With Halloween less than a week away, it’s the perfect time to set the mood with these creepy classics from some of your favorite directors (Brian DePalma, Jonathan Demme and David Cronenberg to name just a few). Though the majority of them wouldn’t be classified as horror, they’re all thoroughly disturbing.
In alphabetical order:
American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000): It doesn’t get much creepier than Christian Bale as Patrick Batemen, a pathological yuppie with homicidal urges in this spot-on adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel of the same name.
The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez, 1999): Three student filmmakers head into the woods to make a documentary about a fabled witch and end up creating a mega-successful indie franchise that spawned a slew of “found footage” knock-offs. Stick with the original and you won’t be disappointed.
Carrie (Brian DePalma, 1996): Speaking of originals, stick with this original adaptation (as opposed to Kimberly Peirce’s 2013 version, also streaming on Netflix) of Stephen King’s book about an outcast teen with telekinetic abilities. The scene at the prom is a horrific allegory for the trauma of high school.
Manhunter (Michael Mann, 1986): Before Clarice Starling took on Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs” (also on this list), William Peterson played a retired FBI criminal profiler who gets inside Hannibal’s mind to hunt down a serial killer known as “the Tooth Fairy,” played to the creepy max by actor-writer-director Tom Noonan.
Night of the Living Dead (George Romero, 1968): This indie zombie film follows a family trapped in a rural farmhouse being attacked by hordes of the undead. Though it’s totally low-budget and cheesy, the image of the dead-come-back to life swarming the house looking for living beings will stay with you…we promise.
Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau, 1929): This silent classic, starring Max Schreck as the grotesque Count Orlok, might be the scariest Dracula adaptation of all time.
Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968): Mia Farrow (at the time married to Frank Sinatra) plays a pregnant woman (married to John Cassavetes) who may be carrying the spawn of Satan. Based on the bestselling novella by Ira Levin and directed by Roman Polanski (whose own pregnant wife was murdered by Charles Manson just a year later), “Rosemary’s Baby” is the definition of a psychological horror film.
Shivers (David Cronenberg, 1975): Written and directed by then newcomer David Cronenberg (and produced by Ivan Reitman), “Shivers” delves into fears of our bodies and sexuality in this story about a scientist who unleashes a sexually transmitted parasite that creates uncontrollable sexual desire in its host.
Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991): Jodie Foster won an Oscar for her riveting performance as FBI trainee Clarice Starling who ventures into a maximum-security asylum to dig into the disturbed brain of Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a forensic psychiatrist turned cannibal, in order to track a serial killer. You might want to watch this with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.