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Editorial Cartoon: Alabama and IVF
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Published March 1, 2024

SCMC recommends 9 horror movies to watch this Halloween

UMN’s studies in cinema & media culture instructors and students share their favorite horror movies.
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Image by Mary Ellen Ritter

Horror movies are a Halloween must for many cinephiles, but playing Netflix roulette can be a dangerous game. Luckily, there is no shortage of movie experts on the University of Minnesota’s campus to ask for recommendations.

Eight faculty members and students from the studies in cinema and media culture (SCMC) department shared their top horror recommendations and why they love them.

“Get Out” (2017) dir. Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut stars Daniel Kaluuya in his breakout role, playing a Black man visiting his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Social comedy soon descends into bloody horror in this treatise on racism in America.

Senior lecturer Michelle Lekas and associate professor Maggie Hennefeld both highlighted this film as being one of their top horror film picks.

“I tend to love films that intermingle genres, especially comedic satire and body horror, and I think the ‘Get Out,’ ‘Us,’ ‘Nope’ trilogy does that nicely,” Hennefeld said of Peele’s three movies.

“It’s just fabulous,” Lekas said. “I’d recommend that everyone watch ‘Get Out’ if they haven’t yet.”

“Pearl” (2022) dir. Ti West

This recent release tells the origin story of the villain from another 2022 previous Ti West movie titled “X.” and gives the audiences a look at the titular character’s childhood life on a farm as she yearns for stardom and a more glamorous life.

Lekas recommended it saying, “I think it’s amazing. I like cinema about cinema, and ‘Pearl’ really does kind of go back to ‘50s color and construction.”

“Shaun of the Dead” (2004) dir. Edgar Wright

A great option for those who aren’t fond of horror movies but want to get in the holiday spirit. This British comedic horror movie follows the antics of a lazy bloke whose life is upended by a zombie apocalypse.

Robbie Wichterman, a third-year student studying in SCMC loves the way “Shaun of the Dead” uses suspense in a comedic, not horrific, manner.

“There is a lot of dramatic irony suspense, but there are no jump scares or anything like that,” Witcherman said.

“Don’t Look Now” (1973) dir. Nicolas Roeg

This thriller follows a couple grappling with the recent death of their young child as they take a trip to Venice, Italy.

Brad Stiffler, a SCMC lecturer, said this is one of his favorite horror films because of the way it turns experiences and environments that are not traditionally scary into ones that evoke fear.

“‘Don’t Look Now’ is about grief and tragedy, but in a way that turns it into an experience of dread and fear,” Stiffler said. “And, it’s about Americans in Venice, and it sort of turns beautiful Renaissance era architecture and the scenery of Venice into a frightening atmosphere.
Mulholland Drive (2001) dir. David Lynch

For those who do not like horror films, lecturer Cory Stockwell can relate. That’s why he recommended “Mulholland Drive,” which is more of an eerie drama.

An aspiring actress befriends an amnesiac and tries to help her figure out her identity in this sprawling and complex cinephile favorite.

“It is about two characters that seem to be falling in love with each other and who are constantly being mistaken for each other,” Stockwell said. “That is kind of eerie in itself if you’ve got a sort of double.”

“The Unknown” (1927) dir. Tod Browning

Hennefeld’s interests lie mainly in silent film, and her favorite horror film of all time exemplifies this passion.

“It’s absolutely ingenious,” Henefeld said.

The silent film follows a woman with a hand-phobia who falls in love with an armless knife thrower from the circus. From there, the plot only gets zanier as hidden identities unravel.

“Cinema had really figured out what it was doing, as a storyteller but also as a form of visual art,” Henefeld said of 1920s cinema as an entire medium.

“Hereditary” (2018) dir. Ari Aster

Hereditary consists of a family of four disintegrates in this instant classic that confronts the supernatural after a matriarch’s death.

Allison Macioch, a third-year student studying SCMC, said this is her favorite horror film because it continually interests her no matter the number of times she has seen it.

“I think it is such a layered film. There are so many theories about what the film means, and I find that so interesting,” Macioch said. “Every time I watch it, I find something new.”

“The Thing” (1982) dir. John Carpenter

A research crew isolated in Antarctica comes into contact with a violent and amorphous being in this creature horror.

“It’s a terrifying film, and it’s really well made,” SCMC lecturer James Snapko said. “Conventional horror films aren’t scary, but they’re entertaining and kind of a safer watch. I would say ‘The Thing’ pushes that a bit more.”

“Rose Red” (2002) dir. Craig Baxley

A group of psychics investigates a haunted mansion in this Stephen King horror miniseries.
Maansi Bhakta, a fifth-year journalism student with a SCMC minor, said this is one of her favorite horror movies because it is nostalgic in how scary it is.

“It spooked me when I was a kid, and I literally didn’t want to watch it, but years later, I think back and I’m like, wait, it’s really good,” Bhakta said. “It’s really creepy and eerie, and they are really good at jumpscares.”

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