Ten Paranormal Movies/Television Series to Watch On Amazon Prime in January 2020

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Scary Movies and Series

It’s winter, it’s cold and well it’s perfect for watching supernatural horror. So we’ve put together a list of the best paranormal movies and television series on Amazon Prime right now to keep you entertained during these cold months. Maybe save The Shining for a nice snowed in some wintery night.. or not. We will be updating this list on a monthly basis as new titles become available and older titles leave.

January 2020

10.) The Woman in Black

Director: James Watkins

Writers: Jane Goldman

Cast:  Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Sophie Stuckey, Liz White

Arthur Kipps, a lawyer, is recently widowed and grieving from the loss of his wife when he is sent to a remote village. Soon after his arrival, it becomes clear that the villagers are hiding a terrible secret. Kipps discovers that his late client’s house, for which he is there, is haunted by the spirit of a woman who is trying to find someone and something she lost, and no one is safe from her.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%

9.) The Innkeepers

Director/Writers: Ti West

Cast: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis

When two employees at a New England hotel decide to investigate stories of hauntings and ghosts, their actions waken an unwanted presence.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

8.) Carrie (1976)

Director: Brian DePalma

Writers: Lawrence D. Cohen

Cast: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, John Travolta, William Katt, Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley

In this adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel, secluded and sensitive teen Carrie White faces taunting and teasing from classmates at school and abuse from her mother at home. When strange occurrences start happening around Carrie, she begins to suspect that she has supernatural powers. Invited to the prom by the empathetic Tommy Ross, Carrie tries to let her guard down, but things eventually take a dark and violent turn.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

7.) The Blair Witch Project

Directors/Writers: Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel Myrick

Cast: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard

Found video footage tells the tale of three film students who’ve traveled to a small town to collect documentary footage about the Blair Witch, a local legend. Over the course of several days, the students interview townspeople and gather clues to support the tale’s truth. But the project takes a frightening turn when the students lose their way in the woods and begin hearing horrific noises.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

6.) Hereditary

Writer/Director: Ari Aster

Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Millie Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne

When the grandmother of the Graham family passes away, her daughter and grandchildren begin to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry, trying to outrun the sinister fate they have inherited.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

5.) The Shining

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writers: Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson

Cast:  Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd

Jack Torrance becomes the winter caretaker at the isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado, hoping to cure his writer’s block. He settles in along with his wife, Wendy, and his son, Danny, who is cursed by psychic premonitions. As Jack’s writing goes nowhere and Danny’s visions become more disturbing, Jack discovers the hotel’s dark secrets and begins to unravel into a homicidal maniac terrorizing his family.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

4.) A Quiet Place

Director: John Krasinski

Writers: Bryan Woods and Scott Beck

Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe

A family must live in silence to avoid mysterious creatures that hunt by sound. Knowing that even the slightest whisper, pen drop, or footstep can bring death, Evelyn and Lee are determined to find a way to protect their children while searching for a way to fight back.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

3.) The Exorcist (1973)

Director: William Friedkin

Writers: William Peter Blatty

Cast:  Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller, Linda Blair

This tale of an exorcism is based loosely on actual events. When the young daughter Regan starts acting odd, levitating, speaking in tongues her worried mother seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A priest, however, thinks the girl may be possessed by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

2.) The Babadook

Director/Writers: Jennifer Kent

Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall, Hayley McElhinney, Barbara West, Ben Winspear

A single mother, grieving from the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her and her family.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

1.) The Evil Dead (1981)

Director/Writers: Sam Raimi

Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker

Ashley “Ash” Williams, his girlfriend and three pals hike into the woods to a cabin for a fun night away from it all. There they find an old book, the Necronomicon, and the text reawakens the dead when it’s read aloud. The friends not knowingly, release a flood of evil and must fight for their lives or become one of the evil dead. Ash watches his friends become possessed, and must make a difficult decision before daybreak to save his own life.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Texas Chainsaw Massacre True Story

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Featured Scary Movies and Series

Was There a Real Life Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

The obnoxious sound of Leatherface’s chainsaw slicing through the wall in a decrepit, bone-filled house off the beaten path will strike pure terror in anyone’s heart. In fact, it is possible that many people would drop dead of a heart attack right away if they actually saw Leatherface in real life. Chainsaws are most certainly real.  Masks of flesh are most certainly possible. And deranged cannibalistic psychopaths are absolutely possible.  So, did the Texas chainsaw massacre happen in real life, is there a true story behind it?

Was Ed Gein the Inspiration for Leatherface?

1974 horror movie poster for Texas Chainsaw massacre claiming it is based on a true story featuring a masked man with a chainsaw and a tied up woman
Original Texas Chainsaw Massacre poster hinting that the movie was based on a true story.

Movie Marketing at it’s Finest

As seen above in the poster, the marketing for Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s original 1974 release certainly made claims that it was based on a true story. “What happened is true. Now the motion picture that’s just as real” is the sub text of the movie title.

The Real Inspiration for Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Despite beliefs that Texas Chainsaw Massacre was inspired by a true story, Tobe Hooper’s 1974 film Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its 2003 remake were actually based only loosely on Ed Gein, who is suspected to have taken victims between 1954 and 1957. The most notable similarity is the house in the movies, whose grisly contents were similar to those in Gein’s home seen below.

Edward Theodore Gein Born August 27, 1906 – July 26, 1984, also known as the Butcher of Plainfield or the Plainfield Ghoul, was an American murderer and body snatcher. Gein’s crimes, committed around his hometown of Plainfield, Wisconsin, gathered widespread notoriety in 1957 after authorities discovered he had exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. Gein also confessed to killing two women: tavern owner Mary Hogan in 1954 and hardware store owner Bernice Worden in 1957. – Wikipedia

Gein was initially found unfit to stand trial and confined to a mental health facility. By 1968, he was judged competent to stand trial; he was found guilty of the murder of Worden, but he was found legally insane and was remanded to a psychiatric institution. He died at Mendota Mental Health Institute of respiratory failure, on July 26, 1984, aged 77. He is buried next to his family in the Plainfield Cemetery, in a now-unmarked grave. – Wikipedia

The Texas Chainsaw movies undoubtedly inspired by Ed Gein. Furniture that has been made out of bone and flesh, Leatherface’s masks made from the flesh of human faces, and a truly unkempt home are all parts of the movies that were inspired by Ed Gein. Still, there are real life examples of home decor, furnishings and masks found made by Ed Gein that show this type of corpse and body mutilation is more than possible, psychologically.  There are many documented cases of human cannibalism, some close to home in the past and some abroad in third world territories still occurring today. Obviously there are murders all the time. 

And thus, yes it is more than possible for a corpse mutilating, murdering cannibal to exist. Yes, it is possible for a real life Texas Chainsaw Massacre to happen. YES, it is possible for a real life Leatherface to exist.

What Would a Real Life Texas Chainsaw Massacre Be Like?

There are many components of a true Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie.  Here are some of the most commonly found attributes which make a Leatherface movie, a real Leatherface movie.

Unsuspecting Victims

Unfortunately for the victims, most do not realize what is happening until it is already too late. Leatherface may be really scary, but he usually does not show up right away. Instead, his family first begins interacting with the victims, almost as though they are normal, contributing members of society.  The victims usually have an ultra low guard by the time they are any where near Leatherface himself.

Tow Trucks and/or Immobile Vehicle Graveyard

A lot of Texas Chainsaw Massacre films feature tow trucks that respond to victim car crashes, and/or a full-on vehicle graveyard.  The vehicles in this graveyard are always immobile and appear as though they may have been there for a long while.

Gas Station and/or Rest Stop

The Leatherface movies almost always start out on the road somehow, and the victims almost always end up stopping at a gas station or a rest stop of some kind for one reason or another.  Usually, it is for gas. Sometimes, they get directions.  It is always unwise to follow those directions…but they usually do!

Blood

There would be lots and lots of blood in a real life Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Sawyers (or Hewitts, depending upon which part of the franchise you are watching) are cannibals and furniture artists…and they prefer human-only parts!  This means being fully comfortable with cutting, slicing and dicing up human flesh and body parts. Not to mention the actual murders themselves.

Human Flesh and Bone Furnishings

Leatherface and his family love crafting the flesh and bone of their victims into furniture.  Their house is absolutely decorated with human body parts. There are human face lamps. There are chairs made of bone.  And a variety of other furnishings and horror decor.

Fun Fact: Did you know you can actually BUY Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Leatherface Inspired Horror Decor?

Yummy Dinner

Leatherface drags victims through his house and into his room for butchering, collecting parts for use in his family’s famous cannibal soup.

From Ed Gein to…???

leatherface ed with cleaver illustration

The funny thing about people like Ed Gein (only a grave robber and corpse mutilator) and serial killers is that normally they are discovered after the fact.  This means, unfortunately, if there could be a real life Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that it could be happening already.  So be careful out there on those Texas highways…and never take any unfamiliar detours not on your GPS!!  As one simply never knows when a real life Texas Chainsaw Massacre could be taking place off the beaten path, on some dirt road somewhere!

Check out Surprising Facts About Leatherface and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movies to learn more!

Sources

Wikipedia

The 10 Most Underrated John Carpenter Horror Films

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Reviews Scary Movies and Series

These ten movies directed by horror-master John Carpenter sadly live on as underrated additions to the horror film genre—in fact, many of these you won’t ever hear mentioned in daily horror culture, but that’s a shame because all of these are worthy of at least a little attention.

Someone's Watching Me (1978) Movie Poster

Someone’s Watching Me (1978)

While this horror movie isn’t truly a paranormal horror tale, it is a classic horror tale that many women can relate to in their real lives—being stalked. True to form of successful movies that continue to live on from the 70s, Someone’s Watching Me (1978) is a traditional, “less is more,” type of piece. It relies upon the situations that would if one were to experience them in own life, would cause incredible anxiety and lasting fear. This is possibly Carpenter’s most underrated movie, perhaps simply due to the years that have passed since it was released. In truth, it’s the kind of movie that might constantly be giving loud advice to the main character while she gets increasingly sticky situations.

Someone’s Watching Me IMDB listing

The Fog (1980) Movie Poster

The Fog (1980)

As the title suggests, this film brings its scare from the fog—it’s a horror movie that focuses on the creeping and inevitable, there is no stopping the fog from rolling in, especially when it moves against the wind. What can you do when there is something deadly in the fog—something that moves with it, that kills without provocation? All you really can do when it comes is bolt your doors, lock your windows, and stay inside your house. This story of Captain Drake and his ill-fated crew is definitely a classic worth watching or re-watching if it has been a while.

Enjoy seafaring horror? Check out our article on hauntings at sea as well

The Fog IMDB listing

Creepshow (1982) Movie Poster

Creepshow (1982)

Honestly, this is one of those classic movies that you just have to watch, anthologies this entertaining are few and far between and while it’s not nail-bitingly scary, each of the stories are interesting and unique. This movie scared the pants off of me as a child, because it never went over-the-top with any attempts to use technology that was out of its reach but just believable enough to allow you to be in the story with the characters.

Creepshow IMDB listing

Christine (1983) Movie Poster

Christine (1983)

The classic tale about a boy and his first car—his possessed car that is. Have you ever felt that someone you know is overwhelmingly obsessed with one of their belongings, to the point that their life and well-being becomes intertwined with the well-being of their belonging? This film is among the first of its kind to really put an emphasis on the possession of an inanimate object in a meaningful way.

Christine IMDB listing

Prince of Darkness (1987) Movie Poster

Prince of Darkness (1987)

Although there are many movies based on the emergence of Satan, this was possibly one of the most imaginative takes on how the Prince of Darkness might escape from hell into the world. After a priest finds a huge vial filled with some unidentifiable slime, he requests that a scientist and his students to help him figure out what it really is; finding out what it is, is only a small part of the problem, once they find out they’ll realize it’s already too late. The end is already beginning, will they be able to stop it in time?

Prince of Darkness IMDB listing

They Live (1988)

They Live (1988)

This is one alien horror flick that stands out among the rest, They Live (1988) is a movie that is classic from the time that it was made and is definitely worthy of a shout out or three. If you’ve ever wondered where the line, “I’ve come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass—and I’m all out of bubble gum,” comes from, you’re in luck. Aside from the wrestler to actor shenanigans with Rowdy Roddy Piper, the acting is what you might expect from a movie made in the late eighties. Forget action movie alien invasions, this kind of invasion is creepier than any other witnessed in cinema history.

They Live IMDB listing

In the Mouth of Madness (1994) Movie Poster

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

This movie shows how society might devolve if violent books, movies, and video games were truly to blame for the erratic behavior of human beings—can an author really have the sway over the way people act, well if you were to read a Sutter Cane book, you might not be able to control yourself at all. It might sound far-fetched, but the easily persuaded might be just a short read away from storming the streets with axes in hand. This is not a predecessor of The Purge (2013), it’s another Carpenter movie that stands on its own within the horror genre, as a horror ride of the imagination—or at least the imagination of an author who wants to cause people to go mad.

In The Mouth of Madness IMDB listing

Village of the Damned (1995) Movie Poster

Village of the Damned (1995)

This is one of those movies where the terror develops over time, but if you’re one of those people who finds small children disturbing, this is definitely one that you might enjoy. What I like most about this movie is the creep factor—it’s not scary in the traditional sense, no real startling moments, nothing is going to pop out and scare you. The focus of the fear factor here is how it would feel to have a malevolent, creepy child in control of your actions. It reminds me of The Bad Seed (1956) if Rhoda were able to force you to kill yourself with her eyes.

Village of the Damned IMDB listing

Vampires (1998) Movie Poster

Vampires (1998)

Along with zombies, vampires have been creatures that have been overworked to death in books, films, and television shows, everyone has a new take on it to show why their vampires are somehow better, scarier, or more realistic than everyone else’s. Originally creatures that would incite fear, now they’re more and more often portrayed as objects of romance, love interests, so overdone that they went from truly evil, to rebellious bad boys. Fear not, Vampires (1998) is still in the genre of horror, where vampires truly are evil creatures suited only for hunting.

Vampires IMDB listing

The Ward Movie Poster

The Ward (2010)

Not conceived to be a true horror movie, this paranormal thriller offers more in the way of jump scares than much of anything else—while it doesn’t boast a well-known cast, the cast does a convincing job of selling their fear. The plot is enjoyable and decently executed, nevermind some of the plot holes, but the climax of fear is typically punctuated by a complete loss of the moment, followed directly by a cheap startle. The only thing that makes this movie less enjoyable is the ghost itself; we get a clear view of her from the beginning and there is no room left for that character and plot device to grow. It has its own share of twists and turns though, so the important thing about this movie is to watch until the very end—it doesn’t end exactly how you think it would.

The Ward IMDB listing

The Best Movies About the End of the World

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Best Of Best of Movies Featured Scary Movies and Series

Remember when everybody thought the world would end in 2012? Nearly a decade later and we’re still here, but the terrifying apocalyptic movies will never stop… and we like it that way. These films are the ideal combination of action, suspense, and horror – watching society unravel as the main characters quite literally run for their lives, often to no avail. What would you do if you were simply getting your hair done at the salon, when buildings started to collapse all around you? Is there any imaginable way to escape a natural disaster of this capacity? Answer these questions and get a fix of apocalyptic horror with these top-rated films about the end of the world.

These Final Hours (2015)

These final hours movie poster

If you found out the world was ending, what’s the first thing you would do? Some would say goodbye to their loved ones or chill out with Netflix and good food, but the protagonist in These Final Hours wants to party. And party hard. The film begins in Perth, Australia as an asteroid collides with Earth, with about twelve hours to go until a firestorm reaches the country. James wants to experience the “party to end all parties” before he exits the planet, but things take a unique turn as he meets new people and comes across terrifying things. This is definitely one of the most underrated end-of-the-world thrillers, ever. 

Take Shelter (2011)

Take Shelter movie poster

The end of the world is even more terrifying when it’s all happening inside your head, and that’s exactly what happens to Curtis LaForche in this apocalyptic thriller. He sees raindrops made of oil and swarms of black birds, while nobody else does… and his increasing anxiety and strange behavior begins to cause issues with his job, family, and life. Is he simply going through a rough time period, struggling with mental illness, or foreshadowing a future disaster? You’ll have to watch this Jessica Chastain thriller (her specialty) and find out. 

2012 (2009)

2012 end of the world movie poster

For many years, there were conspiracy theories about the world ending in 2012, as this was the conclusion of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. Obviously, it didn’t happen… but we did get a pretty sweet disaster movie out of it. Released in 2009, this film centers around Jackson Curtis and his attempts to save his family from impending doom. And by that, we mean a series of natural disasters that are slowly crumbling the Earth and killing off the population. This film has the ideal combination of action and scares, and you can sleep easy knowing that we all survived the year 2012. 

I Am Legend (2007)

I am legend movie poster

I hope you are enjoying the apocalypse. So what do you do when 90% of the Earth’s population is killed by a virus, while you’re the 1% who lives and the other 9% are terrifying mutants who want to kill you? Ask scientist Robert Neville, who is living a post-apocalyptic life in the ruins of Manhattan. Will Smith gives a breathtaking performance as he tries to survive and find a cure for the virus, while tracking down any fellow survivors and trying not to get attacked by the mutants. As you can imagine, it’s an eventful film!

Children of Men (2006)

Children of men movie poster

The premise of this film is quite simple. Humans have mysteriously become infertile and society is quickly (and not so quietly) dying out. There are less natural disasters and more quiet moments of fear, but Children of Men still has plenty of action. When a woman is believed to be pregnant, it becomes a symbol of hope for society… and the film follows a group of people as they do whatever it takes to stay alive. 

World War Z (2013)

World War Z Movie Poster

Brad Pitt spending a nearly 2 hour movie trying to stop a zombie pandemic, and looking amazing doing it? That’s why you need to watch World War Z. Pitt stars as Gerry Lane, a former United Nations agent who is assigned to gather clues about how to stop zombies from taking over the planet – guided by his duty to his job and need to protect his family. This movie is based on the 2006 novel World War Z, which you should also check out! If Brad Pitt can’t make the apocalypse fun who can?

28 Days Later (2002)

28 days later movie poster

This film hits a bit close to home in 2021, as it centers around four individuals trying to rebuild their life after a contagious virus hits and destroys society as they once knew it. Before there was Bird Bo or The Quiet Place, there was 28 Days Later… as this film shows the survivors trying to cope with their losses while avoiding the zombies that could possibly infect them. Among many, many other things. Some critics even say that it revived the zombie genre all the way back in 2002!

The Best of High Rise Horror Movies

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Best Of Best of Movies Featured Scary Movies and Series

High-rise tower blocks have been a setting staple in action blockbusters throughout history through such films as Die Hard (1988) and the Towering Inferno (1974), though the horror genre has gotten plenty of mileage out of the batophobia-inducing megaliths too. Even the legendary Evil Dead series which has mostly kept to its cabin-in-the-woods roots is now moving its demonic antics into the concrete skies with the upcoming Evil Dead Rise. High-rises are often crowded, tightly packed and dizzyingly high up, leaving room for plenty of horrifyingly tense horror cinema. Below are some of the best high rise horror films to utilize a skyscraper or tower block as their setting, and a look at why exactly this choice is so terrifying.

Demons 2 (1986)

Lamberto Bava’s sequel to his 1985 horror thrillride Demons demonstrates exactly why tower blocks are a nightmare waiting to happen. A demon invasion makes its way into an apartment block through a film being broadcast one saturday night, and a few survivors must fight their way through the block to safety. Produced by the legendary Dario Argento, Demons 2 indeed lacks a bit of the joyful wackiness of its cinema-based original, which is by rights an imperfect classic, and sadly ends up devolving into a reskinned b-grade zombie movie before long. Bava seems to be crafting a sequel as quickly as he can here, with scenes reminiscent of Romero’s original trilogy and the then-just-released Gremlins. The gore and practical effects which made the original what it was are still present, though the vivid colour palette of Demons has been replaced with a lot of dominating blues and greys which sap the energy out of several scenes. Perhaps if its predecessor wasn’t such a cult classic, Demons 2 would have stood a better chance, as it still serves as a great example of nail-biting high-rise horror.

[•REC] & [•REC]² (2007/2009)

rec movie poster based on a horror film in a high rise building featuring a girl and a dark background

REC is a Spanish found footage horror film co-written and directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. Both REC and its sequel take place in an apartment block during a zombie outbreak. While the first relies on the found footage of a news reporter picking a very unfortunate night to cover her local fire station, the sequel utilises shots from SWAT team cams and some intruding youths to craft an even more tense and terrifying ride. The claustrophobia is very apparent here, with hordes of ferociously fast zombies taking up corridors and whole stairwells at a time. Doubly horrifying is the introduction of lockdown to the building, wherein characters realize that not only will the undead kill them if they stay, but the authorities will kill them if they try to leave. This makes the feeling of imprisonment much more acute, and makes the towering backdrop all the more effective

Poltergeist III (1988)

poltergeist 3 movie poster featuring a blonde girl and a scary high rise building

Poltergeist 3 was co-written and directed by Gary Sherman, and is the second sequel to Tobe Hooper’s legendary and massively influential 1982 classic. It was the final feature of Heather O’Rourke before she tragically died at the age of 12, adding even further to the already-present ‘Poltergeist curse’ that had been plaguing cast members of the franchise since its first entry. After being repeatedly tormented by supernatural horrors, Carol Anne moves in with her relatives in a tower block in Chicago in order to undergo therapy. However, the ghostly evil appears to have followed her as she begins to experience terrifying visions, as well as spectral figures in the mirrors of the relative’s high-rise apartment.

Attack The Block (2011)

attack the block movie poster featuring a group of teens in front of a high rise building

As its name suggests, Attack The Block takes place in a London apartment block and centres around the gang of youths that live there as they take on a vicious alien invasion. The charismatic teens trawl the streets and their beloved block evading police, rival gangsters and the otherworldly horrors that hunt them. Director Joe Cornish dials into a perfect blend of action, horror and comedy, doubled with plenty of satire on class and ethnic barriers, all aided by the sprawling urban setting and lively, if not a little unhinged, characters who live there.

Candyman (1992) 

Candyman Urban Legend Horror Movie Poster with a bee in an eye

Bernard Rose’s Candyman terrified audiences the world over in 1992 with its bleakly horrific depiction of the real-world superstition known widely as ‘Bloody Mary’. According to the lasting urban legend, one must say the name of their malevolent force in question five times in front of a mirror, and the thing will awaken and kill them.

Fascinated by local urban legends, Helen (Virginia Madsen) investigates the myths and superstitions surrounding the one-armed Candyman, writing a thesis on how the residents of the Cabrini-Green ghetto use his legend to deal with their surroundings. However, she confronts her worst nightmare when a series of murders, dangerously close to the Candyman’s modus operandi, start taking place around her. Jordan Peele’s 2021 remake expanded on the lore of Candyman in an interesting and often exciting way, though never managed to be as deliriously scary as the ‘92 original breezed its way through being. Playing more on themes of police brutality and ‘ghetto gentrification’, Candyman 2021 tries to add a lot of recent topics to the mythos, more than may have been necessary when considering the classic themes which are just as prevalent.

Cloverfield (2008)

Cloverfield horror movie poster featuring burning high rise buildings in NYC and the statue of liberty

Cloverfield tore theatres a new one back in 2008, changing the game completely for the found-footage subgenre and for monster movies in general. Utilising the shaky-cam technique, director Matt Reeves created a monster movie with such sparse shots of its titular monster that a tension and mystery was retained around the monolithic creature and its origins right up until 2018’s legacy-destroying sequel The Cloverfield Paradox.

In 2008’s Cloverfield, a group’s surprise leaving party for their friend is disastrously interrupted by an explosion in downtown New York, which it is soon revealed was caused by a gigantic rampaging monster. The party’s survivors must flee across New York, documenting each atrocity as it occurs. Technically the film takes place in several tower blocks, including the survivors traversing the roof of one collapsing tower to another which allows for some dizzying shots of the city below.

American Psycho 

American Psycho Movie Poster with a Man holding a knife

Adapted from the 1991 novel from Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho concerns investment banker/serial killer Patrick Bateman and his homicidal exploits around Manhattan. Starring Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto and Chloë Sevigny, the Mary Harron-directed chiller is as sadistic as it is confusing, with Bateman’s unreliable first-person account of a disjointed plot involving brutal killings as well as equally intense conversations about business cards. Much of the plot takes place in Bateman’s high-rise apartment complex and the other establishments he inhabits around the suffocating Manhattan streets. The cold megalophobia of the film’s setting adds a new layer to Bateman’s madness, as well as adding to the exposure of the more low-key insanity of the society he lives in.

Land of The Dead (2005)

Land of the Dead horror movie poster

Land of the Dead was written and directed by George A. Romero, and is the fourth of Romero’s six Living Dead movies. As zombies begin to inherit most of the world, survivors of the apocalypse have built a walled city to protect themselves. However, the living dead are evolving more by the day, and a plan to overthrow the city leadership is in the works. Land of The Dead features a very on the nose portrayal of a modern political climate, with the rich and powerful living in Fiddler’s Green, a luxury high-rise, while the rest of the population are left to fend for themselves in the slums below. Fiddler’s Green eventually becomes the target of not only the zombies but also the working class, in a finale that shows exactly why tower blocks are the perfect setting for a metaphor on civil unrest.

High Rise (2015)

High Rise Horror movie poster

Another film to utilise the Snowpiercer-esque visualisation of class hierarchy through its setting is Ben Wheatley’s 2015 dystopian thriller High Rise. Based on the 1975 novel of the same name by British writer J. G. Ballard, High Rise takes place in a luxurious tower block in the 1970s. With a wealth of modern conveniences at their fingertips, the residents of the building grow gradually less dependant on the outside world, allowing them to live each day without even leaving. As the infrastructure becomes brittle and tensions begin to rise, the block is soon thrown into chaos as a full class warfare erupts. Without a clear protagonist in mind, viewers must wade in the moral ambiguity of one atrocity to the next, deciding for themselves who, if anyone, can be considered a hero in it all. Like Snowpiercer in a skyscraper, the violence and debauchery this societal breakdown results in is as entertaining as it is brutal, though with no clear moral alignment the plot of High-Rise can become confusing.

1408 (2007)

1408 horror movie poster featuring 2 mens faces and an old key

Based on the chilling Stephen King short story of the same name, 1408 stars John Cusack and Samuel L Jackson and centres around a grand old hotel in New York that is said to be haunted. Mike Enslin (Cusack) is an established horror author who stays in apparently haunted places and documents his finds. After overexposure to pseudo-supernaturalism, Enslin is becoming bored of his work until he hears about the legendary hotel and room 1408. He is soon trapped in the room with seemingly no escape.

Being trapped in such a high floor of a hotel is played out effectively, with Enslin hanging out of windows and trying to scale across the outer wall to the next room. The setting adds another dimension to his imprisonment and retains a hopelessly bleak air as Enslin’s mind is pushed to breaking point.

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