Film Fright

Initially I wanted to do a narrower list of movies, but I’m too much of a fan of horror to winnow the list down to specific decades. I chose the following horror movies based on absolutely no criteria other than personal taste. Some you may be familiar with, but I hope I have a few surprises. Here are five films for All Hallow’s Eve.

In order by year of release:

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
This movie is the finest horror movie to come out in years. It’s a bit of a play on horror tropes through the eyes of what would traditionally be considered the “antagonist.” It opens in familiar slasher tradition: A group of college-aged friends get together for a trip to the lake. While the film continuously flirts with the idea of slasher tropes, it revels in the inherent humor and stupidity of the genre. It’s a smart film and, more surprisingly, you might find yourself laughing harder at Tucker & Dale than a dedicated comedy.

Trick ‘r Treat (2008)
One of my favorite styles of horror film is the horror anthology. Trick ‘r Treat is a series of short horror stories pieced together by a common town and mythos. It utilizes the familiar tropes found in coming-of-age stories to ease its way in and then loses the inhibitions. The stories are interesting, fresh and tightly-packed into its 82 minute runtime.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007)
This one is another slasher that shrugs off its genre. Told in a documentary style, it follows the footsteps of a pseudo Jason Voorhees and how much work really goes into hunting down oversexed teenagers. It educates the audience on the symbolism in horror films, while simultaneously celebrating and embracing those themes. It’s clever, entertaining and damn funny.

Slither (2006)
If you haven’t seen this movie yet—go watch it. It’s disgusting, hilarious, clever and worth every minute of your time. The classic B-movie setup of a meteor crashing near a small rural community then contending with the threat while being physically isolated from help may be familiar, but it’s pulled off so well you shouldn’t care.

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
This chilling film is loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s work. The film follows an investigator as he tries to locate a bestselling horror writer that has disappeared. Dreamlike sequences and surrealistic terror grip the New England town he visits and the investigator struggles to cope with the true threat he uncovers. This film requires some attentiveness in order to follow the events, but the ending is a brilliant pay-off and conclusion to the narrative.