Welcome to another Weekly Time Waster! You don’t need to check your calendar, this isn’t Tuesday. As part of Halloween week and being the resident movie/horror aficionado, people ask me all the time what is my favourite horror movie? A lot of times I just hum and haw and then give some typical answer and then I think later and realize I could have given about 40 other answers then what I gave. Well now I have compiled my top 13, maybe it will turn you onto a movie you’ve never see before, or maybe it will get you to visit an old classic. But know that it doesn’t have to be Halloween to watch these but you’ll be able to enjoy them any time of the year!
#13 – Shivers (1975)
Coming in at number 13 and one of my first entries with Canadian content is Shivers by famed genre director David Cronenberg. Shivers tell the story of a parasite that turns people into sex-crazed maniacs. This movie makes it into my list is because of the unique story telling. The fact that people could become infected by sexual contact, even kissing, was quite the taboo here in conservative Canada. But by this movie achieving cult-like status, Cronenberg was able to go out and make countless other movies that many people enjoy to this day like Scanners, Videodrome and The Fly. The ending shows you that sometimes a movie doesn’t need a positive ending to make you enjoy it because we are left with a sense of despair.
#12 – The Fog (1980)
The start of the 80s was the time for the slasher genre to begin. John Carpenter has previous success into this world with Halloween and Michael Myers but The Fog was a departure from that and into the world of curses and folklore. Antonio Bay is shrouded by a thick fog on the eve of their Centennial. But what lurks in the fog is something trying to collect on an old debt caused by the town’s founding fathers. Carpenter was in his element here with great story-telling, great acting and even better effects. Seeing the zombies rise from the fog in all their wet and boney glory cause shivers up my spine.
#11 – Monster Squad (1987)
In the days of movie rental places and VHS tape this movie was probably rented and watched more times than humanely possible. The Monster Squad brought all the classic monsters together, Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, The Wolfman, The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Mummy as they conspire together to take over the world. Stopping them is a bunch of misfit kids who have formed a fan club about these monsters. I first watched the movie at the same age as the kids in the movie were so it really spoke to me. The blend of comedy, horror and action was done so well that perhaps some movies should take a quick watch to see how it can be done.
#10 – Black Christmas (1974)
My second entry into Canadian content is Black Christmas. This film was shot entirely in Toronto, Canada but you would never know that because the filmmakers were so worried that no one would watch this film that they purposely changed as much as possible to make it seem like “Anytown, USA”. An unseen stalker has broken into a sorority house (in a great POV shot) and remains in the attic for the rest of the film only to come out and kill each of the girls that are still around during the Christmas break. There are two big things that stick out with me in this movie, first the lack of seeing a killer and the minimal amount of gore made this thing more of a psychological thing to me then anything else and I love when a horror film can make you use your imagination rather relying on jump scares. Secondly, those crank phone calls. You see, the killer utilized the phones within the house to call the girls. The long rants and bizarre noises were some next level stuff. Bob Clark also made this film what it is by his use of point of view shots, which would then become the staple to any and every slasher film and the juxtaposition of Christmas with dark subject matter.
#9 – The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Here is my first zombie entry on the list and boy is it a good one. Two guys working in a medical supply warehouse (one the old hand and the new fresh rookie) unleash a gas which causes the dead to rise! This movie has some great gore and practical effects, some great 80s nostalgia with the clothes and the soundtrack and it also had some great blend of comedy and horror. Something interesting to note here is that we get talking zombies and the “dreaded” fast moving zombies. Plus some folklore was re-written when even a simple shot to the head was not enough to bring down the zombies but only complete incineration was the key. Plus for a younger version of myself, seeing a punk chick striptease in a graveyard was the blending of genres I needed to not make me seem like a weirdo but only watching scrambled porn…
#8 – Session 9 (2001)
Session 9 is a movie that does not receive a lot of attention from fans but is a critical success. The movie focuses on an asbestos cleaning crew that begins removal inside a former insane asylum but as the guys work it would appear that someone or something is working against them and there efforts and members of the group begin to go missing. I will not spoil the ending but you will be floored. There is little to no scenes of gore but the movie works because of the mood and atmosphere created by being in that asylum. Everyone does great acting in this movie and you feel for them because they are not guys from a typical horror trope but instead are regular people like you or me. I recommend this to everyone and I tell everyone that this is the epitome of under-rated cinema.
So this is part one! Did you agree with my list? Do you think I missed something or misplaced the order? Let me know in the comments below. Check back on All Hollow’s Eve to see the rest of this list.