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Notes from the back row

Top five horror movies. Ever.

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30 Days of Night , now playing at the Village 8, has the best axe-chopping-off-head scene I have ever had the pleasure to view. And Saw 4, the latest installment of the franchise that kind of invented Torture porn, opens Friday. Still though, seeing as it’s Halloween, we may as well throw down the top five creepiest, soul-chillingest and most pant-filling Horror Movies, ever.

1 . The Exorcist (1973) William Friedkin directed a classic. Children are creepy, especially when they’re possessed by the devil himself. Child actress Linda Blair pukes, growls, and jabs herself so convincingly horrorificly that even the hardest of the hard squirm like little kids that have to piss. Any movie that makes viewers faint, puke and run from the theatre is a sure winner. The Exorcist , you never get used to it.

2. Jaws (1975) Sit on a surfboard at dusk, dangling your legs in the water and try to tell me Jaws didn’t affect you. While it may not be quite as chock full of terror as some others on this list, Steven Speilberg’s “fish movie” put the fear into people and kept it there. More because of the masterful John Williams soundtrack than the animatronic shark, Jaws inflicts a resonating fear into people that never really goes away.

3. Psycho (1960) Before Psycho horror movies always involved threats from outer space, the undead, creatures, werewolves, giant leeches etc. Alfred Hitchcock’s most notorious film, Psycho signals the first time horror manifested itself inside what appeared to be a normal guy, Norman Bates. Hitchcock brought the evil inside a human being, inside any one of us, and it scared the crap out of people. Based on real serial killer Ed Geins, Psycho is a landmark in horror history. Another movie where the soundtrack plays an integral role.

4. The Shining (1980) Director Stanley Kubrick perfected what Psycho started, with Jack Nicholson as the regular guy who transforms into a raving, axe-wielding maniac. Adapted from the Steven King novel of the same name, The Shining is Kubrick’s best movie, simple, yet terrifying. Amazing camerawork and setting, creepy twin girls, and elevators full of blood make this one perhaps the quintessential classic horror movie. Besides, who knew the word “murder” would be way scarier spelled backwards.

5. Halloween, Friday the 13 th , and Nightmare on Elm Street (1978, 1980, 1984) All three of these franchises have been sequel-ed to death but the originals don’t get the credit they deserve. Sam Cunningham ( Friday…) and Wes Craven ( Nightmare… ) created villains so terrifying and vile they became household names and John Carpenter ( Halloween) invented his own horror sub-genre — the slasher flick — and changed horror history. These three movies, all released within six years, are responsible for decades of children waking up in the middle of the night sweating and crying for mommy.

As for local horror, if you were lucky enough to score a ticket for the B-Grade Horror Fest on Tuesday the good news is there will also be a kick-ass, horror-specific art show in the foyer of the theatre. Spine chilling work by artists who “get” this time of year. So bring extra money.

If you don’t like horror, drive on down to Vancouver, it’s all comedy down there. Or stay home, rent Flashdance , and call it a week. I’m not kidding, that movie rules. Jennifer Beals totally works it and Flashdance has one of the first ever breakdance scenes in a major flick. I love it. And I’m not kidding. Flashdance rules, even more than recycling. Happy Halloween.

AT VILLAGE 8 Oct. 26-Nov. 1: Dan in Real Life; Saw 4; Into the Wild; Rendition; Comebacks; 30 Days of Night; Michael Clayton; We Own the Night.

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