Mudd’s top horror films

Halloween movie extravaganza

By Chris Mudd, Staff Writer

It’s time to abandon midterms and dive headfirst into candy town now that Halloween is coming up. But while we recover from our inevitable sugar coma, why not check out some horror films to pass the time? I’ve taken the liberty of compiling some of the best the genre has to offer, in my opinion.

To this day, John Carpenter’s “The Thing” boasts some of the best creature effects in film. The 2011 remake of the film is a pathetic waste of a movie, but the 1982 film is an absolute horror masterpiece. After discovering an alien pod deep in the arctic ice, a team of researchers must survive as the creature slowly kills them off. The alien has the ability to take the physical form of any creature it kills, which makes everyone on screen a potential enemy. Like an exceptionally violent game of Clue, every scene is an adventure in paranoia. From the aforementioned creature effects to the incredible soundtrack and cinematography, “The Thing” is well worth watching.

Next up is the 2007 film, “Paranormal Activity.” While over time the movie has lost some of its luster, especially in the wake of the myriad of terrible sequels that followed, Oren Peli’s original film is a pretty creepy ride. The film takes the found footage formula – a movie style using first-person perspective and less-polished filming to give the impression of a real story à la “The Blair Witch Project” – and makes a pretty compelling human drama out of what could easily be cliché interactions. The character Katie has been pursued by a demon since her childhood, and her jerk of a boyfriend attempts to prove its existence through video evidence. This is one that’s best watched alone and with headphones, as the subtle sound cues are an integral part of the horror.

While “Paranormal Activity” attempts to creep out the viewer with slow and methodical steps, “28 Days Later” throws blood in their face. An action-packed zombie romp, the 2002 film directed by Danny Boyle is largely responsible for the zombie genre revival that we’re still dealing with today. It’s intense, bloody and terrifying in its own right. There’s something about rampant diseases that freak me out, especially when that disease makes a person crave human flesh.

If zombies and demons aren’t doing it for you, maybe another alien movie will do the trick. Ridley Scott’s 1979 film “Alien” made the void of space scarier than it’s ever been before. The chest-bursting aliens that roam the spaceship have become a staple of cinema and rightfully so. Considering Ridley Scott plans another addition to the franchise with a sequel to “Prometheus” in a few years, it’s never too early to climb on board the Nostromo. Just don’t poke the eggs.

Lastly “[REC],” a Spanish film by directors Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza which also applies the found footage formula — this  time to a hotel placed under quarantine. A news reporter follows a local fire department as they examine the building, only to discover zombie-like symptoms in the tenants. The reporter ascends the building in search of the infection’s source, but things only get worse from that point on. With only a few jump scares, “[REC]” is a far from a Hollywood powerhouse, but nonetheless remains a favorite of mine every October.

Horror films have definitely gained a bad reputation for terrible sequels and cheesy plots over the years, yet within the quagmire, there are some real gems that have earned their place in the filmic zeitgeist.