Horror Flicks for Halloween

By Mike Sloan

Halloween is here and it is the perfect time of year for students at College of Southern Nevada to take a brief reprieve from their studies to engage in some of the best horror movies ever made; something millions of people will do again this year like every year before.

Horror movies are big business in Hollywood for decades. Some of the most iconic characters in the history of cinema are the villainous killers from blockbuster gore flicks. Freddy Krueger and his multi-bladed right glove, Jason Voorhees sporting his hockey mask and machete, Michael Myers with his ghostly white mask and butcher’s knife, and Leatherface and his chainsaw and, um, leather face are most feared.

“I am a big fan [of horror movies] and I love how they try to make you feel uncomfortable,” said Robert Elwell, a CSN student who says that “The Shining” is his favorite movie of the genre. “It’s my favorite because it was written by Stephen King … and directed by a [person] who knew better than the original author how to use his material. The scene where Scatman Crothers’ character gets to the hotel after risking his life driving through a blizzard just to be killed by an ax to the stomach. It always struck me as kind of futile to try to change things for the good because you’re just going to get an ax to your gut for wasting your time.”

Teletha Zupan-Maya, a former CSN student and huge horror buff, watched these types of films for well over 30 years and can’t get enough of them. She said her older brothers got her into watching scary movies but it was the classic “Phantasm” that truly got its hooks into her.

“I was very young when I saw it the first few times,” Zupan-Maya recalled. “The different balls—the gadgets—that would chase and attack you and that old guy was always so creepy and scary. The way he spoke and he was always there no matter how slow he walked. Those balls were coming to get you and there was nothing you could do to get away. God, I’ve probably watched it 30 times in my life.”

While Zupan-Maya claimed she never had any nightmares from watching these films, a more recent movie freaked her out.

“There was one that scared me, which was ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’,” said Zupan-Maya with a laugh. “I watched that while in law school and it scared the crap out of me. That one made it a little hard for me to go to sleep and it made me think that maybe I shouldn’t watch this before I go to bed.”

Another current CSN student Makayla Bastarache is not only a fan of horror movies but is directing one for her film class on campus. Though her still-unnamed film is not complete, Bastarache is working on it.

“I’ve always loved the horror genre ever since I was a little girl,” Bastarache said. “I don’t know why but they never scared me, even as a child. Creepy and spooky things fascinate me because there are a lot of commonalities across different cultures. Everywhere around the world has different concepts of beauty but the things that we find scary are often very similar and that’s interesting to me.”

According to The Numbers—run by Nash Information Services LLC—a premier provider of movie industry data and research services that ranks box-office performances, the amount of money the most successful horror films generate is nothing to scream at.

The highest-grossing horror film in 2016 was “The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist,” which raked in nearly $103 million. That film beat out “Don’t Breathe,” which garnered almost $90 million. For the entire year, horror movies generated a staggering $480 million in America and things aren’t slowing down. This year’s smash-hit remake of Stephen King’s “It” became a high-grossing R-rated movie pulling in a whopping $324 million domestically and $667 million worldwide, according to The Numbers.

“It’s nearly impossible to pick a single reason for watching horror, something I have discovered time and time again interacting with the horror community,” wrote prominent horror blogger Tyler Sparks on the website Movie Pilot in 2015. “I wanted to dive deep here, get into some base attraction but I continually found myself confounded. For some, horror is an expression of a side of themselves they could never act on. For others, it’s a perverse thrill garnered through the infliction and suffering of terror, being able to experience something they would never naturally or legally be able to. Others enjoy vicariously living scenarios—think your zombie apocalypse fanatics—and imagining themselves there and what they would do. And then there’s folks that just plain like getting scared.”

One thing that some fans covet while sitting on their couches with popcorn, soft drinks and Raisinettes is getting scared nearly to death and then laughing about it afterward. Horror expert Sparks said he couldn’t put his finger on why people love horror movies so much but they do. There’s never a better time than Halloween to watch a few of the finest horror films the world offers.

A Dozen Must-See Horror Movies to See this Halloween Season

“The Exorcist” (1973)

“Jaws” (1975)

“Halloween” (1978)

“Alien” (1979)

“Phantasm” (1979)

“The Shining” (1980)

“An American Werewolf in London” (1981)

“The Thing” (1982)

“Friday the 13th Part III” (1982)

“Evil Dead II” (1987)

“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)

“Hostel” (2005)

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