Thursday, 30 October 2014

6 Frightening Films for Halloween

It's that time of year again, folks. The time of year to throw on a horribly put together costume, shuffle around a party for a few hours, then make your way back home to pretend you're not in when the trick-or-treaters come ringing. But it wouldn't be Halloween without some movies to scare you shitless, right? As I sit here no more than a 15 minute walk from Bram Stoker's birthplace here in Ireland, I give you 6 awesome horror movies to watch this Halloween. From vampires, ghosts, aliens, chainsaw wielding rednecks and otherworldly beings, CeX has you covered!

Bram Stoker's Dracula 

OK, for some reason this movie is torn apart by most people, and I think it's purely based on Keanu Reeves' horrible English accent. Make no mistake, his take on the English accent is literally a crime against humanity. It sounds like he's doing an impression of Richard E. Grant from Withnail & I, from the scene where Withnail is drunk in the car and trying to explain it away to the police: “Honestly, I've only had a few ales”. Hell, even Reeves himself later apologised for his work on Bram Stoker's Dracula. That said, lets not beat a dead horse here, as beyond Reeves' obvious miscasting Bram Stoker's Dracula is actually pretty great.

Dracula himself is the unofficial mascot of Halloween, and while there have been many good adaptations of Bram Stoker's classic novel over the years, the 1992 Francis Ford Coppola directed Dracula adaptation is utterly fantastic. It has everything you could want in a movie- action, romance, Dracula's back-story, Anthony motherf*cking Hopkins as the vampire hunter Van Helsing, a tense and creepy atmosphere throughout, some of the greatest costume and set designs I've ever seen in a movie, and an absolute powerhouse performance by Gary Oldman as Count Dracula himself. Oldman is the centrepiece of the movie with his superb portrayal of Dracula, and he appears in this movie in various different forms and ages, with some not even resembling a human, or even a vampire for that matter. Plus, it's all capped off by Annie Lennox's “Love Song For A Vampire” playing over the credits. Brilliant!

The Shining

Like most of Stanley Kubrick's other work, The Shining is a movie that will endlessly be enjoyed, debated and broken down among its viewers. Though The Shining is often seen as the pinnacle of horror in film, Stephen King, acclaimed writer of the book it was based on, pretty much hates it. Why? King thinks it's “too cold” and also has some misgivings about the changes Kubrick implemented for the 1980 feature film adaptation. Though Kubrick's movie is indeed cold and vastly different from Kings novel, I think King may be too close to the original story to form a non-biased opinion. The Shining was, is and will always be one of the best horror movies of all time.

Starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall, The Shining focuses on Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy and son Danny staying in the empty Overlook Hotel during the winter. Essentially taking care of maintaining the hotel between seasons, Jack attempts to finish a book he's been writing with the promise of all the quiet time he needs. However, evil spirits within the Overlook Hotel have their eyes set on Jack and they plan on using him as a means to murdering his family. Everyone knows the set-up, right? Regardless, The Shining is still just an incredibly scary and uneasy horror movie. It doesn't use jump scares. It isn't filled with shaky-cam. It avoids using lashings of blood outside of that key scene. Instead of relying on the usual methods of terrifying the viewer, The Shining relies of unsettling pacing, an incredible script, chilling sound design and a completely batshit insane performance by Jack Nicholson. Terrifying!

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

My introduction to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series wasn't the original movie, but rather the fourth movie in the franchise. Called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (no, it has no connection to Star Trek, sorry), it's literally the biggest pile of shit you'll ever see. It's horrible, stars annoying, pre-mainstream Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey and generally takes a sizeable dump over the franchise. Then again, everything after the original movie is pretty lame in my book. Thankfully we'll always have that at least, as even today The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is effective and utterly terrifying.

The story is simple and has since been done to death. A bunch of young people are travelling across America when they encounter Leatherface, a chainsaw wielding maniac, and his demented cannibalistic family. None of the horror here is cerebral. Instead it hits you head-on and it remains unrelenting until the movies final closing scene. From the scene in which Leatherface is chasing our heroine Sally and her wheelchair bound brother through a dark woods, to the chilling moment in which Sally “meets” Leatherface's extended family, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic that has not aged one day. Awesome!

The Thing

When growing up my parents didn't put any restrictions on what movies I watched. I sat there watching the likes of Predator, Robocop and Die Hard without any complaints. However, one movie I wasn't allowed to see was The Thing. What did I do considering my parents respected my ability to see any other movie I wanted? I waited until they went to sleep, went behind their backs, and watched it on Channel 4 in the middle of the night, of course! What I saw that night not only scared the shit out of me, but also cemented the fact that personally The Thing is the greatest horror movie ever made.

The Thing focuses on an isolated research team in the Antarctic. Because they're so cut off from the rest of the world, they either spend their downtime playing pool, drinking, smoking weed or anything that helps the time pass quickly. After a dog from a nearby Norwegian research camp enters their station, it soon becomes apparent that some type of intelligent, malicious and shape-shifting organism is taking them out one by one. With the realisation that any one of them come be the Thing, they begin to turn against each other. Blending a superb score, wonderful performances from the entire case and some of the most gut churning, blood splattering and puke worthy gore I've ever witnessed in a movie, The Thing is director John Carpenter's masterpiece. If you have to choose one movie from the list, make it The Thing. Deliciously gory!

The Mothman Prophecies

Here's one movie that I never see mentioned online, but I found it to be a fantastic hidden gem. For those of you who aren't familiar with legend of the “Mothman”, it all allegedly went down back in 1966 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in America. Over the course of a year, residents of Point Pleasant reported sightings of a giant mother-like creature, lights in the sky and mysterious men in black throughout the town and its surrounding areas. It was brought to mainstream attention by John Keel's book, The Mothman Prophecies, which focused on his time in Point Pleasant during these bizarre occurrences were happening. This movie is loosely based upon Keel's book.

Of course, whether your enjoy The Mothman Prophecies or not doesn't depend on your belief of giant moths, aliens and the paranormal. Instead The Mothman Prophecies takes the basis of what made Keel's tale so chilling, and just runs with it. Starring Richard Gere as a reporter who happens by Point Pleasant during the height of the sightings of the Mothman, The Mothman Prophecies does the unexpected in the fact that, despite what you may assume from the title, the movie doesn't feature the Mothman, a moth man or, hell, even a moth! Instead the movie brings up the idea that the Mothman is some kind of age old angel of darkness, some eternal kind of doom bringer. The fact that you never see the Mothman makes this movie even creepier too. Packed alongside some truly outstanding audio design that gives the movie a feeling of extreme uneasiness, The Mothman Prophecies is the best horror movie you've never seen. Spooky!


For as long as I came remember I've always loved Poltergeist. However, I remember it as a Steven Spielberg directed movie, even though it really isn't. It's directed by Tobe Hooper, while Spielberg only produced it. But it always felt like a Spielberg movie to me and after looking into it, it seems that many of the cast and crew have said that Spielberg was on set daily, and even directed a vast amount of the movie. So while Tobe Hoopers name may be on the credits, personally this is a Spielberg movie through-and-through. It has humour, heart and more than a fair share of scares.

The plot is simple, and revolves around the Freeling family and their encounter with, well, a poltergeist. Though it only manages to move furniture around at first, the force within the house soon decides to claim their daughter, Carol Anne. There have been many, many imitations of Poltergeist since its release, but never before has the presence of something unnatural and otherworldly been done so creepily well. Though there are many great scenes to choose from, the one that stands out in my mind is when the ghost is coming down the stairs at night. It's not a guy with bedsheets over his head. It's not a giant grotesque monster. Instead, it looks like a collection of lights, lanterns and strings of long flowing silk. It moves as if it's gliding through water, and this scene alone makes it stand out against its imitators. It treats its subject matter with complete seriousness, instead of with its tongue placed firmly in its cheek. This is no slasher movie, it's real horror and for the Freeling family, it's in their home. Creepy!

Denis Murphy

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