Reel Talk: Conjuring up movie magic

October 24, 2013

Getting ready for Halloween at Georgetown can be complicated—with two weekends of parties, the creativity to fuel multiple costume changes can start to run thin. But there’s one thing that should never be left off a true Halloweener’s to-do list, no matter how busy the holiday festivities get—horror movies.

As most horror movie fans know, rounding up a group of friends who are willing to watch a two hour blood bath can be nearly impossible. There are a few solutions to this problem, but most of them involve shameless trickery and flat out bribes. So this Halloween, try picking some movies that capture the holiday’s spooky spirit without sending your friends home crying.

A great place to start looking is Tim Burton’s canon. While this eccentric director may have lost his touch with his last few CGI-oozing films, his earlier work includes a handful of essential Halloween movies that appeal to horror films’ staunchest critics. The Nightmare Before Christmas is about as Tim Burton-y as Tim Burton gets. With Nightmare, Burton’s imagination blends the grotesque with a poignancy unlikely to surface in traditional Halloween fare. If this stop-motion classic doesn’t entice your friends, Johnny Depp’s starring role in Edward Scissorhands should attract one or two Depp fanboys’ attention.

If the roommates aren’t feeling Burton’s freak factor, they may have an appetite for something with a little more … humorous. Some of the best horror movies ever made have used their sense of humor to enhance the thrill of the ride. Any Bruce Campbell movie—Army of Darkness, The Evil Dead 1 and 2—has enough jumps and laughs to make you seriously question your sanity. The same goes for An American Werewolf in London. There’s also some dark humor unapparent to most audiences in films like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Hostel, but again, that might scare off your more squeamish buddies. And even worse, if they decide to stay and see you laughing through Hostel’s gruesome scenes, they may have you pinned down in a straightjacket by the end of the night.

What about those people whose primary complaint is about the supposed poor cinematic quality of most horror films? This observation may be a true for the genre overall, but it certainly has its exceptions. Stanley Kubrick took a dip into horror with The Shining, which is now considered one of the best-crafted horror movies of all time. Maybe a little Gregory Peck in the original Omen can sway a couple doubters over. Or perhaps Roman Polanski’s like-minded demon child film Rosemary’s Baby will have your friends begging for more. This critically-acclaimed list of horror films may be limited, but it doesn’t disappoint.

Finally, there’s a never-ending supply of classic black and white horror films. While I have a long way to go when it comes to educating myself in this spectrum of the genre, classic horror films like Frankenstein¸ Nosfteratu, and Vampyr have their fair share of creepy moments.  Maybe it’s the grainy image, or maybe it’s the fact that these movies kept your grandparents up at night, but there’s something uniquely frightening about the pre-WWII monster movie. It’s also comforting to know that many of these films were early enough to be completely original, and originality has been sadly looked over in the contemporary world inhabited by Paranormal Activity V.

And that’s about all I’ve got in terms of recommending user-friendly horror movies that your friends will actually watch with you. There’s the obvious cop out of The Exorcist (which is an awesome film), but this Halloween, take a chance and try luring your friends into a marathon of lesser-watched horror films. And if no one’s going for it, just tell them they’re about to watch your favorite before-and-after movie, 28 Days Later. At this point, it’s their fault for ignoring your pleas for soft-core gore. No, now your stupid friends are going to have to watch some hard-core material their eyes will never forget. And I’m not talking about Snooki’s sex tape.

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