Halloween has the best movies. They teach us about unconventional uses for gardening tools, that it’s usually inadvisable to combine the DNA of multiple animals, and that being a jerk is a surefire way to get impaled on something. There are thousands of movies to appreciate during this time of year, so it’s easy to lose your way. Lucky you, though — I’m going to tell you which ones you have no business missing.
The Thing (1982)
Like most great movies, The Thing starts out with a scene of Norwegian scientists in a helicopter hunting a Siberian Husky across Antarctica. I’m not going to spoil the movie by telling you why they have it out for the dog, but it’s one of the only reasons I could condone for hunting a cute pup. The Thing features a bearded, scotch-fueled Kurt Russell fighting otherworldly monstrosities in an Antarctic science lab with Molotov cocktails and a flamethrower. (Flamethrowers, as everyone knows, are standard equipment in science labs.) The Thing is tense, claustrophobic, paranoid, and a great lesson in why you can only rely on Kurt Russell in a tight situation.
Eraserhead is a touching and sentimental look at what it would be like to raise a horrible screeching devil baby from the comfort of a mildewed hotel room in the middle of a gloomy cityscape. This is a David Lynch movie, the same man who brought us Twin Peaks, so when I say I understand what goes on in Eraserhead it’s because I understand the subtle nuances of film as an artform and not because I want to sound like I am smart. I like the part where the woman with the weird face performs a song and dance number in the radiator. It symbolizes radiators.
It Follows (2014)
In It Follows, a teenage girl is unceasingly pursued by an unstoppable demon set on proving that anyone can become double-jointed through enough brute force. The demon (or ghost, or whatever it is) is invisible to everyone except the person it’s set on maiming, and to them it can appear like anyone it wants: a disheveled old woman, a seven foot tall man, or even their dad. It Follows is at once a tribute to classics like Halloween and The Night of the Hunter as well as it is a compelling movie of its own. If you want even fewer reasons to trust strangers, this is your movie.
The Adventures of Milo and Otis (1986)
This one is actually about cute baby animals who go on a little adventure together. It does not belong in this list.
Misery is a story about what it’s like to be a writer who has to work on something he doesn’t want to while recovering from an ankle injury. I can empathize, because I sprained an ankle playing laser tag last Sunday and I have a bunch of product descriptions for a bathroom furniture catalog due next week. In Misery you get to see James Caan (the guy who got shot a hundred times at a toll booth in The Godfather) wallop Kathy Bates (who had the greatest scene ever in About Schmidt) over the head with a typewriter. This is very symbolic, I think.
By David Scheller