With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to pay homage to my favourite aspect of spooky season: horror movies. While not everyone is a supporter of guts, gore, and slasher flicks, horror movies hold a very special place in my heart. When I was seven years old I had the opportunity to act in an episode of the television show Cold Blood. Much to my delight, I got to spend hours in hair and make-up being covered in fake blood and bruises and was then chased around a house by another actor. Soon after that role I was able to play a small part in the film Son of the Sunshine, which once again involved me being covered in blood. I was also given a stunt dummy, to my extreme delight. After seeing what goes on behind the scenes and understanding that the blood and horrors on screen are all fake, I became obsessed with scary movies. My father, another horror film aficionado, took it upon himself to give me an excellent film education.
One of the first horror movies that I watched was Jaws, although the animated film adaptation of Watership Down was the first film I remember being truly scared of (it involves baby bunnies dying, please do not watch it). I first watched Jaws when I was about eight, while on vacation in Florida. It instantly became my favourite movie, and I forced my parents to watch it with me every night for the rest of our trip. While it is not considered a classic horror movie, the suspenseful score and gory shark attack scenes make it a good beginner horror flick.
After watching Jaws, I began coercing babysitters into allowing me to watch scary movies, such as The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street (which started my obsession with Johnny Depp), and Scream (which started my obsession with Drew Barrymore). Unfortunately, as I grew up, horror movies became something that were restricted, taboo, and sexualized. In television and other media, I saw couples watching scary movies together, with the woman always covering her eyes, cuddling up to her boyfriend for comfort. Those aspects are not what I like about the genre, and I am proud to say that in most cases I am the one comforting my partner while watching scary movies. For those of you who are looking for some fantastic and underappreciated horror films, let me draw your attention to some of my favourites that I think deserve more acclaim.
The first spooky film that I want to discuss is Cabin in the Woods. If you love horror movies and understand the ridiculous character tropes that come with them, you will adore this film. It’s no secret that horror films tend to have a formula; there is always the jock or bad boy character, the pretty but dumb popular girl, the goofy stoner bro, and then the pure and naïve final girl. However, Cabin in The Woods satirizes the formulaic and predictable nature of the classic horror film and provides the audience with a thrilling and hilarious twist. The movie was also produced by Joss Whedon, director of the ultimate horror television series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sit down Bella Swan, Buffy Summers is the original vampire love interest.
Another film which I believe deserves more appreciation is Raw, a French film surrounding love, sex, vegetarianism, and sisterhood. While Raw is probably one of the goriest films I have ever had the pleasure of watching (when it was screened at TIFF people left the theatre during the film), it is also one of the smartest and sexiest. If you don’t have a problem with blood, cannibalism, or subtitles, I highly recommend giving it a watch. Additionally, if you enjoy horror movies but want something with a little bit more plot, I suggest checking out foreign horror movies, as I’ve found many of the concepts to be more interesting and original than the average North American slasher film.
The 1980s were a very important decade for the horror genre, and so I must draw attention to my favourite film from that time: Sleepaway Camp. This film has everything you could possibly want from a horror movie: hunky men in extremely short jean shorts, a never-ending baseball scene that rivals the one from Twilight, and a twist that haunts me to this day. I am usually decent at predicting movie twists, but this one caught me off guard and I catch myself thinking about it all the time. This film may seem harmless, campy, and stereotypical, but it is much smarter than it seems.
Finally, my favourite Fall themed/spooky season movie is Coraline. It has to be Coraline. Every pumpkin spice girl and her best friend are obsessed with this movie, but this is for very good reason. No other film makes me feel as safe and comforted as Coraline, which might be weird to some, as it is quite spooky, but the vibes are immaculate. As an only child of two professors, I find Coraline to be an eerily relatable character, so part of my love for this film partially comes from childhood nostalgia. While some people find this movie scarier than others, I do think it’s fairly accessible to most, even if you don’t love spooky.
I hope that you are all enjoying October, as it is by far my favourite month. Grab a pumpkin spiced latté, treat yourself to those little Pillsbury Halloween cookies, and curl up in front of a spooky movie marathon. Happy Halloween!
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