It’s that wonderful time of the year when you can unabashedly indulge in the best of all genres: horror. And what better folks to make spooky recommendations than the kinds of filmmakers who know exactly what they’re talking about. After scouring interviews and profiles, IndieWire has compiled a list featuring 32 of them, including Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Ana Lily Amirpour, Josephine Decker, and Jordan Peele, all of whom have dished at some point about their favorite horror flicks.
Get Out and Us director Peele, for instance, lauds the 1990 adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery, which stars Kathy Bates as murderous nurse Annie Wilkes. “It’s also a movie where the acting and the performance and the script and the dialogue are where the fear in the movie lies,” Peele said in an interview to USA Today. “I love that kind of technique.” The timing for this is also perfect because the second season of Hulu’s Castle Rock will feature a young Annie Wilkes played by Lizzy Caplan. That premieres on October 23.
Andy Muschietti, who directed both the It movies, gushed about Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 cult vampire film Near Dark. “These are like trash vampires, going around in an RV, and that blend of Americana, and Western underbelly and, shitty, trashy vampires was just mind-blowing for me,” he told The Shortlist. “I had never seen anything like that. And there’s a lot of very dark and obscure humor in it…The way [the vampires] play with their victims is so terrifying.”
Director John Carpenter has an obvious grip on this spooky holiday thanks to his work on the Halloween film franchise. He credits William Friedkin’s 1973 thriller The Exorcist as his personal favorite scary movie in an interview with The Fader. “Everyone knows what’s scary about that movie. It’s the devil. The first time I saw it, I thought, in order to be really effective, this movie requires a belief in a higher power. But since then I’ve come to appreciate it just for what it is. I watched it again recently and was surprised by how intense it is,” he said.
Karyn Kusama directed Jennifer’s Body, the excellence of which some are just now coming around to. In an interview with Nylon, Kusama said that the 1997 vampire drama Habit was her favorite horror flick. “I remember seeing this film when it first came out in the mid-’90’s and being struck by its twin narrative threads: the story of a man possibly entangled in a romance with a vampire, and, more profoundly, the story of a man spiraling into catastrophic alcoholism,” she said.
Guillermo del Toro won an Oscar for The Shape of Water, in which a woman falls for a sea creature. He cites Eyes Without a Face, in which a plastic surgeon is obsessed with performing a face transplant on his daughter after she survives a terrible car crash, as his favorite. He told Criterion “[The main character is] like an undead Audrey Hepburn. It influenced me a lot with the contrast between beauty and brutality.”
There’s plenty more. Tarantino suggests 1999's Audition, Scorsese recommends the psychological horror film The Innocents, and Ari Aster (Midsommar, Hereditary) wants you to watch Climax. Essentially, this is all you need to get in the zone for Halloween. You’re welcome.
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