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Happy Halloween! Bring on the scare!

Halloween is quickly approaching and it’s time to hit the video store for a few scares. With so many generic slasher flicks lining the shelves these days, it can be hard to pick through the garbage and find some quality movies to satisfy your need for thrills and chills. When in doubt, it’s best to stick with the classics. Here are five recommendations for the ultimate Halloween movie marathon:

“The Exorcist” (1973)

Dubbed by many as the scariest movie ever made, “The Exorcist” is so effective because it deals with chilling subject matter that could arguably be considered real. With a stellar cast and countless legendary scenes, this is one for the ages.

In short, “The Exorcist” is the story of a priest (Max von Sydow) who is sanctioned to perform an exorcism on 12-year-old Regan (Linda Blair) after she begins levitating and showing fits of extreme strength associated with demonic possession. While some of the scenes – especially the ones involving bodily functions – may seem a little amusing today, this was standard scare fare back in 1973.

“Halloween” (1978)

This is the movie that started it all. Before “A Nightmare on Elm Street” or “Friday the 13th,” John Carpenter’s “Halloween” redefined the horror genre and sparked a slasher flick craze that is still alive and well almost three decades later.

This film is the story of Michael Myers, a deranged youth confined to a mental hospital after killing his sister on Halloween night in 1963. Fifteen years later, on Halloween night in 1978, he escapes from the hospital and returns to the town for a killing rampage.

“Halloween” introduced audiences to “scream-queen” Jamie Lee Curtis for the first time, but the real star was Michael Myers, the faceless killer who has starred in six sequels to date with another on the way soon. His blank, white mask – a plaster of Paris of William Shatner’s face – sent the message that a killer could be anyone, from anywhere. Nobody is safe from pure evil.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

Wes Craven wasn’t a big name in Hollywood by the time 1984 rolled around, but he was getting there. After he wrote and directed “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” his fame was never in doubt. In “Nightmare,” Craven created another of cinema’s iconic characters while preying on one of the deepest human fears.

The main character in this story is Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a brutal child murderer who comes back to life after he is killed by a lynch mob. Years after his death, Krueger returns to terrorize the children of those who killed him. How, you ask, can he return if he is already dead? Actually, it’s Krueger’s spirit that begins to prey on the teens – in their dreams. When they die in their nightmares, they die in real life.

It all seems silly at first, but watch the original and you’ll soon see that Freddy means business. In fact, this is one of the only horror franchises with multiple watchable sequels – six to be exact – and a final installment effective enough to hold up to the original.

“Scream” (1996)

It’s the ultimate satire of the horror genre, but it’s also a solid film itself. “Scream” proved that Wes Craven still had something left in the tank after “A Nightmare on Elm Street” ran dry. The story – a psychopathic killer stalks a group of teens who like to drink and have sex – is simple, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

“Scream” pays homage to the horror franchises before it, but it isn’t afraid to point out the trends or inconsistencies associated with them. The film’s main character, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) says it best when she declares “What’s the point (of horror movies). They’re all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act and is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. It’s insulting.”

This is soon followed by a big-breasted girl who can’t act running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door. “Scream” works flawlessly, both as a horror film and as a horror satire, which makes it the perfect slasher flick for our generation.

“Wishmaster” (1997)

For fans of ridiculous, gross-out horror flicks, it doesn’t get any better than “Wishmaster.” This film was directed by Robert Kurtzman, a veteran special effects supervisor and makeup artist, and it really shows during the many grotesque scenes.

“Wishmaster” deals with a demonic being called the Djinn (Andrew Divoff). His goal is to destroy the human race and rule the earth. However, he can’t gain his power until he grants three wishes to the person who wakes him. When he is awoken by a gemologist (Tammy Lauren), the Djinn begins his quest to gain complete entry into our world.

The heart of this movie is when the Djinn begins to grant wishes. Things aren’t what they seem for the wishers, as he twists the meaning of their words to create what amounts to a grisly mess. The makeup and gore in this movie is over the top, sometimes funny, but always disturbing. Some of this stuff will stay with you through your Sunday brunch.

– Just Missed The Cut:

“Beetle Juice,” “The Blair Witch Project,” “Child’s Play,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Mothman Prophecies,” “Saw,” “The Ring,” “Friday the 13th”

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