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Critessential Creepy Classic Collection: The Blob, The Thing, The Exorcist, Invasion of the Body Snatchers

October 29, 2017

 

It's a very long title, I know. But these older films were so terrifying that they set precedents for their own respective sub-genres and have aged so gracefully that they can compete against modern titles and usually win. So without further ado, here's four classics that you should watch this October:

 

The Blob is the weakest contender, to be honest. The 1958 version is as campy as most fifties sci-fi, but it stands alone among all the other "It Came From Planet Whatever!" titles in that the monster was wholly unique and a terrifying concept. An amorphous thing that devoured life. It takes the fear of the unknown and makes it as unknowable, as distant from humanity as possible. The 1988 remake did terribly financially, but managed to take the older concept and make it legitimately scary. Something without eyes, a mouth, or limbs that's anything but harmless is a frightening notion that started a trope of its own.

 

 The Thing...another sci-fi alien invasion classic, and another remake. Surprise, The Thing From Another World (1952) was the original, albeit the premise is really the only commonality. Patron saint of horror John Carpenter's 1982 version is possibly my favorite scary movie of all time. The use of latex and red-dyed corn syrup to create so many monstrosities beats the pants off of today's CGI. If Silent Hill the motion picture had been made with the latex of yesteryear (and had a better script) it would have driven people insane. A shapeshifter who could be anyone or anything in a small group of people and the paranoia it creates has become a staple of scary movies ever since, but it has never been outdone by this film. Oh, and the 2011 version doesn't even deserve to be brought up.

 

 Time to break the alien tedium (for now) with the 1973 film that is not a remake but is based on a novel based on a true (but not necessarily real) story. The Exorcist started the possession movie craze that still hasn't slowed down, and like the previous title, the first is still the best. This movie is so graphic, so fearsome, and such a departure for horror films that in many respects it changed the entire format. Gone were the 70 foot ants and murder mysteries aboard a train. From here on out, its special effects and visual abominations meant to exploit our most primitive and base instinct: fear for the sake of self preservation. The Exorcist ups the ante by making Hell itself the source of threat against our livelihood. This movie might be the scariest movie ever made, and the staircase scene still makes me squirm.

 

 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is another sci-fi alien film and another remake. I know, this list seems to follow a very strict pattern, but there's a reason: it works really well. Kind of makes you wonder why there's so few new alien monster movies being made today. The original back in 1956 was about communists or something, and was brilliant but not very scary by today's standards. But the 1978 version with Donald Sutherland is another story. It takes gross-out gore (again with that wonderful latex and corn syrup) and a similar paranoia as mentioned in The Thing  but raises the stakes by setting the scenario not on some isolated polar base, but in an apocalypse that threatens to destroy the whole world. I won't spoil the probably already spoiled-by-popculture ending, but that iconic scene with Sutherland never fails to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It's scary and suspenseful and if watched in tandem with The Thing will turn you into a paranoid shut-in.

 

Let us know what you think either below or on twitter, especially if you have any other recommendations on classic scary movies to check out this month!

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