Like most of you, we are horrified at the progression of this presidential election. It’s unsettling, scary and hard to process. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve turned Sick Pilgrim over to the spooks this month. Because, really, these kind of scares can be cathartic when real life stresses us out so much we’d rather not get out of bed.
So, if you need a good movie (or movies) to watch, Jess and I came up with a good batch of them. Enjoy!
A young couple moves into an old apartment building and all hell breaks loose. Literally. I admit it: Mia Farrow’s pixie cut is my favorite part of this movie. But it’s also the best creepy neighbor film of all time–and that’s a fiercely competitive genre. The lullaby that Farrow sings over the intro credits, “Sleep Safe and Warm,” belongs on A Sick Pilgrim Halloween Playlist.
I loved The Babadook so much I wrote an essay about it and appeared on Technicolor Jesus to talk with the preachers about it. It’s a horror movie about grief that reveals it as the demonic, nightmare presence that it really is. We see that it can’t be completely evicted or exorcised or gotten over, but that it must somehow be confronted and … tamed.
An homage to Wes Craven that turns out to be a fascinating exploration of eros and thanatos, or why sex equals death for teenagers in horror movies. Christopher West should use this in a Theology of the Body talk at a high school. Bonus points because it’s low on gore, high on the psychological terror (Catholic) teenagers endure after having sex.
This old school (really old–1929) Disney short has become a Mesman-Griffith household tradition, airing daily from October 1 through All Saints. We even project it on a sheet in our yard on Halloween night for our Trick-or-Treaters. We know most of the dance by now. Pretty sure we’re gonna be the next Von Trapps.
Most people find it hard to believe that I don’t actually watch a lot of horror movies and when I do, I prefer the old school, Universal monster movies. But, a few years go, I went on the press junket for The Conjuring. The movie scared me, delighted me with its focus on scaring you with what you barely see, and the deep faith issues at play.
This movie is hard to write about, because the “found footage” genre is so overdone. But, when Blair Witch hit the theaters, no one had ever seen anything like it. True, this movie probably only works the first two or three times you see it, but it’s truly terrifying. Everyone can imagine getting lost in the woods and being chased by what you can’t see. Plus, add the fake “folklore” element to it, and its got everything you’d want from a truly scary movie.
Modern horror, by and large, is just boring. It rarely plays with your mind and truly scares you. Sure, it can gross you out, but that’s about it. But, there is something about the black and white atmospheric scares of the Universal monster movies that give me the shivers.
Really, do I need to explain this one? Its one of the most terrifying (and Catholic) movies of all time. It will make you think about why, when demons or bad things come, everyone always calls a Catholic priest. For me, theologically, it’s one of the reasons I became a Catholic. I’d been struck by the Church’s power over the demonic and realized the reason for it: apostolic authority.
Two years ago, my best friend from Utah introduced me to this movie. It’s absurd silliness as it spoofs all the 1950’s horror/science fiction movies. It’s now become a Halloween tradition my house. The best part is the talking skeleton. “Hi, Betty.” Larry Blamires is just an under appreciated comic genius. Filmed in Skeletorama vision.
Once upon a time, in Texas, an insurance/fertilizer salesman bet that he could make a horror movie. Well, he did, and he gave us the worst movie of all time. How bad is it? So bad that you shouldn’t watch the real version. You need to watch the Mystery Science Theater version, so that you can laugh along with them at the horridness of this movie. “What kind of talk is that? Crow: “It’s dirty, sleazy talk.”