Movies and TV

Scary Movies Revisited

Johnny Depp in “Sleepy Hollow” (1999), courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Whether or not I indulge in candy and costumes is a tossup every Halloween, but there’s always one craving I simply can’t make it through October without satisfying. This is the creeptastic craving for scary movies. After all, as the nights get colder and leaves start changing colors, there’s nothing quite like snuggling up under a blanket with a bowl of snacks (which may or may not be cavity-inducing) and watching a marathon of movies that make you scream bloody murder and sleep with the lights on. I’m beyond excited to indulge this cinematic craving tomorrow night at Screamfest LA, where a friend and I will be attending screenings of some new horror films. And, in anticipation of this gory little film fest, I figured I’d share some of the other scary movies that are on my mind this season…

  • “Sleepy Hollow” (1999) – I’m a sucker for Tim Burton, if for no other reason than my love of the elaborate mechanical devices his movies are so often crawling with (just look at the above photo or any frame from “Edward Scissorhands” for examples). While many Burton films embody a sense of whimsy, “Sleepy Hollow” is decidedly dark. The movie tells Burton’s take on the tale of the Headless Horseman, and brims with period costumes, fog-cloaked trees, and quirky-yet-mysterious characters. Not only does this film have a great visual aesthetic, but it actually builds a lot of suspense and tension, which is the main reason it’s landing at the top of this list.
  • “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) – From famous writer/director Roman Polanski, this psychological-horror film preys on our fears of child-bearing, haunted apartment buildings, and romantic betrayal. Bonus: this movie is where Mia Farrow’s famous bob haircut originated. If you haven’t seen it, just take my word for it and rent this gem. While you’re at it, maybe you can plan a triple-feature of vintage horror movies, throwing “Notorious” (1946) and “Halloween” (1978) into the mix.
  • “Suspiria” (1977) – This is essentially an Italian art film with a lot of 1970s flair, and a couple gruesome scenes that set the horror-movie world abuzz way back in the day. It’s about a bunch of ballerinas/witches, and features a protagonist who is far too passive for my taste. Despite the lackluster heroine and unsatisfying story, this film is really visually captivating. If I were the type to throw holiday parties, this would be the perfect movie to play in the background to set an artsy/spooktastic mood.
  • “Skeleton Key” (2005) – Hauntings, possessions, Southern mansions, and voodoo are just a few of the elements that make this film one of the most underrated horror flicks of the past decade. “What are some of the other keys to this movie’s scare factor?” you may ask. Well, there’s Kate Hudson, Peter Sarsgaard, and the words of Ehren Kruger, one of my favorite screenwriters. (Full disclosure: Kruger may have written “Transformers 3,” but he also wrote “The Ring” and other horror classics. This guy knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat.)
  • “Orphan” (2009)In this suspenseful tale, a married couple adopts a young girl who turns out to be a lot less innocent than she initially seems. Unlike a lot of viewers, I was not at all shocked by the ending, but I still enjoyed the flick (which says a lot). The film hits all the right horror beats, and features some really memorable scares and creepy visuals, making it a perfect movie to watch while snacking on leftover candy and peeking out from behind your fingers.

Psst: If you don’t see anything here that strikes your fancy, you may want to check out my all-time-favorite scary movies or this post about family-friendly Halloween movies. Do you have a favorite scary movie? I would love to hear all the gory details! Leave a comment.

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  • Reply kristina@beancakes ★ October 21, 2011 at 7:41 am

    hey cote! you’re so kind ~ i always LOVE your comments, they make me so happy!! and yes, i too am so happy to have met a friend 😉 😉 {an intelligently creative friend that is!} okay enough of the sappy stuff haha 😉 😉 i just love scary movies as well and tim burton is one of my all time favorites!! he is so creative and i always love the edgy moody feel that he invokes through his films. have a wonderful weekend my friend and thanks again for all your support and positive energy!!
    xoxo ~ kristina

  • Reply letiziabarcelona October 21, 2011 at 7:52 am

    My best friend offers me “rosemary’s baby” a few years ago oh my, this movie is really scary!
    I love Sleepy Hollow I have it in DVD too.
    Have you seen “funny games” with Naomi Watts ? I saw it last week loved it!

  • Reply Meta Musings October 21, 2011 at 9:22 am

    i just love anything tim burton! maybe a tim burton marathon weekend! xx

  • Reply S October 21, 2011 at 10:10 am

    In october i’m undulging in scary movies too!!! Maybe it’s Halloween mood…
    I saw almost all the movies you selected, but my fav are definitely Tim Burton’s ones, he is genial!

  • Reply Jennifer R. Coté October 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I am so happy to hear every single one of you say you love Tim Burton so much! No wonder we are all such kindred spirits, my dears. 😉 Have a beyond fabulous weekend, and let me know about any scary movies of note that you see!

    BTW, thank you so much for the “Funny Games” recommendation, Letizia. I’m going to have to see it pronto. 🙂

  • Reply Cassie October 25, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Being a huge horror nerd can’t help but share some favorites! Have been very into ghost movies lately…so much so that netflix has me pegged with a recommendation of “supernatural foreign horror films”

    I love LOVE the Spanish movie The Baby’s Room…so artfully creepy!
    I also like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark…about some sinister cousins of the Tooth Fairy
    And I recently saw the The People Under the Stairs which may strike a chord with those Occupying Wall Street…and Insidious which was a little silly but kept me awake!

    Happy Halloween!

    • Reply Jennifer R. Coté October 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you so much for the scary movie recommendations, Cassie! I’m tracking down “The Baby’s Room,” “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” and “The People Under the Stairs” right now so I can watch them this weekend. Also, I completely agree with your assessment of “Insidious.” (It stylistically felt like two movies, but it was entertaining and pretty impressive when you consider it was shot on a really low budget.)

      Thanks so much for stocking up my movie shelf with so many good flicks for Halloween weekend!

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