This is one that I’ve been looking forward to writing, though, I do think it’s going to be a little bit tricky. The reason for that is that there are so many good movies that make sense for a horror or Halloween list. There are so many obvious ones to pick from, but sometimes that is what you want to watch.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Out of the three classic series, Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street, this is my favorite. Freddy Krueger just makes a better villain and it’s a little less the standard that we’ve seen. The fact that Krueger gets to people through their dreams is a fun horror concept and that separates it from the others which have a bit more of the slahser vibe to them. Now, I won’t say that all nine of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies are great, but they are, for the most part, entertaining and not a heavy horror watch.
A Nightmare Before Christmas
Another more main stream horror film A Nightmare Before Christmas is the kids Halloween entry on the list. If you are saying that this is a Christmas movie (clearly says so in the title), go watch Die Hard and stop reading this article, or something like that. No, it’s a movie that you could watch for either if you really wanted, but it has more of the movie in the aesthetic of Halloween than it does of Christmas. There are a few scarier moments in it that might be too scary for a small kid, but it really is a lot of fun. And that’s also where the title for the article comes from, “This is Halloween” is the line from one of the songs in the movie.
Now we’re getting a bit out of the normal, though we’ll be getting more mainstream with the next one which is also by the same director. Neil Marshall is one of my favorite directors, and this is probably my favorite film by him. It’s about a group of soldiers in the woods, dealing with werewolves. It is very much a horror film with some nice twists that might not be too shocking, but are done well. The movie does a good job of keeping the characters confined and ratcheting up the tension. I haven’t seen this in a few years, but having watched it a few times, it has held up well.
Another film by Neil Marshall, this is his biggest or most successful film. Now, it wasn’t as big a success here in the US as it was abroad, so before complain about it, watch the unrated version or the European release (both should be the same thing). The film ends like it should and it really packs a punch as compared to the US ending. It’s a smartly done film and again has that confined location, as it’s about a group of spelunkers who are trapped in a cave. The film just has a lot of intensity and a lot of stress while watching it wondering what is going to be happening next. Descent is a movie I really need to watch again because it was that good.
This is not your typical horror film. As compared to a lot of the above that have jump scares, this is just unsettling and it works so well at it. An early Roman Polanski film shot in black and white, it really delves into a character whose world is crumbling around her and she is spiraling into madness. Very different from your standard horror film, but very well done, it doesn’t have jump scares, it’s about things falling apart. It’s not going to be the film for everyone because it has a more plodding pace to it and might not be ideal for what people are looking for with a Halloween film. However, it is a very well done horror film.
10 Cloverfield Lane
This film is a bit newer than everything else on the list, but one of my favorite recent horror films. It’s probably considered more suspense, but seems to have a strong horror feel to it as well. In my opinion there is a good amount over lap between the two and a good horror film should have strong suspense to it. The original, Cloverfield, which isn’t on the list, but I’d still highly recommend, is more of the straight up creature feature horror film, but 10 Cloverfield Lane builds on it in a different direction and it’s done very well. While it is pretty straight forward, there are a few elements that you never feel like you fully have a grasp on and that makes it a strong film. Also, the acting in the film is really well done. You can check out my article on it here.
The Chris Farley film is absolutely a horror masterpiece. Oh, wait, I’m not talking about that one, I’m talking about the one with the pissed off sheep. This small movie from New Zealand is the classic horror/gore/comedy and is just well done. There are a few scenes where it’s slightly over the top in the use nudity and gore, but for the most part, it’s just absurd. It’s not a high budget film, it’s not even the that well done, but it has that campy feeling that you come to expect from Halloween films and is definitely a film that no one knows about that is fun to watch.
Classic horror film, the original, with Bruce Campbell. I think the first film that I saw him in, and it’s just amazing. Definitely a violent film, and if you think that the special effects are going to look good still, no chance. But it’s one of those classics that is definitely worth checking out for the B-Movie horror. Since Kristen doesn’t like horror films, it’s again one that I haven’t seen in a while. I think it might be time to do a horror movie night sometime when she can plan something else.
Finally, a few more less serious ones.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil
This horror comedy works well as it runs with the classic tropes from Wrong Turn and others where you are alone in a cabin in the woods but instead of the hicks being the bad guys, things are thrown out of balance when the college students show up. This is much more of comedy, but because it uses horror tropes so heavily it’s definitely one to watch around Halloween. It’s probably a film that I could pop in and watch whenever I want. And Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk are amazing in the film.
Repo! The Genetic Opera
A weird little film, it’s a musical and it actually has a pretty decent cast. Yes, Paris Hilton is in the film, but she’s playing herself, and it actually works out well enough. The film has a bit of a comic book feel to it, intentionally done, and a bit of a horror film to it. It isn’t a pure horror film, but it makes sense to watch around Halloween with the aesthetic in the game. Basically, the plot of the film is that people have extended their lives by getting organs implanted, and it’s a huge deal in the world, however, if you can’t pay, you can take out a loan, and if you can’t pay your loan, the organs get repossessed. It’s weird, but I enjoyed it a lot.
Cabin in the Woods
The final one on the list is really a amalgamation of a ton of horror films. It has a weird ending, but it throws out nods to horror films like they are candy. It isn’t as silly as Tucker and Dale vs Evil or other parody horror films, but this one is more a satire versus parody. It ends oddly, and some people don’t like that, but I think it’s an odd twist on horror and why there are horror films. It definitely has a nice horror aspect to it and one, that if you want to see a ton of different horror films, but only have time for one, Cabin in the Woods will cover all the horror films that you want to watch.
What are some of your favorite horror films for Halloween?
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