Halloween Special: 13 must-watch movies for horror junkies

  • Sanya Kaushik, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 30, 2014 17:31 IST

Everyone loves a good scare, especially those of us who suffer from an overactive imagination that convinces us, even in the face of overwhelming logic, that the creepy doll from Annabelle will find you and kill you dead in the middle of the night. That high, that sheer adrenaline rush you get from having the living daylights scared out of you is worth a few nights of restful sleep.

Speaking of Annabelle and all things scary, Halloween is here! The one night in the whole year that is wholeheartedly dedicated to things that go bump in the night, not to mention loony characters running around in the street, dressed up as everything from Frozen's Elsa to Stoker's Dracula. So, if you're hoping to skip the madness, hole up at home with your buddies and get in a few good scares, you'll need some awesome horror flicks to cuddle up with.

Here are a few bone-chillers to get you started:

1. House of Wax (1953)
Starring: Vincent Price, Carolyn Jones, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk
Directed By: André De Toth
Running Time: 90 minutes

No, not the badly made 2005 rip-off starring a less-than-mediocre cast and even worse direction by Jaume Collet-Serra. The original House of Wax, (made in 1953), while lacking modern-day CGI effects, more than makes up in terms of story, lighting and script. If the creepy wax sculptures aren't enough to send a chill down your spine, Vincent Price's eerie yet entirely believable potrayal of disfigured sculptor Henry Jarrod will definitely achieve the desired effect. Price was a horror maestro, and House of Wax is one of his best works.

2. Psycho (1960)

Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

Running Time: 109 minutes

No list of horror movies is complete without Alfred Hitchcock's magnum opus, Psycho. That infamous shower scene has made its way into so many TV shows and movies over the last few decades. Even in B&W, Anthony Perkins' potrayal of mentally disturbed motel owner Norman Bates is enough to induce minor strokes; add to that the strategic lighting, sinister music and twisted story line and you've got a Halloween winner. Spend a night at Bates Motel, I dare you.

3. The Innocents (1961)
Starring: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins, Michael Redgrave
Directed By: Jack Clayton
Running Time: 100 minutes

Jack Clayton, through the use of minimal lighting, made sure that The Innocents sent generations of horror buffs into a collective fear frenzy. The film deviates from coventional horror by making liberal but focused use of music and direction to scare viewers, rather than run-of-the-mill shocks. The casting also proved to be perfect, with actors that are pleasurable to watch yet not distracting from the main story. Oscar winning actor Deborah Kerr brings to life first-time governess Miss Gideons to 2 creepy children in this British supernatural thriller. Definitely a must watch this Halloween.

4. Carrie (1976)
Starring: PJ Soles , Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, John Travolta
Directed By: Brian DePalma
Running Time: 98 minutes

Carrie is sometimes blamed for giving birth to the now overdone and tired genre of teen horror. But given that it came out almost 40 years ago, this raw and horrifying account of Carrie, a shy, abused 17-year-old girl who extracts revenge on her torturers in the worst way, is uniquely scary and sure to cause faint-hearted individuals to run screaming out of the room.

5. Suspiria (1977)
Starring: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Joan Bennett, Alida Valli
Directed By: Dario Argento
Running Time: 98 minutes

Doors that slam of their own accord, footsteps that belong to no physical being, satanic rituals performed by over-zealous witches disguised as teachers, Suspiria has all the elements that make for a fear-filled viewing experience enunciated by screams. The story follows a young ballet student who is accepted at a prestigious dance academy in Germany, but soon realises that the school plays host to nefarious entities that were regretably not included in the brochure.

6.A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Starring: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakely
Directed By: Wes Craven
Running Time: 92 minutes

Freddy Krueger. The name that even after 30 years strikes fear in the hearts of movie-goers. A disfugured man with a bladed glove on his hand lurks in the deepest recesses of a group of students' nightmares. Spooky, huh? Admittedly, the movie seems slightly overdone in a few places but overall, definitely a must watch for a macabre Halloween.

7. Ringu (1998)
Starring: Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani, Hiroyuki Sanada, Yuko Takeuchi
Directed By: Hideo Nakata
Running Time: 96 minutes

Remember Samara from The Ring? That girl who made it almost impossible for you to watch TV without fearing for your life days after? Turns out, Ringu, the Japanese film from which the American version was adapted, is even scarier than The Ring! With supernatural entities, vengeful spirits, excellent direction and a thoroughly put-together cast, Ringu is a blood-curdling feast of psychological thrills and chills.

8. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Starring: Bob Griffin, Mark Mason, Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams
Directed By: Daniel Myrick , Bob Griffin , Eduardo Sánchez (II) , Eduardo Sánchez
Running Time: 105 minutes

Three student filmmakers dissappeared while hiking in the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland in 1994. They were supposedly looking for the Blair Witch. The footage of their journey was found a year later and inspired the 1999 film, The Blair Witch Project. Essentialy, this movie is horrifying, mostly because, having been shot through a Handycam, it is uncomfortably realistic.

9. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz
Directed By: Drew Goddard
Running Time: 105 minutes

Another teenage horror flick you say? How wrong you are. Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon come together to give you a psychological scare treat that will make your head spin. 5 teenagers (foolishly) decide to spend the weekend at a seemingly deserted cabin in the forest. Little do they know that not only are they being watched, they are also being used as lab rats for a deadly social experiment. The ups and downs of The Cabin in the Woods will keep you entertained throughout the duration of the film.

10. The Conjuring (2013)
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor, Shanley Caswell
Directed By: James Wan
Running Time: 112 minutes

The Conjuring, set in 1971, is a rare gem of hair-raising, unadulterated, old-school horror that will cause even the most stoic individuals to lose sleep for at least a week and then some. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson take on the roles of Loraine and Ed Warren, paranormal investigators who are called to aid the Perrons, who believe they are being haunted. While the film does make some use of visual effects, the overall result is entirely believable, which just makes it that much scarier.

11.The Exorcist (1973)

Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb

Director: Williams Friedkin

Running Time: 122 minutes

The quintessential horror movie. Exorcisms and scary flicks go hand in hand and this is where it all began. The movie is so deeply engraved in our collective conscience that even the poster- a man in a top hat and with a briefcase standing outside a house under the eerie light of a streetlamp- is enough to make us shudder. The movie was so well made that it got nominated in 10 Academy Awards categories which also included Best Picture. The one thing that makes it stand out from the rest is the fact that it is based on a true story. In case you didn't know that already, good luck trying to sleep tonight!

12.The Shining (1980)

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Running time: 145 minutes

An eccentric writer goes to a hill station in search of peace but what he gets in return is an imbalanced mind. He becomes a threat to his immediate family members who don't know what lies behind the doors of the secluded guesthouse. Director Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece is known for its symbolism and was based on Stephen King's homonymous novel. Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall have come up with the performance of their lifetime in The Shining. The opening sequence of the film is considered as one of the finest in the history of Hollywood.

13.The Grudge (2004)

Starring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jason Behr, KaDee Strickland

Directed by: Takashi Shimizu

Running time: 92 minutes

One of the superbly edited horror films, The Grudge is about a curse which generates due to extreme sorrow. Japanese filmmakers are known for their depiction of ghosts and supernatural elements in a way which tries to trace the roots of a social evil in complex social structures. A man suspects that his wife is having an affair with her professor and thus he kills her. However, this doesn't provide him any solace as the ghost of his wife starts haunting his sub-conscious which eventually pushes him towards committing suicide. But, the sorrow doesn't end and keeps evolving even in the husband's afterlife. Watching The Grudge alone will still give you a sense of pride.

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