Redbrick’s writers take us through some of their favourite picks for Halloween.
Looking for some Halloween film recommendations? You’re in luck! Redbrick’s writers have some of their picks for the spooky season.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) – Emily Wallace
The Rocky Horror Picture Show follows newly engaged couple Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) who, after getting lost in a storm one night, find themselves in the castle of the mysterious Dr Frank N Furter (Tim Curry). The rest of the film is better seen than described, as I do not think words can properly explain the experience of watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show but rest assured you will find a film filled with weird and wonderful characters, catchy tunes, and a plot that is at least very entertaining even if you are not quite sure what is happening at any moment. It is a film that still feels unconventional and unique 47 years on from its initial release, and you cannot help but lose yourself in the enjoyment of its over-the-top and ridiculous performances and plot.
Despite the title’s suggestion, The Rocky Horror Picture Show falls much more into being camp rather than scary, but its position as a parody of science fiction and B horror movies of the early 20th century makes it a perfect Halloween watch both for people who have seen the films that inspired it, and can understand the various pastiches and references, but also if you are someone who is not a huge fan of the horror genre.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) – Jess Parker
The first of director Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, Shaun of the Dead stars Simon Pegg as Shaun, an electronics salesman whose life seems to be going nowhere. Overnight, the world descends into a zombie apocalypse. Shaun and a motley crew of friends and acquaintances, Ed (Nick Frost), Liz (Kate Ashfield), Dianne (Lucy Davis), David (Dylan Moran), and Barbara (Penelope Wilton), are left to fend for themselves and survive the night in this comedic horror.
Shaun of the Dead is fast-paced and witty, taking advantage of techniques, such as diegetic music and parallelism, that have become synonymous with Edgar Wright’s cinema. This makes Shaun of the Dead comparable to many of Wright’s well-loved films, such as Baby Driver (2017) and his recent psychological horror, Last Night in Soho (2021).
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost never disappoint as a comedy duo, leading the film’s narrative with sharp humour that lands every time. This, paired with the overt sense of British comedy that can be found in Wright and Pegg’s screenplay, creates a recognisable atmosphere for Shaun of the Dead, and the entire ‘Cornetto Trilogy’.
The Thing (1982) – Louis Wright
Despite being an utter failure with critics and at the box office at the time of its release, John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) receives almost universal acclaim in the modern day, being touted as the premiere ‘cult classic’ film. This acclaim is not unearned, however, as The Thing (1982) is an excellent case study in examining how to build tension in a horror film.
An ongoing through line of the film is that neither the audience or the characters ever truly know who is still a real person and who has been assimilated into the titular Thing. As such, there is a constant air of suspicion within the film, as no one character can truly be trusted at any point. This is the main source of horror within the film as with the constantly rising tension comes the constantly rising terror.
John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) cannot be talked about without mentioning what is likely its most iconic element, with that being the practical effects used throughout the film to depict The Thing. These practical effects made by Rob Bottin are undoubtedly some of the best in not only the horror genre but all of cinema, and thanks to them the terror built in the scenes in between the action has a satisfying payoff.
Overall, The Thing (1982) earns its place in the echelons of cinematic masterpieces and is one of, if not, the best horror film ever made.
Hereditary (2018) – James Evenden
There are few films that have made an impact on modern horror cinema like Ari Aster’s Hereditary (2018). The film follows a family who is hit by a tragic loss that brings about a haunting presence in their lives. Aster’s debut is one of the more talked about recent horror films because of a few things: mainly Toni Collette’s masterful performance, its approach to tension and in its implementation of effective ambiguous paranormal elements. Hereditary refuses to hold its viewers’ hand as it weaves a haunting narrative of grief and regret.
Toni Collette is easily the best part of the film. Her performance is imbued with such pain that elevates the horror to an uncomfortably real level. Every word of dialogue is delivered with anguish, which never feels inauthentic to the film. Her performance, along with the other notable aspects mentioned, meld family drama and horror very well in Hereditary. Also deserving of mention is Alex Wolff, who plays the son of the family and arguably the unassuming instigator of the film’s events. There are few young actors that could go toe-to-toe with Collette, and he more than lives up to her towering performance.
Aster’s approach to horror is an enjoyably quiet one. He does not go for the jump scares, nor does he focus on the gore for gore’s sake. The paranormal events in Hereditary elevate it to a more classic horror film at times, but these heightened moments always feel realistic, mainly because of Aster’s grounded approach to his direction.
Hereditary is one of the most talked about horror films of the 2010s for a reason and laid the way for one of our most exciting new horror auteurs in Ari Aster.
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