This Halloween, look beyond Elm Street

This blog is contributed by our resident horror expert and graphic designer, David Allyon.

Leading up to Halloween, the office chatter has turned to ranking and re-ranking the best horror films of all time.

As a guy who loves all things horror and recently spent his weekend on a ghost tour down at the Jersey Shore, I feel highly qualified to recommend some unexpected films for this scary season. While my colleagues rely on classics such as The Omen and Psycho, I’ve got some not-so-ordinary recommendations.

1. Always good to start with a classic. Evil Dead (1981) has the perfect blend of camp, gore, and “what the hell was that!?”. This movie was one of the first to have a group of hormone-filled teenagers renting a cabin in the middle of nowhere only to find death, mayhem, and more death. The director, Sam Raimi, has since become a hit-maker directing movies like the Spider-Man franchise and the forthcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful, but his home is horror.

You should watch this movie if for no other reason than to prepare for the remake, which is directed by the star of the original, Bruce Campbell! It looks like it’ll be a good one.

2. V/H/S – Remember that really awesome scene in the recently released Paranormal Activity 4? Me neither. Trade in the Disney horror for some truly terrifying found-footage action. A collection of shorts from five different directors, V/H/S (2012) movie will have even the most seasoned horror fan wondering what will happen next, and in some cases what JUST happened?

3. If Evil Dead and V/H/S are too scary, then Paul Lynde’s Halloween Special(1976) is just the thing for you. Paul Lynde (who I always loved as Samantha’s uncle in Bewitched) created this campy variety show with guest stars like KISS, Donnie and Marie Osmond, Betty White, and Margaret Hamilton (the only time the Wicked Witch of the West from Wizard of Oz ever appeared elsewhere). It’s so bad it’s horrifying.

4. In a world where vampires are heartthrobs and zombies have feelings, when will it be time for Werewolves to be the new black? There are a few gems to get you howling at the moon. Of course there’s the classic American Werewolf in London, but one of my personal favorites is Ginger Snaps (2000). It’s a film about two outcast sisters that get bit by what seems like your regular, run-of-the-mill wolf until things start to go bad. It’s got more girl-power and fur than a Spice Girl at the Olympics.

5. Have you tried overseas horror? Japanese is a safe option, but I always end up hungry 20 minutes later. Australia, however, has some gore to wet your appetite. The Loved Ones (2009) is a film from down under with a deranged teen girl who kidnaps and tortures the guy who rejected her for the school dance. If the idea of a scorned prom queen with a power drill doesn’t scare you, there’s an awkwardly inappropriate scene between father and daughter that would make even Woody Allen flinch.

It’s o.k. if you fall back on the staples, I like a little Michael Myers and Freddy Kreuger too. But try one of these less-known films to get your blood pumping and your hands clammy. You know, to REALLY get you in the mood for Halloween.