Halloween Horrors: What’s hot and what’s not

A list of both terrifying and terrible horror movies, shows, and more that you need to watch out for this Halloween

Image courtesy of goodfreephotos.com

By: Michelle Gomez, Jonathan Pabico, Natasha Tar, Samantha Manalac and Winona Young

 

WHAT’S HOT

 

 

  • Friday the 13th (1980)

The original Friday the 13th movie has sparked a long-lasting franchise, including the making of a TV series, a movie remake in 2009, a novel series, and a comic book series. This iconic movie has everything that you need in a classic horror film: the creepy masked villain, the stupid and coincidentally slutty young adults, and the mysterious yet wise-looking old person who initially warns the stupid sluts. These sluts, of course, inevitably ignore such warnings.

         While this movie might not be a hair-raiser that will keep you up at night, it is suspenseful and includes some excellent jump scares. It’s an overall 10/10 for sure, because everyone loves a classic run-away-from-the-serial-killer thriller. – MG

 

 

  • It (the novel)

It is not often that a book can create the same feeling of terror as a visual medium can (a movie, photo, haunted house, etc). It by Stephen King is one of the rare horror books that I read during the day and still had to put down multiple times.

      While I found the controversial scene at the end of the book to be distasteful and unnecessary, it did not completely ruin the book for me. As King mentioned in an interview with Vulture, “It’s fascinating to me that there has been so much comment about that single sex scene, and so little about the multiple child murders.”

       Graphic sexual scenes aside, It was well written and climactic. I would highly recommend it to those in search of spooky Halloween literature. – MG

 

 

  • The Shining (novel)

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining adaptation has left many of us with Jack Nicholson’s crazy eyes etched into our minds. But have you read the novel that started it all?

       Stephen King’s The Shining follows Jack Torrance and his family and their stay in the Overlook, a hotel that is perpetually haunted by its horrific past. This novel is a slow burn. The history of the hotel slowly unfolds and the tension continues to build as you watch a man’s psyche deteriorate, while the evil that resides in the hotel slowly makes its way into the heart of the Torrance family.

       This novel is intricately woven with stories of past hotel patrons, each more disturbing than the next. The book takes place in the dead of winter, so The Shining is the perfect novel to pick up these upcoming months when you’re wrapped up in a blanket. You may want to keep the lights on for this one, though. – SA

 

 

  • Star Wars: Death Troopers

If you always wanted to read about zombies infecting a galaxy far, far away, then Joe Schreiber’s Star Wars: Death Troopers is the book for you.

       Schreiber combines Star Wars and the zombie genre, almost perfectly blending horror and science fiction. His passion for both genres shines through terrifying imagery and haunting environments balanced with witty dialogue from both new and familiar Star Wars characters. Schreiber’s book might alienate non-Star Wars fans with its references to famous characters and jargon, but the book is just accessible enough for an unnerving read on Halloween.

       Although the novel has a painfully slow start and a rushed ending, Schreiber compensates for these problems with his nightmarish descriptions of the book’s undead hordes, descriptions which honour the zombie genre. His disturbing prose, although grotesque at times, enables the story to stand out among other Star Wars stories. – JP

 

 

  • 1408

This Mikael Håfström film stars John Cusack, who I regard as a cuter Nic Cage. Cusack’s appeared in tons of ridiculous movies over the years such as 2012, yet he’s talented enough to avoid the meme status that hounds Cage. I’m not a huge fan of horror as a rule, but this movie is a great mix of fantasy and the psychologically scary.

       Cusack plays Mike Enslin, a writer who stays in an evil hotel room which is haunted by the many people who died there. While it’s not the scariest film, there’s a thoughtfulness behind it, along with plenty of jump scares. Although Cusack’s character is extremely skeptical of the supernatural, the hotel room plays on this by initially teasing him with cliché horror pranks (like a radio that turns on by itself), but then showing him the extent of its demonic personality. The best part about this movie is that it’s aired on TV with different endings depending on the channel, so audiences are will always get a surprise… – NT

 

  • Over the Garden Wall

Two brothers, Wirt and Greg, venture into a land called the Great Unknown, dodging monsters and unsettling towns along the way in search of their way home . . . This is the premise for Cartoon Network’s brief 2015 series, Over the Garden Wall.

      The cartoon, although aimed at children, is packed with witty dialogue, complex world-building, and unique characters. The monsters and setting are macabre and mysterious, the animation is gorgeous, and each episode is so rich in detail, and has such compelling storytelling — which is impressive given that each episode is only 10 minutes long. It seems too well-done to be written off as a flimsy kids’ cartoon.

        Over the Garden Wall has deftly perfected its balance of creepiness, originality, and cuteness all at once, making it a cartoon you have to see this Halloween. – WY

 

  • 10 Cloverfield Lane 

Dan Trachtenberg’s 10 Cloverfield Lane was one of the most unsettling films I ever watched. The psychological thriller follows a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) cared for by a mysterious stranger (John Goodman) in his underground bunker after she becomes injured in a car accident. As the woman spends more time with him in the shelter, she discovers her caretaker’s terrifying secrets that quickly endanger her life.

      I felt genuinely haunted by Goodman’s surprisingly frightening performance. He delivers a menacing and intimidating presence on screen that grows through the film’s soundtrack. Working with Goodman’s sinister portrayal, the story’s underground shelter encapsulates the movie’s disturbing yet immersive tones. Trachtenberg creates a gripping atmosphere with this inescapable environment of the bunker, that my own discomfort was built up throughout the movie right alongside Winstead’s own anxieties. The set for the shelter was disquieting and filled with isolated spaces and a nerve-racking yet gloomy stillness that made me feel as trapped as Winstead.

        While this setting maintains perfect frights, the film only hints at its paranormal aspect. Despite Trachtenberg only using this aspect as a subtle backdrop to the story, the various clues about whatever supernatural event is happening outside the shelter is a potent catalyst that strengthens the characters’ and my own uncertainties until the movie’s shocking resolution. – JP

 

 

WHAT’S NOT

 

 

  • The Haunting of Hill House

 Horrible acting, awkward script, and not scary at all. Having seen tons of raving reviews online, I was very eager going into this series, but I was extremely disappointed after watching the first few episodes. I found myself cringing at many lines and completely zoning out for minutes on end. While the cinematography was aesthetically pleasing, it did not compensate for everything else.

       More than one article claims that viewers of this series have been so scared that they cried/vomited/fainted, but these articles are simply fake news. In my opinion, this is a horror series meant for people who want to feel spooky around Halloween but can’t handle actual horror (if you fit into this category, then this is the series for you!). In fact, I would rank it on the same level as The Addams Family; weak horror for the weak at heart. – MG

 

 

  • The Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods is not only the worst horror movie I’ve ever seen, but also the worst movie I’ve ever seen, period. It starts out with the conventional horror movie set up: college kids in a remote cabin in the woods where no one can hear them scream, who find weird objects, a creepy diary, and a bunch of surveillance equipment in the basement.

       About halfway through, the film takes a weird turn when zombies, werewolves, and mutants start attacking them. The film suddenly belongs in the same genre as Sharknado (whatever that genre may be). Furthermore, I could have made better special effects in my high school graphic design class on Windows Movie Maker. – MG

 

 

  • The Paranormal Activity Series

This series may have started off promising, but by this point, at its sixth installment, there’s a lot left to be desired. Horror movies series have a tendency to wane after the first or second movie, and this one was no exception. The Paranormal Activity series focuses on a family being haunted by a demon who essentially goes through each of them until he’s terrorized them all.

       While the concept of found footage seemed pretty innovative at the time, the novelty began to wear off — what remained were movies with overdone jump scares and a thin plot driven by characters without much personality. As far as horror movie franchises go, I would steer clear of this one. Most of you may have seen the first couple of installments, but if you were feeling hopeful and looking to see if the newer ones are any good, I can save you some time: they’re not. – SA

 

 

  • The Riddle School series

I loved these games as a kid, but looking back, they’re really fucked up. Creator JonBro (now Jonochrome) designed this bizarre puzzle game series years ago. In the games, you must complete puzzles as a character called Phil to escape your boring school.

       I still love the series, but I only realize now how truly horrifying it is. I say this series is a horror “not” because it’s not truly scary, but unsettling and uncomfortable. For example, Phil impales their classmate Smiley on the pointed tip of a globe during a dream, but she ends up swallowing the whole thing. In Riddle School 4, if you click anything, a teacher instantly presses a button, and sends Phil to die in a pit of lava.

      The series abounds with weird shit, and each game will leave you slightly unsettled. – NT

 

 

  • Dracula Untold

Directed by Gary Shore, this latest rendition lacks any surprises, given the countless movies that already explored the Dracula mythology. The film’s awkward editing and overlapping voice overs make for a bland beginning and constrain the story’s initial tensions.

       Although Luke Evans is a perfect fit for the lead role, some of the action falls short because the movie relies too much on CGI rather than practical effects or more gritty fight choreography. Aside from action, there are few captivating dynamics between actors. The film’s dialogue subsequently feels disjointed because of flat performances from secondary characters. The only interaction that really stands out is Evans and co-star Charles Dance’s ominous scene together that sets up the story’s stakes. So if you want to watch a film that rehashes the most iconic vampire from Bram Stoker’s classic novel, then Dracula Untold is your best bet for Halloween night. – JP

 

MAYBE HOT, AND MAYBE NOT: Honourable Mention

 

The Enigma of Amigara Fault

For any long time Japanese horror fans, Junji Ito is a recognizable name — and rightfully so, given his horrific illustrations and even creepier storylines. But The Enigma of Amigara Fault, while admittedly is his most famous comic, stands to me as one of his more ridiculous.

      The story is that a series of human-shaped holes begin to appear on a mountainside in Japan. Shortly after, people start to vanish as many attempt to crawl into these holes, which they claim were ‘made for them.’

       To me, not only is the setup ludicrous, it comes off more comical than creepy. The illustrations, in typical Ito fashion, are definitely horrifying with their almost uncomfortable level of detail, bordering on the uncanny valley.

        I should note that while I find this comic hilarious, this content may be disturbing to others. At the very least, this comic’s notorious reputation gives you equal reason to go read it, or avoid it altogether. – WY