Instructional Media Center
• Horror Movies •
With the approach of All Hallows' Eve, consider one of the many fine films in the horror genre to copilot your quasi-satanic celebration. And for your own horror-movie, haunted-house, socially-distanced, film-fest, don't forget to reserve a projector and screen from the IMC. These films include some pretty graphic depictions of gruesome violence. Check IMDB descriptions and associated keywords for possible trigger warnings. For a complete list of horror films by title click here.
Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror - PN1995.9.H67 N684 2009 DVD The original Dracula movie from famed silent film director F.W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as Count Orlock, is considered the first critically acclaimed horror feature film. Nosferatu premiered in 1922 with different names for the main characters, as the studio did not acquire copyright clearance of the screenplay from the Stoker estate. The real horror came from the ensuing lawsuit for copyright infringement, which they won – with a court order to destroy all copies of the film. Luckily, one copy survived and begat many copies which continue to play among the canon of great films.
Psycho – PN1995.9.H6 P8935 2000 DVD A man, a mother, a motel, and a maiden in distress, culminating in a most unfortunate shower scene. Hitchcock originally envisioned the scene in complete silence. Composer Bernard Herrman went ahead and scored it anyway.
The Shining - PN1995.9.H6 S565 2007 DVD Stanley Kubrick directs this Christmas classic with jolly old Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and a supporting cast of fun-loving kids (the twins are adorable). As caretakers for a lodge, the Torrance family gets snowed in, making the best of it with games of make-believe, indoor tricycling, and high-stakes hide and seek. Scatman Crothers provides comic relief. Red rum for all!
Halloween – PN1995.9.H6 H3556 2003 DVD The most common reported nightmare is being chased by the monster that can't be killed. You can thank John Carpenter for that. You can also thank him for reestablishing theme music as part of the horror film aesthetic. In a reverential nod to Hitchcock and Psycho, Carpenter cast Janet Leigh's daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, in the lead role. And while you're in the mood, check out Halloween Ends, now in theaters. It seems Halloween is also the movie franchise that can't be killed.
Friday the 13th – PN1995.9.H6 F76 2011 DVD This quintessential summer-camp-blood-bath kicked off the 80s vintage of slasher films, which raised the stakes in terms of creative extermination and iconic supernatural serial killers. It also turned the retro hockey goalie mask into an instant Halloween costume. Interestingly, the franchise's most iconic symbol doesn't show up until part III. And the franchise's iconic killer makes only a brief appearance at the end of part I.
Nightmare on Elm Street – PN1997.A1 N54 2010 DVD The next series of iconic 80s slasher films was launched by Wes Craven in 1984, starring the gruesome Freddy Krueger, a burn victim with a penchant for haunting teenagers’ dreams with his razor sharp protrusions and wit. The film masterfully blurs the line between dream and reality, viscerally escorting the audience into exhaustive contemplation over which realm they are experiencing, The sequels devolve into laughable caricatures of themselves, including a crossover with Friday the 13th – but the original film remains a pillar of the horror genre.
Carrie – PN1997 .C367 1976 DVD Brian De Palma directed the first Stephen King film adaptation to devastating effect. Carrie White is a painfully shy high school senior, who is mercilessly teased by fellow classmates. Life at home isn't any better with her religiously domineering mother. When an elaborate prank to humiliate Carrie reaches its climax, she unleashes her telekentic rage to the audience's horror and vengeful satisfaction. On her way home, she kills John Tavolta.
Rosemary’s Baby – PS3523.E7993 R672 2000 DVD A young couple with family plans moves into the ornate Bramford - a building with a rather unpleasant reputation and some odd neighbors. When the mother to be (an outstanding Mia Farrow) becomes pregnant, she finds herself increasingly isolated by those around her, who seem to have mysterious ulterior motives. Roman Polanski's film then gave birth to the demon-child genre as it was followed soon after by The Exorcist, The Other, and The Omen.
The Exorcist - PS3552.L392 E962 1998 DVD Undisputed champion of demon-child films, The Exorcist, raised the bar on shock horror. When a young girl becomes possessed by the devil, a priest and his apprentice commence exorcising. Head turning gore ensues. Nominated for 10 Academy Awards.
Jaws – PN1995.9.H67 J398 2005 DVD Selachophobia: the fear of sharks. If you don't have that phobia, you will. Surfing in the US was down 20% following the release of this movie. Although Speilberg pulled out all the stops to manifest the iconic killer fish, it's John Williams' character theme that evokes real horror.
Poltergeist – PN1995.9.H6 P658 2007 DVD Some of the visual effects haven't held up over time but the plot and performance make this one of the scariest movies ever. Haunted house – check. Desecrated Native burial ground – check. Creepy kid that talks to spirits – that too. All the clichés are in place and played out to perfection. But the scariest thing about this movie… the tragic, real-life death of the young actors after the movie’s release.
Alien – PN1997 .A456 2003 DVD Conversely, Ridley Scott’s Alien, made in 1979, has held up quite well in terms of special effects - everything from the sets to the emergence of the little creature itself (chronicled in this test audience reaction). The crew of a commercial space vessel returning to earth answers a mysterious distress call, only to find several egg-like objects, which should probably have been left alone. This movie launched modern horror sci-fi and several sequels of varying quality.
An American Werewolf in London - PN 1995.9.H6 A54 2009 DVD Comedy writer/director John Landis (Animal House) wrote and directed this bizarre movie that is equal parts comedy and horror. Two friends backpacking across London are attacked by a werewolf, resulting in one animated corpse and one werewolf. Surprisingly good special effects - for 1981.
The Blair Witch Project - PN1997 .B535 1999 DVD True story about three film students who venture into the forests of Maryland in search of evidence of local folk legend "The Blair Witch" never to return. A year later, their film footage was found and turned into a documentary.
The Babadook – PN1995.9.H6 B333 2015 DVD
If it’s in a word or it’s in a look
You can't get rid of The Babadook
If you really are a clever one and you know what it is to see
Then you can make friends with a special one
A friend to you and me
His name is Mister Babadook
And this is his book…
I’ll soon take off my funny disguise and once you see what’s underneath
Take heed of what you've read
You're going to wish you were dead
Get Out - PN1997.2 .G48 2017 DVD Jordan Peele's directorial debut won him the oscar for best original screenplay. When a young couple decides it's time for a meet-the-parents weekend, the boyfriend notices some rather odd racially-charged interactions with the parents and their friends. And some even stranger behavior from the working staff.
Us - PN1997.2 .U7 2019 DVD Jordan Peele ratchets up the horror in his follow up "Us". Adelaide is haunted by a traumatic event from her youth. Those feelings begin to reemerge on a vacation 30 years later. When the family returns from a day at the beach, they are visited that evening by a gang of dopplegangers who want to kill them. "Who are you?" Adelaide asks... "We are Americans!" Amazing double performances by Lupita Nyong'o and family.
Candyman - PN1995.9.H6 .C36 2020 DVD A graduate student researching urban legends goes to Chicago’s Cabrini Green housing project in search of information on the legend of Candyman. Skeptical of the myth, she tempts fate by saying his name 5 times in front of a mirror - and we're off. The movie does an effective job intertwining the fear of urban legend with the societal fears of urban reality. Fast forward 30 years later - Nia DaCosta and Jordan Peele recently teamed up as director/writer for the 2021 edition, which revisits the now gentrified neighborhood, exploring the same macabre folklore.
Cronos - PN1995.9.S7 C765 2003 DVD Guillermo Del Toro's first feature film (1993) -
El orfanato - PN1995.9.S6 O7435 2008 DVD
It - PN1997.2.I8 2017 DVD Wikipedia serves up the introduction to this movie properly - "In October 1988, Bill Denbrough gives his seven-year-old brother, Georgie, a paper sailboat. Georgie sails the boat along the rainy streets of small town Derry, and is disappointed when it falls down a storm drain. As he attempts to retrieve it, Georgie sees a clown in the sewer, who introduces himself as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. The clown entices Georgie to come closer, then severs his arm and drags him into the sewer." Stephen King horror ensues.
It Follows - PN1995.9.H6 I82 2015 DVD Having nothing to do with the above... After a sexual encounter, 19 year-old Jay is haunted by visions of inescapable horror. As visions become reality, her friends desperately try to save her from the curse that follows. Debates about the movie's message range from AIDS allegory to the aftermath of sexual assault.
Audition - PN1995.9.H6 O35 2009 DVD One of the best in contemporary Japanese shock horror... A widowed film producer seeks a new wife at the urging of his son. He holds an audition for an imaginary film, during which he is smitten by a beautiful actress/former ballet dancer fallen on hard times. In the end, it was the actress auditioning her next victim.
Let the Right One in – PN1997.2 .L48 2009 DVD Swedish vampire movie, adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist's Swedish bestseller, about a girl who has been 12 years-old for a long time. The best of the bunch in contemporary vampire film.
Interview with the Vampire - PN1995.9.V3 I58 2009 DVD Dip into decadence with this gothic horror, based on the 1976 novel written by Anne Rice, centering around a centuries old vampire spilling all the secrets of how he came to being a creature of the night - the relationship complexities of the sire who turned him, the debauched fringes of society his kind saturate, and the painful recollection of those he doomed, in particular, the feeding on and subsequent turning of a young child in the darkest of plague ravaged times. A gorgeously shot film and a mesmerizing glimpse into the melancholy of a cursed man living lifetime after lifetime in sadness and understanding that immortality is not a gift. Also, this movie features Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt who in the 90s were a mash of biggest movie star meets even bigger movie star…so there’s that.
Little Shop of Horrors - PN1995.9.H6 L58854 2006 DVD “Feed me, Seymour!” A magical 80s comedy/horror musical that has an unassuming florist finding a renewed vigor to his life and a chance at romance all thanks to the help of a plant, a gigantic literal man-eating plant who demands to be fed. This movie is a totally entertaining romp from start to finish, complete with catchy song & dance, exotic plants, and murder. Rick Moranis as a shoulder-slumped shop worker is perfection but it’s truly Steve Martin’s performance as a sadistic dentist that steals the show.
The Stepford Wives - PN1997 .S746 2004 DVD Based on the 1972 novel written by Ira Levin, who was also responsible for penning Rosemary’s Baby, this tale centers around a woman who moves to the idyllic suburb of Stepford, Connecticut. There she encounters a disturbing amount of cookie cutter wives whose primary goal in life is to please their husbands. She begins to suspect that perhaps there is something sinister going on in the town and that these women have all been programmed against their will. At its core, it is social commentary of the times on women’s rights and the desire for men to retain control, keep up unrealistic appearances, and have subservient robotic housewives at their beck and call. Not exactly the thrills and chills of Halloween horror, but plenty of legitimate reasons to be frightened. The paranoia builds quite tightly throughout this film and the ending leading to a satisfying slow burn. Definitely worth a watch as the fashion alone is reason enough to stay glued to the screen. You will never look at what you wear to go grocery shopping in the same way again.
Eraserhead - PN1997 .E735 2005 DVD David Lynch's first feature film was not all that well received. From Variety - "Set, apparently, in some undefined apocalyptic future era, Eraserhead consists mostly of a man sitting in a room trying to figure out what to do with his horribly mutated child. Lynch keeps throwing in graphic close-ups of the piteous creature, and pulls out all gory stops in the unwatchable climax."
A Quiet Place - PN1997.2.Q54 DVD Alien monsters with supersonic auditory senses seek to annihilate the human race, forcing the few survivors into a life of silence. Despite some obvious major plot holes in this premise, the tension and dynamic audio range capture something unique in contemporary horror.
The Blob - PN1995.9.S26 B5 2000 DVD A small town is menaced by a mass of protoplasm from outer space, which turns blood-red and grows larger as it consumes residents. The film was Steve McQueen's debut leading role. See it for the creative silicone-laden special effects and for the hilarity of 30-year-olds playing bad teens.
Don't Breathe - PN1997.2 .D66 2016 DVD "Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn't as helpless as he seems." (IMDB)
Hereditary - PN1997.2.H47 DVD From the Reed catalog - "When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, her daughter's family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry."
Suspiria – PN1995.9.I8 S872 2007 DVD Here’s a clip from the IMDB plot synopsis. “While alone in the bathroom, she becomes transfixed by a pair of shining eyes outside the window, and a decidedly inhuman arm smashes through the glass, grabbing her. She is pulled out of the window onto the roof, stabbed numerous times, and then hanged by a cord when she falls through the skylight. The huge pieces of glass and metal that break out of the skylight fall on Pat's friend, killing her by impaling her body and her head in numerous places.” Enough said.
Deep Red – PN1995.9.I8 D446 2007 DVD “A psychic who can read minds picks up the thoughts of a murderer in the audience and soon becomes a victim. An English pianist gets involved in solving the murders, but finds many of his avenues of inquiry cut off by new murders, and he begins to wonder how the murderer can track his movements so closely” (IMDB)
Tigers Are Not Afraid - PN1995.9.S7.T24 2020 DVD From IMDB - "Estrella is 10 years old and has 3 wishes: The first one, that her missing mother comes back and it happens. Her mother returns but she is dead and follows Estrella everywhere. Petrified, Estrella tries to escape from her by joining a gang orphaned by violence. Soon she realizes that dead are never left behind and when you are in the middle of brutality and violence, wishes never come true the way you want them to be. "
El libro de piedra - PN1997.L3576 2009 DVD - From Wikipedia - "Julia is hired to be the governess of a young girl, Sylvia who has an emotionally distant father, Eugenio, and a new stepmother, Mariana. Sylvia insists that she plays with a little boy named Hugo - whom the adults all see is a stone statue in the courtyard. When strange things begin to happen, the adults begin to wonder if Hugo may be more than just an imaginary playmate.
Zombie - PN1995.9.I8 Z6525 2004 DVD "Girl seeking lost father turns up on Caribbean island aided by journalist and two locals, where they meet an English doctor, trying desperately to cure a plague which brings the dead back to life!" (IMDB)
Don’t Look Now – PN1997 .D658 2002 DVD from the Reed catalog – “Psychic terror in a Gothic setting provides the chilling backdrop in this tale of a couple's search for the ghost of their dead daughter.”
Les Yeux sans Visage – PN1995.9.F67 Y94 2004 DVD from the Reed catalog - “A plastic surgeon, holed up in a Paris mansion, is obsessively slicing off the faces of kidnapped women and grafting the flayed skin onto the rotting countenance of his beloved young daughter, disfigured in an automobile accident.”
Thriller - youtube If you're hosting a Halloween dance party, you gotta kick it off with Michael Jackson's classic zombie funkfest.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre - PN1995.9.H6 T49 2006 DVD
Multiple Regression Results for Predication of Overall Fright
Neuendorf, K. A., & Sparks, G. G. (1988). Predicting Emotional Responses to Horror Films from Cue-Specific Affect. Communication Quarterly, 36(1), 16-27.