For Halloween, we thought we’d try something a little different to our traditional top 10 posts. Instead, we decided to pick 10 horror categories and then nominate and vote on our favourite movies/scenes/characters in order to determine who should win a prestigious CineChat Halloween Award. There were surprises, and controversy, but here are the winners…
Scariest Horror Movie Moment
Samara/Sadako emerges from the well – Ring (1998) / The Ring (2002)
Joint runner-up: Standing on the nail (A Quiet Place), Twins in the corridor (The Shining)
Matt: There’s something about videotapes in general that can be quite sinister… glitchy wibbles in the picture, sporadic flashes of television static, and so on. But this is an entirely new level of disturbing; not only do we get the bizarre surrealist montage of shapes and objects (a solitary chair, a figure at the window, a finger pressing down onto a nail, and worse!) but the spectral image of a faceless, sodden girl crawling out of a well and walking slowly right towards you through the glass… it’s utterly chilling.
Lee: I watched the original Ring (1998) in the best way possible – late at night and alone. And it absolutely terrified me! The anticipation and the build-up all leads to the moment in question, and it definitely delivers. The actress playing Sadako was filmed walking backwards in a jolting, jarring way, which when reversed resulted in an eerie and unnatural effect. Amazingly, the American remake in 2002 also managed to be just as terrifying!
Mary: It’s all in the look, that dress and more importantly the hair!!! It is so unnerving there is something wrong about the whole scene, you feel completely on edge the whole time. This is an example of modern horror really making an impact with a shot that will always resonate.
Best Horror Movie Ending
The Mist (2007)
Runner-up: The ‘Ancient Ones’ aren’t happy – The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Matt: Even to someone who knows the final twist, there’s no way you can communicate the devastation of that closing scene that compares with the reality of actually watching it. Words simply don’t do it justice.
Lee: This is such an incredible, terrifying movie, made even better by that gut-punch ending.
Best Horror Movie Quote
“Here’s Johnny!” (The Shining)
Joint runner-up: “Do you like scary movies?” (Scream), “Get away from her, you bitch!” (Aliens)
Lee: It was improvised by Jack Nicholson and nearly cut from the movie by director Stanley Kubrick, but it’s since become one of the most referenced and memorable lines in horror movie history. A worthy winner, and part of a scene which still manages to terrify 40 years later.
Clare: It’s the simplicity. Even just the words strike fear, but the whole shot composition, the face. Pure excellence.
Mary: No surprise here, I mean who doesn’t know this one? Its parodied constantly, it is a clear sign that Jack Torrance has completely cracked. The line and the look in Jack Nicholson’s eyes, he really could do absolutely anything in this moment it is terrifying. No wonder Shelley Duvall was screaming!
Best Horror Movie Theme
Joint runner-up: Jaws (1975), Psycho (1960)
Clare: What a piece of music. It’s iconic, chilling and again quite simple. It has similarities to so many other classic horror tunes but is also completely unique. Its use throughout the whole film is pitch-perfect and just a couple of notes with strike horror in you. The fact it was then used again so expertly in Scream just shows what a timeless piece of music it is.
Mary: Really pleased this won, saying that there are so so many fantastic horror themes. That I feel is the mark of a classic horror film; if you remember the music…you’ve got a hit. This theme is very energetic, it’s like an overactive heartbeat, it pumps through the scenes making them burst with this unnerving energy. I think it’s amazing that director John Carpenter wrote this himself…what a genius!
Best Horror Movie Setting
The Overlook Hotel (The Shining/Doctor Sleep)
Runner-up: The Freeling House – Poltergeist (1982)
Matt: The Overlook Hotel has the advantage of being composed of several iconic components – the labyrinthine hedge maze, the opulent grand ballroom, the endless stomach-churning corridors with god-knows-what around every corner… More than anything though, the Hotel is alive; it has a presence, a history, an atmosphere, and is a key character in the story. It just so happens to also be in a completely desolate location with the ability to drive its inhabitants mad. How convenient! I had no “reservations” putting this at the top of the list!
Mary: When the setting is as famous as the film itself I think you’ve got a clear winner. There are a number of things that make the overlook scary, one is its size; it is like a labyrinth winding here and there, easy to get lost in. On top of that is the emptiness, there is something really creepy about a building of that size being completely empty, there is something not right about that, add to that that you are cut off from civilization with no chance of help….yep that’ll do it. What makes this such a great setting is that you know there is something wrong here, you see it over and over as the film progresses but amazingly we never get a clear explanation. Why is the Overlook so incredibly bad/haunted/evil, we don’t know, we are left to guess and that in itself is pretty scary.
Best Horror Movie Creature
Xenomorph (Alien Franchise)
Joint runner-up: A Quiet Place Creatures, The Babadook
Sarah: All horror movie creatures are bloodthirsty killing machines that stop at nothing. What makes the Xenomorph stand out above the rest is that it’s not just a man in a mask, it’s the stuff of nightmares thanks to H. R Giger’s design and a rather horrific life cycle. The lack of eyes, acid for blood, those teeth and the mouth within a mouth… pair that with a life cycle that involves a spider-like face hugger and a baby xenomorph bursting out of your chest cavity, and behaviours that include lurking in dark spaces and killing everyone in sight, and you’ve got yourself a terrifying creature.
Mary: Acid blood!….. Need I say more. This thing is absolutely terrifying, the design is horrifying, it is something from your nightmares. It is a sheer killing machine and not only that but it is smart, and usually a step ahead of us humans who are unbelievably out of our league. Everything about this thing is terrifying, the face-hugger impregnating you (I mean come on!) the baby bursting its way out of you! and like I say acid blood! I have a problem with creatures shooting acid in any form (traumatic Starship Troopers experience, don’t ask). This thing scared me so much it took me until my 20’s to even watch the first movie.
Best Horror Movie Villain
Pennywise the Clown (IT)
Joint runner-up: Ghostface (Scream), Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street), Michael Myers (Halloween)
Matt: I think it’s fair to say that Pennywise has undergone a massive upgrade since the 1990 Tim Curry miniseries. What makes him/it so terrifying in this iteration is his/its limitless unpredictability, there’s no way to anticipate what he/it will do next, or how, when and where he/it will do it! They really turned up the fear factor here, and I think Pennywise is a worthy winner of this award. That’s not to say that Mrs Carmody from The Mist isn’t also equally deserving… one day she’ll make it onto one of our lists!
Mary: This is a great win, this is an entity that transforms into the thing that scares you most, how could anything else win. Not only that but its regular form is a clown, and lets face it clowns are pretty creepy. This is a creature that adults don’t believe in and attacks the vulnerable…children. That fact alone makes it almost invincible, this is a creature that is completely dominant in its environment and doesn’t know fear making him an incredible foe.
Best Horror Movie Victim
Sidney Prescott (Scream Franchise)
Joint runner-up: Laurie Strode (Halloween), Ellen Ripley (Alien)
Clare: Sidney is *the* Scream Queen. Laurie Strode comes close, but Sidney beats her because whilst we’ve crowned her a victim, she’s anything but. Even in the first film, she takes complete control and has some of the best moments. She might be running scared, but she’s smart and resourceful and knows how to play the killers game. There’s a reason we keep returning to Sidney and Scream, and I only hope they don’t pull a Drew Barrymore stunt in the opening of Scream 5.
Mary: Poor Sidney, she just can’t catch a break. All she wants is a quiet life, but over and over Ghost Face keeps coming back to haunt her. I agree that Sidney is a victim to a point but she can actually be pretty badass there are many examples of this through the franchise and no doubt now that it’s been announced she’ll be back in Scream 5 we’ll see it again there.
Best Family ‘Horror’ Movie
Hocus Pocus (1993)
Runner-up: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Sarah: Hocus Pocus is great family-friendly fun and is entirely what you’d expect from a Disney movie; silly and fun for the kids yet with enough adult humour and plot to keep the parents entertained too. What makes this stand out is it turns an ominous plot about witches murdering children into a laugh out loud, feel-good film focusing on sibling relationships that even manages to fit in a couple of ridiculously catchy songs (that most millennials who grew up watching this will still be able to recite from memory) and features some hilariously daft performances from Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker. Oh and there’s also a talking cat and a zombie ex-boyfriend.
Lee: I still can’t believe we voted this above The Nightmare Before Christmas…
Clare: Sorry Lee, but Hocus Pocus *IS* Halloween. The Nightmare Before Christmas straddles the belt and we all know it wants to be a Christmas film but is just hedging its bets. Hocus Pocus is rewatchable, funny, silly, dark. It has everything – romance, campy villains, a talking cat, a coming of age tale AND a musical number. Let’s not forget the amazing costumes and the iconic one-liners. Halloween means trick or treating in a ridiculous costume, and then getting home and playing trade the sweets in front of Hocus Pocus. I might not be able to do the trick or treating these days, but I will be damned well sitting in some cat ears, eating miniature mars bars and revelling in Sarah Jessica Parker’s best role.
Mary: This is without a doubt my favourite family-friendly Halloween film, it is absolutely brilliant. I can’t remember a time without Hocus Pocus (it came out when I was 2) I watched it endlessly as a kid. Max was my first crush, I always loved the drums which I started to play in my teens. This film has had a huge impact on my film watching tastes. I mean what is not to love? It is an epic cast lead by the amazing Bette Midler who was born to play this role. It is a gorgeous film, full of suburban America Autumn and Halloween, it is colourful and gothic. It is so quotable, I am currently typing this wearing my “Another glorious morning…” T-shirt, I could probably quote the entire movie word for word. A brilliant recommendation for the kids this Halloween it can currently be seen on Disney+.
Best Horror Movie / Franchise
Scream Franchise (1996 – )
Joint runner-up: The Cabin in The Woods, It Follows, Us, IT (Chapter 1 & 2), The Mist
Lee: From Wikipedia – “The first film has been credited with revitalizing the horror genre in the late 1990s by combining a traditional slasher film with humour, characters aware of horror film clichés and a clever plot”. It’s fair to say that after attending a midnight screening of the first Scream movie back in 1997 (it was released in 1996 in the US), my interest in the horror genre was certainly revitalized, making me a huge fan ever since. I gasped, I laughed, I was entertained and I’ve loved every Scream movie since. I just hope that Scream 5, which is coming in 2022, does for the Scream franchise what Halloween 2018 did for the Halloween franchise and manages to keep things fresh, relevant and as entertaining as ever. I’m actually quite surprised that this came out on top, but happy that it has.
Clare: What can I say about Scream that hasn’t already been said? It’s a perfect balance of teen horror and comedy. It’s a perfect homage. Few films have nailed casting like these films, they truly captured young Hollywood in each film and the cast list of Scream 5 seems no different. The fact that with each sequel they’ve managed to pay tribute to the previous film, reinvent themselves and also poke fun? Yes, Scream 3 has some issues due to Kevin Williamson not being involved, but on the whole, it’s still brilliant. There are very few franchises that have me reaching for the next film straight away, but when I rewatched Scream in August I immediately had to start Scream 2 and watch all 4 films within 24 hours. These are films by fans for fans, with the high profile Hollywood budget needed. Campbell, Cox and Arquette are an iconic trio and all the co-stars have matched perfectly. Yes, we’ve lost some wonderful characters along the way, but wow, what a ride each film is. The reason it’s truly the best and will always withstand the test of time? No matter how many times you rewatch, it’s always a thrill ride, and no kill ever gets old or boring. They’ve not become dated and the scares remain scary. Scream 4 was amazing, so I’m excitedly nervous for Scream 5. My only hope is that they can keep everything under-wraps, as the best part of all the films is guessing the killer. Long live Sidney Prescott and the Woodsboro survivors.
Mary: Now I’ll start by saying, I do love Scream, it’s extremely clever, fun, quotable, rewatchable it would definitely be in my top ten, but near the bottom. I’m not sure how this possibly came out over the likes of The Exorcist, Poltergeist, The Omen, Halloween, Psycho?? Absolute classics nowhere to be seen, I don’t get it, (shakes head in confusion).