Asif Kapadia’s Top 5 Halloween Films

Asif Kapadia is renowned for his award-winning documentaries Amy and Senna, but did you know that early in his career he directed the horror film The Return?

Following his brilliant conversation with Mark Kermode we thought it’s only fitting that we ask Asif to curate a list of his Top 5 Halloween Films for you to watch.

From genre-defining horror classics to cult thrillers, and even a case where documentary shines a light on the chilling reality of the world around us, we countdown Asif Kapadia’s Top 5 Halloween Films.

1. The Act Of Killing (2012)

The Act Of Killing is a documentary film by Joshua Oppenheimer about the individuals who took part in the Indonesian mass killings of 1965-66. It went on to win Best Documentary at the 67th BAFTA Awards and was nominated at the 86th Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature.

Synopsis: The Act Of Killing is a jarring journey into the memories of the death squads who helped the Indonesian army to reportedly kill more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals in 1965. Focusing on the perpetrators in the current day, the film presents the gripping conflict between moral imagination and moral catastrophe.

Interesting fact: The documentary opens with an unsettling quote from Voltaire: “All murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers, and to the sound of trumpets”.

2. Psycho (1960)

Based on the novel by Robert Bloch, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho checks you into The Bates Motel for one hour and 49 minutes of genre-defining horror shot in haunting black and white.

Synopsis: Secretary Marion (Janet Leigh) is on the run after stealing $40,000 from her employer. Tired from a long drive she pulls into a ramshackle motel where she meets unassuming hotel manager, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). We would tell you what happens next, but as the original advertising said, ‘do not reveal the surprises!’

Interesting fact: The Robert Block novel the film was based on was loosely inspired by convicted murderer Edward Gein, also known as The Butcher of Plainfield.

3. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

A faithful interpretation of Ira Levin’s best-selling novel, Rosemary’s Baby was Roman Polanski’s Hollywood directorial debut and heralded a new era of occult horror.

Synopsis: Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and her husband Guy (John Cassavetes) move into the Bramford in New York City – an apartment building with a macabre reputation and mysterious over-friendly neighbours. When Rosemary suddenly becomes pregnant, she begins to wonder if her unborn child is of this world.

Interesting fact: Ira Levin named the apartment the Bramford after Dracula author Bram Stoker. The Dakota apartment building in NYC was used as the location for the Bramford in the film.

4. The Vanishing (1988)

Synopsis: Deeply in love Dutch couple, Rex and Saskia, are on a biking holiday in France when they run out of petrol and stop at a service station. Saskia goes into the service station, but never returns. Three years on and Rex, increasingly obsessed with her disappearance, begins to receive postcards inviting him to meet the kidnapper.

Interesting fact: Stanley Kubrick saw The Vanishing three times and said it was “the most horrifying film I’ve ever seen”.

5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the most influential horror films in cinema history. Directed, written and co-produced by Tobe Hooper, the film was originally banned in UK by the BBFC for its ‘abnormal psychology’.

Synopsis: Sally Hardesty, her brother and a group of friends are on a road trip to visit her grandfather’s grave. They stop at their old family home to ask for gas at a nearby house and stumble upon a leather-masked hammer wielding killer and his family of cannibals.

Interesting fact: Tobe Hooper’s inspiration for the film came from an unlikely place – Christmas shopping crowds. Speaking to Texas Monthly, Hooper explained: “There were these big Christmas crowds, I was frustrated, and I found myself near a display rack of chain saws… and I thought, ‘I know a way I could get through this crowd really quickly.’…and the whole damn story came to me in what seemed like about thirty seconds”.

Watch out for Asif Kapadia’s next film, Diego Maradona, constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from Dietgo Maradona’s personal archive. Having seen Amy and Senna, we’re sure it will be one to watch.

Check out Mark Kermode’s Top 5 Halloween Films for more hair-raising horror classics.

Latitude Festival returns to the beautiful surrounds of Henham Park on 18th-21st July 2019 for more from the worlds of music, comedy, film, dance, theatre and spoken word.