A few special guests join us on Close-up Culture for a Halloween treat as they share their favourite horror film of all-time.
Anna Biller (The Love Witch, Viva) – Psycho
I know this sounds cliché, but my favourite horror movie is probably Psycho (1960). It has a fabulous mix of horror, romance, and comedy with its light touches making it fun as well as scary. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I’m always riveted when it comes on television and I can’t tear my eyes away. It’s an attempt at trashy pulp made by someone who had spent a lifetime studying the craft of cinema and the art of manipulating audiences to feel finely tuned emotions, and it shows.
The thrill when I watch it comes from the story, of course, but also for the exhilaration of watching the beautiful craft—the high-contrast lighting, the pacing, the cutting, the way the film puts you inside of the characters. Hitchcock to me is like the Fred Astaire of filmmakers; endless practice of his craft to make it all seem effortless when in fact his feet were bleeding.
Chris Peckover (Better Watch Out) – Poltergeist
Oh, definitely Poltergeist (1982). Saw it when I was thirteen, was petrified, then so confused when there was a scene that made me cry. I’d never seen anything that hit both ends of the spectrum like that. It has been my inspiration as a filmmaker ever since. Terrify the audience, then touch them.
Mia Rose Frampton (The Row, Hope Springs Eternal) – Psycho
Without a doubt, my favourite horror film is Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. While getting my degree in film studies at Chapman University, I was lucky enough to see Hitchcock’s genre altering film in my school’s movie theater. Being able to see such a classic on the big-screen enabled me to see Hitchcock for the true genius he was. While the film does rely on a few classic jump scares, its beauty lies within the script, score, and unforgettably shot sequences.
Despite having aged over 50 years, it stands as a beacon of inspiration to filmmakers brave enough to pay homage to the king of terrifying tropes. Auteurs like David Fincher and Martin Scorsese have attributed their inspiration to the master of suspense. I, like Norman Bates, believe that we can all go a little mad sometimes… but hopefully not to a level of murderous proportions.
Lukas Feigelfeld (Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse, Interferenz) – Lost Highway
My choice falls on Lost Highway (1997) by David Lynch. It is not necessarily considered a horror film, but as I was thinking about it, I guess it had a much bigger and more disturbing impact on me than most other horror films.
I saw it as a teenager, one dark winter night alone at home, not really knowing what to expect. The beauty of the dark disturbance that Lynch created still fascinates me. The fear of not knowing what is reality and what is nightmare, the crumbling edges of this perception, dipped in a dark and calm shadow, tipped off with tempting sexuality, really makes this film stand out. It feels as if the film constantly whispers, just to scream at you at any moment.
[Lukas’ film Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse is now available on Blu-ray and VOD]
Kristen Solis (The First Purge) – Halloween
I come from a family of huge horror movie fans, so I grew up watching a lot of them. It’s hard to say which is my favourite since I’ve seen so many (and have even had nightmares about a few), but I would have to say my all time favourite horror movie is the original Halloween (1978), directed by John Carpenter.
Halloween has always been my favourite “holiday”, so watching this movie every year brings about a sense of nostalgia for me. There’s so much to love about this movie. Its central characters – Michael Myers, Laurie Strode, and even Dr. Loomis – will always be iconic to me in their recurring roles. I love how the story behind these characters has developed over time. Even the theme song – written by John Carpenter – is unmistakable.
It’s the kind of movie that has stood the test of time, and even after 40 years, we can still enjoy its story. Halloween is the true definition of a horror classic.
Eric Edelstein (Green Room, Twin Peaks) – Frankenstein
My favourite horror movie of all time is James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931). I saw it as a kid and was obsessed. I would dress like the monster and walk like him. My mom even made electrodes for my neck!
The early Universal movie monsters were just magical, terrifying and seemed from another world. When I get asked to play bad guys I try to remember what Boris Karloff did that made that part so special – he brought humanity and pathos to a monster and in doing it is much easier examine the monsters in the world and that live inside us.
Emma Bellomy (The Strangers: Prey At Night, Smoketown) – Insidious
My favourite movie has to be Insidious (2011). It is the perfect mix of great jump scares and a storyline that actually makes sense. Insidious is unlike any other horror film for many reasons. They step out of the overdone serial killer and ghost stories. They take afterlife to a whole new level and bring a second dimension into the plot.
It also did a great job having the audience experience the terror of the actors by keeping them in the dark about what was truly happening until the end. They also utilised music that strikes fear into the people watching such as Tip Toe (Through The Tulips). Overall, this film has a riveting storyline and truly terrifying details which is what makes it my favourite horror film to watch.
Gregg Bishop (SiREN, Dance Of The Dead, The Other Side) – Jaws
Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975). Not only is this my favourite horror movie, but it’s one of my favourite movies of all time. This was the first film I saw as a kid that truly terrified me and it was the reason I preferred the hotel pool instead of the ocean on family vacations.
Rhian Rees (Halloween, The Lears) – The Witches
My all time horror film is The Witches (1990). Does that count? Yes, I know it’s primarily for children, but there were so many moments of sheer unadulterated terror that shook me as a child and still haunt me today.
The scene with the little girl who was trapped inside the oil painting; she grows older and older until finally disappearing. The moment the grand high witch (Anjelica Huston) removes her wig. That scarred skin. Those yellow eyes. The way they would rock and fizz and emit this green smoke as they shrivelled into mice. Just horrible. Leave it to Roald Dahl to really tinker with your imagination.
Stephanie Nogueras (Unfriended: Dark Web) – Beetlejuice
I remember watching Beetlejuice (1988) as a young girl. That comedy-horror-fantasy movie has been stuck in my head ever since. To me, it is a perfect balance of comedy and horror. I was totally fascinated with every character, the outfits, sets, and props – every detail in Beetlejuice is mesmerising.
Over the years, I watched several movies of a similar taste and liked them very much. I was wondering why I liked them so much until I finally realised all of the movies were directed by Tim Burton. Now I greatly admire Tim Burton’s works. I know I would be utterly honoured and humbled to work with him.
Brytni Sarpy (Truth Or Dare) – Poltergeist
My favourite horror film is Poltergeist. It’s incredibly nostalgic for me, I’ve been a fan of horror films since I was a child (Child’s Play was my first horror film, but as a 5-year-old I didn’t realise it was supposed to be scary).
My favourite character is played by Zelda Rubinstein (Tangina), there is something so haunting about the way she says: ‘Carol Anne..’, I frickin’ love it! I am much more into horror that deals with spirits, ghosts and the unseen than serial killers and human villains.