“What’s your favorite horror movie? The AU team shares their best scares at the movies just in time for Halloween!
Scary season is upon us, and the team at The AU Review are setting the popcorn machine on fire and getting ready to enjoy some of their favorite scary movies. If you’re looking for ideas for that horror marathon you’re planning this weekend, here are a few movies that had us checking under our beds before we go to sleep.
Valentine (dir. Jamie Blanks, 2001)
Years after a school dance takes a brutal turn, five old-school friends find themselves targeted by a slasher with a penchant for Valentine’s Day cards and Cupid masks. When one of the women is brutally murdered, the other four face a startling realization: What if the boy they rejected all those years ago was the one behind the mask?
Rock : One of the lesser known early night slashers who came out of the Scream resurgence, the masked killer thriller from Australian director Jamie Blanks is just as witty and tense as any of its contemporaries.
With a then relevant David Boreanaz, a pre-Grey’s Anatomy Katherine Heigl, and a post-007 Denise Richards, Valentine was perhaps ahead of its time in its celebration of women in the genre, as it focuses on a group of female friends and their attempts to escape a masked killer of cherubs who takes the term “love hurts” a little too literally.
Soldier dogs (director Neil Marshall, 2002)
A group of British soldiers travel to the Highlands on a routine training mission, only to stumble upon the bloody remains of a special ops squad. And then the howling begins. Meeting zoologist Megan, they take refuge in a seemingly abandoned house in the woods and prepare for the fight of their lives against a most unexpected foe: werewolves.
Jodie: While Neil Marshall Lowering is probably the most obvious choice for the season (and rightly so), his first big-screen foray into scary stuff, Soldier dogs, occupies a special place in my horror-loving heart.
It’s wonderfully paced, gloriously gore and flowed to perfection. It’s also really funny and deliciously quoteable – if you ever hear me complaining about things going on “shit, to the bone, at worst“, that’s where it comes from.
Return of the Living Dead (director Dan O’Bannon, 1985)
After a corpse is inadvertently revived into a flesh-eating zombie, those responsible seek to cover their tracks with a devious cremation. Unfortunately, all of this only releases a deadly pollutant into the atmosphere, causing toxic rain to land on – you guessed it – the local cemetery. Spot the chaos of the living dead.
Lyne: You can’t get past an 80s zombie movie, and this is one of the best. So funny, filled with classic lines and memorable moments – I quote lines from this movie to this day. Silly characters, nudity, no CGI – that’s the bomb!
What is below (dir. Robert Zemeckis, 2000)
In an idyllic Vermont lake, Claire and Norman settle for a life of empty nests, after signaling Claire’s daughter to go to college. But soon, Claire is plagued by ghostly voices and bizarre manifestations, and a dangerous secret threatens to unveil.
Rock : What to do for bathtubs psychopath made for showers and Jaws Made for the ocean, this cooler run by Robert Zemeckis is a slow-burning supernatural.
With Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, What is below frames their relationship around a ghostly entity that haunts Pfeiffer’s character, leading the fragile housewife to investigate a suspected murder. However, not all is what it seems in their house, which leads to a spooky finale that will make you think twice before lingering in your own bathroom.
Voracious (dir. Antonia Bird, 1999)
Exiled to a remote military post in the Sierra Nevada, Second Lieutenant John Boyd doesn’t expect to see much action, until a frozen alien named Colqhoun arrives with a nightmarish story of lost wagons, murder and cannibalism. Horrified by the story of the man, the motley crew of the fort embarked on a rescue mission, but arriving at the last known place to travelers, Boyd realizes that the men are walking straight into a trap …
Jodie: Please don’t let the trailer put you off – Voracious is fiercely underrated and beautifully shot. If you’ve ever scared yourself reading about the Donner Party, this one is for you. Cannibals, dark humor, historical setting, soundtrack by Damon Albarn and fucking Robert Carlyle. Accomplished job.
Seen (dir. James Wan, 2004)
Do you want to play a game? Adam and Lawrence regain consciousness in a filthy bathroom, chained to pipes at either end, the last unwitting participants in the twisted games of sadistic serial killer Jigsaw. The basic principle is simple: escape or die.
Stéphane: James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s horror show spawned an annual lore that saw a new Seen release of the film every Halloween for 7 consecutive years.
This psychological thriller fascinated me with its use of inventive traps, creative concepts, shocking imagery, and an iconic score that will set your spine down. It’s weird, mysterious, terrifying, and will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. With engaged performances from Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Leigh Whannell and more, what not to like Seen?!
This standalone, twist-packed tale is a certified classic, and certainly on the must-watch list for any horror fan, especially if you want to see the movie that catapulted James Wan on his way to the Hall of Fame. ‘horror. . If it’s Halloween, it must be SEEN!
Lyne: Not a huge fan of the newer two, but the originals are so empowering, and the fact that it can happen in real life makes them even scarier. When a man takes it upon himself to put people in life threatening situations with little hope of escaping, it’s really playing God.
And, of course, Jigsaw’s games are really horrible sometimes. You will be watching with one hand on your face, looking through your fingers!
Pretty much Anything by Mike Flanagan
Jodie: Are you looking for something a little longer to pass the Hallow-eekend? Pick up one of Mike Flanagan’s trios of truly haunting Netflix series. Not content with just indulging a lot of short-term scares with people like Silence, Gerald’s game, and Doctor SleepFlanagan also stretched those horror legs with a bunch of frenzy-worthy content on the massive streaming service.
Overall they’re heavy on ghosts and surprisingly heavy on heartbreak too – after watching the finale of Midnight Mass, I looked (and felt) as if I had watched coco. Twice.
Midnight Mass will tickle all your religious, cult and bloody itchy rashes, while The Haunting of Bly Mansion and The Haunting of Hill House book about gothic, heartbreak and good old-fashioned ghost stories.
With recurring cast throughout the shows, including Flanagan’s surprisingly brilliant wife Kate Siegel and current internet darling Rahul Kohli wherever you start your mini-series marathon (Flanag-athon? ), you are in safe and incredibly talented hands.
Bring a pillow to hide behind, whether it’s terrors or tears.
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