As of September 22, we are officially in the Fall season, which of course means Halloween is right around the corner. In addition to the ending of the oppressive heat and humidity of Summer, we now get arguably the most beautiful season, in which nature erupts into its tapestry of colors. The days grow short and dark, and those of us in the northern hemisphere prepare for a long cold winter. It is in this season, and the darkness it brings, that lends itself to horror movies. As we as a society become more and more desensitized to violence and the absurd, we continue to seek out new ways to shock ourselves, and sometimes we do so using the vehicle of the horror film.
I know what it means to be petrified of a film. When I was approximately 13 years old, I had nightmares for days over the movie Dead and Buried, which I saw by sneaking over to a neighbors house, as I was forbidden to see movies like this at my young age. Now, I have experienced hundreds of horror films, and I’ll do my best to bring the best of the best for you to experience this Halloween. I will restrict myself to the modern era of horror, which I identify as 2000-Present. We are undergoing a renaissance in horror, with the 2000’s being packed with quality, being delivered at an astounding rate. If you are curious about the finest Horror classics, there will be another forthcoming article before Halloween covering those as well. For now, let’s take a look at the best of the best of this era, and I will also include an enormous amount of honorable mentions at the end, to ensure your Halloween is packed with terror. As you may expect, I would not recommend allowing children to watch any of these films, unless you like the idea of ruining their lives.
5. It Follows
How does one devise a more unstoppable antagonist than even the Terminator? This movie answers that question with what has to be one of the more innovative concepts I’ve ever seen in a horror film. Setting up the characters, and the viewers with a sense of inevitability that is unmatched in modern cinema was a difficult challenge, but this film delivered in a big way. Combining the sense of dread with the requisite jump scares, It Follows has all the makings of a true classic.
If you read my review, you know that I believe this film will be considered an all-time classic 30 years from now. If you didn’t read my article, feel free to do that, and share it with your friends :) As I said there, it takes a lot to shock me, and Hereditary got me more than once. This is a near perfect film that delivers fantastic acting, cinematography, and plot structure. The runtime is slightly long, but overall, this movie delivers in a way few films can.
3. The Babadook
The ridiculous name alone almost made me miss this modern classic. I prejudged it based on that, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. An incredible psychological horror film of a family under duress where you can’t be sure what is real and what is not. Bringing a nightmarish children’s tale into real life without being cheesy brings a lot of challenge, but the filmmakers brought their A game and delivered what is sure to be an all-time classic.
2. The Descent
One of the most obvious horror tropes is the “Final Girl,” that is when it seems as if the last person to survive every horror movie is a young female. So, what happens if the entire cast is young females caught in a claustrophobic cave diving expedition? Original location and themes, great cast, innovative plot, and brutal gore bring the Descent into the pantheon of modern classic horror movies. I can assure you spelunking will likely never be a hobby you pursue after watching this film.
1. The Witch
“Wouldst thou like to live...deliciously?”
My favorite horror film of the past 40 years. I would have to go back to 1977 and older to find a horror film I hold in the same esteem as this Robert Eggers masterpiece. The only horror film on this list to which I give a perfect score, The Witch is the only film that I cannot even imagine an improvement one could make to improve it and believe me; I can imagine quite a bit. A folktale set in 1600’s New England, the Witch brings a nearly unmatched historical accuracy in dialect, beliefs, clothing, and even in processes such as construction and survival techniques. This, coupled with impeccable directing, acting, and cinematography set the Witch alone on top of the heap of modern horror. I had to watch it twice to truly appreciate it, but I now regard it as on the same plane with the greatest of all time, such as the Shining and the Exorcist. Plus, it has Black Phillip, possibly the creepiest animal in the history of cinema.
The Devil’s Candy - Heavy metal darkness, very nearly made the list.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003: Excellent Remake.
Texas Chainsaw: The Beginning: First-rate slasher film.
28 Days Later: Changed the Zombie film forever.
Evil Dead Remake: Best remake ever, I prefer it to the original.
Train to Busan: Best Zombie film of the modern era.
Wolf Creek 1 & 2: Crocodile Dundee meets Friday the 13th. Amazing.
The Conjuring: Nearly made the list, near flawless execution.
Get Out: Great concept by Jordan Peele.
Martyrs: Most disturbing film of the modern era. Might make you sick.
Cabin in the Woods: Incredible spin on horror tropes.
The Strangers: Top tier modern slasher movie.
Hell House LLC: One of the best “found footage” films ever.
There you have it: all the firepower needed to give yourself and loved ones nightmares for quite some time. Of course, horror is highly subjective, so even if you do not agree with my list above, the Honorable Mentions are sure to have enough for you to produce your own Top 5, and set up a creepy Halloween. Whether it’s Samhain, Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, or the Harvest Moon, have a great autumn!
If you enjoyed this article on Americana Prime, please share it and follow me on social media:
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeVPGyFM27xjnbFnC0q7\_UQ?
Get my book, Forging the Iron Mind: [https://amzn.to/2uxRvCs]
One of the best things about getting older is the benefit of having perspective and experience. Experience is one of those things you can’t steal, fake, or buy. It only comes with time.
I experienced a different Halloween.
30+ years ago, I remember which group was the primary enemy of Halloween. It was the church and the evangelical right. I remember churches used to HATE Halloween. Virtually every church used to run youth programs every Halloween, like movie nights, or youth fellowships to keep kids from trick or treating. The horrors of Halloween were always described in vivid detail, of how it was Satan’s doing, and someone would poison your candy or put razor blades in your Snickers bar. Now, it astounds me the switch that’s occurred. The primary enemy of Halloween has become the progressive left. Even as recently as 2014 you can find left wing outlets criticizing Christians for anti-Halloween practices. In the span of maybe 2-3 years, the cultural shift that’s taken place is staggering. All of a sudden, it’s the left that up in arms about Halloween. As the left has gotten progressively more radical, be it gender issues or mass immigration, Halloween becomes the newest casualty in the culture wars. Halloween used to be the one sacred cow among the left as they assaulted the various religious holidays, this recent attack proves that no institution is safe from the progressive left.
The War on Christmas I disagree with, but at least I understand it. Christmas is a Christian holiday, which makes the War on Halloween even stranger, because it’s been considered for a long time to be a secular holiday. Halloween’s origin is believed to have been Samhain, a pagan harvest holiday. However, the word Halloween or All Hallows’ Eve is actually of Christian origin, and All Saints Day, November 1, is actually meant to celebrate the Saints of the Church. Whether pagan or Christian, Halloween is an institution that has roots that are centuries deep. In addition, the act of wearing a costume originates in Scotland and Ireland, so the entire act of wearing ANY costume is technically cultural appropriation. For some reason though, I don’t hear the left complaining about appropriating Gaelic culture. It seems every holiday is on the left wing target list, Columbus Day, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and now Halloween.
You can currently find dozens of articles and thousands of tweets policing the costume choices people want to make. The concept of cultural appropriation as been around in academic circles for awhile, but didn’t really become a tenet of the left till about 2009 or so. As it started on college campuses, that’s where we usually see it coming from today. I actually read several of these college notices, and they are full of vague, pandering guidelines. It didn’t really start becoming a major issue till about 2014, so we are seeing a pretty recent trend. Now, let me state that I don’t support running around in blackface, for obvious reasons. There is actually a significant reason not to do that, as it was used in the past to make fun of and stereotype black people who were historically oppressed, but it isn’t just blackface that the left wants to police.
Want to dress as an inmate? Sorry that trivializes mass incarceration.
How about a psycho killer? Oops sorry that makes fun of mental illness.
Disney Princess? Promoting white supremacy and beauty standards.
Police officer? Sorry police brutality is nothing to condone.
Alternate gender? Sorry, that’s transphobic.
Clown Costume? Banned in several locations. Coulrophobia of course.
That doesn’t even begin to cover it. Sombreros, Kimonos, Native American headdresses, and a whole lot more are on the left’s puritanical appropriation radar. Personally, I always thought people dressed in those costumes because they thought that culture had a cool aesthetic, not to make fun of it. Am I appropriating Nordic culture if I dress like a Viking, even though I’m a white guy? I always thought people dressed up as things they thought were cool. Let’s be honest, every culture has some really cool aesthetics, so it’s a little strange to me that people would be so up in arms over it. As a matter of fact, I watched a video yesterday asking Japanese people what they thought of other people “appropriating” their culture. They thought it was awesome. They thought it was honoring and spreading what they consider to be an amazing culture. Numerous colleges have run “appropriation workshops” or seminars to determine what’s acceptable. There’s even an article in the New York Times about a mom who was triggered because her daughter wanted to be Elsa for Halloween, but she couldn’t stand the fact that Elsa promoted traditional beauty standards.
The roots of this are the left’s complete inability to deal with hurt feelings and the way they manufacture outrage to mobilize their base. We’ve raised an entire generation of people that are totally infantilized, and collapse into a heap of mush at every opportunity. Safe space culture and political correctness have bred an entire generation of radicals that believe we should all conform to their feelings. In their world, we should all think alike and no one should ever be offended. This is one reason I’m glad Donald Trump is the president. Political correctness must be destroyed, and every time he tweets or says something mildly inappropriate, I love it. He’s chipping away at this absurd politically correct culture, one tweet after another. A lot of these far left ideas have roots very recently. Cultural appropriation, Confederate statues, Safe Spaces, and so many other things have only been brought up in the very recent past. My theory is that Obama’s re-election in 2012 was the trigger point. They really thought they had won permanently, so it gave them the go ahead in their minds to go as far as they wanted. They also learned to organize around issues, and galvanize their base. The more oppression related issues they can manufacture, the more they fire up their base.
Regardless of whether you believe Halloween is secular or Christian, evil or good, it should be preserved if for no other reason than to keep triggering the left until the snowflakes are melted.
If you enjoyed this article on Americana Prime, please follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to my YouTube channel! Watch me on Periscope as well!
Steve is the author of Forging the Iron Mind, and is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.