Horror Film Recommendations from O'Neill Media Center
Wolf (Dir. Mike Nichols, 1994, 125 Minutes)
PN1997 .W599 1997
What would it be like if Jack Nicholson were a werewolf...and worked in the cutthroat New York publishing industry? If the answer to that interests you in the least, then Wolf is most definitely for you. A persuasive and subtly executed examination of what it might actually be like to live and work in modern Manhattan as a werewolf. Excellent performances by Nicholson and James Spader make this an overlooked gem.
Arachnophobia (Dir. Frank Marshall, 1990, 103 Minutes)
PN1997 .A73 1999
If you're not afraid of spiders, this movie will go a long way toward fixing that. If you are afraid, and you decide to watch this, you really need to think about how much sleep you can do without in the weeks following. Waves of spiders cascade down walls and across ceilings, they lurk in the barn, in the basement and in the shower, quadruple sets of pitiless eyes get lingered on in close-up shots, pulsing egg sacs overflow with baby 8-leggers, and on and on. Not much evidence to go on, but this is probably among the greatest bug-wrangling achievements in recent cinema history. On top of everything else, it's got a few great laughs.
Ravenous (Dir. Antonia Bird, 1999, 101 Minutes)
PN1997 .R384 2005
It seems odd to describe a movie about supernatural cannibalism as elegant, yet with its reflective characters, compelling score, and ethical musings Ravenous is definitely a cut above your average flesh-feast flick. American soldiers on the western frontier in the mid 19th century are led on a search and rescue mission by a mysterious stranger who is definitely not what he appears to be. If you need something to survive, are there limits to what you can do in order to get it? This is a careful film which uses buckets and buckets of blood without ever feeling exploitative or over the top. Music from Damon Albarn (the guy behind Gorillaz).
Leprechaun (Dir. Mark Jones, 1993, 92 Minutes)
PN1997 .L477 2004
Jennifer Aniston would probably like you to forget the first feature film she ever made. But really, after you've seen a demonic version of the Lucky Charms mascot kill a man by jumping on him with a pogo stick, the experience tends to stay with you. Neither the most lavish production nor the sharpest dialogue, but its sheer absurdity will keep you watching until the leprechaun spits his last rhyme (Yes, he tends to talk in couplets). Followed by classics such as Leprechaun 4: In Space, and Leprechaun in the Hood... yes, really.
Inside (Dir. Bustillo/Maury, 2007, 83 Minutes)
PN1997.2 .I6753 2008
By far the best of the recent wave of French gore films. A pregnant photographer, alone on Christmas Eve, must fend off a scissor-wielding madwoman who's dead set on doing some very bad things. Well made, well acted, and truly scary, this film manages to combine a ceaselessly gloomy mood with enough "Oh my God! What was that?!" scares to keep you peeking through your fingers from start to finish. Be Warned: extremely graphic and not for the faint of heart.
The Thing (Dir. John Carpenter, 1982, 109 Minutes)
PN1997 .T476 2004
You're a team of scientists stationed at a completely isolated Antarctic outpost with no means of escape and no contact with the outside world. You realize that there's a parasitic alien among you, which can assume the body of anyone it attacks, and it's picking you off one by one. Who do you trust? How do you make everyone believe you're human? And how can you kill it? Decisions, decisions. A tight script and fantastic special effects in the hands of the man who did the original Halloween...Classic.
Jacob's Ladder (Dir. Adrian Lyne, 1990, 113 Minutes)
PN1997 .J336 1998
Tim Robbins (four years before Shawshank) is a postal worker back from Vietnam, uncomfortable in life, and rapidly beginning to doubt his sanity as he experiences flashbacks from the war and personal tragedy at home. Less a horror movie than the waking nightmares of a man on the edge, filmed as they appear to him. The inspired design, potent special effects (no CGI!), and masterful direction allow us to experience one man's psyche in crisis, from the inside out. Measured and sympathetic performances by all, thoroughly worthwhile.
The Orphanage (Dir. Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007, 105 Minutes)
PN1993.5 .S7 O7 2008
A four foot tall figure with a smiley-face burlap sack on its head isn't that scary if you're sure it's just a kid having fun with a mask...but if you begin to have doubts, you might not feel so safe. A woman returns to her past in an attempt to re-open the orphanage she was adopted from as a child and things get creepy real quick. This is a film that takes its time to establish a solid foundation of dread, delivers its scares, and then goes even deeper into the story than we had a right to expect. A slow burning, truly frightening, Spanish-language treat.
Wes Hazard, Media Services Assistant, O'Neill Library