Seriously creepy films for Halloween.

Nosferatu (1922, Murnau)
Silent, German classic of the first incarnation of Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula. Max Schreck, with his claw-like fingers, razor-sharp teeth and pointed ears, is terrifying as Count Orlok. If his looks are scary, it’s his slow-moving, shadowy gait on the stairs as he makes his way to Ellen’s bedroom that really gives you the shivers. Typical of German Expressionist film, the use of light and shadow is integral to the visual narrative and heightens the suspense. Stoker’s widow, Florence, tried to destroy all copies of Nosferatu, claiming she was not asked permission for the adaptation. Fortunately for us, some copies were missed.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Polanski)
Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes star as newlyweds who move in to an apartment block in new York City, where there are many sinister goings on, including unexplained deaths. Rosemary (Farrow) quickly becomes disconcerted with their surroundings and their peculiar and intrusive next door neighbours. The strangeness in the film is slow-burning reaching an almighty climax when the neighbours try to steal Rosemary’s ‘unusual’ baby. The genuine terror Rosemary displays when she sees her child for the first time is palpable. Pray for Rosemary’s Baby.

Eraserhead (1977, Lynch)
David Lynch’s first full-length feature is arguably his darkest. Shot in black and white to emphasise the industrial landscape, there is no dialogue, only the sounds of machines, for the first ten minutes of the film. Henry (Jack Nance) and his girlfriend Mary (Charlotte Stewart) appear to live in a soulless world. Mary soon becomes pregnant and gives birth to a grotesque mutant baby, straight out of a Francis Bacon painting. Can Henry learn to love it? Apparently Stanley Kubrick made the cast of The Shining watch Eraserhead in preparation for filming. Says it all really.

Marquis (1989, Xhonneux)
Not exactly ‘Halloween scary’, but one of the creepiest films I have ever seen. Set in the Bastille before the French Revolution, a group of incarcerates played by animal puppets await their fate. The main character, the Marquis (who is a dog), has been accused of trying to overthrow the king. He spends most of his day writing and talking to his penis (yes, his penis), which talks back to him (yes, it has a face). What’s probably most creepy about this film, as well as the inter-species breeding, is when about half way through the film, you realise that a talking dog having a conversation with his penis has become normal.

Little Otik (2000, Svankmajer)
A barren couple attempt to create a child from a tree in this horror fantasy based on a Czech fairytale. Alas their tree baby is not the little darling they had dreamt of, and it sets out on a path of gluttonous murder. The ‘baby’ has that overtly jerky animation synonymous with Jan Svankmajer’s films, which only heightens the creep factor. This, combined with the paedophilic neighbour who pursues the precocious little girl living upstairs, all adds up to a pretty disturbing movie.

After compiling this list, I’ve realised that three of these films centre around a creepy baby. How strange…Happy Halloween everyone!