For a gory night in this All Hallows Eve, indulge in these harrowing and gruesome flicks. From Italian horror to Stephen King's finest—here are our top seven picks.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy", or should we say, a homicidal boy. This eerie Stanley Kubrick adaptation of the Stephen King novel, The Shining, tells the story of the Torrance family, who move into the opulent and ominous Overlook Hotel, so father Jack (Jack Nicholson) can write in peace. Tranquility within the mountain-locked grounds doesn't last long, as son Danny's alter ego "Tony" starts warning of REDRUM. Make sure you take note of Kubrick's signature trickery, with mother Wendy's knife switcheroo towards the end of the film—the knife moves from right hand to left and back again within a colour scheme, which switches too, from blue to red.
Tenebrae represents director Dario Argento's return to the subgenre 'Giallo', which is an Italian term indicating crime fiction, horror, mystery and eroticism. The combination of a number of visual/ audio flourishes, numerous killer-cam points of view and some crazily over-the-top blood drenched kills, makes Tenebrae the ultimate slasher. What could be better than an early 80s synth soundtrack mixed with costumes reminiscent of early Armani meets new Celine and gallons of blood? Make sure you crack a bottle of red to accompany this one.
The Upper West Side setting of Rosemary's Baby, a building called the 'Bramford' in the film, is in reality known as the 'Dakota'. Home to John Lennon for seven years, and the location of his murder, this gothic masterpiece is the perfect backdrop for a tale of mistrust, paranoia and Satanists. Mia Farrow plays the bright yet somewhat naïve housewife Rosemary Woodhouse, who after a strange demonic encounter within a dream, wakes to find scratches on her body and soon learns she is pregnant. What she doesn't know at the time is that she is carrying the spawn of Satan. Interesting fact—Rosemary's hairdo in the early scenes of the film was a wig, which concealed her headline making Vidal Sassoon crop.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Written and directed by Wes Craven, A Nightmare on Elm Street tells the story of spectral child murderer Freddy Krueger, who stalks the children of the lynch mob who killed him, whilst in their dreams. The film transgresses the boundaries between the imaginary and reality. This 1984 classic was the film debut of Johnny Depp, whose character Glen Lanz meets his demise by being pulled through his mattress by a razor claw clad Krueger, and then spurted back out in a claret volcano of hemoglobin. The creepiest thing about this film is that it was inspired by a string of reports in the LA Times about the deaths of young and healthy immigrants from Cambodia, who died in their sleep after being terrified of going back to rest.
The first Stephen King novel to be published and adapted for film, centres around a reclusive, strange and friendless 16-year-old girl who is abused by both her peers, and her fanatical Christian mother Margaret. Carrie's telekinetic power is introduced during the famous shower scene, when she gets her first period. The other girls taunt her with the chant "plug it up, plug it up", and as Carrie becomes more distressed, a light bulb bursts. Margaret accuses Carrie of the "curse of blood", and that night a miserable Carrie stares into her bedroom mirror, which causes it to shatter. The prom scene where Carrie is crowned Queen and then drenched with a bucket of pigs blood is one of the most famous images in horror. Quentin Tarantino named it his 8th favourite film of all time.
The Silence of the Lambs
Clarice Starling is a young F.B.I. trainee who has to put her trust in the hands of a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer, Hannibal Lecter, in order to apprehend a madman dubbed 'Buffalo Bill', who flays his female victims. Both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor Academy awards for the film, even though Hopkins' screen time totals at only 16 minutes. The Silence of the Lambs was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant by the American Library of Congress in 2011 and selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry. Top three minutes of this film? Buffalo Bill dancing around to Roxy Music's 'More Than This' while he transforms himself into a woman.
If you thought the words New Zealand, horror, comedy and gore had nothing in common: think again. Braindead is the grisly masterpiece by The Lord of The Rings director Peter Jackson. Lovestruck teen Lionel Cosgrove's domineering mother Vera is bitten by a Sumatran Rat-Monkey (a result of tree monkeys being raped by plague-carrying rats, according to legend) and she slowly turns into a ravenous zombie. By the end of the film, Vera has become a gargantuan monster who picks up Lionel and stuffs him into her womb. Lionel cuts his way out of his mother's gruesome transformation in a 'rebirth' using a crucifix given to him by his girlfriend's mother. Braindead was, surprisingly, not nominated for any Academy Awards.