Halloween approaches. You go to the store and buy the requisite amount of candy needed to meet that delightful extortion plea, "Trick or Treat", that you will subject yourself to a dozen or so times on this annual evening of horror, cuteness and sugar overload. Or you just buy the candy knowing you won't be answering the doorbell because you plan to curl up with your loved one and/or friends to watch some great golden old movies.
Get your beverage of choice, grab that extra bag or two of candy that you bought just for you and yours, and watch a movie or two. The gory ones are low hanging horror fruit, you know what they are, and you either watch them or avoid them. We will not address them here.
What is listed here are some classic movies which are good for anytime of the year, but seem just a bit more special around Halloween. Here is a list of nine not so obvious gems. More thriller and suspense than horror and gore, but smart and engaging. Enjoy!
This is the story of a beautiful, innocent woman who marries a charming man who tries to drive her insane. Gaslight is one of the greatest psychological thrillers ever made. Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Angela Lansbury's first film, directed by George Cukor. What more is there to say? This is a great movie.
A young woman (Joan Fontaine) marries a fascinating widower only to find out that she must live in the shadow of his former wife, Rebecca, who died mysteriously several years earlier. The young wife must come to grips with the terrible secret of her husband (Laurence Olivier). She must also deal with the jealous, obsessed housekeeper (Judith Anderson), who will not accept her as the mistress of the house.
The Innocents (1961)
A British supernatural movie stars Deborah Kerr and Michael Redgrave and is based on the novella, The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. It is the story of a governess who watches over two children and comes to fear that the house is haunted by ghosts and that the two children are being possessed.
Directed by F.W. Murnau and considered by some to be the scariest of the all the vampire movies. If you want to get your horror geek on, watch this one. It sets the standard for the vampire genre. In this movie, Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and the real estate agent's wife. The story is narrated from the diary of Johann Cavallius, historian of the city of Bremen, who is wondering if it was the Nosferatu who brought the plague to Bremen in 1838. What could possibly go wrong?
While we are on the subject, it would be rude not to mention the dashing Count Dracula played by Bela Lugosi, who after hypnotizing a British soldier and making him his mindless slave, travels to London and takes up residence in an old castle. Havoc ensues, young women lose copious amounts of blood and turn into vampires. When he sets his sights the daughter of a prominent doctor, the vampire-hunter Van Helsing is enlisted to put a stop to the count's bloodlust.
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) is determined to prove the legitimacy of his father's scientific work and saving the family name from disgrace. With the help of 'Ygor' (Bela Lugosi), a grave robber, Wolf successfully reanimates the monster (Boris Karloff) that his father originally brought back from the dead. Villagers are found dead. Is it the monster or someone else who is responsible?
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Bookend Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, and Boris Karloff with Mel Brook's great movie with Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman and Peter Boyle. This classic is, to this humble viewer, one of the most enjoyable journeys into the horror genre possible.
Arriving at the castle in Transylvania, Dr. Frankenstein soon begins to recreate his grandfather's experiments with the help of servants Igor.... I would be remiss if I did not mention that Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, and Madeline Kahn supply the magic.
The Birds (1963)
Concerned about the environment? This one raises a few questions.
An American horror-thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on the 1952 story of the same name by Daphne du Maurier. It focuses on a series of sudden, unexplained violent bird attacks on the people of Bodega Bay, California over the course of a few days.
The Exorcist (1973)
Remember the stir that this one caused? This is a true do-not-eat-before the movie horror film! When a teenage girl starts acting strangely, a tad beyond mood swings, and takes up levitating and speaking in tongues who does the mother call on for help after the doctor gives her the "this must be in her head" shrug? The priests. Good and Evil go to the mat.