In 1978, a little indie horror film made big news. Director and producer John Carpenter, who also made the film’s memorable score, made Halloween on a $325,000 budget in 21 days. The story of a creepy-masked Michael Myers and his homicidal impulses was a success. As a child, we see him kill his older sister, and after 15 years have passed, he escapes the mental facility where he was being held, and goes on a killing spree as he tries to reach a young woman, Laurie Strode. Grossing over $70 million worldwide, it was also entered into the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2006.
Adapted from The Haunting of Hill House, a novel by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting brings the story of an old, haunted house, Dr. Markway, a paranormal researcher and his quest to prove the existence of ghosts, and Eleanor, a spinster whom the house wants for its own. It’s a generally respected and revered film, built on suspense and building tension through the use of atmosphere and often showing up on lists of “The Scariest Movies…” Since the first time I watched the movie, it has been one of my favorites. The 1963 version, that is. Not the remake.
Clive Barker’s novella, The Hellbound Heart, prompted the script for Hellraiser by none other than Barker himself. Barker also went on to direct the film, and a cult classic was born. The movie’s popular and well-known character, Pinhead, is the leader of the Cenobites, a group of mutilated creatures. Once a small puzzle box is opened, it also opens a door into a different dimension where the Cenobites live, and pain and pleasure have no boundaries. There have been nine films in the franchise to date. It is to be noted that it is the lowest grossing horror franchise in the United States.
The Hills Have Eyes
A disturbing film about a family stranded in the Nevada desert that become victims to a deranged, disfigured group of cannibals. Written and directed by Wes Craven, director of the famed A Nightmare on Elm Street films and others, the film is known for its raw, brutal scares. It has developed a cult following over the years, and saw a remake in 2006.
House of 1000 Corpses
Musician Rob Zombie, of the band White Zombie, wrote and directed House of 1000 Corpses in 2003. Shot in 25 days on a $7 million budget, and made over $16 million worldwide. It’s the story of a demented family of killers who take pleasure in torturing and killing people. This was Zombie’s first attempt at directing. He has since went on to direct more films, including a sequel to House of 1000 Corpses, titled The Devil’s Rejects, and a successful remake of the film Halloween.
Not your ordinary werewolf movie, The Howling was a commercial success. A serial killer is terrorizing a news anchor, Karen, played by actress Dee Wallace, but things aren’t quite what they seem. Soon after, it is discovered that the killer is actually a werewolf, and there are many more of them. Director Joe Dante and writer John Sayles, previously known for the 1978 film, Piranha, partnered up once more. After some difficulties with the script, the movie became a reality and was released in 1981.