As Halloween approaches rapidly, the urge to watch movies one after another has become stronger and stronger with each passing day. After all homework and tests were taken, I finally sat down to marathon a few of my favorite films that I felt put me in the Halloween spirit. The genres range from suspense, to horror, to flat out gore fest, and all present a variety and give me something to look forward to when it comes to sitting in my new fuzzy socks and enjoying some down time.
Jack Torrance, The Shining
I will admit first hand neither adaptations of the novel are perfect, both exceed where the other fails, but the character of Jack is still the same person and so he is on the list. In the novel, readers and fans learn about Jack’s history as an English teacher and with abuse (of alcohol, of his son, and being a victim himself). King has a habit of creating very well rounded and well developed characters in his novels, and the only way to really appreciate his characters are to read them in the original fine print, but rest assured it is worth it to get behind what Nicholson and Webber were working with.
A new addition to my favorites, I only recently watched the Joy Ride trilogy this year and it is quickly one of my favorites (the second being the best). Rusty nail is ominous, but an easy to understand concept- a rogue truck drive. What I like about Rusty in the first movie, he was sympathetic. SPOILER AHEAD: in the first movie, our unseen Rusty Nail (played by Matthew Kimbrough and Ted Levine’s voice) was lead astray to an old run down motel under the impression he would be meeting a girl he had been speaking to. He came bearing gifts of wine and flowers, only to see the prank; and thus begins his ruthless reign of terror. Despite him being so awful and ruthless, I can’t help but think back to the first movie and think- man, they totally deserved it.
Tiffany Ray, Bride of Chucky (Cult of Chucky / Curse of Chucky / Seed of Chucky)
So crazy and so lovable, I was nearly about to call her the original Harley Quinn, but that would have been insulting. While it is often said the original Child’s Play trilogy was much better and it was in Bride that things got ridiculous, Tiffany Ray (played by Jennifer Tilly) is just too lovable for me to consider any other movie just as good or better. She has the biggest heart and biggest charm when she kills in both doll and human form, and while her banters with Chucky may have cheapened the look of the film, it was sweet to see him with a woman as bold as her. Finally, if anyone says Tiffany isn’t sexy, they’re just plain wrong.
Freddy Krueger, Nightmare on Elm Street
A longtime favorite of mine is Freddy Krueger, and he has been a favorite for the past thirteen years of my life. What I find so likable about Krueger is his charisma and humor in the originals that the remake lacks. He always had witty (and almost cringe worthy) one liners and while the movies are rather amusing as opposed to scary watching them back, they still hold true to entertainment no matter how they age- which isn’t all too bad. Robert Englund brought Freddy to life and made him terrifying yet fun to watch. I’m not one to buy box sets of series because of the money, but Englund’s performance made the thirty bucks all too worth it.
Lou Bloom, Nightcrawler
Deviating a little bit from the horror genre, we quickly dip into “suspense” territory with none other than our forgotten hero, Lou Bloom. In need of money, Bloom (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) takes it upon himself to set up and record bloody crime scenes and sells the raw footage to news stations. Simple enough for a film, what makes Bloom such a likable villain is the shamelessness of it all when viewers seen how desensitized he is to other people’s death including that of children. Nightcrawler is a movie I am surprised I don’t hear about much considering how well it was made and the story that took place as we watch our main character slowly spiral into his own bloody insanity, but I suppose it will go down as a hidden gem.
Milos, A Serbian Film
A very controversial pick, but hear me out! A Serbian Film is one of the few movies that makes me utterly uncomfortable every time I watch it, but it’s just all too well done. If yous trip away the controversy, however, you are left with a plot driven film with great writing and a protagonist that is hard not to root for. Milos, the main protag of the film played by Srdjan Todorovic, is one of only two protagonists on this list because of how well he is written and how easy it is to connect to him. A former porn star family man with money issues who wants to do the best for his son? Count me in. It’s really his likability that makes Milos one of the best horror movie characters, and seeing how selflessness leads him astray.
Leo Barnes, The Purge: Anarchy
In the peak of The Purge’s trilogy, we finally get the main character we were awaiting. As The Purge was pitched as a dystopian story of the rich running rampant, but the first installment fell flat. What really made the trilogy worth watching was when Sergeant Leo Barnes is put into the big picture. Lead by revenge, Barnes (Frank Grillo) is forced to watch over a group of four and keep them safe until the end of the purge while also following his own schedule and not letting anything get in his way. He is short in his answers and cold when spoken to, but he shows care in the way he protects his group of a married couple and a mother and daughter. Barnes is a character that is easily enjoyable because he is an Indiana Jones like figure in a dystopian society, and already (in the two movies he is featured in) we see him go from a determined avenger to a protector. Side note and spoiler: I’m still angry he did not end up with Eva. They were beautiful at the end!
Norman Bates, Psycho
Taking it back to 1960 with the first Hitchcock film I ever did see, Psycho. Say what you will about Norman Bates but he was one messed up man, and perhaps it was in part to directing but Anthony Perkins embraced that perfectly. From the taxidermy to the mannerisms, to the delivery of lines and the finish, Norman is simply creepy and every time you look back at the movie and rewatch it, there is something new to notice be it about the portrayal or the film itself. This all being said, the other three movies did not hold up to expectations, and it should have been left alone to Hitchcock’s original work, and the series did have it’s downfalls but perhaps I will try it again just to see how his story comes out.
Call him what you will but John Kramer is one clever S.O.B. On top of having to create all of the traps and ideas that are involved with his lesson plans, he also had to find the right people- not just any victim, but someone that deserved to have life flash before their ideas. He was a sick kind of “chaotic good” or “lawful evil” that made people appreciate life all the way up to his death and afterward. He was not just a slasher, but a teacher, and while his plans were slightly more than psychotic, it was hard not to root for a man with the right heart idea to be appreciative.