When it comes to the horror classics this Halloween, there’s one place to go: Sky Cinema. You won’t find a silent 1920s flick here, nor many foreign gems, but from Psycho to Rosemary’s Baby, there are scares aplenty.
Don’t have Sky? A NOW TV Sky Cinema Pass costs £9.99 a month and gives you access to all of the Sky Cinema catalogue, both live and on-demand – and, as such, you can expect the usual suspects, from critically-acclaimed genre stalwarts to a couple of modern gems.
Never trust a goat. That could be the moral of the story in The Witch, which sees a Christian family head into the forest to live a more devout life in 17th century New England. Director Robert Eggers mounts an atmosphere of pure horror through chilling visuals, a haunting score and a palpable sense of unease. Across 90 slow yet beautiful, minutes, The Witch slips under your skin and leaves you squirming in discomfort. A genuinely creepy horror.
Roman Polanski’s classic, about a woman who thinks that she might be carrying the spawn of Satan, is a nailbiting slow-burner that finds its terror in the quiet, unspoken sense of the mundane gradually slipping into nightmare. Mia Farrow excels.
The Silence of the Lambs
How do you catch a serial killer? Ask a cannibal. Thomas Harris’ premise for his Hannibal Lecter series sounds corny on the page, but Jonathan Demme brings it to life with a classy, chilling air – not least because of Anthony Hopkins’ unnerving performance as the psychopath, and Jodie Foster as trainee FBI agent Clarice Starling. A rare example of a genre feature winning an Oscar, let alone the Oscar for Best Film, Actor, Actress, Director and Screenplay.
From Janet Leigh’s memorable shower scream to Anthony Perkins’ twitchy motel owner, Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller about a woman on the run, who finds herself on the wrong side of a mummy’s boy, is a masterpiece of suspense.
Alfred Hitchcock followed Psycho with this classic nature-bites-back chiller, which sees Tippi Hedren surrounded by sinister beaked threats.
The Thing (1982)
John Carpenter’s classic sees a remote Antarctic research station infiltrated by a shape-shifting alien. Who can be trusted? And who will make it out alive?
Back before they tried to give Riddick his own Chronicles, David Twohy’s stripped down sci-fi thriller was a fantastic B-movie beast. Vin Diesel’s gravelly voice, some smart CGI and top-notch creature design combine to make a surprising, fun 110 minutes that prove you don’t need money if you have ideas. Well, that and massive goggles to let you see in the dark.
The Thompsons, a loving family living in a peaceful suburb are the very definition of wholesome normalcy. But on the eve of their thirteenth wedding anniversary their usual babysitter has to cancel, leaving Dan and Joyce to call upon a new girl who seems like a dream come true to their three children. As the night creeps on, the kids slowly realize something is very wrong and this woman is not who she claims to be.
Stephen King’s classic tale of teenage retribution is turned into an iconic piece of horror cinema by Brian De Palma, with Sissy Spacek playing the eponymous high-school misfit with previously hidden powers of telekinesis.
The Addams Family
Just in time for Christmas comes this family flick, which sees the cartoon characters of old given a live-action make-over from director Barry Sonnenfeld. From Thing (here a desembodied hand) and Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester to Christina Ricci’s Wednesday Addams, this perfectly cast outing is creepy, kooky and altogether likeable.
What is Clover? In short, it’s a giant monster. Where is it from? No idea. What’s its motivation? Not a clue. All we know for sure is it’s big, mean, and it can decapitate the Statue of Liberty from 50 paces. Matt Reeves’ thoroughly modern monster movie captures the immediate terror of destruction from ground level. Come for the thrills and fascinating creature design. Stay for the subtle, smart framing, which prevents us seeing too much of what’s going on.
10 Cloverfield Lane
Dan Trachtenberg knocks this sequel out of the park, as Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up in an underground shelter built by Howard (John Goodman). He says there’s an alien attack outside that means she can’t leave. Is he telling the truth? This nerve-jangling psychological thriller deliberately keeps you guessing right up until its superb finale.
M. Night Shyamalan is back in business with this creepy psychological horror. It begins with the abduction of three teenage girls – BFFs Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), plus loner Casey (The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy). They wake up in the underground lair of one Kevin Crumb (James McAvoy), a man whose struggles with dissociative identity disorder are about to take a profoundly unsettling turn.
The Sixth Sense
“I see dead people…”
The Girl with All the Gifts
Following a deadly fungal outbreak, survivors live in secure military bases while the infected roam outside as mindless, flesh-eating ‘hungries’. But children born to hungries are different – they can think. Although treated like dangerous animals, symptomatic youngsters like Melanie (newcomer Sennia Nanua) are key to any cure. So when the base is breached, Melanie finds herself accompanying her kindly teacher Helen (Gemma Arterton), chief scientist Caldwell (Glenn Close) and skeptical soldier Parks (Paddy Considine) on the ultimate survival mission. Eerie, intelligent, moving horror.
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
If it’s simple slasher thrills you’re after, this by-the-numbers sequel remains one of the defining horrors of the 1990s.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Henry Selick’s stop-motion animation manages that rare feat of being spooky and silly all at the same time. Funny, sweet and featuring a whole host of perfect Danny Elfman songs, this Halloween-Christmas mash-up is a masterpiece of Gothic fantasy that’s so good you get to watch it twice a year.
This trashy sci-fi about a ship that goes beyond the boundary of space and human sanity combines Sam Neill’s unnerving stare and some strange visuals to truly freaky effect.
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