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One of my Halloween rituals involves talking on the phone to my cousin, syncing up the same scary movie, and simultaneously getting spooked from and mocking said movie. It's something we've been doing for years (not just for Halloween) and few people understand the purpose. It's quite simple. We love watching movies together but live hundreds of miles apart. It's the best solution! We'll do it for hours on end.

Our regular Halloween movies include Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, The Exorcist, An American Werewolf in London, The Shining, and the Evil Dead movies, among others. We rock American versions of Japanese horror flicks like The Grudge and The Ring, and also Disney Halloween movies like Hocus Pocus and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. We just wish there were entire episodes of Disney's Halloween Treat available on DVD. (I'll give points to anyone who remembers that show.)

My personal preference for a horror movie is a psychological/supernatural thriller that involves ghosts, zombies, witches, or vampires. Mainly because I can still convince myself they don't exist and am therefore scared LESS by the movie in the long run. Any flick that features a serial killer on the loose doesn't sit well with me. The Halloween and Friday the 13th movies are examples of these. Strangely, I have seen all three Scream movies so many times that they've ceased to be scary, but all the others freak me out. I don't own any of them save the Scream movies, nor will I ever. I think it has something to do with the fact that serial killers really exist. It's harder to pretend it's “just a movie.” The same goes for backwoods cannibalistic hillbillies. I know that backwoods hillbillies still exist, and it wouldn't surprise me if they dabbled in cannibalism at some point, so those movies (i.e. Wrong Turn, Texas Chainsaw Massacre) are truly terrifying. Why would you want to spend 90 minutes living that horror?

I also want to clarify one other thing: A good scary movie can be enjoyed year-round; A cheesy horror movie is usually best saved for Halloween-time.

The differences are dramatic. For instance, The Exorcist can be viewed year-round and not seem out-of-place. It's terrifying no matter when you watch it. And as dated as the clothing is, there is no dating how horrific the actual exorcism scenes are. Something like Hocus Pocus, however, won't have nearly the impact when watched on a Sunday morning in July. That's partly because it's a Disney movie set on Halloween night and partly because it isn't truly scary to begin with, but it's a favorite nonetheless.

Maybe that was a bad example.

Let's take The Shining, both the 1980 Kubrick version and the 1997 Mick Garris-directed miniseries. For starters, the 1980 version with Jack Nicholson is an example of a good scary movie (and a bad example of adapting a book). I feel 70 percent of its baseline terror comes from Jack Nicholson alone. He's inherently creepy. Maybe 20 percent is the effects (I include the twin girls and the “bath lady” in this part of the equation), and the other 10 is eerie music. The 1997 miniseries is unequivocally more scary. The transformation of Jack as a character, when portrayed by the usually snarky Steven Weber, is all the more unsettling. Plus, so much more back story is revealed, which enriches the plot 20-fold and allows the climax to make more sense. Finally, being chased with a croquet mallet is far more terrifying than an ax in my mind. Perhaps it's a childhood love of croquet.

And I'll say two more words on the subject which maybe five other people will get: “Wolf mask.”

In any case, both are scary movies I can watch year-round.

An example of a movie that only resonates with me during the month of October is the 2005 version of The Amityville Horror. Ryan Reynolds' impressive physique aside (although it should really be at the forefront of this blog), the movie is mostly spooky special effects and disregards the original “true” story. I don't feel the need to watch this movie during any other time of year. The Evil Dead movies, however, are some of my favorite horror movies to watch.

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While I find that I really only watch them around Halloween, they are suited for viewing the entire year. Why? Because they are campy and involve Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi. Anything written by and/or directed by Sam Raimi is the tops, including Drag Me To Hell. Sam Raimi as an actor, however, I have less praise for. I think anyone who's seen the movie Thou Shalt Not Kill will agree with me.

To end this fairly long-winded blog, I've comprised a list of the other horror flicks, besides the ones mentioned, that I have watched or will watch before Sunday, October 31, in no particular order.

The Descent

28 Days Later

Rosemary's Baby

Shaun of the Dead

Poltergeist

'Salems Lot

Bram Stoker's Dracula

The Nightmare Before Christmas

The Fearless Vampire Killers

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Fright Night

The Blair Witch Project

The Omen (1976)

Christine

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

The Haunting (1963)

Let the Right One In

Thir13en Ghosts

Paranormal Activity

Blood for Dracula

Flesh for Frankenstein

Identity

The Changeling (1980)

Shutter (2004)

Who's got a list that tops mine?