Classic Horror Recommendations: Part II

Two more classic horror films to add to your must-watch list

Tyler Palicia

Although Halloween has now passed, I think it’s important to soak in a little more of the fall spirit before we have to deal with the true horror of the ever sappy “Christmas classics.” If you liked the 1980s horror films that I recommended in my last article, then I think both of these suggestions will be right up your alley. 

1. “The Evil Dead” (1981)

This extremely low budget cult classic was directed by 20-year-old Sam Raimi. That’s right, the same guy who directed the Toby Maguire “Spiderman” trilogy. But unlike “Spiderman,” this film was so indie that all five actors were basically first-timers who just happened to be personal friends of the director. It’s about a small group of college students who venture out into the woods to spend the weekend in a remote cabin. However, things take a violent and bloody turn when one of the friends discovers a mysterious audio tape in the basement that releases a cadre of demonic spirits. The film grows increasingly more gruesome as the spirits possess each of the college students one by one. And the only way to vanquish each spirit is to completely dismember the body which it inhabits – pretty nasty stuff.

This film uses insane special effects that elicit both laughter and terror from anyone who watches it. “The Evil Dead” is truly one of the weirdest and goriest pieces of cinema from the 80’s, so if that’s not your thing then you shouldn’t try it out. Quentin Tarantino cited the movie and its sequel, “Evil Dead II,” as inspirations for his own work, and Stephen King acclaimed it as “the most ferociously original horror film of the year.” Thanks to an innovative shooting style and top notch performances from a very inexperienced cast, “The Evil Dead” definitely changed its genre forever. 

2. “Night of the Living Dead” (1968)

This is another independent film that shocked audiences upon its release, not to mention the fact that it’s almost entirely responsible for creating the zombie subgenre. Directed by George A. Romero, “Night of the Living Dead” is about a group of seven people desperate to survive until morning in a rural farmhouse besieged by an army of reanimated corpses.

Although this is not the first zombie film ever made, it definitely laid the groundwork for many of the tropes now associated with the subgenre: global media panic and the eventual meltdown of society, a deep social commentary pulsing through the script, the inevitability of violence between humans, and the question of what you would do if one of your loved ones suffered a zombie bite. Also low budget, this film was shot entirely in black and white, which definitely works to its advantage. But the main reason to watch “Night of the Living Dead” is that it has two devastating surprises in its final act that are sure to haunt your nightmares.

I was going to recommend a third movie but exam week caught up to me. Anyway, these two are good enough. If the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gets a little too boring, then I suggest you double feature these films with the whole family.