Now, if you’re like those of us here at the Shattered Lens, you’ve already got your list of movies set up to go. You know exactly which horror movies you’re going to watch this year and you’re ready for a great Halloween! Good for you! However, for everyone else, David J. Skal’s Fright Favorites is a good place to start when it comes to making out your list.
The book is subtitled 31 Movies To Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond and that’s pretty much the perfect description. Skal writes about 31 classic horror films, analyzing both their content and discussing their historical importance and making a pretty good case why these should be the films that you watch this Halloween. (Actually, since there’s 31 films, you could easily watch a film a day.) Going in chronological order, Skal starts with silent classics like Nosferatu and The Phantom of the Opera and then goes all the way to modern classics like Get Out. Along the way, Skal discusses Universal classics like Dracula and Frankenstein, the Hammer films, the Corman Poe films, and, of course, films like The Exorcist, The Shining, Halloween, Beetlejucie, Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and many more. He also recommends Hocus Pocus but we won’t hold that against him. He also devotes a chapter to Black Sunday (with a little mini-section about Surpiria) so Italian horror does not go unmentioned!
It’s a fun read, for both horror and non-horror fans. It’s a good starter for those who might not know much about the genre but, at the same time, there’s a lot here for those of us who already love the films. Skal’s appreciation of the genre comes through and, even if you’ve already seen the films that he recommends, it’s still interesting to consider his thoughts on them. This is one of those books that will remind you of why you fell in love with the horror genre in the first place.