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Last Call: Now taking scary movie recommendations

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Photo: Jasmin Merdan (Getty Images)
Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

October has been pleasantly mild (at least in the North), and without the autumnal chill in the air, it somehow doesn’t feel as perfect watching a horror movie in anticipation of Halloween. Am I the only one who feels this way? When it’s warm outside, I don’t want to hunker down on the couch with a blanket ready to obscure my face if there’s too much unexpected gore—I want to be outside, desperately taking in every last tolerable evening. Today the weather in Chicago kinda sucks, and the silver lining to all this gray is that it’s time to feast upon horror films once again.

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It’s not as though there isn’t a wealth of great recommendations on the internet. But we want to hear from you, the readers whose sensibilities are most likely to align with our own. For me, the freeing thing about horror movies is that even the worst ones tend to leave you pondering an interesting set of questions: What could have made this more frightening? Who decided (erroneously) that this was scary enough for a general audience? Would modern special effects make the monsters more effective, or much, much less so? 

So, what are you watching this Halloween season? I personally love a horror film that’s judicious with its gore and other graphic material; it’s often a lot scarier and more satisfying when the camera cuts away juuuust before a character meets their untimely end, rather than showing the whole ordeal with impressive but gratuitous blood spatter effects. And it’s got to have a great soundtrack! Anything you might recommend?

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

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I don’t like horror in general, but there are a few that are good, let me go through my personal list:

The Evil Dead (1981) is the better film overall, even if the sequel is “more fun”. You can feel the hard work going into telling this story well.

The Mummy (1932) with Boris Karloff is genuinely good and scary, there’s surprisingly great moments of terror in it.

Maximum Overdrive (1986) it’s not great but it’s straightforward and effective and there’s no reason Stephen King couldn’t have directed more.

The Visitor (1979) is a bad B-movie, but it’s the right kind of bad B-movie where stuff is constantly happening and it’s really weird and freaky, and it’s a rare B-movie horror flick that’s not a slasher. Also has the best theme ever.

Psycho (1960) is genuinely excellent, right up until late in the last act where it just kinda peters out, but it’s damned compelling until then.

Jaws (1975) is another that should go without saying but does deserve saying as well, it’s a great flick and has fun horror in it.

Dr. Giggles (1992) is a fantastic silly ‘80s-style slasher, a real treat of cheese and kills.

Alien (1979) is a great, horror-heavy film where the sci-fi setting and the horror work perfectly in balance.

Under the Skin (2013) was impressive, I wasn’t expecting it to be so effectively eerie and heavy. That said, it does have a lot of nudity throughout and some sexual violence towards the end, but it’s not remotely gratuitous which is important because so much horror uses those elements wrong.

The Thing (1982) is fantastic, a perfect cast and some amazing visuals with a creepy, paranoid tone.

Shadow of the Vampire (2000) is fascinating because it’s set during the making of a very old horror film but it’s also genuinely spooky.

Rare Exports (2010) is a very strange film but impressive because of how it gets there and what it does once it’s there.

The Raven (1963) is a Roger Corman comedy horror with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff and it’s really quite good, albeit not that close to the poem on which it is based.

A Bucket of Blood (1959) and The Little Shop of Horror (1960) are more Roger Corman comedy horror, but very different tones from the previous, these are more beatnik horror comedy and shockingly enjoyable.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) is a lot better than folks give it credit for, the first of this premise does it the best because it moves and it balances the weight of the horror and the tone well

The Faculty (1998) is fun and funny and also scary, one of Robert Rodriguez’s films that folks SHOULD know him for but don’t.

The Cabin in the Woods (2011) is very meta but still fun, a little too clever for its own good but at least owns that.

The Exorcist III (1990) was a lot better than I expected, a great cast doing a great job with horror that’s mostly in the mind but occasionally quite visual.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978) very silly and shockingly fun, not great horror but a delight anyway.

Christine (1983) works well on story and on terror as a boy gets affected by his new car.

Piranha (1978) Joe Dante’s Jaws ripoff for Roger Corman works well for a B-movie of its era.

The Giant Claw (1957) is a terrible B-movie for the first half hour, then the most amazing delight ever and constantly does new things with its very half-baked premise. Speaking of...

God Told Me To (1976), Q: The Winged Serpent (1982), The Stuff (1985) are 3 Larry Cohen urban horror films that are grimy and compelling and keep you engaged every moment.

Friday the 13th (1980) arguably the original ‘80s slasher is both what you think it is, and entirely not, and that’s what makes it worth watching.

Jason X (2001) is incredibly enjoyable sci-fi horror from an exhausted character, it distills what is so embarrassingly bad about the Friday the 13th series and turns it on its ear in so many delightful ways.

Psycho II (1983) is surprisingly good and surprisingly different from the original without being dishonest to it, a real continuation.

The Frighteners (1996) is Peter Jackson’s most Hollywood film perhaps, but it’s really good horror comedy.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) is really good and it’s one of those films that holds up well despite being “old” and “overhyped” from what folks say.