Ten scary films to enjoy for Halloween
AFTER WATCHING MY NIECE impatiently waiting for the scary scenes in my favorite scary movie, The Haunting, I decided to expand my appreciation of scary movies to include a few more modern selections. What scares you as a child and teenager tends to be the movies you remember as nightmare inducing, hence my continued affection for The Haunting and The Innocents. My sister-in-law Jan is a dedicated horror aficionado so I've included a couple of her favorites as well. Of course if you really want to terrify me, threaten to tie me to a chair, prop my eyelids open and make me watch Battlefield Earth again. Now that's scary!
Here then is a list of flicks perfect for a horrifying good time this Halloween weekend, guaranteed to make your heart jump out of your chest. In alphabetical order they are:
Candyman: My sister-in-law is a big Clive Barker fan, so this excellent urban legend saga makes the list. When a graduate student in Chicago (Virginia Madsen) investigates the legend of a slave spirit with a hook hand, she unleashes Candyman (the amazing Tony Todd). A nice mix of solid storytelling and gruesome gore. P.S.: Pinhead gets his props elsewhere.
The Changeling: George C. Scott is the terrified victim of a hellacious haunting in this underrated gem of a ghost story, directed by Peter Medak (The Ruling Class). With Melvyn Douglas and Jean Marsh.
Ghost Story: Four old friends are haunted by the ghost of Eva, who was killed by the men 50 years earlier when she taunted them about their manhood. Now better known as the Queen of the Borg, Alice Krige is mesmerizing as the vengeful ghost. The quartet of guilty old men are Fred Astaire, John Houseman, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Melvyn Douglas.
Halloween: I'll never forget the screaming and carrying on in the theater when I first saw this film -- it scared the crap out of people! Babysitter Jamie Lee Curtis is a worthy opponent for Michael Myers, who escapes from the local looney bin on Halloween night ready to slice and dice a few more teenagers. Director John Carpenter is a master of suspense who also likes to get things bloody, not to mention that he composes the creepy music for his movies. Forget Freddy and Jason, Michael Myers rules.
Poltergeist: "They're back." Written and produced by Steven Spielberg but directed by Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), the horror-flick veteran ratchets up the terror several notches in the famous "swimming with corpses" scene. The monster under the bed and in the closet provide jolts as well.
The Haunting: This film terrified me as a 10-year-old and, 41 years later, it still gives me a serious chill when Julie Harris and Claire Bloom feel a presence coming toward them.
Hellraiser: The British Stephen King, Clive Barker, brought his evil mix of suspense and bloodletting to America with the first in his series of "Pinhead" movies. Solving a puzzle box opens a doorway to hell, allowing the Cenobites, especially Pinhead (Doug Bradley), to wreck havoc in one of the most graphic horror flicks ever.
The Innocents: Based on Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, is this a ghost story or the tale of one woman's madness? Deborah Kerr stars as the governess for brother and sister Miles and Flora (Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin). She thinks they are in danger from vengeful ghosts, but is she merely insane?
The Others: A haunted house movie with a nice twist that pays homage to The Innocents, dealing with a brother and sister who are in peril. Nicole Kidman is their mother; she is convinced there is an evil presence that is after her children. Director Alejandro Amenabar goes for classic suspense and dread and succeeds.
The Ring: This remake of the Japanese horror hit Ringu (1998) brought a new definition of terror to our shores. Naomi Watts stars as a reporter who finds out about a deadly video: watch it and seven days later you die. Her niece was a victim and she also watches it -- a bad mistake.
Butter up your popcorn and try not to toss it across the room when the first jolt of terror hits you.
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Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
A sequel to the acclaimed Japanese animation original.
According to a local legend, a young girl inhabits the top floor of the inn, and guests have reported hearing the sounds of a ball bouncing in the upper floor.
This article is the first of four to be published this month on ‘haunted houses’ and ghosts in the Atlantic City region, written by Amanda Hopkins.