Axe wielding madmen, demons, ghosts, and flesh eating zombies are among the most iconic villains in film history. Every October, we submit ourselves to the wrathful command of these ghouls, in an art form that aims to thrill and scare the living hell out of us. We must be crazy to let these screen phantoms push us back into darkness of our living room, right?
As the cold, autumn air whisks dead leaves through your neighborhood and the days become shorter, consider grabbing a bowl of popcorn, dim the lights and rent one of these sinister horror classics from your Netflix service.
The Conjuring (2013)
Destined to be a classic, James Wan’s summer blockbuster harkens back to 70s horror, mixing elements of Poltergeist and The Exorcist to create one of the most chilling haunted house films in years. Paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, try to save a family from the evil spirits.
Grossing $70 million on a $325,000 budget, John Carpenter’s tale of the “Shape” lurking around Haddonfield, Illinois is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.
Sure, the wheels of the Halloween wagon are worn out, spawning countless imitators and sequels, but Michael Myers matched with the iconic piano-based theme song are too tied to the holiday of its namesake to ignore.
The Shining (1980)
What would we do without Stephen King’s twisted imagination? He’s contributed so much to horror that he’s become his own sub-genre.
Horror fans have touted this Kubrick masterpiece as a horror staple for three decades. This is what happens when you lock an alcoholic father, a child with ESP, and a nervous wreck mother into a haunted hotel in the middle of the snow covered Rocky Mountains. A standout Nicholson performance.
The slasher genre that gave us Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Ghostface owes itself to this Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece.
When he’s not taking care of his roadside motel, Norman Bates loves to spy on his female guests through holes in the wall. This one may not be as frightening in our desensitized, post-9/11 society, but the film-making methods employed are second to none.
Cape Fear (1991)
This one’s a bit less obvious and deserves more credit. Before Millenial’s knew Robert De Niro as Ben Stiller’s goofy father-in-law in Meet the Parents, he turned in one of his most chilling performances as Max Cady in Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake.
Cady is the epitome of sleaze. Sporting oily hair, tattoos all over, a Appalachian drawl with a habit of quoting Bible verses. He goes on parole after serving 14 years in prison and is now stalking the family of the attorney that failed to get him off free. De Niro creates a villain to remember.