Well I held off for as long as I could stand it. Last year I posted this list a whole month earlier. It’s September. I have pumpkins. Just lit a candle. Just saw a witch flying in front of the moon in a meme on Facebook. I don’t care what you say it’s FALL! Alright let’s go.
In chronological order by release date. Linked titles take you to more info on the film. Photos take you to Amazon.com.
There’s just something about a Hitchcock classic in black and white that gets me electrified for fall. And with the success and rise in popularity of A&E’s Bates Motel series starring Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring), the original Psycho has made it back onto the scene for lovers of this spooky genre. As a kid, I was obsessed with this movie… a movie most known for the screeching strings in the score that in my opinion forever changed film music, and that horrifying shower scene. I was known to refer to it as simply “Bates Motel”. If you haven’t seen it in a while, it’s time to dust this one off and give it a watch! Just be sure to shower BEFORE showtime! Watch the trailer.
The Innocents (1961)
I watched and fell in love with this film for the first time last year. The movie begins with a black screen and a creepy melody, “O Willow Waly”, which is sung a cappella by a young child. Much of the film is shot in beautiful outdoor garden-like settings, and the rest of the movie takes place in a beautiful large country estate. It really is beautiful to see on screen. And then, of course later, that same beauty creates the good old-fashioned spookiness that I love in a horror movie. No special effects needed. The storyline involves two children, their governess, and the ghosts of the former governess and valet who possess the children.
This movie first played at screens just two years before I was born, but it was actually only like 6 years ago that I saw it. I’ve seen it many times since. The wonderful Sissy Spacek hasn’t aged a day since filming it. Also, at the time I had no idea that Betty Buckley (a Broadway star to me) was in the film. For many people, this was the first time they learned of a phenomenon called “telekinesis”. Carrie has an amazing film score that I think is really beautiful, but unfortunately it isn’t really accessible or recognized. The beautiful score from final scene that finishes with a surprise, is simply genius and is one of my favorite movie themes. Don’t waste your time with any of the remakes. They are horrible and just don’t even come close to the small budget original. Watch the trailer.
The Changeling (1980)
Like The Innocents, it was only last year that I saw this film for the first time. Starring the wonderful George C. Scott, it has that classic spooky movie feel that I always prefer. I very rarely enjoy all of the computer generated imagery (CGI) of modern-day films. I get a much bigger scare out of some good sound effects, an emotional score, an incredibly spooky setting, darkness, a ball bouncing down the steps, or a secret dusty room that has been untouched for decades. This movie has all of those things. Fitting right into the subject of this blog, The Changeling also includes a séance scene, and believe it or not… even some EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena). Watch the trailer.
The Watcher in the Woods (1980)
I first watched this Disney Pictures film when I was very young. Until recently, I sort of forgot about it, which is unfortunate. I was two years old when it was released, and I can’t believe I’m old enough to mention that it stars Bette Davis… but it does. I never understood why it was the Disney company that made this film, simply because it is so incredibly creepy! Don’t believe me? Watch it! I remember having nightmares about it. But it is such a good movie. From imdb: “When a normal American family moves into a beautiful old English house in a wooded area, strange, paranormal appearances befall them in this interesting twist to the well-known haunted-house tale. Their daughter Jan sees, and daughter Ellie hears, the voice of a young teenage girl who mysteriously disappeared during a total solar eclipse decades before…”
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Ohhhh my beloved Hocus Pocus. I’m finding that I’m far from being the only nerd that enjoys a tradition of watching this film every year. As a young teenager I loved it because it had all of the elements a spooky Halloween themed movie needed to have… witches, spells, graveyard, a black cat, and a cute main character. But of course, what makes this movie fabulous is the hilarious trio of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, and Bette Midler. It used to be on cable a lot more, but I try to catch it every time it’s offered. In fact, I think I’ll set the DVR now. Most of these movies are on my list because of the nostalgia that they bring, and this one brings back feelings of the excitement I’d get as a kid around Halloween. Watch the trailer.
Halloween H20 (1998)
The events taking place in this film, along with the year it was released, marks twenty years after the original. It is one of those nostalgic college movies for me. I used to be into these old slasher movies a lot more than I am now. Don’t get me wrong, if a Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th, or a Michael Myers (Halloween) marathon catches me on the right day in October, I just might get sucked in. But even though this is probably on many lists for being a really horrible movie, it is my favorite of the Michael Myers films, with the possible exception of the original Halloween, which I haven’t seen in a long time. It is the Halloween movies that has forever changed the meaning of The Chordettes’ Mr. Sandman for me. And of course, there is the unforgettable classic Halloween theme. Watch the trailer.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
People often make fun of me for loving this movie. It is a movie I have often watched late on Halloween night by myself after the trick-or-treaters fizzle out. I’m not sure why, because this movie doesn’t exactly scream “HALLOWEEN”, but ah well. I think the improvised faux reality style in which it was made was ground breaking and shocking. Several films have used this technique since. If you’re not familiar with this movie or the way it was filmed, it might be worth checking out its wikipedia page. Then again, that might ruin it for you. Watch it first and then check out the page. Though a lot of people complained about getting nauseous in the theaters due to the amateur shaky film footage, I think they’re whiners! Watch the trailer.
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Again, college nostalgia for me. I was lucky enough to have HBO in my apartment back then, and this was shown a LOT for a year or two. It’s just a creepy movie with some pretty intense spirit communication, including a funny scene with a Ouija board. Right up my alley. Plus, who could forget the amazing bath tub scene? I’ve never personally had one of those “lounge in a tub” kind of bath tubs, but when I see one I immediately think of this scene. Sadly, this is one of those movies that is becoming hard to find unless you own the DVD. I do not.
The Others (2001)
The last movie on our list tries to give us a glimpse into what happens when we die and what it might be like. That, of course, is probably not how Hollywood describes it, but that’s the question that is pondered and brought up so many times in this blog and in other paranormal circles. Again, like most the movies from this list, it has all of the spooky elements to it. Creepy old house, creepy children giggling, lots of darkness, and a séance scene that includes some automatic writing. And then… the creepy old woman… with the little girl’s voice! I thought this was a very well-made movie.
You Might Also Like:
Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden on Lifetime?
(Photo Credit: David Shankbone)