Hello all my horror fiends and moviemaniacs! As you know I am an avid horror movie watcher. I watch them year-round but there is something a little extra special about watching horror during the month of October. It is the time for the genre to shine in all its scary, gory, glory. It is also a time when a large number of new horror hits theaters and other venues.
With the sheer quantity of horror films available, from the classics to new releases, it may be hard for the casual movie viewer to choose one to watch during Halloween. I recommend the following six Halloween-themed horror films for your viewing pleasure on All Hallows’ Eve.
6. Halloween – (1978) – Director John Carpenter
This may seem like an obvious choice, but I had to put it on the list. Michael Myers escapes from the mental institution that he called home ever since killing his sister at six years old.
The tension builds slowly throughout the movie. You feel Laurie Strode’s fear grow as she is stalked by Michael. Jaime Lee Curtis’ performance set the bar for every horror actress who came after. John Carpenter shows what you can do with a lower budget, with a simple yet captivating plot and intriguing visuals. Carpenter also composed the music, creating one of the most recognizable themes in cinema history. Even if people have not seen the movie they hear the music and makes them turn the lights on. There is a reason why this is considered a classic horror film and a go to movie for Halloween night.
5. Poltergeist – (1982) – Director Tobe Hooper
When I saw this movie in the theater it scared the living daylights out of me. of course, I was only seven years old at the time. It is now 33 years later and I still think this film is scary, although my reasons are different. As a parent, the idea that your child could be abducted by the angry spirits haunting your house is one of the scariest things in the world.
There is a bit of dark humor mixed in with the truly scary scenes. I still remember the first time I saw the classic scene of Mary Ann in front of a snow screen stating the classic line “They’re here.” That scene gives me chills to this day. The entire cast put on a great performance and deliver a scary film that will make you think twice about the creaks you hear in the house or the snow on your TV, should your TV still have snow when the signal goes out. See the 1982 original, not the 2015 remake.
4. Night of the Demons – (1988) – Director Kevin Tenney
This is a prime example of 80s horror. A group of teenagers (of course) have a wild party (yep) at an old, abandoned funeral parlor (wait, not a remote house?) that supposedly built on evil ground (bingo!). The teens have the bright idea of holding a séance (no, really?) and all hell breaks loose (ba dum tss!). The film has a fantastic animated sequence to open the show. The dialog is classic cheesy 80s with the teens as expected stereotypes.
Once the séance releases the demonic forces, things get dark, scary, and gory. Night of the Demons may have all the elements you associate with 80s b-horror, but it also has some legitimately scary moments. The makeup effects in the film are just as good, if not better than, the bigger budgeted horror films released in that decade. While it does not take itself too seriously, it also does not hesitate to make you jump out of your seat. If you’re looking for good old fashion horror film, this one has to be on your list. Again, stick with the original 1988 version, rather than the 2009 remake.
3. Tormented -2015 – Director Audrey Cummings
Tormented (a.k.a. Berkshire County) is about a bullied teen forced to babysit on Halloween night. Unfortunately, it is no treat when strangers appear on the front door that want more than candy. This home invasion horror story features a strong female character and high tension moments that will keep many on the edge of your seat.
This well written and directed film contains a few bloody scenes, but the scare-factor comes more from the attempted abduction of the babysitter and children. There is a bit of a twist that surprised me in a good way. All in all, I think this is one for those looking for a high tension thriller on Halloween.
2. Trick r Treat – 2007 – Director Michael Dougherty
This underrated anthology film is one for the grown-ups. Trick r Treat has four interwoven stories, all set on Halloween night within the same town. A high school principal moonlights as a serial killer; a virgin who thinks she has met her perfect man: a Halloween prank that takes a deadly turn; and a cranky old man who hates Halloween meets his match.
Trick r Treat has plenty of practical gore effects. The stories are fun twists on classic themes that will keep you entertained from start to finish. You will see familiar faces from popular tv shows and movies among the cast. The adorable yet very scary sack-person Sam makes an appearance in every story. Sam ranks up there with Michael Myers as a classic Halloween icon. This anthology is highly recommended to all horror fans.
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas – 1993 – Director Tim Burton
This is one of my all-time favorite films. I watch it every year on Halloween, often with my kids after they are done trick-or-treating. This stop-motion animated treat is a family friendly film, although children under the age of 8 may be a bit scared by some of the visuals.
Jack Skellington, the leader of Halloween Town, is questioning his true purpose in life. Adults can relate to elements in the storyline while kids will like the fun artistic style of the characters and environment. The gothic imagery of Tim Burton and the music of composer Danny Elfman combine to make a modern classic for a Halloween movie-watching tradition, in the way the stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer became a must-see every Christmas.
I hope this list helps in your decision. If you prefer a horror movie not set during Halloween, you can check out any of my Horror Thursdays or Tuesday Terror Episodes on the WeLiveFilm channel on Youtube. May you have a safe and Happy Halloween.