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The Best of Halloween (Revised)

I stand by most of what I write on this blog. Sometimes I will re-read old posts and nod my head in agreement. Other times I may shake my head and wonder what I was thinking. Such is the case with the post from six years ago where I talked about my Top 10 favorite scary films. Movies such as Aliens and Se7en made the list and, while those are really good in their own right, they are not really "scary" or Halloween-type horror films.

The list needed revision, folks, and here it is (in alphabetical order):

- Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

An angry mob kills a gentle man (who was hiding in a scarecrow suit at the time they murdered him), and then a scarecrow begins appearing and killing-off members of the mob. You do the math. A truly scary TV movie.

- Halloween (1978)

A classic slasher flick. Always evocative of autumn and, well, of Halloween. John Carpenter's score makes the movie, which is well-anchored by the performances of Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis.

- It Follows (2014)

Arguably the best of the recent crop of horror movies. A death curse is passed-on through sex, and evil comes in the form of a shape-shifting entity that stalks its prey.

- The Legend of Hell House (1973)

In many ways one of your typical 'group-of-people-spend-time-in-a-haunted-house-looking-for-ghosts' movies, but director John Hough's steady direction, along with Alan Hume's cinematography makes for an atmospheric, unsettling romp. I can forgive the '70s intrusions, as the film is a really good thrill ride overall.

- Night of the Demon (1957)

American actor Dana Andrews stars in this taut British production of a man looking into the goings-on of strange folk in an English village. Curses and demons ensue.

- Night of the Living Dead (1968)

The late George A Romero creates the granddaddy of modern zombie lore, and it's a great film, to boot! I was riveted to the screen the first time I watched it. Quality scares. And it gets props for featuring a black man in the heroic lead role.

- The Omen (1976)

A creepy, stylized depiction of the Antichrist manifesting on Earth in the form of a child. Deftly directed by Richard Donner, The Omen features a fabulous score by Jerry Goldsmith, and great acting turns by Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Patrick Troughton, David Warner and Billie Whitelaw. A most unsettling movie.

- Poltergeist (1982)

Evil spirits talk to a little girl through her television set, then abduct her, all the while a tree outside the window attacks her brother and a man pulls his face off. This movie scared me good as a kid.

- Terror in the Wax Museum (1973)

I used to catch this on the CBS late night movie schedule as a kid. Wax statues of notorious murders begin to come alive at night. 'nuff said.

- Thir13en Ghosts (2001)

I love William Castle's movies, but his original version doesn't hold a candle to this remake. When Tony Shalhoub and his character's family enter a puzzle-house where evil, angry, gruesome spirits are imprisoned, terror quickly begins to envelope them (and the viewer).

All of the aforementioned films are quite good, but they are just a jumping-off point. There are so many great horror movies out there, we're really spoilt for choice when it comes to our spooky-time viewing. Happy Halloween!


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