It’s the beloved time of year again, when thoughts turn to all things dark, monstrous and generally terrifying. Every October, horror fans get to indulge in the gore, tension and blood-curdling screams that come with the best scary movies.
While any horror film fan worth his subscription to Fangoria magazine is well-versed in the hallowed franchises such as Halloween and Friday the 13th, we’ve poked around the vaults to unearth 10 equally scary movies that amount to one hell of an October movie night. From cult classics to obscure foreign films to even a couple of box-office smashes that still generate thrills and chills, dim the lights, stock up on the popcorn and call over that special someone you’ve just been dying to scare right into your lap during the really intense parts. And if you happen to hear strange noises coming from the basement, do not go investigate – grab your date and run!
This freaky Italian movie written and directed by horror legend Dario Argento (father of sexy actress Asia Argento) details a young dancer who moves to Germany to study ballet. There, she enters a surreal world where an alarming number of students end up majoring in grisly death. Gnarliest Moment: The movie’s first death scene is a trippy sequence where a woman is viciously stabbed before being thrown through a window and over a balcony with a noose around her neck. The scene ends when the camera pulls back to reveal another victim impaled by the falling glass and metal.
Evil Dead (1981)
While many have seen the countless movies inspired by this early ‘80s classic, director Sam Raimi’s gruesome story of five college students dealing with demons unleashed by an old tape recording is chock full of truly frightening moments.
Gnarliest Moment: It’s not every day a horror movie depicts a woman being sexually assaulted by a demonically possessed tree. So yeah, that happens.
28 Days Later (2002)
This flick is from the UK, directed by Danny Boyle, best known for 1996 release Trainspotting and producing the epic opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics. The tale of four people trying to elude chemically-induced zombies in London is among the proponents that brought zombies back to the forefront of pop culture.
Gnarliest Moment: Seeing one of the movie’s good guys turn into a zombie through an errant drop of infected blood is both grisly and kind of a bummer
The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
Few know horror like rocker Rob Zombie (even his remake of the legendary 1978 slasher flick Halloween was critically acclaimed), and he pulls out all the stops on this gory sequel to 2003 movie House of 1000 Corpses. Inspired by classic ‘70s slasher films, Zombie has earned his crown as King of Creepy.
Gnarliest Moment: When there’s this much blood and guts flying around, it’s hard to pick just one. But when a hysterical woman flees a grisly murder scene with the face of a corpse strapped her face before being mowed down by a semi is definitely up there.
The Host (2006)
This classic monster film is from South Korea, but the terror of a crazed water monster created from formaldehyde wreaking havoc on unsuspecting humans translates in any language. The Host gets big bonus points for revealing the nasty-looking creature early (and often) in the movie.
Gnarliest Moment: The first scene when the monster is revealed and runs rampant through a crowded park during broad daylight is nothing short of awesome.
This screamer comes from Spain, detailing a TV new crew following a team of firefighters into a scary old apartment building that’s crawling with a mysterious disease turning the residents into killer zombies.
Gnarliest Moment: Shot mostly through the perspective of a shaky handheld TV camera, Rec is loaded with scares. But in the classic horror movie tradition, they save the best for last, as the film’s climactic scene in a pitch-black room is beyond creepy.
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
A modern morality tale by horror heroes Sam and Ivan Raimi, this film about an upwardly mobile young professional trying desperately to undo a gypsy curse is full of freak-outs and just enough laughs to keep things movie. But between coughing up live flies and being tossed around a room by an unseen force, the chills definitely outweigh the comedy.
Gnarliest Moment: We have to give it to the film’s main character getting her face covered with goo straight from a corpse’s mouth. That was pretty gnarly.
The Loved Ones (2009)
Leave it to Australia to make a prom-themed horror flick that makes Carrie look like The Notebook. Combining the best of Fatal Attraction with a side of Misery, this unnerving story of a psychotic high school girl kidnapping the hot guy who turns down her invitation to prom (with help from her equally twisted dad) is as gruesome as it is awesome.
Gnarliest Moment: Picking just one is tough, but the scene when the wannabe prom queen “secures” her date to the floor after a failed escape attempt is seriously harsh. And then she brings out the power drill…
Human Centipede (2010)
While there’s not much that can be said about this bleak tale of an insane doctor sewing three victims together into one horrific “Siamese triplet” that hasn’t been said already, actually watching this bizarre overdose of gore is still quite the accomplishment.
Gnarliest Moment: The entire time this thing is playing is one big moment of extreme gnarliness.
Let The Right One In (2010)
There’s nothing quite like that first blush of young love, especially when the object of your affection turns out to be a vampire. That’s the plot of this gorgeously shot film from Sweden that finds a boy being bullied by his classmates developing feelings for the little bloodsucker next door. Gnarliest Moment: Seeing what happens to vampires who enter a home uninvited is a lot nastier than one might realize.
–Scott T. Sterling, CBS Local