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Scaretober continues with our entries for the new horror canon. The Exorcist is a fantastic film, but there’s a newer (not better, we’re not crazy) version that’s worth your time. In fact, there are a lot of great scary movies that should please fans of classics like Poltergeist, Rosemary’s Baby, Evil Dead and more.

Make sure to check out our other Scaretober features: Scary Documentaries and Funny Horror.

Without Night of the Living Dead (1968) there is no 28 Days Later (2002)

When it comes to zombie movies, it’s true that no one can touch Night of the Living Dead. Romero invented the modern zombie canon, and no other film will ever replace it, but 28 Days Later gives it a pretty good run for its money. Starring an upsettingly handsome Cillian Murphy, 28 spurned all of the terrifying “oh shit the zombies can actually run now” films that seemed to come in dozens during the mid-2000s. It’s fantastically shot, tightly edited, and it’s still really really scary, even more than ten years later. There’s no question that Romero basically invented the sub-genre, but Danny Boyle did a damn fine job at making it his own. -Kaylee Dugan

If you find Rosemary’s Baby (1968) plausible, you’ll find The Babadook (2014) plausible

We wouldn’t have The Babadook without Rosemary’s Baby. Both of them are entirely (almost boringly) plausible. Rosemary’s Baby deals with the trauma of sexual assault and gendered violence (among other things) and The Babadook focuses on grief and the expectations of motherhood. Both are incredibly dark, Babadook obviously, Rosemary far more subtly. There are no jokes here. There is no laughter. This is horror distilled to its most pure form. The kind that happens daily. -Kaylee Dugan


If you love The Exorcist (1973) you might like The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

I don’t think I need to take any time explaining why The Exorcist is a wonderful movie. This is D.C. after all, and if you haven’t made a drunken pilgrimage to very the steps that killed Father Karras, then you might as well pack up now and move to Virginia. Of course, there are plenty of other religious themed horror films vying to take its place. There’s The Last Exorcism, The Devil Inside, The Possession, and probably a million others. The problem is that all of these are varying degrees of awful… except The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Sure, reviews about the film have always been mixed, and no one would argue that it’s the exact same caliber of The Exorcist, but unlike many of the other films in the religious horror sub-genre, Emily Rose does something a little more innovative. It manages to be scary and weird all without claiming any of the events are 100% supernatural. Throughout the film, there are characters convincingly arguing that Emily is simply schizophrenic and epileptic. If you can give me a logical explanation and still create a movie as terrifying and atmospheric as The Exorcism of Emily Rose then you deserve to be on this list. -Kaylee Dugan

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and House of 1000 Corpses are essentially the same (2003)

Superficially, these are essentially the same film. Twisted family? Check. Murder? Check. Over-the-top gory home decor often consisting of human body parts (ya know from the Ed Gein collection at Target)? Check. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre wasn’t the first horror film to take its cues from Mr. Gein (ahem Psycho) but it was certainly the most gruesome. Its director, Tobe Hooper, was heavily influenced by the political climate at the time. Feeling thoroughly fed up by the way in which our government was constantly lying (Watergate! The Vietnam War! The news in general!), Hooper began this movie with a simple yet powerful sentence: The film you’re about to see is true. Hooper, like my mother and I, knew the real fear was all around us. He needed only add a mask to make the monster more real. I’d love to say House of 1000 Corpses is just as intelligent. Sadly it’s kind of Rob Zombie just Rob Zombie-ing all over the place with his wife, who is in all his films. I’m sure this was meant to be an homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but without the political undertones. I enjoy it for what it is, of course, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre without the beauty. -Jenn Tisdale

If you fear what’s in Halloween (1978), you’ll fear what’s in Jeepers Creepers (2001)

Halloween and Jeepers Creepers have very little in common. While Michael Myers is a human with seemingly supernatural strength, the creature from Jeepers Creepers is…we have no idea. The antagonists (Can we call monsters antagonists? It seems so lighthearted, as if they’re a couple of lads who just lost their ways.) become fixated on their teenage victims. Both films have strong female characters who kick some serious ass but ultimately don’t win, not really. Michael Myers is continuing a 20+ year vendetta that started with the brutal murder of most of his family. The monster in Jeepers Creepers is killing to survive. I think. It’s never quite clear. What is clear is I felt a deep-seated, distinct fear when faced with the thing from Jeepers Creepers. I felt a similar fear when watching Halloween for the first time. As films they couldn’t be more different, but my visceral reaction to both was familiar. -Jenn Tisdale

Sam Raimi made Evil Dead (1981) and Sam Raimi made Drag Me To Hell (2009) so you’ll like both

The only person Raimi enough to go up against Raimi is Raimi. This is the dude that almost called Evil Dead “A Hundred And One Percent Dead” (and it is a goddamned travesty that no one else has used this title). This is the guy who brought us emo Spiderman. No one is as weird and funny and gross and unpredictable as Sam Raimi. While you’d think some of that good old fashioned Raimi whiplash would get toned down after 28 years, Drag Me To Hell is just as wild of a ride as Evil Dead. Both were a breath of fresh air to the genre when they were released and both are just as fun to revisit. Never discount Raimi. -Kaylee Dugan

If you’re creeped out by Poltergeist (1982) you should be creeped out by Insidious (2010)

If anyone has ever told you that the clown in Poltergeist didn’t terrifying them at some point in their lives, they’re lying. Tobe Hooper may have made an incredibly wacky horror film, but it sure doesn’t pull its punches when it comes to truly terrifying scenes. Remake be damned, the original is still scary enough for 2015. Insidious obviously tackles similar territory. There’s a creepy possessed child ushered to some sort of spirit world, kooky demonologists, and more, but instead of straight out aping Poltergeist, Insidious puts its own inventive spin on the story. Hot dad Patrick Wilson takes us deep into the spirit world instead of leaving it to our imagination, we get to spend a good amount of time with the demonologists instead of getting a passing introduction, Insidious even does the one thing that every horror audience begs a family with a haunted house to do, they move out of the damn house. Insidious is practically a love letter to Poltergeist and I mean that in the best way. -Kaylee Dugan

Creepshow (1982) presented anthologies and V/H/S (2012) carries the torch

I have fond memories of watching both Creepshow and Creepshow 2 as a child. Back off Morality Police, my mother understood the real monsters existed in the world around us, not on the silver screen. In fact, we were both so delighted by Creepshow 2 that to this day we quote our favorite story from the anthology. In this particular tale a hitchhiker gets run over by a woman, and boy does she not stop to help. Have no fear, he tags along for the rest of the ride and shows up at her house with nary a body part in sight. He repeats the same disturbing phrase, ever and over…”Thanks for the ride lady. Thanks for the ride.” In lieu of saying good bye, my mom and I will often utter that instead. Classic! Anthologies are great because you get a buffet style variety which satisfies whatever horror crave you might be feeling. V/H/S brought back this classic anthology with a different spin. Each short was written and directed by different people whereas both Creepshow films were written by Stephen King (scary clowns becoming less scary spiders!) and directed by George Romero (Night of the Living Dead!). V/H/S is also a solid place to start if you’re looking for up-and-coming directors in the horror genre such as Ti West (The House of the Devil) and Adam Wingard (You’re Next). -Jenn Tisdale

Hellraiser (1987) and As Above So Below (2014) take you to hell

I’m completely enamored with Pinhead, the demon from Hellraiser who translates pain into pleasure. He may not be the Devil himself but his temptation is just as great. There is only one way to meet him and that’s The Box. Once you unlock the puzzle box you’re thrust into your own personal Hell complete with seductive demons and masochistic devices, designed to lure you in through your deepest, darkest desires. Sign me up. He’s playful and charming. You find yourself agreeing with his deeply flawed logic. Yes, I do want to rip my own skin off because that is the gateway to pure pleasure. IS IT??? Hellraiser forces you to take a look at things about yourself you might not be willing to admit, then turn your back on them. The protagonist, Christie, slowly loses her family one by one to Pinhead’s seductions. She doesn’t loser herself though. As Above So Below presents you with a slightly more realistic entry into Hell…a series of catacombs beneath Paris. Paris is so romantic! Bread, cheese, Hell. While searching for her father and the Philosopher’s Stone (a legendary tool that will turn any base metal into gold) Scarlett ventures under the streets of Paris and straight into the mouth of Hell. Must have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque. She and her friends must face horrible things they did in their own lives to make it out alive. Both films take place in Hell, both inside and outside your heart. Both require you to fight with your mind, body and soul. If you’ve somehow missed Hellraiser you’ll never be more attracted to a demon (what am I talking about) than Pinhead. THOSE EYES. As Above So Below primarily focuses on yourself as the protagonist and antagonist and if you don’t like that you can GO TO HELL. – Jenn Tisdale

Saw (2004) nailed torture porn and You’re Next (2011) is its evolution

I’ve got bougie sensibilities. I like restaurants that serve upsettingly small portions and bars with cocktails on draft. I like watching foreign films in small independent theaters. I have seen every Saw movie ever made and own the first three on DVD. When it comes to horror, make no mistake, there is value in (some) schlocky torture porn, no matter how unlikely it seems. Saw flourished in its ability to push boundaries and do whatever necessary to keep things exciting. It also got so weird towards the end you could argue it picked up some sort of strange and twisted art house tropes. Either way, watching all seven movies is a great way to spend a Sunday. When it comes to carrying on the torch of weird, funny, and gross horror, You’re Next is, well, next. It takes some of the best parts of Saw (the traps, the humor, the unflinching gore) and throws in some indie sensibilities. The music is fantastic. The characters are a delight to watch, and it contains one of my favorite movie quotes of all time, “fuck me next to your dead mom.” I can’t imagine a movie more fit to carry the torch. -Kaylee Dugan