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Spooky films for the faint-hearted

A comprehensive guide to the most iconic, non-horror movies to watch this Halloween.

By Tilly Long, Third Year, English

A comprehensive guide to the most iconic, non-horror movies to watch this Halloween.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Tim Curry, Nell Campbell and Patricia Quinn in The Rocky Horror Picture Show | Courtesy of IMDb

Essential viewing for musical lovers who want to get into the festive spirit, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a parody tribute to classic Hammer horror films. The predictable trope of an engaged couple’s car breaking down outside a mysterious castle grows increasingly strange as they discover alien transvestite (Tim Curry) Dr. Frank N. Furter who is building a muscle man in his laboratory. Those who dismiss it as kitsch and camp are missing out on a plethora of infectious dance numbers, the most iconic of course being the ‘Time Warp’. You can catch it this weekend at the Everyman or Vue Cinema.

Donnie Darko (2001)

Jake Gyllenhaal, James Duval and Jena Malone in Donnie Darko | Courtesy of IMDb

This cult classic is a mind-bending psychological thriller, centering around troubled teen Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his navigation through ignorant suburbia, following the news that the world will apparently end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. He is delivered this prediction by a figure in a monstrous rabbit costume named Frank, who we see begin to influence Donnie during sleepwalking episodes. While his parents dismiss their son as paranoid and send him to a psychiatrist, Donnie is tasked with figuring out time travel, upon finding a jet engine has mysteriously crashed into his bedroom.

Addams Family Values (1993)

Anjelica Huston in Addams Family Values | Courtesy of IMDb

Probably my favourite ‘Halloween’ film of all time, this fantasy comedy finally hit Netflix in October just in time for a re-watch! Queen Joan Cusack (see her Stevie Nicks lip sync in School of Rock) plays a serial killer who marries the innocent and unsuspecting Uncle Fester.

Vampire-eque matriarch Morticia (Anjelica Huston) tends to steal the show with her iconic quotes: “I’m just like any modern woman trying to have it all. Loving husband, a family. It’s just, I wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade.”

But it's her young, pale and sadistic daughter Wednesday (Christina Ricci) who shines in this sequel when sent to a depressingly enthusiastic Camp Chippewa for the summer. “Wednesday’s at that very special age when a girl has only one thing on her mind,” her mother tells a concerned onlooker. “Boys?” “Homicide.”

American Psycho (2000)

Christian Bale in American Psycho | Courtesy of IMDb

The year is 1987, and Patrick Bateman’s (Christian Bale) life revolves around trying to compete with his fellow New York investment bankers, all of whom look and dress the same. Enraged by this complete lack of individuality amongst the elite, Bateman murders Paul Allen, who ironically he is always mistaken for being, in one of the most comedic and ridiculous scenes of the film.

Dark humour ensues as his lack of empathy in committing the act becomes clear when we hear the voice inside his head confess: “There is a moment of sheer panic when I realise that Paul’s apartment overlooks the park and is obviously more expensive than mine.”

Bateman’s serial killer tendencies are made even more absurd by the fact that no one even notices them, despite him taking bloody sheets to the dry cleaners and making multiple confessions. We are perhaps encouraged to feel an odd resonance towards our protagonist; he is the only plain speaker in a society where anything fake and vapid is rewarded. “There is an idea of a Patrick Bateman, some kind of abstraction. But there is no real me: only an entity, something illusory. And though I can hide my cold gaze, and you can shake my hand and feel flesh gripping yours and maybe you can even sense our lifestyles are probably comparable… I simply am not there.”

Halloween (1978)

Will Sandin in Halloween | Courtesy of IMDb

For a while during the 1970s, John Carpenter was the doyen of low budget American independent filmmaking. His films from this era were smart, funny and scary. They were watched by youngsters who needed a fright on Friday night and just as beloved by the European arthouse crowd. He wrote the screenplays, composed the music, produced the films and if he had a spare weekend, he’d edit them as well. In a contemporary BBC interview, he states that he doesn’t care for the films of his fellow directors, (Spielberg, De Palma and Lucas) but loves the work of Ford, Hawkes and Hitchcock. He wished he could have worked in the studio system of the 1940s.

1978’s Halloween is a perfect example of the loss of simpler times, where the good guys are relentlessly good and villains aren’t going to be around long enough to warrant much of a backstory.

Michael Myers was a villain from the get go. When he was six years old, he killed his sister for being an inattentive babysitter. Fifteen years later, he returned to kill some more. His psychiatrist simply suggests, “I tried to keep him locked up because I realised that what was living behind those boys eyes was pure evil!”

If you were wondering how on earth a man in a William Shatner ‘James T Kirk’ mask sprayed white, (I told you this was low budget) could be this frightening … check out this film.

Featured: IMDb

What's your favourite film to watch at Halloween?

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