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The Top Ten Scariest Movies for Halloween

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Halloween (and all the craziness it entails) is finally upon us, leaving one important question at the center of many holiday discussions. “What’s your favorite scary movie?” Ghostface from the Scream franchise always demands an answer before dispatching his victims, so the hive mind of SanDiego.com’s film division decided to plan ahead for what’s sure to be a rowdy weekend with some answers of our own.

There are many classics to choose from, everything from The Thing, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, to Dawn of the Dead.  But we’re always searching for new splatterific entries to share with friends and family, so in honor of all the various monsters roaming the city this weekend looking to trick r’ treat, we offer a list of ten recent scary movies that may have slipped past your radar:

1.      Audition (1999) – If you’re not familiar with director Takashi Miike, the prickly Audition is a great introduction to the Japanese auteur’s prolific canon of work. The seemingly innocuous story of a businessman searching for a new wife suddenly becomes something far more revelatory and harrowing, and one of the most disturbing examinations of controlled terror I’ve ever seen. Netflix

2.      Ginger Snaps (2000) – A sly combination of the werewolf film and the coming-of-age story, not to mention a gory celebration of pubescent defiance, John Fawcett’s Ginger Snaps follows two suicidal teenage sister’s trying to stave off adulthood and rampaging lycanthropes. Netflix

3.      Pulse (2001) – The dawn of the Internet age sets in motion a global apocalypse in J-Horror icon Kiyioshi Kurosawa’s Pulse, a soul-sucking genre bender that was far ahead of its time, and still is. Netflix

4.     The Devil’s Backbone (2001) – Horror maestro Guillermo del Toro crafts a haunting ghost story through the eyes of a child surrounded by war that doubles as an allegory for the constant specter of fascism. Netflix

5.      In My Skin (2002) – Body horror is a tough genre to tackle, but French filmmaker and actress Marina de Van’s In My Skin is one of the finest entries this side of David Cronenberg’s The Fly. A seemingly minor cut on a French businesswoman’s leg begins a debilitating obsession with slow physical deterioration, opening up a can of psychological worms that isn’t pretty. Netflix

6.      The Descent (2005) - Pound-for-pound the scariest film on this list, Neil Marshall’s spelunking nightmare follows a group of young women trapped by their own guilt and a squadron of pulsating cave beasts hell bent on carnivorous destruction. Sound design and misdirection haven’t been this important to a Horror film since…ever. Netflix

7.      The Host (2006) – Korean director Bong-Joon ho reinvents the monster movie with this full-throttle horror-comedy hybrid. The film’s take-no-prisoners approach can be seen in the timeless opening sequence, where the titular gigantic beasty annihilates a legion of innocent bystanders one massive step at a time. Netflix 

8.      Let the Right One In (2008) – A young boy meets a young vampire in the cold Swedish night, and a classic cinematic friendship is born. Some of my colleagues have a fond affection for Matt Reeve’s American remake (Let Me In), but I still prefer Tomas Alfredson’s stirring, cold, and aching original. Netflix 

9.      Drag Me To Hell (2009) – So much fun, and increasingly scary considering director Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider Man) almost entirely avoids visual gore. It’s all about what’s not seen in the story of Allison Lohman’s bank loan manager fending off the devil’s affection. Her final dive down the rabbit hole is an indictment of modern-day capitalistic greed and irresponsibility, something that’s increasingly pertinent in our Occupy Wall Street landscape. Netflix

10.  Amer (2010) – An intoxicating mash up of Italian “Giallo” horror conventions, Amer weaves three separate stories about gender inequality and sexual repression together via a breakneck editing scheme and vibrant color palette. With each dynamic camera move and cut, I can’t help but swoon. Netflix