Fright fest needn't wait for Oct. 31

In brief

In brief

October 26, 2001|By NEWSDAY

Why wait until Halloween for a frightful night? Horror movies have a long history, and here is an unconventional list of those that delight:

Nosferatu (1922): The original Dracula film (director F.W. Murnau couldn't get the rights), it remains a horror classic, largely because of the creepiness of Murnau's neo-expressionist style. (Its love child, Shadow of the Vampire, isn't bad, either.)

Freaks (1932): Pinheads, geeks and various misshapen characters traipse through this Tod Browning thriller, whose dread lies totally in the godless universe suggested by the title. Politically incorrect, but frightening nonetheless.

The Haunting (1963): The best of the handful-of-people- in-the-haunted-house movies, it operates entirely on the power of suggestion, and it is therefore one aptly titled movie.

The Innocents (1961): Henry James' The Turn of the Screw handled with loving, frightful care.

Last House on the Left (1972): Terrifying, although its tropes have gone on to much bigger and not better things.

Apocalypse Now Redux (2001): The massive dysfunction of the Vietnam War is brought down to human level via Francis Ford Coppola's use of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, but it's still a movie about war as madness, perpetrated on one people by another thousands of miles away. Rather relevant, too.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001): An imperfect movie, but one whose ideas - about our ambition vs. our humanity vs. the disposability of love - are simply unnerving.

Requiem for a Dream (2000): Addictions, of every hue, out of control, and it all feels true, with a style perfectly attuned to the content.

The Trench (1999): Novelist William Boyd's World War I movie, ostensibly about trench warfare, is really about seeing your flawed self exposed just minutes before you die. It doesn't get much more horrible than that.

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