Clubs are a great way to meet people at SVA, and one of the College's most popular and perennially well-attended clubs is the SVA Horror Society. Co-founded in 2018 by BFA Film students (now alumni) Santiago Saba Salem and Matthew Yturralde, the club enables members to make long-lasting bonds by sharing their mutual love for horror movies. The SVA Horror Society meets weekly to screen and discuss scary movies, often inviting guest speakers such as actor and producer Larry Fessenden (Habit, Wendigo), David Howard Thornton (Art the Clown from Terrifier) and legendary grindhouse B-movie filmmaker and curator William Lustig (Maniac Cop) to have Q&As post-screening.
This year, the mantle and responsibility of leadership have fallen to current BFA Film students Haley Doyle and Milo Ryason. Just in time for Halloween, Doyle and Ryason were happy to give us their list of favorite horror recommendations to celebrate the spooky holiday, and the reasons for why these films are near and dear to them.
American Werewolf in London (1981)
We believe that this is John Landis' magnum opus. American Werewolf perfectly mixes terror and comedy with witty characters and incredibly impressive practical effects. The film isn't only an ultra-fun bloodbath of Londonites meeting their fate at the claws of a werewolf, but may also have a thing or two to say about love—or lack thereof.
Note: This is Haley's favorite horror film ever.
Halloween is an obvious classic starring Jamie Lee Curtis, the queen of scream queens, in her breakout role as Laurie Strode, the girl next door just trying to get through high school and escape the murderous Michael Myers. This film's buildup of tension is terrifying and worth enduring every moment leading up to the blood-curdling climax.
Let the Right One In (2008)
Not to be confused with the American remake, Let Me In, this Swedish horror film is a gem, complete with mysterious characters and beautiful landscapes. This film deserves to be on the list because it is a true work of unique craft in coming-of-age storytelling and spine-chilling horror.
Videodrome is one of Haley's all-time favorite movies and teeters between being scary and just plain disturbing. Directed by body horror legend David Cronenberg, this film does not skimp on mutilation, disfiguration, and the like. It also forces audiences to contemplate (and fear) how their media intake could be affecting their psyche.
Pet Sematary (1989)
Not many Stephen King adaptations are made well; however, this takes the cake [in the pantheon] of so-bad-it's-good horror films. It follows the story of a family who moves from the city to a rural environment where the neighbors act strangely, and there are warnings to be careful about the local pet cemetery. The man who cautions the family of the burial ground cracks us up every time.
The Shining (1980)
Directed by the one and only Stanley Kubrick, this rather unfaithful adaptation of Stephen King's original story could be listed by many as not only one of the greatest horror films, but one of the greatest films ever made. It's a slow burn, but that is what makes it scarier—the way the story crawls under your skin and into your mind.
Note: This film is an all-time personal favorite of Milo's.
Death and dancing couldn't look more colorful and spooky than in this classic directed by Dario Argento. Everything about this film is extra, from the set design to the wacky dialogue. The music score is also fantastic, performed by the Greek punk band The Goblins. If you don't check out the movie, the score is definitely worth listening to!
Note (Milo): I love its colors and story, and unlike many other people, I love the 2018 remake. Haley hates it.
Nosferatu is, objectively speaking, the first and best vampire flick of all time, immediately cementing the sub-genre as a staple in horror. Everything is on point, from story structure to costume design to cinematography shrouded in shadow. It's interesting to see how vampire movies have diverged since its creation, like Let The Right One In being on the opposite end of the bloodsucking spectrum. While Nosferatu has influenced countless other films, it remains breathtaking, quite literally and in spirit.
The Babadook (2014)
It took us a long time to finally watch this film because of the horrifying trailer alone. This film is directed by Jenifer Kent, who has a talent for making films that dig into more profound subjects like the stresses of being a single parent to an unruly child while also warding off a terrifying demon.
The Exorcist (1973)
It was one of the most significant horror blockbuster sensations of its time for its portrayal of a family affected by their daughter Regan's demonic possession. The film sent audience members to the lobby in terror to faint or cry. The Exorcist is a film that will always be scary.