Do you have your frightful playlists ready for a night full of spook-tacular fun? If the answer is no, or if you are looking for some inspiration, we’ve got an eclectic mix that is sure to send tingles down your spine, sans the jump scares.
1. A Nightmare on Elm Street
This will be the perfect start to your binge-watch fest, since it will keep you up all night!
For the most part, this 1984 slasher film needs no introduction at all, but if you’re one of the uninitiated, the movie follows four teenagers who are invaded and killed in their dreams. However, the effects do not remain within the confines of their imaginations, but manifests itself in their reality.
The antagonist, Fred Krueger, is a disfigured man who died from being burned alive, and is now seeking his revenge.
If you’re hooked after this one film, there are more films in the franchise, including a crossover with the Friday the 13th franchise, to quench your thirst for this iconic horror character.
2. In the Tall Grass
A dash of Stephen King should do the trick too!
In this Netflix original, two siblings hear a young boy calling out for help from a field of—you guessed it—tall grass. Upon entering the field, the situation quickly went awry when the two lost sight of each other. Multiple supernatural instances take place, and the siblings meet (and lose) a few people who are also trapped in the field.
It’s a mind-bending watch, one that is sure to call for a second viewing.
Another film that will have you deep in thought is Jordan Peele’s Us, starring Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, both of whom had roles in Black Panther.
This award-winning film starts off with a young Adelaide wandering off to a funhouse. In the house of mirrors, she encounters her doppelgänger. Years after that incident, adult Adelaide (Nyong’o) finds herself apprehensive about a family trip, foreshadowing the arrival of “the Tethereds”, the family’s psychotic doppelgängers.
Catch this film to witness how the family handles the discovery, and see if you can spot any difference in the characters at the end of the film.
4. Train to Busan
Although this South Korean film was released five years ago, it’s still a great watch, especially if you enjoy a fictional zombie apocalypse.
Because of a chemical leak at a biotech plant, South Korea is now overrun with zombies. Aboard the train, workaholic and divorcee Seo Seok-woo is on his way to take his daughter Su-an to Busan so she can celebrate her birthday with her mother.
As the train departs, an infected woman boards the train and soon turns into a zombie, triggering an outbreak aboard the locomotive. The father-daughter duo struggle to keep themselves safe from harm as they propel forward into the unknown on the tracks.
5. American Horror Story
With a total of 138 awards, and counting, this one’s definitely a goodie.
The entire anthology is worth a binge-watch, or two! Each season is a self-contained mini-series, and each season explores a new realm of horror. Even if you’re not a horror fanatic, this star-spangled show sees established actors such as Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson and Emma Roberts take to the screen. Even Lady Gaga enters the fray in later seasons.
From Murder House (Season 1), which details a family’s experience in a haunted house, to Freak Show (Season 4), where a circus of freaks struggles for their survival after the masses turned to other forms of entertainment, there will be the perfect theme to fuel your dread.
With 10 seasons available now, and the promise of its continuation till Season 13, American Horror Story is sure to leave a lasting impression.
6. Nang Nak
Nothing like an Asian folklore horror to turn the spook factor right up to max.
Thailand’s most popular (and allegedly true) ghost tale is retold in the 1999’s Nang Nak, following the same premise of the legend of Mae Nak Phra Khanong.
In the film, a husband returns from war to the welcoming arms of his wife and child. Unbeknownst to him, the wife is only an apparition. Despite many warnings from the village people, he refuses to believe them—until he sees it with his very eyes.
Though the same tale has been remade into different versions, Nang Nak remains a Thai cinematic treasure. It was wildly popular and blazed its way right to the top, raking in more than 150 million baht, a record-shattering achievement.
This one’s for all of the horror sleuths out there. Ringu will be keeping you on the edge of your seats. This movie not only launched the revival of horror filmmaking in Japan, it has also inspired its Western remake in 2002, where the movie achieved similar success grossing 1.75 billion yen.
The movie starts with the demise of a few high-school students after having watched a videotape that is known to kill its viewers in one week. An aunt to one of the deceased, Reiko Asawaka, a news reporter, investigates the curious case, and enlist the assistance of her ex-husband, a professor.
The duo looks for a way to appease the vengeful ghost, and Reiko only discovers the rule to escape the tape’s curse after paying a heavy price.
8. Rosemary’s Baby
When the Library of Congress deems a film “culturally, historically, [and] aesthetically significant”, you add that film to your must-watch list.
In this film, Rosemary Woodhouse (portrayed by Mia Farrow) moves into an apartment in New York City, where the tenants appear to be members of the occult. A series of inexplicable occurrences take place—a friend jumps to their death; Rosemary’s husband, Guy, secures a leading role after the lead actor goes blind; and during her pregnancy, another friend, who had previously warned her about the property, dies.
With a small warning from her deceased friend, it is up to Rosemary to uncover the truth about the ones closest to her.
9. The Omen
The New York Times in 1976 called this film a dreadfully silly film. Despite that and other detractors, the film was a massive commercial success.
Gregory Peck leads a cast that tells a chilling tale of the Devil born on Earth and raised by American diplomats. The film caused a whole generation to be terrified of Rottweilers, little curly haired boys called Damien and potentially murderous nannies. The eerie gothic refrains of “Carmina Burana” in the soundtrack lends an extra diabolical touch to the atmosphere. Watch the original Omen and it’s remake in 2006 with Liev Schreiber to compare the terror. Purists are highly protective of the original!
10. Friday the 13th
And to seal the deal, you should of course include the 1980’s classic, Friday the 13th into the mix.
Set in the late 1950’s, the plot revolves around a group of teenage camp counselors who are killed one by one by an unknown killer, while they attempt to reopen an abandoned summer camp.
In this first movie of the franchise, the iconic character, Jason, survives, leading to a long series of sequels, including a crossover with the A Nightmare on Elm Street series.
Be reminded that this is a slasher movie, so it’s gore galore. Tune in with an empty stomach if you get queasy at the sight of blood.
(This article was first published in August 2021)