There’s plenty of tricks and treats behind these spooky staples. Just in time for Halloween, some of these movies like The Shining will get you in a frightful mood, while others like Hocus Pocus have become a holiday viewing tradition.
“I owe my entire life to Laurie Strode,” shared Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis of her breakthrough role in John Carpenter’s 1978 horror touchstone. But its success in creating a 45-year-old franchise was surprising, since “it took a long time to catch on.”
Forget all the pea soup, head-turning and levitation. For director William Friedkin, the appeal of his ’73 hit has endured because “life is such a gift, and yet a mystery; and I don’t think we make movies about that stuff anymore, and that is what The Exorcist is about.”
“Every time I sign a Rosemary’s Baby photograph, I put a little heart,” says Mia Farrow of her star-making 1968 turn. “Almost all the photographs have a knife in them…so I put the heart to ward off evil.”
Heeeere’s Johnny! While Jack Nicholson’s turn in Stanley Kubrick’s pic has been chilling audiences since 1980, its popularity is in line with how Jack’s approached all the roles in his 65-year career. As he’s said, “Well, you know, I put on a good show.”
‘Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein’
Their team-up with Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster revived Bud and Lou’s career and made this movie a howling success in 1948. Its blend of scares and laughs has endured for 75 years because, explains Lou’s daughter Chris, “children watch and have never really been scared to death…but they’ve laughed a lot.”
“I never did anything to rewrite horror; I just tried to do something interesting,” insisted director Wes Craven, who went from A Nightmare on Elm Street to launching this franchise in 1996. In fact, there have been six Scream pics to date!
‘Night of the Living Dead’
They’re coming to get you, Barbara! For his first feature-length film, director George A. Romero wanted to depict “something amazing, something earthshaking.” And in 1968, he ended up creating a whole new genre of horror with this frightfest about flesh-eating ghouls. Yet George confessed, “I thought that was a new creature. I never called them zombies!”
‘Friday the 13th’
“[It] was a classic horror movie death. I smoke a joint and have sex with a girl. That means you’re going to die if you’re in a slasher movie,” explained Kevin Bacon, who literally stuck his neck out to start this hit franchise back in 1980.
“The first time I saw the movie, I didn’t know what to expect, so when I saw it I was stunned,” admitted Janet Leigh, whose infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic scared audiences … and Janet herself. “I stopped taking showers and I [started to] take baths, only baths.”
After flopping at first, this ’93 pic about the witchy Sanderson sisters (Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy) eventually put a spell on people. Why? “We stick together through hell and high water,” reflects Bette. “In a strange and odd way, they’re really quite positive for women.”