Music can really conjure up fear and panic because of its association with a scary movie or show. For me, two such anxiety-inducing songs immediately come to mind.
"We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters – From the psychological horror film 1408 about a haunted hotel room (based on a short story by Stephen King), this otherwise sweet love song just gives me the creeps.
“Unsolved Mysteries 5-Hour Theme Song” – If the theme from Unsolved Mysteries doesn’t terrify you enough already, there is a 5-hour version of it to really give you nightmares.
On the other hand, I can really vibe to a song with a more lighthearted take on the paranormal.
“On Our Own” by Bobby Brown – From the Ghostbusters II soundtrack, this late ‘80s R&B dance hit is peak era Bobby Brown. Watch for an unexpected cameo in the music video.
For more Halloween tunes that are perfect for a party or to just get you in the spooky mood, check out the collection of classics on Now That's What I Call Halloween.
I know the Halloween season is near when I hear the ghoulishly groovy sounds of Donovan singing Season of the Witch. Then to kick it over the edge, I try some Blue Öyster Cult with the songs Godzilla and Don’t Fear the Reaper. The ghastly Alice Cooper is always good for some gruesome musical chuckles and I won’t even mention Rob Zombie (or will I?)
For cinematic thrills I turn to classic Hammer Film Productions like the 8-film collection Hammer Horror Series There is nothing like the cheesy chills that can be had watching grade Z horror movies being deconstructed and mocked on Mystery Science Theater.
I watch a lot of horror films. They're pretty much my thing. Just because I watch a lot of horror films doesn't mean I watch a lot of good ones. Horror is a fine art, the genre has been done to death (no pun intended), and it's full of tired tropes and formulaic plots. I'm always a little crestfallen when I spend some time watching a film and end up disappointed. After all, time is something we can never get back once it's gone. Nevertheless, I have seen several horror films in recent years that I thought were particularly worthwhile. Here are just a few that impressed me. These are all lesser-known films that skated by under the radar. Each of them is excellent and well-worth watching.
The Love Witch is about a beautiful witch whose love spells work a little too well. This film is gorgeous to look at, with brilliant colors and psychedelic vibes complementing its tasteful anachronisms. It's also available to stream on Kanopy.
Southbound is an anthology film of five disparate yet related tales of horror that all take place in the desert of the Southwest United States. After having gone on several road trips through this region, I can confirm that few settings are creepier for horror films. You can also stream this one on Kanopy.
Zombie films might be my favorite horror sub-genre. The Battery is a fine example of a film that refuses to rely on fancy special effects and meaningless dialog. Instead, we are treated to a very human story about two friends trying their best to cope in a new world. It was filmed on a $6000 budget, and it shows. It's probably exactly how a zombie apocalypse would go down. You can catch this one on Kanopy as well.
Eerie tension builds in this very overlooked film about a dinner party that morphs from a fun evening out with old friends to the party hosts revealing sinister agendas and motives. The Invitation is one of those films that sits with you long after the closing credits roll. It's a shame this one didn't receive more attention.
More recent horror films worth watching:
The Girl With All the Gifts
The Clovehitch Killer
As always, Kanopy has a great selection of films to enjoy, and for Halloween they’ve collected many of them on one page. Some highlights include What We Do in the Shadows, Nosferatu, and Teen Wolf. (All of these are also available on DVD at the library!)
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a classic that I have in the background at least once every year. Some other classics you can borrow from the library include Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Beetlejuice, and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Unhinged stars Russell Crowe as a crazy bearded beast who terrorizes a woman and her son after encountering each other on the road. The beast flips out after the woman simply honks her horn at him for not moving after the light turned green. I have experienced similar road rage from people. They didn't follow me, steal my phone, and attempt to kill my family, but it was still surprising and frightening to see how angry some people get just for going "beep beep". It makes one feel like honking at the wrong person can potentially be lethal.
To avoid offending other drivers, manage your own anger, and disengage from an angry encounter watch Preventing Road Rage.
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
Although director John Carpenter often wrote the scores for his films, he enlisted this famous film composer for the score of 1982's The Thing.
Last Week's Trivia Answer: Laura Esquivel