Five horror films to disgust and/or terrify you this Halloween

Evil Dead 2Sometimes, instead of dressing up and going out, I prefer to binge on horror films during Halloween and then not sleep for at least a week afterwards.

What makes a horror film perfect for Halloween? I find there are two criteria: How terrifying it is (not just how many times it makes me jump) but also how well it creates tension and atmosphere. The second criteria is far more humorous; yet also equally important.

Halloween isn’t just about scaring the crap out of yourself but also being disgusted by what you are watching and in the end laughing at the ludicrous things you have just seen. This is where I find older horror films exceed their modern counterparts, the special effects have to be more physical due to their age. This makes the effects for a far more revolting and enjoyable film.

Here are my 5 recommendations to watch this Halloween:

Evil Dead 2

This is the sequel to the original Evil Dead released in the early 80s. I chose this over the original because it is far more polished, the acting is better and the special effects have been improved thanks to the increased budget. You don’t even need to see the first one, despite it being a sequel as its a very similar storyline. The plot has been used in a multitude of horror films since time immemorial: A young man takes his girlfriend to a cosy cabin in the middle of the woods and accidentally summons demons that possess his girlfriend. Despite its age, the film still remains scary with plenty of jumpy moments scattered throughout. It is also hilariously gory as plenty of blood is sprayed liberally and as the film ramps up near the end, so do the body parts. It is a thoroughly entertaining film that simultaneously makes you scream, laugh and feel disgusted.

Alien

The Alien franchise has had a rough couple of decades. Between the terrible yet pretentious sequels made after the fantastic – if not particularly scary – Aliens and the almost ironically passable Alien Versus Predator series, one almost forgets that it started its life as a masterful sci-fi horror film. Set in the far flung future, the crew of the space vessel Nostromo search for human survivors on an alien planet only to discover, on their way back, that an alien has stowed away on the ship. As it skulks through the ship, Ridley Scott – the director – creates an impeccable sense of dread as the ship is turned into a prison for the people inside. This is a very intense film with a suffocating sense of atmosphere and surprisingly well developed and likeable characters. You will be unable to stop watching despite every fibre of your being screaming for you to do the opposite.

Brain Dead

This is perhaps the least well known horror film in this list. It was the third film Peter Jackson (yes, the same man who would go on to direct Lord Of The Rings) ever directed and it was made on a comparatively shoestring budget. Set in New Zealand, Lionel’s overbearing mother is bitten by a diseased monkey as she attempts to sabotage her son’s date with a local girl which transforms her into a zombie. She begins to infect the town until there is only Lionel and his girlfriend to save humanity. It isn’t a scary film, but it makes up for it with a lewd sense of humour and being fantastically gory. If you want a fun, easy-going and disgusting ride, watch Brain Dead.

The Thing (1982)

Forget the ‘prequel’ that was released a couple of years ago, this is the true The Thing experience one should experience at Halloween. The premise is that a group of scientists in the Antarctic are attacked by an alien that assumes the appearance of the people it kills. It is a testosterone fuelled film with plenty of beards and manly men who are are brought to the edge of the abyss by the alien as they start to distrust each other and themselves. The tension that is created when the combination of the alien, the cold weather and characters that are starting to go crazy is palpable. However it still brings the ‘jump scares’ that, in some cases, will make you feel like you are on the cusp of voiding your bowels. The Thing is a grim and gritty film that is a must watch, especially during Halloween.

The Descent

This is the youngest film in this list and I would argue one of the best. The Descent is about a group of women who go spelunking in an ancient and deteriorating cave. It is an incredibly claustrophobic film as the characters crawl through rocky holes not much wider than they are with nothing but torches to light their way. It raises the tension to an intolerable level and then dispels it with the reveal three-quarters of the way through the film. It does lose something as a result, but like the best horror films, it continues to scare without mercy right up until the very end. It also ends in a suitably nihilistic way, which is an added bonus. Don’t watch this film if you want to sleep or feel joy for a couple of days.