It seems more and more likely that half our city will be costume-clad for Halloween this year. If you’re not hitting the streets or a costume party this year, why not have a lazy Saturday night on the couch? Better yet, binge shamelessly on some classics of the horror genre. Ignore the doorbell; here are our top-five spooky flicks (and where to find them).
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, directed by Tobe Hooper)
Any vegetarian’s worst nightmare, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre pioneered the slasher genre as we now know it. Five teenagers visit their grandfather’s grave to inspect its rumoured desecration. The teens encounter a family of psychotic cannibals and everything gets messy. Some of the gore effects may feel a bit clunky in retrospect, but the film still holds its own as a horror film more than 30 years after its release.
Watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for free, with SBS on Demand.
Thirst (1979, directed by Rod Hardy)
This Australian rom-horror can only be described as “so bad, it’s good”. Thirst is a tale of modern vampire industriousness, in which “blood cows” (lowly humans) are imprisoned at the “dairy farm”. Kate Davis (Chantal Contouri) is the next beauty in line for systematic blood harvest. Familiar faces David Hemmings and Henry Silva play the diabolical doctors of the dairy farm, with dialogue that is so heavy handed you’ll have to cringe. Thirst must be seen to be believed.
Watch Thirst for free, with SBS on Demand.
Shaun of the Dead (2004, directed by Edgar Wright)
Some comedies strike a rare balance of sympathetic characters and laugh-out-loud action – Shaun of the Dead is among them. It was the first of Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, following Shaun’s (Simon Pegg) efforts to win back his girlfriend. The obstacles: a deadweight best friend (Nick Frost) and an unfolding zombie apocalypse. This is a story of survival, friendship and feeding on brains.
Watch Shaun of the Dead on Netflix.
Beetlejuice (1988, directed by Tim Burton)
With his sophomore film Beetlejuice, Tim Burton created a comic masterpiece. Barbara and Adam Maitland (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) return from their holiday to discover they actually died on the way home. Michael Keaton plays Betelgeuse (pronounced Beetlejuice), a lewd ghost enlisted by the Maitlands to rid their home of its new human inhabitants. Beetlejuice is outrageous and bizarre, a strange story made perfect by Burton’s creative eye.
Buy or rent Beetlejuice from iTunes.
The Babadook (2014, directed by Jennifer Kent)
A joint Australian-Canadian production, The Babadook was touted an instant classic after its 2014 release. Jennifer Kent’s directorial debut received resounding critical acclaim and screened at Sundance Film Festival where it was a huge success. Amelia (Essie Davis) is grieving her husband’s death in a car crash en route to the birth of their first son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman). While Amelia flails in her grief, her son perpetually fears dark monsters. The pair chance upon a curious book, describing a shadow-dwelling monster called the “Babadook”. From there, The Babadook asserts itself as a truly terrifying experience.
Buy or rent The Babadook from iTunes.