I’m not the biggest Halloween-er, but I really enjoy horror movies and see this season as a great opportunity to catch up on some of them. I hesitate to venture off the normal beauty blog topics, but I much prefer a good movie to hand-making a costume or mixing up a pumpkin spice lip scrub and this is just my way of celebrating Halloween. I tend to enjoy Netflix’s horror offerings (and I don’t have cable, so it’s my best resource) but the trick is that their selection of streaming movies is ever-changing, so I’ve been going through their site and trying to get a handle on what awesome new movies are up and available to stream.
The original Fright Night (1985) is a really fun vampire flick. A teenager learns his neighbor is a vampire, but can’t get anyone to believe him. This one is very much of the ’80s, almost as if John Hughes made a horror movie. It initially feels like it might be too silly to take seriously, but there’s something kind of magical about how well it all works, and the result is very entertaining. It makes me laugh and it has some great characters. Chris Sarandon (aka Prince Humperdinck) makes an amazing vampire, and Roddy McDowall plays a wonderfully hammy vampire-killing television actor.
Good if you like: parody, ’80s music, teen romance, and sexy vampires.
I have to mention that Scream (1996) is streaming. I could swear that for the last couple of years I’ve been looking for this one on Netflix, and this month I’m seeing it available for the first time. Scream is a classic – I don’t know if it requires much explanation. I’m a huge fan of Wes Craven, I really admire his ability to make movies that are fun and clever (say, Nightmare on Elm Street) as well as other ones that are much more disturbing (like The Last House on the Left, watching that one makes me feel like I’m dying on the inside). Scream is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes; it’s a smart, self-reflexive teen slasher, but it also is really tense, jarring, and gruesome. And really, what a cool opening scene.
Good if you like: horror tropes, social commentary, a twisting plot, and ’90s fashion.
Another good one is Ju-on: The Grudge (2002), the Japanese movie that inspired several sequels as well as an American Grudge series. Netflix does a totally decent job of keeping Asian horror movies in their rotation, and while a few great ones are no longer available, I was happy to see that this one was. This is a creepy, moody ghost story that’s made with fairly simple visual and sound effects, and I think two interesting qualities of the film result from this approach. One, there isn’t much blood or overt gore at all, which will certainly appeal to certain people. Second, I find that the way the director creates the movie’s scary moments is fairly creative, and I think that makes the final product fun to watch.
Good if you like: mystery, angry ghosts, creepy children, and black cats.
I also want to point out Let the Right One In (2008), which is a stellar vampire movie. A young bullied boy realizes that his new neighbor, a 12-year old girl, is behind several recent murders that have occurred in their small Swedish town. Although this movie definitely has it’s fair share of blood, the story primarily focuses on the relationship that develops between the two children. The filmmaking is incredibly beautiful and atmospheric, and there are also a few punchy moments in the story that are very memorable. This is one of my absolute favorites.
Good if you like: childhood friendships, dark fairy tales, and blood spatters in the snow.
The House of the Devil (2009) is a new one to me that I just recently watched (at 3am by myself, thank you!), and it really impressed me. It’s faithfully styled like an ’80s movie, and is inspired by the ‘satanic panic’ or widespread paranoia over satanic cults that had taken hold in that era. In it, a college student responds to ad for a babysitter. Brushing off her friend’s warning that something doesn’t seem quite right about situation, the babysitter inevitably finds herself in serious danger. It’s familiar territory for a horror flick, but The House of the Devil references its predecessors in all the right ways while crafting a wonderfully effective sense of sustained suspense. Fun fact: Lena Dunham is the voice behind the 911 operator.
Good if you like: slow-burning suspense, evil cults, Victorian houses, and oversized Walkmans.
The Bay (2012) is a fairly recent release and tells its story in the style of a faux documentary. A young reporter recalls what she witnessed while describing recovered footage from a fateful 4th of July celebration two years ago. She explains that after a mysterious phenomenon began devastating local wildlife, a strange disease suddenly emerges and rapidly spreads among the inhabitants of a small town on the Chesapeake Bay. Although the story is indisputably far-fetched, it’s also fast-paced, entertaining, and totally gross. I don’t think you have to be an eco-activist to enjoy this one; it does a nice job of spinning everyday fears to horrific proportions.
Good if you like: environmental disasters, government coverups, and institutional ineptitude.
Do you like scary movies? Have you discovered any new favorites recently? I’d love to hear your picks!