Top 10 Movies to Watch On Halloween
Everyone needs a little bit of fear in their hearts on Halloween right?
It’s the most spooky time of the year. So, what would be a better time to watch horror movies, with family, friends and your significant other? There is no better time! Here are my top-10 horror movies to watch on Halloween:
10. The Blair Witch Project
Any list of horror films needs to have this one on it. The Blair Witch Project gave rise to the form we love to hate: The found film genre of horror. You know, the type of movie where you always leave with a slight feeling of nausea and the sneaking suspicion that it could’ve been better if viewed in a more traditional manner. Either way, love it or hate it, this film was groundbreaking for it’s time. It focused on a small group of hikers and forsook the drama and grandeur of Hollywood for the cleanliness of psychological horror and practical effects. It truly did a little with a lot, and remains all the creepier for it. If you’ve ever been in the woods and felt watched, or felt a shiver run down your spine at twilight, you know what it’s like to watch this low-budget creepfest.
9. The Shining
Originally conceived as a novel by the King of Horror, Stephen King, The Shining is considered by many to be one of the greatest horror films ever made. Translated from print to screen by the late, great Stanley Kubrick, this film had it all. The isolated, ominous setting with a strange backstory fraught with murder. A slow descent into madness. Small children with imaginary friends. It’s everything you could want in a horror movie, all carefully put together by a man with intense OCD. Kubrick, a master of the cinematic art form, slowly builds the tension throughout the story until it explodes into the bloody finale that feels all the more fulfilling for it’s unavoidable obvious outcome. If you want an intense and terrifying horror experience, look no further, my friends.
8. The Silence of the Lambs
This film differs from the others on this list because it’s (mostly) rooted in circumstances that could occur in real life. However, isn’t it all the more terrifying because of it? The Silence of the Lambs is a truly terrifying look into the scariest thing of all: The depths of human depravity. A young woman on the trail of a horrific serial killer is drawn deeper and deeper into a horrible world where people do things to each other that you can’t even imagine. Like skinning women alive to make coats. Or eating human flesh while listening to classical music. The most chilling thing about this film is definitely the realism. The kidnapping, the fear, the preying on women… This isn’t all that different from something you might see on the news on an ordinary day and I think that’s the strength of this film. It might just happen and it will definitely have you looking over your shoulder as you walk down the street at night; because who knows who might be watching or what they might want?
7. The Babadook
The Babadook is definitely one of the scariest movies on this list of very scary movies, but it’s not scary because it’s filled with blood and guts and gore. No, I think it’s precisely the lack of any of these elements that is so dreadful about it. The monster is teased out of the dark ever so slowly throughout, and the viewer is kept on the edge of their seat constantly, straining their eyes for a glimpse. Much like the characters themselves, you never know when the Babadook might appear and it’s terrifying as you hold your breath in anticipation of his tall frame materializing out of the dark. In addition to the delightful horror elements, this story incorporates a very human struggle, of a single mother who must raise her son alone. This movie succeeds in making you care for both of them and the fear is heightened as you realize just how isolated and in danger they really are. Who knew a horror film could make you believe in a mother’s love? Well, I did because I saw this one, and now so do you. So there we go.
If you like the “found film” aspects of other horror movies, but maybe you can’t stomach a feature length example, look no further than our sixth entry: Sinister. This film focuses on a writer who specializes in solving old murders for his books and that’s precisely what he’s trying to do when we catch up with him and his family at the scene of the crime. Quite literally, actually, as he’s moved into the house where the murders occurred with his family and hasn’t told them. Besides being quite rude, it turns out to be incredibly unhealthy for everybody involved. Sinister paces just right, revealing just enough to keep the viewer thinking that they might know what’s coming next before turning all the expectations on their nose at the last minute. Supplementing the suspense and struggles of the family are sequences of “found film”, which the writer is examining. They’re horrific and eerie, with almost no sound to them, and the ominous figure looming in all of them, directing children to murder their families in cold-blood. It’s an excellent cross of the two genres of horror and beautifully executed all the way to the well-deserved conclusion. I still have nightmares about this one.
5. The Conjuring
There’s been more than a few films made about the exploits of renowned “demonologists” Ed and Lorraine Warren, but in my personal opinion this one is the best.The Conjuring succeeds by simply bombarding your sense with trauma on all sides. The evil in this film is unstoppable, implacable and as bad as they come. While this might seem over the top, I insist that it works. There’s a particular scene that involves a game of hide and seek that is particularly memorable and had me screaming in the movie theater. It’s not afraid to use big budget effects to get what it wants, but it also knows when to dial it back for some good ol fashioned horror practical effects and I think that’s what makes this movie work. It’s scary on multiple levels and it keeps you guessing until the very end. Also, it earns points because it isn’t about Amityville, which is at this point, a little overdone. Props to the filmmakers for not relying on that to make a horror movie.
4. Shaun of the Dead
While I wouldn’t consider this a horror movie in the traditional sense, I think it deserves an honorable mention on our list. The zombie movie has been done at this point, but this was a film that did it well. It functioned as a comedy and a horror film, all while having something to say. Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this satirical look at a zombie outbreak in Britain made us laugh, cry and a little uneasy. While it was definitely aiming to satirize the American obsession with zombies, it made a point about the lives of us “normal” people that was hard to ignore and left us all feeling, if I might say, a little unsure about what we were doing with our lives; and some might say that’s the greatest horror there is: the horror of a life un-lived. If you’re looking for a laugh or a zombie smashing romp, look no further but also don’t be afraid to dig deeper if you have to, as this movie surely wasn’t.
3. Paranormal Activity
This movie will always hold a special place in my heart as the first horror film I ever saw. I had no idea what I was getting into, and I think the same could be said for the makers of the film when they started out. Paranormal Activity is one of the highest grossing films of all time, because it literally had a budget of a couple thousand dollars. They truly embraced the idea that the scariest thing ever is something you can’t see. The viewers follow the lives of a couple in California who are visited by a demon, an invisible force that slowly takes control of them until an unexpected finale that unfortunately paved the way for a series of less well done sequels. What makes this film work is the fact that they filmmakers had to rely on almost nothing to get their scares. The audience isn’t always sure what’s going on, where the demon is, or what might happen next, so they’re right there with the characters for this experience. It’s truly nerve wracking and follows right along in the footsteps of The Blair Witch Project.
2. The Cabin in the Woods
While on the surface it appears to just be another teen slasher flick, The Cabin in the Woods quickly proves to be much more, which is what makes it so refreshing in a genre where it’s easy to regurgitate tropes like crazy. In a clever play on the classic slasher premise of a group of beautiful teens alone in the woods, this film takes all the expectations the audience has and twists them, sometimes to humorous effects. The teens soon find that the terrible things that are happening to them are being caused by a group of scientists, and that despite their best efforts, they will die and they will live out this horror movie premise that they’ve been forced into. With an ending I’m sure most people won’t see coming, The Cabin in the Woods defies expectations without sacrificing the screams, while staying heavy on the irony.
1. Evil Dead
Unfortunately for those fans of the original cult classic, this author hasn’t had the fortune to have seen the original 80’s version of Evil Dead so this is referencing the remake of more recent times. However, this shouldn’t diminish the visceral, bloody and disturbing horror that seeps from the screen during this movie’s runtime. Following a group of teens trying to help their friend detox from her addiction, they discover something much more horrible in those woods. Once the action starts it doesn’t stop until it’s all over, whether you like it or not. Filled with screaming, burning, and demons, Evil Dead grabs you in its claws and doesn’t let go until the very end. I remember distinctly just being uncomfortable the entire time, whether it’s the voices of the demons, the situations the humans found themselves in, or even just the unsettling cinematography. Evil Dead deserves to stand alongside the film it’s remaking and be proud because it is one hell of a scary flick.