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Cinema

Seven classic horror films for Friday 13th: spine-tingling, blood freezing

Here is a selection of Asian and Hollywood horror films from 1980 to the present. Many of these classics have spawned remakes and sequels. Be warned: few may be too much for those who are scared of clowns, ghosts, trees ...

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 July, 2018, 8:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 July, 2018, 9:27am

Today is Friday the 13th and that means a lot of fear. But why does superstition regarding the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia) and Friday the 13th (paraskevidekatriaphobia) originate from? There are many theories. Some say it’s because there were 13 present at Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion. Others say the Thomas W. Lawson’s 1907 novel, Friday, the Thirteenth, is behind the superstition (in the novel, a broker creates a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th).

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Nobody really knows; it’s very confusing.

So to help any confusion we recommend with the weather man forecasting storms this weekend it seems like a good excuse to stay in and scare the crap out of yourself with this smorgasbord of horror.

1. Friday the 13th (1980)

An obvious one to kick-start the list, this 1980 classic – originally pitched as A Long Night at Camp Blood – follows a winning formula: take a bunch of teenagers to a summer camp with a dark past, add some axe scenes, a few close ups of screaming mouths, some skin-tingling knife jabbing music and voila, scary movie.

But what is just as scary is how big this film has become, the original Friday the 13th planting the seed for a franchise that would yield 12 slasher films, a television show, novels, comic books, video games, and all that scary merchandise.

2. The Evil Dead (1981)

A bunch of college students head to a remote cabin in the woods … OK, I hear what you’re saying, you’ve heard it all before. But this cult classic takes the supernatural horror genre to a whole new level when the five friends accidentally release flesh possessing demons. Pure evil.

3. Dumplings (2004)

Some peoples’ mission to stay young drives them to do all sorts of crazy things. In this 2004 Hong Kong horror movie, Miriam Yeung Chin-wah plays an ex-actress determined to preserve her youth, her insecurity driven by her unfaithful husband. So when she’s told about some miracle dumplings served up by Aunt Mei, she tucks into them.

Loving the results she goes back for more, and isn’t too bothered when she finds out that the secret ingredient are unborn foetuses imported from an abortion clinic in Shenzhen.

4. Ring (1998)

Based on the 1991 novel by Koji Suzuki, Ring centres around a cursed videotape – I know what the millennials are thinking: what the hell is a videotape? But the main question here is how is it cursed? Those who watch it die seven days later.

Lovers of gorefests will be let down here – this scary little gem doesn’t lean on special effects. What carries it are intense performances from the cast, especially Rie Ino as ghost girl Sadako. The documentary-style camerawork will have you watching through your fingers.

5. IT (2017)

If numbers define a good horror movie then IT is, well, it. This 2017 remake based on Stephen King’s 1990 novel set numerous box office records. It grossed US$700 million worldwide and holds the title as the most profitable horror film of all time. IT tells the story of a group of bullied kids who join forces to destroy a clown that preys on children.

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Andrew Barker of Variety called it “a collection of alternately terrifying, hallucinatory, and ludicrous nightmare imagery … a series of well-crafted yet decreasingly effective suspense set pieces; and a series of well acted coming-of-age sequences that don’t quite fully mature.” Those with a bad case of coulrophobia – that’s a fear of clowns – should maybe pass on this one.

6. The Eye (2002)

Also known as Seeing Ghosts, this 2002 Hong Kong horror film directed by the Pang brothers spawned two sequels and three remakes. The plot follows the life of 20-year-old violinist Mun. Blind since the age of two, a cornea transplant restores her sight. Bad move. Let’s just say the “I See Dead People” mantra is apt here.

7. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

We're throwing this one into the mix purely because it was a game changer. Three film students disappear after entering a Maryland forest to make a documentary on the Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind (it’s one the earliest examples using the found footage technique).

It was all about creating the perception that the events were real, and Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez who wrote, directed, and edited it, did just that on a tiny US$25,000 budget, making it one of the most successful independent films of all time.