There’s something great about discovering a great new horror movie for the first time. The genre is huge and diverse, there’s so much happening at any given moment. Every year produces some great new content, and there’s always a forgotten gem or two waiting to be unearthed and rediscovered. But at the same time, we all have our favorite movies that we can revisit over and over at the drop of a hat.
A comfort food horror movie could be one of the all-time greats, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s something that you can watch at any moment. When it’s on, you’ll stop to watch no matter what. For me, these are all about nostalgia. They’re things I watched in my youth that helped to cement my love of the genre. Many of them come from my favorite franchises, because those were the characters and stories I knew about first.
At the end of the day, every person’s list of comfort food movies is different. Tons of fans probably would never include any of these on their own list. We all have different tastes and preferences, which is what makes the genre so great and diverse.
I have a feeling, though, that a lot of these will be pretty popular among fans. While these are personal choices, they’re things that so many of us saw when we were younger—and how we saw them doesn’t even really matter. Whether we rented them at the video store, caught them on TV or saw them in theaters, we all experienced the same movies. And as this list will prove, we’re still seeing that impact—even trying to recapture that feeling—today.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
I saw the original Friday the 13th first, but all I remember is being really angry and feeling cheated when I got to the end and Jason did not turn out to be the killer. After having this character built up in my mind, it felt like a personal attack. By the time I got to Part 3, the series started to look like what it had been sold to me as. And then, with Final Chapter, it was love at first sight. Everything about it spoke to me. I loved that there was a kid my age right at the center of this thing and that he got to be the one to take Jason down.
There was such a long streak in my childhood where virtually the only things I would watch were Stephen King adaptations. Salem’s Lot, Silver Bullet, The Shining, I’d watch all of these all the time, but when it comes to one option that’s just pure comfort food, I have to go with Creepshow. It’s just what the tagline promises: “The most fun you’ll ever have being scared.” And parts of it, like “The Crate,” scared the crap out of me. But I still couldn’t get enough of it. It remains my favorite anthology, even now.
Child’s Play 3
There was a time when I was so terrified of Chucky that I couldn’t even look at the covers of the Child’s Play franchise in the video store. I would have to turn them over to keep browsing. Eventually it got so bad that my dad made me rent the original because it couldn’t be half as scary as I imagined it to be. And he was right. But it quickly became a favorite franchise and 3 became my favorite of the bunch, largely because I had several misfired attempts to tape it off TV before finally renting it in all its glory.
I might be the only person with this movie on their list, but I couldn’t not include it. When I discovered the Puppet Master franchise as a youngster, I became obsessed. Unhealthily so. I would start renting it almost every weekend. I tried sculpting my own puppets, I was Blade for Halloween, I even had a Puppet Master-themed birthday party. Even now, I can watch that feature and feel some of that childhood glee come back.
I’d like to think I discovered it just before, but it’s possible that my introduction to Fright Night was the comic book series. Either way, vampires have always been my monster of choice so I was bound to see it eventually. And it didn’t disappoint. It quickly became one of my favorite movies of all time, in any genre. It’s fun, funny, full of great FX work. When friends came over, this would be the thing they clamored to watch. With good reason, too. It’s one of the greats.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
I was just as fascinated with learning more about Freddy as I had been with Jason, when the same friend introduced me to both major horror icons. Things weren’t always as readily available then, though, so I had friends who owned the first two and for awhile, they were the only Elm Streets I’d seen. Then I caught Dream Warriors on the Sci-Fi Channel and it was everything my young heart wanted in a film. Like Child’s Play 3, I tried to tape it off TV to no avail and was later allowed to just buy it on VHS.
I’d seen Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street by the time I saw Halloween. I hadn’t heard as much about Michael Myers. I just loved the holiday, knew it was a slasher, but other than that I didn’t totally know what to expect. But it blew me away. It’s the first time I remember actually being aware of how good the movie I was watching actually was. And I thought about including H20 or Halloween II, both entries I love and watch constantly, but at the end of the day I have to go with the favorite. Even if I try to only watch it in October every year, I fail. I just can’t stay away from this film and hope I never will.