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Friday, October 31, 2014

GeekRex Horror Essentials: Haunting Films

Halloween is fast approaching, and the mood for horror movies has been struck. If you're looking for something scary to watch, look no further: all month we'll be giving our list of essentials horror movies in a given subgenre! This time: Haunting Films!

Kyle's Pick
The Shining (1980)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick

A pretty typical pick if there ever was one, but, its hard to argue with one of the most influential horror films of all time from one of the greatest directors the world has ever seen. With The Shining, Kubrick took Stephen King's ghostly parable for alcoholism and turned it transcendent, making the haunted house film by which all other films in the sub-genre are judged by. From Jack Nicholson at his most unhinged, to the numerous and seemingly random imagery, The Shining is as good as this kind of thing gets. This is the kind of film that's held in such high esteem, no one can even agree what, if any, its underlying themes are (just watch the documentary Room 237 on Netflix for about 10 minutes and you'll get the gist). Side-note, I'll almost went with the Japanese film HAUSU, but I refused to let this list go Shining-less.

Hannah's Pick
The Ring (2002)
Directed by Gore Verbisnki 

The Ring is my quintessential "When was the last time I saw a movie that was really scary? Probably not since..." movie. With an awesome performance from Naomi Watts, The Ring is a surprisingly not-dated story for a movie that centers around a haunted VHS tape. This is also a movie that doesn't solely rely on cheap tricks, excessive gore, or loud noises/music cues to make the audience jump. It aims instead for the psychological horror and the dread of anticipation. The scary moments are well-paced, never rushed, and the fairly simple special effects make for a fairly horrifying ghost. 
Alexander's Pick
The Innocents (1961)
Directed by Jack Clayton

A young woman applies to a position as governess for two precocious young children living in a country manor. She has no qualifications other than her love of children, but her warmth wins their uncle over and she is hired. But when she learns that the previous governess was in an abusive, ultimately-fatal sexual relationship with the now-deceased valet, she begins to suspect that the children were corrupted - or, in a hellish twist, possessed by their ghosts. The Innocents is one of the great, under-seen horror films, and one of the few haunting movies that genuinely works both as a tale of supernatural devastation and as a view of one woman's descent into madness. Grounded by a bravura performance from the late, much-missed Deborah Kerr and with gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, this is one you can't miss.

Shane's Pick
The Conjuring (2013)
Directed by James Wan

Okay, I'm probably the only person here at GeekRex who liked this movie, but The Conjuring was a great surprise when the horror genre currently has a lot of weak spots among wide releases.  Creating a series of paranormal horror films around the real life cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren is a great idea, and Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play the parts excellently.  Some great old and new haunted house scares abound in this film.

Harper's Pick
The Changeling (1980)
Directed by Peter Medak

Not terribly well known, but on top of it being scary as all get out, it's a fascinating study of tragedy and it's long-term consequences. George C. Scott tries to settle in a new house after the accidental death of his family, but the house seems to be haunted by a childlike entity, one whose history is slowly uncovered after a deeply disturbing seance scene. 
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