Horror movie buff shares 6 favourite Hallowe'en flicks to watch this weekend

·4 min read

Rebecca Manias is an artist with a dark side.

Not too dark, mind you, she just has an affinity for horror movies. She's something of an expert on the genre, and every year we invite her into the studio to talk about some of her favourite horror movies, because what better way to get into the spirit of Hallowe'en than by dimming the lights and watching a good scary movie.

Manias picked a handful of movies, each considered groundbreaking work, but for different reasons.

Manias' first film is a horror classic, a film that for many defines the genre: George Romeo's Night Of The Living Dead.

"This was a super-revolutionary film for its time, and very influential across many genres, not just horror," said Manias.

"It was also groundbreaking in that they cast a Black actor, Dwayne Jones, as the lead," she said. "There were many other successful black actors, but casting one in the lead that makes it through the film, basically, was new."

She also described the black and white original version of Night Of The Living Dead as "gruesome-esque" and not too upsetting for the faint-hearted.

Manias' second choice has a foot in two genres. Blackula is a horror film, of course, and is also a great example of so-called "Blaxploitation" films.

As the movie industry exploded in the 1970s, black actors, directors and writers found themselves shut out of most mainstream productions. So they started making movies themselves, often low-budget efforts that challenged established Hollywood productions in their look and content.

And like Blackula, they were often great.

"Many people feel that this film has been very important in terms of having visibility for Black actors and the Black community," she said.

"It's quite tame and is just a retelling of the story of Dracula...he's been turned into a vampire in the 18th century and has been released in the modern day, which is 1972, to unleash havoc in a very elegant way."

Manias does warn, however, that some of the language in the movie is going to seem a bit wild for modern ears, though she added there is a lot of great screaming, and that always translates.

For her third choice, Manias selected the 1968 Japanese film Kuroneko, or Black Cat, an adaptation of a traditional Japanese ghost story where a woman and her daughter in law seek revenge on a group of samurais.

"It's sort of like a feminist revenge film of two women getting back at the people who wronged them and brought on their deaths too early," she said. "The fighting scenes are incredible and it all takes place in a bamboo forest … and it's just a really beautifully set up."

Manias wanted to remind audiences that the open scene of the movie might be a bit triggering for people, and probably not great for kids.

Since kids like scary movies as well, Manias added three more family-friendly choices for Halloween, including the original Frankenstein.

"There wasn't even technically a horror genre back then," she said, adding when it was released in 1931, "people were horrified and there was actually a warning at the beginning of the film … there is a monster but it's kind of a touching tale and sad and interesting."

Manias' next choice is another classic, though from a different era, and another film she considers family-friendly, though others may not.

Roger Corman's version of The Pit and The Pendulum was part of a series of films released in the sixties based on the stories of the famous American writer Edgar Allan Poe.

"The atmosphere of the film is great, the beautiful sets that were built for it and the colours are pretty fantastic … the whole movie has this creepy sense that something is coming."

Manias final choice is also based on a novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, which involves a malevolent travelling carnival.

"I think what's really special about this film is the evocation of fall," she said. "The seasons are changing … it has that really cool atmosphere of a small town in the fall, during Hallowe'en."