It is Halloween time again which means it’s time for the annual ‘horror marathons’ as a stable for TV networks. However I have found that the selection here can be well rather weak, stuff and at best they contain the first Scream movie or Friday the 13th. If this was your Halloween horror experience, have no fear…there is hope. There are three essential horror movies for both seasoned horror vets and newbie’s alike. The Wicker Man, Pet Sematary and The Thing.
The Wicker Man, released in 1973, is regarded as the “Citizen Kane of horror movies.” Indeed once you have seen this movie, that claim is hard to dispute. The plot follows a police sergeant sent to a remote island to investigate a girl’s mysterious disappearance. Things are not what they seem, and he soon finds himself embroiled on an island of neo-pagans preparing for their annual sacrifice. As with all three of these movies, this movie is dated visually. With that to the side, the plot is engaging and has little twists that still deliver. The most notable thing about the Wicker Man is the atmosphere that it creates. It is some freaky stuff! The people of the island during pagan mayday rituals are simply terrifying. What else would one expect from Christopher Lee? This is the defining movie in the horror genre. However the 2008 remake is not. This actual quote from the movie will testify to that, “awh not the Bees, not the bees!”
Pet Sematary was released in 1989, and based on the Steven King novel. This is a movie that should be familiar to any fan of South Park, as the series contains several parodies of the movie (including one whole episode, entailed Marjorine, Season 9), and one of its main characters Jud Crandall. Pet Sematary follows a young doctor, Louis Creed and his family who have moved to a nice neighbourhood. Then soon after the move the family’s cat is killed after wondering onto the highway in front of their home. Jud Crandall an elderly neighbour shows Creed, a way to bring their beloved cat back from the dead using an old Indian graveyard behind the local Pet Cemetery. Then the cat reappears but changed. Tragedy strikes the Creed’s once again. Louis Creed’s youngest son is killed. He then uses the same occultism to bring his son back. The young Doctors son does indeed come back but “sometimes dead is better.” This movie despite the twenty-plus years of parodies is still an entertaining and disturbing movie. This is due the pace of the movie. It is a slow but steady story. It reveals the terrible past of the protagonists and the past of the local Pet Cemetery. The acting at times can be a little lacking, but the finale of the movie more than rewards the audience for sticking with it. You can have all the slasher movies in the world but they are now way as scary as a demon child laughing with a scalpel.
The Thing (1982) is a remake by John Carpenter of the 1951 movie, The Thing from Another World. The plot is simple. Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills. The team must identify and kill the alien before it kills them. This movie is a cornerstone in what has come to be known as the ‘survival horror genre.’ The fear and paranoid of the small group as they get picked off one by one, was and still is groundbreaking. The effects are outstanding for its time, and Kurt Russell gives the performance of his career. This movie is a must see. The Thing prequel (also titled The Thing) is scheduled for release in Ireland very soon in 2011.
These three movies have everything you would expect: thrills, kills and something to play on your fears. Some other movies to consider for Halloween are: The Shocker, The Evil Dead Series, Let Me In, Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Plan 9 from Outer Space.