How to Choose the Perfect Horror Film

So you want to choose the perfect horror film? Here are a few steps in the process of choosing it. Enjoy:

Consider the occasion. There is no single “perfect horror film” for every situation. If you’re watching movies with kids, the old Universal horror movies, like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolf Man might be the best possible horror movie choice. A perfect double feature might be The Bride of Frankenstein followed by Monster Squad. On the other hand, if you have an audience of artistic types, The Shining and Let the Right One In might be a better fit. Theme nights can be fun too. The Omen, Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist make for a delightful trilogy.

Avoid remakes. With the exception of Savini’s Night of the Living Dead remake and Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake, horror movie remakes are always terrible. Hollywood is intellectually and creatively bankrupt, and we shouldn’t encourage them to continue with their insane obsession with horror movie remakes. Instead, look for classics, like John Carpenter’s Halloween, or the original version of The Wicker Man. Horror movies remakes are never perfect horror movie choices.

Consider the director. Some horror movie directors rarely make a bad horror movie, and if you know who they are, then choosing the perfect scary film becomes a lot easier. John Carpenter is an excellent choice. You can’t go wrong with The Thing or The Fog. Even some of his less well thought of and less well known horror movies can be the perfect film for the occasion; check out Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness. Other horror directors to think about include Alfred Hitchcock, Wes Craven and George Romero.

Read reviews from trusted film critics. Roger Ebert rarely gives a horror movie four stars, so when he does, it’s worth checking out. Antichrist, starring Willem Dafoe, is a recent darling from Cannes. Ebert gave the movie three and a half stars. That puts it into contention for perfect scary movie. Natural Born Killers is arguably not a horror movie, but it’s about serial killers, and I thought it was horrifying. Ebert gave it four stars, so even if it’s not the perfect horror film, it’s probably worth watching, just in case. In fact, if it weren’t for Ebert, I would have never seen Body Snatchers, a 1994 film based on the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It’s another exception to the “no remakes” rule. The Blair Witch Project, Dawn of the Dead and Suspiria are all good candidates for the perfect horror film, and they’re all movies that earned four star reviews from Mr. Ebert.

Look for adaptations of your favorite horror novels. The most obvious example of a horror novelist with a lot of potentially good horror films adapted from his work is Stephen King. Some of the movies made from his novels have been awful (Maximum Overdrive, for example), but some of them have been classics of the horror film genre. Some of these include Christine, Misery, Carrie and The Dead Zone.
Richard Matheson is another horror author with several adaptations worth seeing, including I Am Legend and Stir of Echoes.

Choosing the perfect horror film for your situation isn’t too hard. Just figure out what kinds of horror movies you like, and stack the odds in your favor. That’s how to choose the perfect horror film.