Oregon Horror Aficionado's 5 Scary Flick Picks

By John Rosman (OPB)
Portland, Oregon Oct. 9, 2017 7 a.m.

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The dark stars have aligned during this magic time in the Northwest.


If this doesn’t compel a viewer to seek out a horror movie, it’s likely not much more could. But film critic and horror aficionado Geoff Todd believes this genre is worth your time.

"Horror movies, along with science fiction, have the unique ability to address societal concerns and wrap them up into compelling stories," he said. "I think horror movies have an important voice in cinema."

The lifelong Oregonian is editor at large at the popular film blog Film School Rejects and is the creator of one of the most creative, influential film accounts on Twitter: One Perfect Shot.

We picked his brain (... brain ... BRAINS!) to learn about some standout films in the genre to watch on such a momentous night.

"CAT PEOPLE" | 1942 

Directed by Jacques Tourneur

IMDB Log Line: An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together.

What Geoff Todd says: "People are used to horror happening quickly and in violent, gory fashion. 'Cat People' is unique because it's subtle, it's patient and it really gets under your skin."

Fun Fact: "Cat People" features the first jump scare in horror.

"It took a long time for the jump scare to actually catch on," Todd said. "It really took Brian De Palma’s use of it in 'Carrie' to really kind of propel and solidify the use of the jump scare. After that it’s tough to think of a horror film that doesn’t feature a jump scare."

Horror At A Glance: Mild violence.

"SUSPIRIA" | 1977

Directed by Dario Argento

IMDB Log Line: A newcomer to a prestigious ballet academy comes to realize that the school is a front for something sinister amidst a series of grisly murders.

What Geoff Todd says: "'Suspiria' is like taking acid and going through a haunted house."

Fun Fact: The use of color in the film is still highly influential.

“Visually I think it’s one of the more hypnotizing films you can watch," Todd said. "The reason why it’s interesting as a horror film is its use of color. This is a film that uses hot pink and neon and then has horror kind of happening in the background. It’s a very surreal experience.”

Watch the trailer for "Suspiria" below.

Horror At A Glance: Violence, gore and disturbing images. Although visually stunning, "Suspiria" also features one of the infamously violent murders in movie history.



Directed by John Landis

IMDB Log Line: Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

What Geoff Todd says: "'American Werewolf in London' is one of my favorite horror films. It's one of my favorite films, period. It uses comedy in an interesting way. I think there's a huge difference between horror comedies and horrors that have moments of comedy in them. That's what 'American Werewolf' is, it uses comedy to break the tension."

Fun Fact: The famous werewolf transformation scene was designed by Rick Baker. You might know him from his work in "Thriller," "Videodrome," "Men in Black," "Hellboy," etc.

"Rick Baker is the Steven Spielberg of visual effects … he created the best transformation scene in cinema history," Todd said.

Horror At A Glance: Violence, gore and brief nudity.

Watch a scene from "American Werewolf in London." Note: The scene below contains brief nudity. 


Directed by Robert Rodriguez

IMDB Log Line: Two criminals and their hostages unknowingly seek temporary refuge in an establishment populated by vampires, with chaotic results.

What Geoff Todd says: "The '90s are interesting for horror because it was a time where people really started to play with the format … 'From Dusk Till Dawn' seems to be a road movie until the moment it becomes a horror film. You really didn't have horror films playing with the format like that before."

Fun Fact: The film not only co-stars Quentin Tarantino, but the screenplay was written by him as well. "[The movie] is really Tarintino and Rodriguez playing with the grindhouse format before the grindhouse film," Todd said.

Horror At A Glance: A gratuitous amount violence, gore and disturbing scenes. There is also some nudity. This movie is not for the faint of heart.

"GET OUT" | 2017

Directed by Jordan Peele

IMDB Log Line: It's time for a young African-American to meet with his white girlfriend's parents for a weekend in their secluded estate in the woods, but before long, the friendly and polite ambience will give way to a nightmare.

What Geoff Todd says: "'Get Out' is one of my favorite horror films of the last probably two decades."

Fun Fact: Jordan Peele was influenced to write this movie based on a bit in Eddie Murphy's stand-up special "Delirious." Peele said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, "Eddie Murphy was explaining the difference of how a white family and a Black family would react in a haunted house ... it's one of the best bits of all time."

"'Get Out' is having a discussion of race that country has needed to have for a long time — that other horror films have tried to have but they’ve never had it as successfully as 'Get Out,'" Todd said.

Horror At A Glance: Violence, gore and brief nudity.

Watch the trailer for "Get Out" below.