Edwin Pagán's Top 6 Scariest Films To Watch on Halloween 2013

By NALIP member Edwin Pagán, founder of Latin Horror and a life-long horrorphile. Film loglines in "quotes" courtesy of IMDb.

For me, there's nothing more exciting than the shot of adrenaline I get when I watch a horror movie that has well-orchestrated, story-driven frights, who's characters are fleshed out and steeped in historical background. These picks are a varied mix of old school classic horror and contemporary miedo. Six films to watch over the Halloween season, and why: 

1. The Exorcist (William Friedkin) - 1973 
"When a child is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter." 

Without a doubt, my all-time favorite horror film. The film that launched a hundred nightmares, shook me to the core and still works on me today. Continues to hold up after three decades. If you've seen it a dozen times, see it again. If you haven't, you owe it to yourself to see it for the first time. To say anything more about this one would be an injustice to its craft and mantel in almost every horror fan's "best of" list. I dare you to see this one alone with the lights turned off and the volume up high. I double dare you...

2. The Thing (John Carpenter) - 1982 
"Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills." 

The remake that became a classic that inspired a prequel. An ensemble cast that was heaven-sent (can we say that in horror) for a movie of this type. Lots of scary moments balanced out with plenty humor to boot, with fantastic specials effects that were ground-breaking during it debut and still hold up because of Carpenter's storytelling and visually astute abilities. The only "man against other" flick that edges out Alien (1979) in my collection due to its abundance of memorable characters (and star quality) that seamlessly fit together in this doomed oasis horror/sci-fi/thriller.

3. The Devil's Backbone (Guillermo del Toro) - 2001 
(Pictured above)
"After Carlos, a 12-year-old whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War, arrives at an ominous boy's orphanage he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets that he must uncover..." 

A fantastic supernatural horror film by the raining master of Latin horror. A masterful blend of horror and fantasy set against the backdrop of the Franco dictatorship. 100% indie del Toro doing what he loves best without the big budget strings attached.

4. The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona) - 2007 
"A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, where she opens an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend." 

Another masterwork from in the Spanish horror armada. This crafty piece of horror is tone perfect and suspensefully jarring. Films with children in jeopardy are always an egg-shell walk, but every moment introduced in this film has a payoff. Be ready for the room to get dusty so have your tissue ready. A great film to watch a second time just for the subtleties. See it together with Pan's Labyrinth as a double-header

5. Tesis (Alejandro Amenábar) - 1996
"While doing a thesis about violence, Angela finds a snuff video where a girl is tortured until death. Soon she discovers that the girl was a former student in her faculty..."

A well-made fresh twist on the "snuff" genre.

6. Tales From the Crypt (Freddie Francis) - 1972
"Five people get lost in a crypt and meet up with a strange crypt keeper who tells them stories of how they died."

The first horror film I ever saw, and the first film anthology as well. A true classic in my personal collection – old school horror. As a fan and avid collector of comic books, the film's multiple story convention felt right at home. A creepy horror film that for me is the epitome of the style and pace of films from the 1970s (at least as I remember them). Its English stoic nature might feel a bit outdated for some American horrorheads who've grown up on slasher gore, but not for true fans of suspense and macabre, as well as the connoisseur of the classic bleed. Guaranteed.