Bill Hunt’s top five horror films (for people who don’t like horror)

Monster-maker Bill Hunt has been fascinated by horror and special effects since he was a young lad growing up in Nashville, Tennessee.

A painter, sculptor and special effect artist, Bill got his big break when he was hired to work on Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. He went on to work with the likes of Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Quentin Tarantino, and Tim Burton before being brought out to New Zealand to work for Weta Workshop. His (lengthy) list of credits includes Scream, The X-files, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Black Sheep, and King Kong. Now an independent artist and film maker, Bill works from a suitably creepy home studio in Upper Hutt. You can read all about him here.

Every year as part of his month-long Halloween celebration Bill watches at least 31 horror films. With many more than 10,000 hours under his belt, and a lifetime’s appreciation of the genre, Bill is well placed to advise on the best horror films for people who hate horror. 

Here they are in viewing order. Happy Halloween!

A note from Bill: There is a big difference between “horror” and “horror comedies”, but for the sake of the initiate, both will be included here.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

What better place to start than the first outright horror-comedy? As most children sympathise with and relate to the classic monsters for their innocence and inability to fit in, the target audience of the monster film became younger and younger, resulting finally in this teaming of Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Wolfman with the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The monsters are vintage and the laughs are plenty in this one that’s suitable for all ages.

Creepshow (1982)

The anthology horror film is a staple of the genre. It is a feature film made up of shorter individual stories, and this is one of the finest examples. Written by Stephen King and directed by George A. Romero (director of Night of the Living Dead and creator of the modern zombie), it is presented in a comic book format and keeps things light. There are moments of fright, but all are played for fun and the beauty of an anthology is that if you don’t like one story, another will start in just a few minutes!

Halloween (1978)

When you’re ready to put on your “big kid pants” and try some straightforward horror, you cannot go wrong with this classic. Directed by John Carpenter, this one changed the landscape of horror and chills audiences with masterful filmmaking rather than gratuitous shock. 

The Silence of the Lambs (1990)

Once you’re feeling brave, then go ahead and jump into this one. The Motion Picture Academy notoriously turn their noses up at the horror genre, but the skill in making this chiller was so undeniable that it took the Best Picture Oscar. It is serious and disturbing, but it is an incredible film, horror or not. Afterward, you can annoy your friends with a bad Hannibal Lector impersonation.

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

To round out the list with a laugh, we come home to the genius of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. As horror comedies go, you’re not going to find many better than this mockumentary about the mundane day-to-day life of a group of vampire flatmates. And remember – it’s “werewolves”, not “swearwolves”. 


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