By Susan Granger
Special to WestportNow
These are available for rent/buy on Prime Video, Fandango Now, and Vudu, plus others, as noted.
“A Quiet Place” … With its sequel scheduled soon, this eerie, angst-riddled “creature feature” stars Emily Blunt & John Krasinski as a married couple, living on a secluded farm in upstate New York after most of the civilized world has been decimated by an alien invasion of hideously hungry predators who detect their prey by super-sensitive sound … streaming on demand
“Child’s Play” … Mark Hamill (known best as Luke Skywalker) takes on the role of the iconic demon doll Chucky, turned deadly because of a manufacturing glitch … also streaming on Hulu
“Get Out” … Giving an astutely satirical jolt to “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” meets “The Stepford Wives,” Jordan Peele has created a social thriller that’s one of the most critically acclaimed horror movies in years. His subversive, surrealist sequences are stunning, depicting the soul-sucking danger posed by so-called “liberals” amid racial tension in America … streaming on demand.
“It Follows” … David Robert Mitchell’s indie chiller follows a young woman (Maika Monroe) who is relentlessly pursued by a supernatural force that no one else can perceive … streaming on demand.
“Let the Right One In” … Released before “Twilight” & “True Blood,” it started the vampire craze, focusing on the evolution of a friendship between pale, introverted 12 year-old Oskar and a sad-eyed female vampire named Eli in a wintry Stockholm suburb … streaming on Hulu.
“The Cabin in the Woods” … Drew Goddard & Josh Whedon turn the usual horror trope of college kids spending the weekend in a cabin in the woods and turn it on its ear. The cabin sits atop a bunker-like laboratory where scientists perform pharmaceutical experiments on the kids and monitor their behavior … streaming on HBO.
PLUS THESE OLDER FILMS, available on Prime Video, Vudu, and Fandango Now, plus others, as noted.
“Alien” … That’s where the line “In space, no one can hear you scream” comes from. When the crew of the spaceship Nostromo awakens from cryogenic freeze, they hear a distress call form another ship and discover a terrifying parasitic organism … streaming on HBO.
“An American Werewolf in London” … John Landis’ horror/comedy was groundbreaking in Rick Baker’s use of werewolf special effects, winning him the first-ever Best Makeup Oscar.
“Carrie” … Brian DePalma’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel got Sissy Spacek a rare-for-horror Oscar nomination for playing a telekinetic teen bullied by her mother and fellow students.
“Halloween” … John Carpenter’s story starts with six year-old Michael Myers stabbing his nude sister, beginning the still-popular slasher genre. Available also on Apple TV.
“Hocus-Pocus” … Disney transforms the story of three hanged Salem witches brought back to life to seek revenge on local children into a scary movie that’s not too terrifying for youngsters. Bette Midler plays the evil Winifred Sanderson, dead for 300 years, crashing a Halloween party, singing, “I Put a Spell On You.” Plus there’s Sarah Jessica Parker & Kathy Najimy … streaming on Disney+.
“Night of the Living Dead” … George Romero’s zombie tale with a cast of unknowns that’s now become a touchstone of the horror genre … streaming on HBO and Apple TV.
“Rosemary’s Baby” … Roman Polanski’s scary interpretation of Ira Levin’s novel, starring Mia Farrow. Tony Curtis has an uncredited cameo as the voice of Donald Baumgart. The Blu-Ray has a cameo with Joan Crawford & Van Johnson playing themselves which was later cut.
“The Exorcist” … William Friedkin’s thriller—with teenage Linda Blair playing the possessed Regan ManCiel—was the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture; it eventually won for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Sound.
“The Silence of the Lambs” … Directed by Jonathan Demme, it’s still the only horror picture to win a Best Picture Oscar, plus Academy Awards for Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. Available on Netflix too.
AND, OF COURSE, THESE CLASSICS:
“Cat People” (1941), starring Simone Simon as a woman afflicted by a family curse in which strong feelings of anger or sexual arousal turn her into a predatory creature—forget the 1982 remake with scenery-chewing Malcolm McDowell.
“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1932), Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale, starring Fredric March.
“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1941), starring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, and Lana Turner.
“Freaks” (1932), Tod Browning’s carnival performers wreak vengeance on a beautiful trapeze artist who married one of their own for money.
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1939), starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Hara.
“The Phantom of the Opera” (1925), the high point of silent horror, starring Lon Chaney.
“The Picture of Dorian Gray” (1945), with George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed, and Angela Lansbury.
(Editor’s Note: Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See her reviews at www.susangranger.com.)