Halloween season is upon us and for many of us that means it’s time to watch a scary movie. For Halloween 2020, the law library team presents a few of our favorite movie suggestions ranging from the funny to the downright terrifying. Titles popular with us include What We Do in Shadows (recommended by no fewer than three of us!), Beetlejuice, The Haunting, and Transylvania. Many of the recommended movies are available at no cost to the Richmond Law community through Kanopy, just use your netid and password to sign in. You can also check out this blog post to learn more about signing up and using Kanopy. And, yes, there’s an app for that!
Roger Skalbeck recommends:
Back in 1968, George A. Romero defined the genre of zombie movies, with the low-budget film Night of the Living Dead. This black and white classic is set in a dystopian landscape with a group of people trapped in a farm house, having to fend off a slow-moving horde of the recently-deceased. This genre will extend and evolve for decades. For a modern take on the genre, look for Adam Driver and Bill Murray in last year’s The Dead Don’t Die.
Another influence in the horror genre with a strong presence in the 1960’s is actor Vincent Price, whose name and voice have wide influence in classic horror and gothic tales. One of his best-known roles is in the House of Usher, which is a retelling of a tale by Richmond’s Edgar Allan Poe. Check out Price on Kanopy in The Last Man On Earth or The House on Haunted Hill.Though many of the better-known horror films originate in the United States, many filmmakers outside this country have created spectacularly spooky tales. Italy’s Dario Argento has created numerous films, including 1977’s Suspiria.
Joyce Manna Janto recommends:
Hocus Pocus: What can I say, the perfect family friendly Halloween movie. It’s got a slightly scary sibling-in-jeopardy storyline to keep the kids interested and enough campy acting by Bette Midler to keep the adults amused. If for no other reason, watch it for Bette’s rendition of “I Put a Spell on You.” I discovered this movie when my daughter was a pre-teen and we still watch it every year.
Count Dracula, the 1970 version: This one is a cult favorite and it is considered one of the best adaptations of Bram Stoker’s book. It stars the legendary Christopher Lee as the Count. It’s creepy, moderately scary, and very, very well done.
Speaking of Dracula, if you’re a vampire fan, you might want to check out Nosferatu. This movie holds the distinction of being the very first vampire movie, ever. It’s a silent film made in Germany in 1922. It’s an unauthorized version of the novel and let’s just say this one isn’t the Dracula you may be expecting.
Carl Hamm Recommends:
Bhoot Bungla, and Gumnaam–both Hindi films released in 1965. Two of the earlier Indian “horror” films ever made. Gumnaam is well known for giving us the wacky Indian rock tune, “Jaan Pahe Chaan Ho”, featured in Ghost World. The film is actually a sort of Hitchcock-style murder mystery, and is pretty slow at times, but the wacky cast, and early Bolly-rock music, make up for it. Bhoot Bungla is another Hindi ghost story film… it’s not a great plot, but the dancing skeleton music sequences make it worthwhile. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=morLqJId824
The Day After (1983): this was an ABC made for TV movie which aired during the “cold war” and it really stoked everyone’s fears of Nuclear annihilation. The film was shot in Lawrence Kansas, said to be the geographical center of the united states, and a prime target for a nuclear strike. Discussion groups were even formed to help viewers cope with what they had seen. I had trouble sleeping when I first saw it. Granted, I was only 8 years old. I think the director was trying to really create something meaningful with this film, and although it was heavily censored by ABC, and edited to death, it still made a huge “impact”.
Molly Lentz-Meyer recommends:
The Awakening: A classic ghost story, the Awakening is set in 1921 in post-war England. Haunted by loss, Florence (played by Rebecca Hall) has made it her life’s work to debunk supernatural claims. When she is called upon to investigate sightings of a ghostly young boy at a boarding school in the country-side, Florence expects to quickly dispel the notion that the school is haunted. As you might expect, she finds more than she bargained for. I love this movie for a couple of reasons. First, I find this period in England’s history fascinating because of the tremendous changes that were taking place both socially and culturally. This movie captures the transition from Victorian mores to more contemporary values extremely well. Second, I love Rebecca Hall. She is a tremendous actress and a story that could be campy instead comes across as lovely. Finally, I just really love a well-told ghost story.
Midsommar: This film is not for the faint of heart. I actually put it on thinking that it was a Swedish horror film (I was really excited; I love Swedish cinema). I was a little disappointed when it turned out to be an American horror film. And then I was shocked and transfixed by what happened on screen. Suspend your disbelief and buckle your seat belt.
Recommendations from across the library include: The Children, Death Ship, The Wicker Man, Kwaidan, Cronos, The Babadook, Blade, The News, and (of course) The Nightmare Before Christmas.