Classic Horror Picks for Halloween

David Lynch’s films straddle many genres: Is Blue Velvet horror, murder mystery, comedy, satire of smalltown America? But his most obvious contribution to the horror cinema was his first feature, Eraserhead, dubbed the fans the weirdest film ever made, in which a young man confronts the deformed child born of a barely remembered assignation. “Weird” is probably an understatement.

Watch Out Behind You!

Nosferatu, A Symphony of Terror (1922), F.W. Murnau’s stylized vampire tale starring Max Schreck, was the first (and still the best) film version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula — even if it wasn’t an authorized adaptation.

Some vampire aficionados may prefer Bela Lugosi’s aristocratic air, or Christopher Lee’s overpowering seductiveness. But Schreck’s thin and ghoulish appearance seemed the perfect visual depiction of the bloodsucking vampire stalking his victims.

Stoker’s widow sued for copyright infringement and won, but fortunately she did not succeed in having every print destroyed, so this classic continues to see the light of day.

A highly theatrical depiction of four ghost stories transposed to Japan, Kwaidan’s cool aesthetics, jaw-dropping cinematography and deliberate pace made the film even more chilling. In the tale Woman in the Snow (which was deleted from original U.S theatrical prints), a beautiful apparition that drains the life from a man lost in a snowstorm spares a woodsman’s life, but only if a promise made can be kept. In Hoichi the Earless, a man is painted with holy text to protect him from a vengeful spirit. Unfortunately, vengeful spirits are rarely tricked so easily.

At its most basic level, the 1979 science fiction thriller Alien was a rehash of The Thing, in which an isolated group is terrorized by an unknown creature.

But the startling makeup effects and stunning production design by artist H.R. Giger helped made this a smash — which in turn made Sigourney Weaver, the most resourceful of the hunted crew of the Nostromo, a star. It also sported the very best ad line ever used for a horror film: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

Ah, but they can in apartment complexes. So keep your voices down.

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