As a lifelong horror movie fan, there aren’t many films of the genre I haven’t seen. Some from the 1960s and ’70s have achieved classic status, like “Psycho” (1960), “The Birds” (1963), “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), “The Exorcist” (1973), “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974), “The Omen” (1976), “Halloween” (1978), “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) and “The Amityville Horror” (1979).
Following the same guidelines established for cars, “The Shining” (1980) can now technically be considered a classic. It’s been 26 years since its release. And perhaps it won’t be long until we honor the following horror films with that adjective. The word classic may soon apply to “The Poltergeist” (1982), “Friday the 13th” (1982), “Cujo” (1983), “Children of the Corn” (1984) and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984). “Silence of the Lambs” (1991) and “Scream” (1996) must wait a little longer.
Here are a few horror/thriller movies that may or may not be considered classics, but have the potential to give you a thrill or chill this weekend:
Hostel (2006) – Three college students backpack through Europe, sleeping in hostels along the way. When a creepy train passenger encourages them to visit a specific hostel to fulfill their fantasies, they take his advice, but it comes with a price.
Wolf Creek (2005) – Based on a true story, when three friends venture into the Australian outback, car trouble prompts them to seek help. Unfortunately, they ask the wrong person.
28 Days Later (2002) – One of the scariest movies of the last few years, “28 Days Later” plays on the fear of bio terrorism. When a patient awakens in a hospital and finds no one else there, he soon realizes something tragically apocalyptic has happened. Most have become infected with a virus that causes them to attack the uninfected. The few remaining survivors must fight to stay alive.
May (2003) – This Frankenstein-inspired movie is about May, a psychologically disturbed girl with a creepy sewing hobby who longs for love. Angela Bettis, who played “Carrie” in the 2002 remake, and Jeremy Sisto, of HBO’s “Six Feet Under” and the 2006 TV series “Kidnapped,” star.
The Others (2001) – Nicole Kidman gives a great performance in this film, which offers a new perspective on ghosts.
Kalifornia (1993) – David Duchovny travels with his photographer girlfriend cross-country to document sites where serial killers have murdered their victims. Passengers Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis ironically become their next subjects.
Wisconsin Death Trip (2001) – For the horror movie fan whose seen it all, “Wisconsin Death Trip” is an eerie, documentary-style film based on a book of old newspaper accounts describing residents of Black River Falls, Wis. Many of them, for whatever reason, went insane in the small town near the turn of the 20th century.
Three … Extremes (2005) – A collection of three Japanese vignettes that reveal a distinct difference in American and Japanese horror. Japanese filmmakers are apparently a bit bolder and less politically correct.
Hard Candy (2005) – When a man solicits a 14-year-old girl using the Internet, the situation is reversed, and she becomes the predator. Canadian actress Ellen Page, who was 17 when the film was shot, gives a great performance in a demanding role with heavy dialogue that focuses primarily on two characters throughout the film. She will win an Oscar one day, and is comparably the next Jena Malone, who has been called the next Jodi Foster.
Movies to avoid this Halloween:
The Plague (2006) – Avoid this movie like the plague. (I couldn’t resist.) The opening scene makes the viewer hopeful, but the plot eventually unravels. The children of the world have become infected with a virus. They are comatose but awaken after a decade in a zombie like state and attack the living. James Van Der Beek, of “Dawson’s Creek,” looks surprisingly different in this film – a cross between “Village of the Damned” and “The Seventh Sign.”
The Butcher (2005) – Your typical “kids go on a trip, kids run into psychos, kids die” movie.
Silent Hill (2006) – This movie is like watching a hodgepodge of “The Ring,” Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ video, “Joan of Arc,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Shining.” I still have no idea what it was really about.
Trespassers (2005) – Another “road trip gone awry” movie. A group of young people go on a trip, have car trouble, and begin to disappear one by one. It was a little scary until the killers were identified as ghosts and all realism was abandoned.