Whether you’re going out this Halloween or staying in, the Bull & Bear has you covered. In honour of Spooky Season, we asked our editorial board for their favourite scary movies.
Rose Bostwick, Executive Editor— Jennifer’s Body (2009)
Needy: You’re killing people?
Jennifer: No. I’m killing boys.
Halloween movies are a year-round for me, since horror has always been my genre. I was raised on Hammer horror classics and I appreciate critically-acclaimed psychological dramas, arthouse flicks, and foreign thrillers. But the movie that has had my heart since I first saw it in middle school is Karyn Kusama and Diablo Cody’s Jennifer’s Body. A box-office bomb that was critically panned when it was released, this movie has made a massive comeback in recent years due to its timely female revenge fantasy theme. If you’re a queer woman, you’re probably already familiar with this cult classic, which stars Megan Fox as man-eating demon entity Jennifer Check and Amanda Seyfried as her faithful best friend, revealingly-named Needy Lesnicki. Watch Jennifer’s Body for perfect lesbian camp: a funny, gore-splattered, suprisingly insightful portrait of the horrifying carnage of teenage girlhood.
Sam Shepherd, Executive Editor— La Cabina (1972)
The Spanish 1972 straight-to-television film La Cabina may not seem like an obvious choice for a Halloween horror film. For one, the film is only 35 minutes long, making it something you can download and easily watch on your daily commute to campus. Second, the film takes place in broad daylight, which acts as a sharp departure from the dark woods of The Blair Witch Project or even the snowy mountains of Overlook Hotel in The Shining. The plot is simple. After dropping off his son for school, a man enters a telephone booth, only for the door to slam on him, leaving him trapped inside. When passersby begin to gather around, the audience expects each bystander to successfully break the man out from his box. However, matters are never so simple… A chilling short film that I would not recommend to the claustrophobic.
Linnea Vidger, Managing Editor — The Ring (2002)
At the ripe age of three, I made the mistake of sitting down with my older sister and her friends to watch the cult-favourite horror movie, The Ring. My preschool brain wasn’t able to pick up on the full plot of the movie, but one scene stuck out to me. The character watches her TV screen go fuzzy, which is subsequently interrupted by the image of a dark-haired girl crawling out of a well. The figure keeps crawling forward, eventually breaking through the TV screen and killing the viewer. I was afraid of the TV for several years after watching this movie. I eventually got over my fear and recently re-watched The Ring. Although I find it more cheesy than scary now, its lasting effect on me has made it my favourite horror film. I also appreciate (although I am also slightly freaked out) that it takes place right in my backyard in the Pacific Northwest.
Makenna Crackower, News Editor — Cabin in the Woods (2011)
My older brother introduced me to Cabin in the Woods when I was 14. Since then it’s been one of my go-to films to watch with friends whenever they suggest horror at a movie night. I’m not very brave, and I even get nightmares from Tim Burton films (as much as I love them). Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods is everything you expect a horror film to be and, at the same time, strikingly original. The premise involves a Scooby-doo-esque gang of friends renting out a — you guessed it — cabin in the woods, for a getaway. Little do they know that they are actually human sacrifices who have been subversively placed there by an occult government organization trying to prevent the apocalypse via ancient demon gods. The film follows the US government’s many experimental attempts to sacrifice the friends via artificial zombies in the woods, and an assortment of other monsters. The only person who is capable of seeing that there is something unusual about the cabin is their stoner friend, whose perpetual high immunizes him to the noxious gas that turned everyone else into easy prey. The film is rife with humour that pulls at the threads of horror tropes to create something simultaneously hilarious and gruesome.
Hannah Wallace, Arts & Culture Editor — 50 First Dates (2004)
Marketed as a romantic comedy, I think 50 First Dates is scarier than any horror movie. The film follows Henry (Adam Sandler) a womanizer who one days falls head over heels with a woman named Lucy (Drew Barrymore). However, Lucy has short term memory problems and her memory of him is erased daily. This doesn’t deter him, and Henry resolves to woo her every day. The element that sells this as a horror movie is the ending. Lucy wakes up to a video from Henry detailing their love story which ends with them getting married. She goes upstairs to find that she is on a boat in the middle of Alaska and she has a young child. If I were to wake up trapped on a boat with no escape, and I found that I was married and had a kid with Adam Sandler, I wouldn’t be happy; I’d be scared for my life.
Olivia Whetstone, Arts & Culture Editor — The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
As someone who got jump scared by Muppets Haunted Mansion, my repertoire of horror movie knowledge is not very vast. However, while I can’t always appreciate horror, I can appreciate art, so I am always happy to recommend 1920s silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to my fellow fearful friends on Halloween. The film opens with the main character Francis telling a story about Dr. Caligari, a hypnotist who commits murders through a somnambulist named Cesare, and its German expressionist style, using jagged lines and distorted shapes, invites the viewer into the unreliable narrator’s world of paranoia. While the plot progresses at glacier speed, this left me no choice but to take in the stunning visuals, immersing me in the story completely until the jaw-dropping ending. This is the perfect film for those looking for a thought-provoking and unexpectedly beautiful psychological thriller.
Sarah Sylvester, Opinion Editor – The Cat in the Hat (Live Action) (2003)
While not a labeled horror film, Mike Myers’ depiction of the beloved Dr. Suess character is nightmare fuel. Paired with the classically terrible special effects of 2003, this movie activates the fear area of the brain in an inexplicable way. Cat and the two children navigate their way through one of the scariest situations of all: angering a parent. On top of that, the hideous Cat costume makes you flinch even harder as Myers’ character mentally torments Sally and Conrad. And Things 1 and 2 are so freaky that I can’t even think about them for too long, and you shouldn’t either. This movie somehow takes a children’s story and twists it into a crude, revolting, and yet captivating story, echoing the features of a fantastic horror flick. It’s a horror movie without horror, but forever taints The Cat in the Hat for all who dare to watch.
Alia Shaukat, Opinion Editor — Midsommar (2019)
I’m not saying I’m against horror movies, but I’m kind of against horror movies. I’ve never truly understood the appeal of consuming horrific content when, in all honesty, life is already too bleak for me to handle, no thank you! But, I brush all these ideals aside when I think about Midsommar, as it is the only thriller that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I realize this may make me seem like the classic “I’m not like other girls” A24-loving edgy kid, but Midsommar is genuinely a piece of art. Even the most squeamish of people can appreciate the blending of gore and craft in the grotesque images of skin sliced open, scattered with vivid, kaleidoscopic flowers. It’s the classic “good for her” piece of cinema where we cherish our tragic hero Dani as she triumphs over her dreadfully dumb boyfriend. I’ll gladly watch it every Halloween season.
Sean Kim, Business & Technology Editor — Shrek (2001)
The best horror movie of all time is one that executes on all the classic tropes to perfection. The premise needs to be bloodcurdling; the exposition needs to creepingly build to a shocking climax, which is followed by poorly executed deposition that leaves the audience with dissatisfaction and confusion. Shrek is the best horror movie of all time because it checks all these boxes. In a world of fairy tales, a hideous ogre terrorizes the locals in his search for companionship. The ogre falls in love with a human princess after going on a rampage, only for it to be revealed that the princess is an ogre herself. After that, the movie devolves into madness, capped off with the death of the noble King Farquaad and the impromptu wedding between the two ogres. If this is not the perfect horror movie, I don’t know what is.
Ezra Moleko, Sports Editor — It (2017)
As a kid, I was sworn off of horror movies after watching the opening scene of Saw 2 at 9 years old. I don’t generally enjoy horror movies much even now, but It is a welcome exception. A strong cast, iconic villain and fantastic special effects make It not just a great horror film, but a great story. One of It’s greatest strengths is that the narrative confronts viewers (like me) with long-time childhood hangups involving fear. Tense, quiet scenes which explode into the most messed up nightmare fuel are beautifully played out upon well-constructed pre-teen characters whose fears and trauma inform the horror on-screen. It does a fantastic job of finding a middle point between excessive terror and narrative cohesion. Even as a horror movie abstainer, I would recommend this movie to anybody looking for a good two hours.
Josh Holtzman, Sports Editor — Get Out (2017)
My recommendation comes with a caveat: I would not touch most of the horror genre with a ten foot pole. I just don’t have the appetite for terrifying psychological terror that will leave me in a perpetual state of insomnia. That being said, as a fan of Jordan Peele’s comedy work, I felt compelled to watch his directorial debut Get Out (2017), and I have to admit, I was thoroughly impressed. Its unique premise brilliantly provides a social commentary on racial stereotypes through a horror lens, with comedic relief sprinkled in in just the right amount. It’s the type of movie with a jaw-dropping reveal near the end that sets up the final few scenes for an unforgettable finish. For those of you like me who prefer Twilight Zone-style creepy mind-bending concepts to jump scares, Get Out is definitely one to check out.