I have a love-hate with the horror genre. I hate getting scared, but I love a good story. Horror teaches writers about raising stakes, sudden twists, and how people respond to fear. And don’t forget the parodies! Here are some of my favorite movies to watch during the haunting season, from earliest to most recent.
1943: The Phantom of the Opera – I first watched this on a late show with two older cousins when I was about nine or ten. Claude Rains unmasking as the Phantom scarred me for life. If only I’d known Andrew Lloyd Weber was going to turn it into a musical.
1961: The Innocents – Deborah Kerr as a governess to two young children who may be possessed by ghosts. Or she could just be crazy. One of my all-time faves.
1963: The Birds – ‘Psycho’ gets more press, but showers never made me as nervous as birds did after seeing this movie. It was another late show, and I think I watched it for the first time with those same cousins!
1974: Young Frankenstein – Oh, the clichés! Gene Wilder’s bad marcel waves! The double entendres! Frau Blucher! Thank you, Mel Brooks.
1979 was a bumper year for fear. All three of the following movies came out then.
Dracula, starring Frank Langella: If you consider vampires sexy, you probably have Frank to thank for it. Reprising a role he created onstage, he was the first truly seductive, charming vampire. And he didn’t sparkle. Or stalk. He didn’t need to.
Love at First Bite: A spoof of Dracula that stood up well on its own comedic merits. Drac moves to New York City after his castle is sold for back taxes.
Alien: Sigourney Weaver kicking alien butt. Nuff said.
1984: An American Werewolf in London – A legitimate werewolf movie, but with lines like “Mummy, a naked man stole my balloon.” James Naughton is my gold standard were-guy.
2004: Shaun of the Dead: Simon Pegg makes the best zombie movie ever.
2007: The Mist – Back in the land of true horror here. Thick fog still creeps me out, and the ending is brilliant. Horrifying, but brilliant.
2013: Warm Bodies – It’s not Shaun of the Dead, but what is? How can a romance writer resist a retelling of Romeo and Juliet with zombies?
What scary movies, or spoofs of them, do you watch this time of year? Do you have any recommendations to add to this list?