Time for the Monster Mash!So what constitutes a fun Horror film? For me it is very much like Frankenstein’s monster, a whole entity macabrely put together decaying limb by decaying limb from various different sources. Maybe on the face of it, it looks ridiculous, but when you get to know it there is a something deeper to it, something that is actually good. They will make you laugh intentionally or unintentionally, and they will paint the walls red with corn syrup and prosthetics. They are a special breed of film, very hard to pull off but go down in history, cult or otherwise when they get it right.
This is not an exhaustive list, and not a top 10. I had a tough time just picking ten films to recommend. There are many more out there, so expect more lists in the future.
10. Cabin in the Woods (Dir. Drew Goddard, 2012)
A film for Horror fans around the world. It is one thing to parody films to show your love of bygone classics but it is another to subvert them lovingly. Cabin in the Woods is a wonderfully smart Horror film with dashes of comedy that goes from a simple cabin in the woods story to a bigger beast entirely. The comedy on offer is not from one line quips or dick and fart jokes, but comes from turning the genre conventions on their decapitated head. The film features a stereotypical group of young adults who visit a cabin in the woods to take a break. Not long after they get there things begin to take a turn for the worse as they hear voices, and find some disturbing things in the basement of the cabin.
9. House on Terror Tract (Dir. Lance W. Dreeson, Clint Hutchison, 2000)
Possibly the guiltiest pleasure on this list and you have to take it with a handful of salt. There will always be a special place in my heart for Horror anthologies. Instead of one story you get at least 3 that sometimes loosely weave into one overarching plot. For House on Terror Tract we follow Bob Carter (played so well by John Ritter), an estate agent who is under pressure to sell a house. As he seemingly finds the perfect house for the young couple he is showing around, he has to divulge the history behind the house, which each and every time has a closet full of skeletons. There are 4 segments, 3 of which are silly fun. The overarching estate agent segment ‘Make Me An Offer’ ties it together nicely, ‘Bobo’ features an evil monkey torturing a pre Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston and finally the golden egg of the lot ‘Come To Granny’, a segment that features a serial killer disguised as….a granny who garishly quips…”Come to Granny” before their kill. The latter had me stitches. It might not come across as a Horror Comedy to begin with, but believe me, its a silly walk through some Horror shorts that should leave you with a smile on your face.
8. Slither (Dir. James Gunn, 2006)
Before Marvel snared him for Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn began to make his name with brilliant small independent fare such as Slither and Super. In the former, a meteorite crashes into a small town in South Carolina. Unbeknownst to its residents it houses a malevolent alien parasite which creates an army of alien slugs in an attempt to consume the world. The slugs infect the people of the town by invading their bodies turning them into flesh-eating monsters, controlled by the hive mind of the parasite. From start to finish Slither is a rollercoaster of blood, guts and orifice abusing slugs. Borrowing from a litany of 80s cult classics its easy to see what films influenced James Gunn, and we have to thank him for letting us relive those classic films in a shiny new light.
7. Dead Silence (Dir. James Wan, 2007)
James Wan is a master of Horror, plain and simple. Now Dead Silence may not be like his fear inducing later work such as Insidious and The Conjuring but it is definitely just as memorable. The film follows Jamie, a young man trying to solve the murder of his wife, which occurred directly after receiving a creepy ventriloquist doll at his home. Jamie goes back to his hometown and begins to unravel the dark secrets of the towns past and a murdered ventriloquist, with both appearing to have answers in the death of his wife. Is Dead Silence scary? For some it might be, but even when it isn’t it is chock full of ghoulish imagery and ventriloquist dolls that give you the creeps. The character of Mary Shaw, the murdered ventriloquist, is also another under-appreciated Horror villain.
6. Fright Night (Dir. Tom Holland, 1985)
Chances are if your reading this list, you’ve probably seen this camp cult classic. If not, the premise is simple. A teenage boy, Charley Brewster, begins to suspect that his next door neighbour is a bit different, and harbours a secret. What secret you ask? The fact that he is a creature of the night, a Vampire! Charley then attempts to expose his neighbours true identity before he gets a chance to feast on him and his mother. What can you not love about Fright Night? It has wild vampire prosthetics, a smooth vampire villain played by Chris Sarandon and a fun story. If you haven’t seen it, then get involved!
5. Planet Terror (Dir. Robert Rodriguez, 2007)
The better half of the Grindhouse double bill created by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, Planet Terror has everything. In true B-movie style, a bio-weapon is released which mutates people into monsters and zombies and a handful of survivors must fight their way out of the vicinity of the town to freedom and safety. Robert Rodriguez is a man who doesn’t do things in half measures, I don’t think he knows how to, I bet he was sitting at home writing the script with a checklist of crazy things to include. Lady with a gun for a leg? Check, Melting sexual organs? Check, Gallons and gallons of blood and guts? Check. If you don’t find this film fun in any way shape or form, then I’m lost for words.
4. Return of the Living Dead (Dir. Dan O’Bannon, 1985)
We jump back into the 80s for another classic that involves the most unstoppable zombie epidemic you have ever seen. These zombies run, they jump, they have intelligence and pretty much can not be killed. Even dismembering them limb by limb and cutting them into pieces doesn’t kill them. We also have rock music, one of the original scream queens in Linnea Quigley, gratuitous nudity, the infamous tarman zombie and some totally groovy special FX. Did I mention the film is directed by the man who wrote Alien?
3. The Frighteners (Dir. Peter Jackson, 1996)
Peter Jacksons last film before he went onto Middle-Earth is a gem of a Horror Comedy. It stars Michael J. Fox as Frank Bannister, a man who suffers a car crash which killed his wife and left him with the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Unfortunately for the general public he doesn’t use his abilities for good, he uses them to con people. However after a sinister spirit turns up and starts killing people, Frank is the only one who could potentially stop them. This film is a touch darker than some of the others on this list, but it has plenty of fun elements sprinkled throughout that keep it from being a generic ghost film. We have two psychotic killers, Horror legend Jeffrey Coombs playing a warped FBI agent, and some entertaining ghostly antics from the other side.
2. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (Dir. Eli Craig, 2010)
Unearthing this film was like finding a blood diamond, and why for Horror fans sifting through tons of rubbish films can be quite rewarding. Its the film you watch, you love and pass it onto a friend and the cycle goes on and on. The fact that it has over 100,000 user reviews on IMDB demonstrates how wide this independent horror has reached with minimal exposure. The film stars Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine as Tucker and Dale, two best friends building their dream home from a dilapidated cabin the woods. Unfortunately a group of college kids judge them by appearance and think they are evil hill-billies who are kidnapping them and killing them. The film is more Comedy than Horror, but it features some fantastic farcical comedy that results in some pretty gruesome fates for the college kids. It’s a very fun film that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.
1. Dead Snow (Dir. Tommy Wirkola, 2009)
Nazi zombies were nothing new in 2009. We’ve had a fair share of dodgy B-movies featuring the foot soldiers of the Nazi regime and few, if any, that are memorable. Then Dead Snow hit the scene like a diesel powered chainsaw, throwing guts, blood and brains at the screen. A perfect example of why you should always give foreign films a chance, and how strong the Scandinavian film scene is. The film has a group of medical students who go out skiing and spending some time in a cabin overnight. As they stumble across a hidden box of gold, it wakes a long lost army of Nazi soldiers from death to reclaim the treasure they had stolen. The medical students need to think fast to try and outrun and fight their way through an unstoppable evil army of the dead. Just watch it!
So there you have it, 10 fun Horror films to watch this Halloween. There are plenty of other fun Horrors out there, and if you think there is something that is worth a special mention then go right ahead and let us know!
For other Halloween treats check out the following…