With the spookiest time of year coming this weekend, the DHR team discuss their favourite horror films. But be careful, their answers may scare you!
The Conjuring – David O’ Donnell, Account Executive
I have always struggled to get through horror movies without going into a complete state of numbness, yet I still can’t tear myself away from a good thriller. The Conjuring most definitely ticks all the boxes on this front as one of the most frightening horror films released in recent years. The fact that the story is based on actual events hugely contributes to its ‘hide behind the couch’ factor. The storyline is based on a series of strange events that occur when Carolyn and Roger Perron move their family into a dilapidated farmhouse on Rhode Island in 1971. Paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren are brought in to examine the house and surrounding area, only to find a whole area steeped in a satanic haunting that is now targeting the Perrons wherever they go. The plot follows the Warrens as they uncover the most horrifying case they have ever worked on. A big bowl of popcorn for distraction and a warm blanket to clutch onto is certainly recommended if you plan on watching this one over Hallowe’en.
Carrie – Sarah Harte, Account Director
One of my all-time favourite horror films has to be the classic 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie. Sissy Spacek stars as the isolated, painfully shy girl with supernatural powers and an abusive religious zealot of a mother, played by a terrifying Piper Laurie. The opening scene is traumatising, and not in a typical horror-film type of way – Carrie gets her period in the school showers and because of her mother’s refusal to educate Carrie about her body and menstruation, she is shocked at the sight of blood and thinks that she’s dying. Her bullying classmates react to her terror with taunts and chanting – as she reaches the peak of her panic, a lightbulb bursts, and this sets the scene for the movie to unfold. For me, the best horror films are psychological and I wouldn’t be a fan of the more gruesome and gory kind. Granted, Carrie does involve a vat of pig’s blood, but that’s beside the point. And speaking of opening scenes, the ending of this one’s a real killer. (ba-dum-tish)
The Shining – Danny Trench Bowles, PR & Events Intern
No list of top scary movies can be complete without The Shining, the Stanley Kubrick classic, with an amazing performance by Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance. It is also based on a Stephen King novel. The Shining has so many infamous scenes that even if you haven’t seen it (and you really should have by now) you’ll still feel like you have; shows like Family Guy, South Park and The Simpsons have paid homage to it. The frights in the film all come towards the end but the whole movie is doused in suspense, as you assume something terrible is around every corner. For me, it is Shelley Duvall’s performance as Jack’s wife that really helps the suspense build; she seems to have a face made for acting in horror films, with a unique mix of naivety, worry and sheer terror.
The Shining really rewards repeat viewing; every time you’ll find something new. As such, it’s a great movie to return to every Hallowe’en. Every time you watch it you’ll find some hidden aspect, some Kubrickian conspiracy that you think no one else will have seen that helps explain the story. What did he mean by the flood of blood coming from the lift?! Who was the decaying woman?! And why was she there?! Failing to have sufficient answers to these questions will always bring me back to The Shining.
Scream – Laura Harmon, Account Manager
Hallowe’en is one of my favourite times of year and I love inviting friends over for a horror film marathon. It’s very difficult to narrow down my favourite horror films, as there are so many, but I’m a huge fan of 1990s classics.
Scream (1996), written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven, is credited by many as having reignited the horror genre in the 1990s and spawned a whole group of slasher genre films. The film was followed by a further three instalments to the Scream series.
The sleepy town of Woodsboro is woken up in horror. There’s a killer on the loose who’s been watching a few too many scary movies. Teenager Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) comes under attack from an unknown character while dealing with the anniversary of her mother’s murder. A number of gruesome murders occur before the killer is revealed at the end.
The film included a cast of many already-famous actors like Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox and Drew Barrymore, which was unusual for a horror film, and it engaged a wide audience from both genders. It was also unusual because the characters in the film were aware of the conventions of the horror genre and the film makes reference to other horror films. The film went on to be a financial success earning back its $15 million budget eleven times over.
Hocus Pocus – Sinead Duggan, Office Administrator
Being a giant wuss, I am not a fan of scary movies. However, I am a fan of Hallowe’en and nothing says Hallowe’en to me like Hocus Pocus. For those of you who have not had the pleasure, here is a brief synopsis. A Californian family settles into life in the magic-obsessed town of Salem (of course). Max, the tie-dye-wearing teen of the family, takes little sister Dani trick-or-treating on Hallowe’en. They eventually meet up with Allison, his new school crush, and things start to take an adventurous turn. The trio take a trip to the allegedly haunted house of the Sanderson sisters, three witches who were executed 300 years previously for sucking the youth out of a young girl. Max, unafraid of superstition, lights the black flame candle, which brings the Sandersons back from the dead. Life force-sucking mayhem ensues and for good measure, there’s a talking cat.
I know, I know, it sounds awful, and it is…but in the best possible way! Few years have gone by when I haven’t curled up with some treats to watch the high jinxs, including the kitschiest version of ‘I Put a Spell On You’ that you are ever likely to hear. If nothing else, this movie got me into Nina Simone; surely that has to count for something?