I’m not going to pretend that on Halloween I don’t ditch every party (not that I necessarily get invited but that’s besides the point), buy those huge boxes of candy, and curl up to watch AMC’s Fear Fest. But this Halloween I decided to do something a little different: watch some great pieces of film that are scary but aren’t classified as “horror films”.
So if you’re wondering what you should watch this Halloween and you’ve grown a little tired of the constant Friday the 13th marathons, check out this list for a different kind of scare.
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
I know that many people have heard of this movie, but surprisingly many still haven’t seen it. The movie follows the lives of four different characters: Harry (Jared Leto), Sara (Ellen Burstyn), Marion (Jennifer Connelly), and Tyrone (Marlon Wayans), as they struggle with addiction. As the movie progresses, you’re exposed to the terrifying world of drugs and how difficult the lives of addicts are. Shock therapy, infected veins, and a disturbing sex scene are all present in this film. Despite the horrors, this movie is exceptional.
Don’t let the title fool you—this movie is full of hard-to-stomach scenes. Beginning with a psychologist (Dylan Baker) who rapes two of his young son’s classmates, the movie goes on to show some pretty gruesome scenes of suburbia gone wrong. What makes this movie super-creepy, though, is the context: the film is set up like a ’50s sitcom with chipper music and “wholesome” families. I’m not going to lie; it’s pretty messed up to watch a father and his 11-year-old son discuss penis size like it’s normal. The film is disturbing but so good.
After Keller Dover’s (Hugh Jackman) daughter is kidnapped, he goes on a hunt for the man he believes had something to do with it. After kidnapping Alex (Paul Dano), his suspect, Dover tries to find his daughter through any means necessary. It’s a great film about how far we might go to save our families, even if we never thought we had it in us. I don’t think I would ever torture someone nearly to death, but hey, who’s to say? And that’s the point of the movie.
I STAND ALONE
Following the life of a rude, racist butcher (Philippe Nahon) who harbours a hideously inappropriate romantic love for his young daughter, this movie has totally stained my memory, and not in a good way. Watching a disgusting man punch a pregnant woman, thereby ending the life of her unborn child, has the potential to make you sick. If that’s not bad enough, the final scene of this film comes with a literal 30-second warning before it’s played so audiences can leave while they still have the chance.
SALÒ OR 120 DAYS OF SODOM
Now, August Underground usually takes the title for people getting kidnapped and tortured, but since I would consider that flick a horror movie (even if it is torture porn), I’m giving it to Salò. Four powerful Italian men kidnap 18 teenagers (nine boys and nine girls) and subject them to four months of brutality. In case you’re wondering, scalping, public rape, tongues being cut out, and eyes getting gouged are all shown in this film. What makes this particularly scary is the thought that people do get kidnapped and subjected to gruesome acts like these all the time. The believability of the film makes it terrifying.
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
This movie is based on the true story of Sylvia Marie Likens’s murder and follows her life as she is locked in the basement by her psychotic caregiver, Gertrude. Called “the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana”, everything that Likens went through at the hands of Gertrude, her awful children, and the terrible neighbourhood kids is shown to the audience. This film doesn’t skimp on the gory details of Likens’s torture and it’s terrifying to watch.
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
I can’t even begin to tell you how incredible this Kubrick classic is despite all its horrors. Set in a futuristic Britain, Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) and his troop of “droogs” go on a crime spree ranging from beating a homeless man nearly to death to crippling a husband as they rape his wife while singing “Singin’ in the Rain”. I know it’s bad to say the scene is a classic one, but it really is, and if you can stomach all the violence and disturbing content, this film is one of the best I’ve seen.