero was ahead of his time. The black and white cinematography gives the film a true documentary feel (and it doesn’t make the gory scenes any less hard to swallow). This film works as both a horror film and a political commentary of the turbulent 1960’s. Watch with the lights on. All of them.

The Exorcist (1973):
This tale of demonic possession was such a huge box-office sensation when it was released, my parents allowed me to take a day off school to attend a showing with my older brothers. I watched most of the film through the zipped-up hood of my snorkel jacket. Ellen Burnstyn’s performance as Linda Blair’s anguished mother earned her an oscar nomination for best actress. The special effects will make your head spin. Hold the pea soup.

Psycho (1960):
This slice of american horror compels me to watch every time it’s on television. Alfred Hitchcock’s directorial masterpiece showcases an artist at the height of his craft. This film has it all – murder, voyeurism, taxidermy and a mummified Mommy. Actor Anthony Perkins’ portrayal of Norman Bates will stick with you long after the movies ends.

Carrie (1977):
Some would argue this film is author Stephen King’s best translation of novel to film. Sissy Spacek’s portrayal of Carrie White, a misunderstood telekinetic teen, earned her a best actress nomination. The real monster was Carrie’s domineering mother played by actress Piper Laurie. Introducing John Travolta in his motion picture debut. Featuring buckets of teen-age angst and pig blood.

Alien (1979):
This horror movie masquerading as a science fiction movie has one of the best creatures ever created for film. Artist H.R. Giger’s design for the blood-thirsty alien queen is a movie monster masterpiece. Hidden in the background of the movie’s soundtrack is the subliminal sound of a human heartbeat programmed to beat faster during certain scenes to rocket the suspense level into the stratosphere. Sigourney Weaver does a good job at that on her own.

Halloween (1978):
Director John Carpenter invented the modern slasher movie with this low-budget film featuring Jamie Lee Curtis and a killer soundtrack. This movie led to a slew of imitators, but they all pale in comparison to serial killer Michael Meyers. In the film he is described by Donald Pleasence as “purely and simply evil.” Halloween proves you can’t kill the boogeyman. Or this movie franchise.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968):
Rosemary’s Vidal Sassoon inspired pixie haircut helped get her chosen as the bride of Satan. Mia Farrow’s performance of the title character pulls us into her world and we feel her terror intensify as the birthday of the little devil she’s carrying looms near. This movie may be slow but it’s scary as hell.

Shadow of the Vampire (2002):
Willem Dafoe’s portrayal of Max Shreck, the actor who starred in the silent “Nosferatu,” made by F.W. Murnau in Germany in 1922, really brings the character to life. Some say Max Shreck was an authentic vampire, and if you watch this film you’ll believe it too. But it’s an intense performance by John Malkovitch as obsessed director F.W. Murnau who steals the show.

Cat People (1982):
Nastassja Kinski is the embodiment of a black panther whose ancestors come from a magic tribe of African shape-shifters with a hunger for human flesh (among other things). The movie’s theme song by David Bowie is as haunting as the movie itself. Add Malcom McDowell to this meow mix and you have all the ingredients of a classic horror remake. This film is sheer purr-fection.

The Witch (2015):
This painstakingly authentic period piece depicts a family in 1630s New England torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession. The costume designers used clothing patterns from historical museums and every piece was hand-stitched for added realism. The only fabrics used were linen, wool and hemp as cotton was not used for pilgrim’s clothing during that time period. There’s also an authentic talking goat named Black Phillip who convinces a young girl to sell her soul to the Devil. Baaa humbug!

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