Mathew Gracie
Mathew Gracie
December 2, 2019

A Curated Watch-list for the Spooky Halloween Thrill Seeker

Still frame from The Witch (2015)

-Scooby Doo on Zombie Island

Rating: 0.5/5 Spooks, a Very Fun Time

If we’re going to dive deep into a horror phantasmagoria to get spooky this Halloween season, we’re going to have to pace ourselves. And what better way to start than with the animated classic, Scooby Doo on Zombie Island? Beginning after the members of the Scooby Gang have gone their separate ways, the crew is reunited when they join Daphne, now a travelling host of a reality TV show, and seek to debunk the “haunted” Moonscar Island off the coast of Louisiana. Released in 1998 as the first installation of a four-part direct-to-tv anthology, Scooby Doo on Zombie Island appears with a unique art style in the Scooby-verse and was the first time a story contained actual supernatural creatures rather than people in costumes. There’s probably no better way to kick off your Halloween watch-list than this.

-It Follows

Rating: 4.0/5 Spooks

Moving into spooky territory and keeping with the supernatural, we move onto It Follows. This one is a whole lot of fun. Released in 2013, the film follows a teenage girl named Jay, as a daisy-chain-curse which paints its victim as the target of a supernatural entity who stops at nothing to kill its prey is passed along to her—and the only way to get rid of it is to pass it along to someone else. The horror from this movie is palpable. Alongside the moral dilemma of passing along such a dreadful fate to somebody else to save your own skin, the movie’s monster has some interesting characteristics: it doesn’t move faster than a walking pace, yet it always knows where you are and does not pause in its pursuit—meaning you can never escape from it, only bide your time. The tight pacing and cacophonous soundtrack act as the propellant for this movie to turn up the heat in our viewing list.

-The Green Room

Rating: 3.5/5 Spooks

There are many words that can be used to describe The Green Room—visceral, grisly, frightening—cute and cuddly certainly aren’t any of them. This movie plunges the viewer into a gory dark descent into the whirlwind experience of a punk band on tour who gets sucked into far more than they bargain for. Strapped for cash, the band accepts a gig at a seedy bar without much information to go on other than that it’s a paying performance—though it turns out to be a bar run by a gang of neo-nazi skinheads. Upon witnessing a murder backstage in the venue’s green room, the band finds themselves fighting for their lives when they themselves are locked in and attacked by the loathsome white supremacists who want to erase any trace of their vile crime. If you’re looking for a slasher that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat and make your stomach churn, this is the film for you.

-The Witch

Rating: 5/5 Spooks

Perhaps my personal favorite, Robert Egger’s 2015 debut, The Witch, is a movie whose story will stick with you long after watching. Packed with an incredible ambience and cinematic environment that creates a sense of unease, the movie doesn’t hold back in taking the viewer to the dark parts of the human psyche it wants to explore. The film follows a New England puritan family as they are banished from their settlement and begin to create a life of their own, homesteading in the nearby woods. The movie will have you questioning the root of the evils that unfold, and gawking at the seeming curse that has befallen this family as it pits them against one another and begs them—and the audience—to question what they believe in.

-The Return of the Living Dead

Rating: 2/5 Spooks, Plenty of Laughter

By the end of this watch-list, we’ve gone through a lot of heavy, thrill-inducing films, and how else could we top it off than with the ultimate horror comedy zombie film, The Return of the Living Dead? This macabre zombie squeeze is a masterclass in walking the line between spooky and hilarious—drawing upon what are now the many tropes of zombie movies and utilizing a straight-up goofy cast of characters with names like “Scuz” and “Trash.” This movie is downright a good time and the perfect cherry on top to finish this series of movies with. Fun fact: this is the first zombie film where the undead specifically hunger for and vocalize their enthusiasm for “Braaaiiiiins.”

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