Halloween Viewing List

Halloween is a fun time to curl up with a scary movie and a chocolate bar. Since Halloween is again upon us, here's a few suggestions for your evening!

The Birds, 1963
About: I re-watched much of this Saturday night, and it reminded me that filmmaking used to be different. This is an Alfred Hitchcock classic about a few people that begin to be attacked by birds on the coast of California. It's a slow burn, about developing characters and story, setting the tension slowly. It's from an era where filmmaking was about setting the scene more than throwing the gore out there. I remember when I first saw "The Birds." I lived in Morro Bay, California, a place where we had plenty of Seagulls. The idea they might just drop down out of the sky and peck me to death was deeply unsettling. It still is in this Hitchcock masterpiece.

Halloween, 1979
About: This film has been oft sequeled and re-made, but nothing compares to the original. John Carpenter really defined our modern conception of slasher films with this one. Jamie Lee Curtis stars as a young babysitter who's in for a bad night, but gets through it because she's of stronger moral character than her friends. We forget that these slasher films used to have a moral component. Anyway, this isn't the bloodiest or most graphic, and that's a good thing. It's plenty chilling and gripping. And it just makes sense to watch "Halloween" on Halloween, doesn't it?

The Silence of the Lambs, 1991
About: When I first saw this movie, I lived in terror of Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). It's not because he was overt or violent, in fact most of the time he seemed calm and rational, just chatting with people. But the aftermath of his actions were terrifying. This was the ultimate case of building tension and suspense without really having to show a thing, and it works beautifully. This is also one of only three films in American history to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay at the Academy Awards. It's an all-time favorite, and plenty chilling.

Scream, 1996
About: At heart, I'm kind of a child of the 1990s. I was born in 1991, and my teen years were spent in the 1990s. That's one of the reasons the original "Scream," and really the whole franchise, remains a personal favorite. I could give you a good cinematic argument, too, since it re-defined the slasher genre for a new, more cynical generation. And that's true. I'd argue it is important in terms of our cinematic history. I also just like it. I like the writing and the atmosphere. I like the story and the way it's told. Which is part of what made the MTV TV show such a massive disappointment... But the original is the best of the "Scream" movies, and a perfect Halloween horror selection.


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