Halloween is on its way and horror film suggestions are in full flow. Is there anything better than a scary movie, a bowl of sweet and salted popcorn and a freshly rolled joint? I mean genuinely, everything considered, is there actually much better than that? Of course there is – world peace for example – but that’s besides the point. Today I’ll be giving my top 6 horror films to watch this Halloween, made before the turn of the century.
The pre 2000s were a historic time for scary movies and a period that any film buff should explore. Every trope and technique of horror was trialed and tested before the 2000s, making these films the rawest and most authentic of them all. Grab yourself a gram of your finest weed, probably a friend to protect you, and delve into this spooky and intense film list.
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The Golden Era for Horror
The pre-2000s are often considered to be the golden era for horror films. A time where all of the usual tropes – the jump scares and spooky narratives – were perfected. The 80s especially were a key evolutionary time for the genre. With the creation of slasher movies, came a new wave of scary movies. These films, in essence, contained blissfully unaware teens being brutally murdered in creative and brilliant ways. They laid the way for a lot of gory chase films to follow in the post-2000s. Skill Set Mag writes:
“It’s a fact that 80s horror movies will always be the best. There, we said it. We can hear the young voices crying out, “What about “Saw”?… Yes, we know there are plenty of horror movies with dark-haired girls crawling out of televisions that are creepy. We enjoyed those as well, but they wouldn’t exist without the foundation of success studios enjoyed with the horror movies of the 1980s.”
The pre-2000s not only birthed some of the most common tropes of horror, but also some of the greatest ever characters. These include the likes of Freddy Krueger in Friday the 13th and Michael Myers in Halloween. With televisions being more commonly found in households, these characters were becoming iconic household names. The world of horror was getting a name for itself. That is why, if you love scary films, it would be a disservice to yourself to avoid the pre-2000s. There are hundreds to choose from, but these are my top 6. Make sure to watch at least one of these this Halloween, with a joint to surely enhance the fear factor.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist is considered one of the scariest – if not the scariest – movies of all time. Nothing really compares to the 2 hours and 12 minutes of pure and lasting horror that this film induces. It doesn’t need jump scares, it doesn’t need cliches, the Exorcist is in a league of its own. A girl is left possessed and in need of an exorcism after playing with a Ouija board.
It won an Oscar award for best adapted screenplay and was nominated for countless others. Many younger people – including myself – may only know the Exorcist from the parody exorcism scene in the first Scary Movie film. However, I implore you, to see beyond this and watch the actual film itself. Roll up a joint, beg a friend to join you, and enjoy watching horror history this Halloween.
2. Blair Witch Project (1999)
Whilst the Blair Witch Project only barely makes it into the pre-2000s list in regards to the date it was released, this film most definitely deserves its place. A major reason for this is the way it was filmed. The film tells the story of three student filmmakers who decide to film a documentary about a forest they believe, light heartedly, to be haunted. The movie is filmed by them – shaky, unprofessionally and personally.
Whilst this style of horror film takes a little bit of time to get used to, it subsequently makes the scary moments a million times more effective. It watches like a genuinely true story, and you feel as if you’re there with them. You’re made aware that you’re watching recovered footage, which makes it all the more haunting. The Blair Witch Project was one of the most successful indie horror films of all time and led to many other directors using this found footage film technique, such as Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield. The whole experience will only be heightened by the presence of some Mary Jane.
3. The Shining (1980)
The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on Stephen King’s novel, is considered by some as the best film ever made – all genres included. This movie unnervingly sticks with you, with most of the story feeling more psychological than gory. Although, there are plenty of slasher moments too. Jack Nicholson plays a father who takes his family to an abandoned hotel for the winter. Due to the isolation and something sinister about the hotel, he slowly begins losing his mind and becomes an unsafe presence for the rest of the family.
Nicholson is unmatched in this movie and his portrayal of the deterioration of the mind is haunting. Many will know the movie for its iconic scene where Jack hacks a hole in a door and pokes his head through, shouting: ‘here’s Johnny’. This memorable line was supposedly improvised by Nicholson and yet will never be forgotten by horror film fans. Do yourself a favor, get stoned and watch the Shining this Halloween. You will not regret it.
4. Scream (1996)
Ever wondered where the Scream mask that everyone wears at Halloween originates from – well this film is the culprit. Well actually, to be pedantic, its more genuine origin comes from the 1893 painting by Edvard Munch. Nonetheless, this film – a true staple of the slasher genre – is definitely worth a watch. Even if only for nostalgia.
Scream is certainly not the most critically acclaimed on this list, but it still remains a classic for its wit, jump scares, gore and creativity. The film revolves around a high school serial killer who wears a mask and is unknown by everyone – but Sydney aims to find out the true identity. This is probably the closest thing to a stoner horror film on this list. “Whatsaaaaaaaap?”
5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a key example of a pre-2000 classic that birthed one of the greatest horror characters of all times. Leatherface – a cold blooded killer that literally wears his victims faces – is iconic and unforgettable. The movie follows a group of students whose car breaks down in the wrong place at the wrong time. A family of cannibals find them and aim to murder them all. The film slogan fittingly reads: ‘who will survive and what will be left of them?’. This movie was actually banned in many countries when it came out for its major moments of disgusting gore. There are quite a few of these films, with another one released only this year, but the true praise should be given to the 1974 original. If you’re looking for a horror classic that will surely fill you and your friends up with fear and masochistic fun, then watch this.
6. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Similar to the Shining, Silence of the Lambs deserves recognition as an all-out incredible movie. Not only do Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster’s outstanding performances make the film what it is, the story is also a thrilling psychological exploration into a serial murderer. A young FBI agent (Jodie Foster) must receive the help of cannibal murderer Hannibal Lechter (Anthony Hopkins), in order to catch a different criminal.
With 95% on Rotten tomatoes, this film is one of those that you have to watch in your lifetime. Hopkins won the Oscar for best actor and it won the best picture award too. This one is definitely for the film lovers out there, and may not make you jump out of your seat, but will definitely make your seat less pleasurable to sit in. Roll up and watch this Halloween.
It’s hard taking film recommendations at the best of times, it’s even harder when a holiday comes along and you want to ensure you enjoy your time off. Too often do people shy away from older films, fearing they may be less engaging or too out of touch. These films will not leave you disappointed. They are classics for a reason and will certainty – with the help of cannabis – make for a memorable Halloween.
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