I watch horror movies all year long but there isn’t another time when I totally indulge in a sort of month long marathon. And while I am not claiming to have seen them all (impossible to do, I’m sure) I will claim to have seen a variety ranging from styles, decades and subjects. I would like to share some of my favorites with you and feel free to do the same.
Ghosts: Sinister Shades
The Ring (2002). One of the scariest movies I have ever seen. I can still remember seeing it on video when it first came out and just watching a video about a video that kills was scary but then when someone called while I was watching the movie I was reluctant to answer the phone, dreading the words “Seven days”. The images were disturbing alone, intense, nonsensical until you’ve watched the whole movie, and then everything makes a sort of sense. The DVD has an Easter egg at the main menu. Press the cursor up twice until the select icon disappears and then press enter for a disturbing treat, the entire “video” that Samara made. You’ll see what the characters in the movie had seen before they receive the terrible phone call. I found this out when I read Jack Flacco’s blog in his Women Who Wow Wednesday series.
The Woman in Black (2012). Okay if there are any fans of really scary ghost films out there haven’t seen this movie, I recommend checking it out. It scared the sh@# out of me. Like most ghost films, it centers around an vengeful ghost, and the power she has is horrifying. It’s tantalizingly atmospheric (a huge house that becomes cut off during the high tide), the locals behave strangely and the characters are very interesting. There is no slash appeal here, this is a good old fashioned slow scare. This movie works on many levels besides the scare factor. It’s the humanity of the characters. I once heard that effective horror contains characters you care about, it makes what happens that more scarier. And seeing this movie has made me want to read the novel. If any of you have read it, I’d really like to hear your opinions.
The Others (2001). This was a sucker punch movie. I love those! If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you. Again we have great atmosphere, sinister secondary characters and strange happenings. The children are sure it’s ghosts haunting them, while their mother (played by Nicole Kidman) doesn’t believe them. There are several really awesome scenes in this movie. One that I had to re-watch was the one where Anne and Nicholas are in bed and Anne is telling Nicholas about the kid that is bothering her. He keeps opening the curtains. Nicholas is scared but is sure that his sister is just being a brat. Anyway, there is the part where Nicholas is touched by Victor, the ghost boy. The first time I saw this movie, I was thinking much like Nicholas. His sister was a brat and it was a horrible prank to play but by carefully watching, I noticed that there was evidence of Victor.
House on Haunted Hill (1999). Still one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. This one is gorier though compared (with the exception of The Ring but only for the disturbing images) to the above mentioned movies. Certain scenes are very effective, and downright creepy. I enjoyed the nod to Vincent Price (who starred in the original HoHH) by naming the main character in the remake Stephen Price. There are actual ghosts in this version whereas there were none (sorry for spoiling the original) in the 1959 version. There is still the hatred between the couple who invite greedy guests to this haunted house which is found in both movies. I recommend (if you don’t mind b&w films and old fashioned special effects) seeing the original too. One of my favorite scenes is where Sara (Ali Larter) is flailing around in a vat of blood because she thinks Eddie (Taye Diggs) has leapt into it. Oh, and if you have this on DVD but get like me and shut it off as soon as the credits start to roll, next time sit through the credits or fast forward them. There is some really creepy bonus material afterward.
The Grudge (2004). Another Japanese inspired American remake. I like the style of both The Ring and The Grudge. Subtly scary at first, and both contain horrific events that had plagued the ghosts in their former lives. Secrets abound and as the movie progresses, all is revealed. This movie also has several interwoven subplots that some might find jarring but like pieces of a puzzle, all are necessary to create the whole picture. The sort of rattling, moan/groan of the ghost is terrifying, just that sound alone can make my skin crawl. Also, one of my favorite actors (Ted Raimi) has a brief part in this movie (I am also a huge Xena: Warrior Princess fan). And it is very interesting (maybe just to me) that Amber Tamblyn was in The Grudge 2 and The Ring.
The other ghost movies I enjoy are:
The Sixth Sense
Stir of Echoes
These films listed are just in my top ten. There are other really awesome ghost themed movies out there, some don’t really fit neatly in the horror genre. For example: Betelgeuse, High Spirits, The Corpse Bride, Haunted Mansion (which can be categorized as a somewhat scary movie for those of a certain age, I guess), and Ghost Town.