Looking Back at Thrilling Horror Movies

Looking Back at Thrilling Horror Movies

The introvert’s favorite part of Halloween is the movies. There’s no better excuse to watch a bunch of horror classics than Halloween and loneliness. Here’s a very subjective list of movies to watch when it’s Halloween, and you are alone.


Nightmare on Elm St. hardly has any trace of Halloween spirit, but it has the best slasher villain ever created. Freddy Kruger, named after the director’s childhood bully, is a charming yet scary freak that commands some of the better scenes. Unfortunately, the film is less horror and more shock, a common symptom among post-Halloween slasher films, but it’s still a joy to watch.


For those weird, pretentious film majors is Eraserhead, director David Lynch’s first feature-length film. While it’s a traditional horror, Eraserhead’s terror comes mainly in the incomprehensible storytelling. It’s better described as an experience than a movie. There are moments to make any sensible individual cringe, but like a car crash, you can’t look away. This is for the more adventurous of you.


If you’re looking for a more modern take, try The Lighthouse. Robert Pattinson, the guy who played Edward Cullen in Twilight, gives a great performance, and his chemistry with Willem Dafoe keeps the viewer’s attention to the very end. Like Eraserhead, The Lighthouse takes an abstract approach to horror, but it doesn’t sacrifice story for subtext. 


Halloween nails the slasher genre. It might not seem to be the most innovative film, but it was really impressive at the time. The tone is brilliantly set with the opening credits. That iconic theme that director John Carpenter made himself has stood the test of time as a classic. Yeah, there are some goofy-looking effects, but that hardly matters. As George Lucus ironically said early in his career, effects are just a means to an end.


Carpenter later surpassed Halloween with The Thing. Like Halloween, the killer’s motivations are entirely incomprehensible, but the killer isn’t as obvious as Michael Meyers. The threat is an alien that absorbs you and hides in plain sight as you. People have looked for clues in this movie for years to find who was a “thing.” This is the impressive power of the horror and storytelling in The Thing.


A famous image from The Shining.

As a pretentious film student, my favorite horror movie is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. The common talent in each of the movies mentioned in this list is subtlety, and the great thing about The Shining is that it probably means nothing. Some even think this horror movie about a mad man with an axe is Kubrick confessing to faking the moon landing. That is the beauty of The Shining. You can find something in it that you adamantly believe in, only to be proven entirely wrong by someone else. It doesn’t end there either. While the script itself is great, it’s the actors that make the characters great. Jack Nicholson is so addictive and mysterious that you beg for more, and Shelly Duvall is far too under appreciated. The talent is so noticeable that it puts most other movies to shame.


Great horror is subtle and short, and while it may be hard to believe, horror still exists in Hollywood, even if it’s buried under vile garbage. Great horror movies have spanned across generations. I am too young to know who Michael Meyers is, but these films are so good that they continue to impress people. I hope that Hollywood will one day pick up its pandering schlock and produce scripts with natural talent behind them. 


Anyway, happy Halloween!