First it was September, then came the first day of fall, and now here we are in October. Just like that, we have arrived at the Halloween season. If you're a serious horror fan like myself you watch scary stuff all year long, but October viewing is special. It's when you break away from "serious" critique and just watch your favorites. Nostalgic settings, gore fests, guilty pleasures, cliches and classics all have their place at this time of year. It's also a time when the rest of the world gets on board and asks YOU what movies they should be watching this Halloween. And we are more than happy to tell them, aren't we?
It's not a new idea, but it's always fun to construct this particular list. Mine changes a little from year to year, but there are a few movies that seem to always make the cut. This list is comprised of those that I tend to revisit the most often during our favorite spooky season. So, let's get on with it, shall we?
R • Classic/Horror Comedy • Horror Fans
For the past several years, this one has kicked off the Halloween season for me. October 1st is reserved for Creepshow. It's a fun mixture of style and substance, introducing us to spooky ghosts, zombies and monsters along the way. I guess you can't really go wrong with a movie that was crafted by horror icons Stephen King, George Romero, and Tom Savini.
Favorite Scene: Wilma "Call me Billy, everyone does" meets the crate monster
House on Haunted Hill
R • Guilty Pleasure • Teens + Adults
I have loved this one ever since I saw it as a teenager. Is it cheesy? Yes. Does it reek of the late 90's? Yes. Does it include some horrific CG? Yes. Does the acting suck? No! Oh wait...technically, I guess you could say the acting does suck a little. But that's kind of why I love House on Haunted Hill. It's wacky, over the top, and entertaining. Geoffrey Rush and Chris Kattan are absolutely fabulous in this movie. It takes place in an abandoned asylum which is perfect for Halloween, and there is just enough blood and creepy imagery to keep things interesting.
Favorite Scene: Pritchett runs out of scotch
The Lost Boys
R • Personal Favorite • For Everyone
80's music, gypsy clothes, cute boys and monsters - I mean, what else do you really need out of a movie? I don't remember the first time I saw The Lost Boys, it's always just been a part of my life. The characters are the main strength of this movie. We find ourselves rooting for all them at some point, even the vampires. And I think that's why I love it so much. It's such a unique vision. Instead of pale-skinned coffin dwellers, we get cool gypsy biker vampires that love rock n' roll, chinese take-out and fashion. If Jim Morrison was a vampire, he would surely live in Santa Carla.
Favorite Scene: Michael drinks David's blood.
R • Personal Favorite • Horror Fans
Pet Sematary is probably the scariest book I've ever read. The movie perfectly translates the dark and moody feel of the book, and really brings it to life. Even all these years later, it is a scary movie. There are people who might debate that, and I would invite them to go back and rewatch the Zelda scene. The cat, the creepy child, the cemetery and the cold gray skies all add up to make this a perfect choice for the Halloween season.
Favorite Scene: Timmy Baterman comes home.
Night of the Living Dead
Unrated • Classic • For Everyone
There's nothing quite like a black and white monster movie to get you in the mood for all things creepy. Night of the Living Dead is a classic that invented the American zombie genre. It was also one of the first movies to cast a black actor as the hero in a leading role. It's been praised for it's social commentary, and it's artistic merit alike. If you've not seen it before, it's definitely something you need add to your list this year. You'll be glad you did, and the ending just might surprise you.
Favorite Scene: Karen turns.
R • New Classic • Adults/Horror Fans
The Strangers is probably the darkest and most brutal film on this list. It's a home-invasion movie about two people in one of the unhappiest situations you can imagine. The plot is basic, but the execution is flawless. Instead of jump scares, it relies heavily on long, slow shots that don't cut away from the attackers. Brilliant and unnerving.
Favorite Scene: Mama Tried.
R • Personal Favorite • For Everyone
I don't think there has ever been a story more suited for Halloween than Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Throw Johnny Depp and Tim Burton into that mix, and you've got a sure-fire Halloween classic on your hands. This version seamlessly adds an appropriate layer of blood and decapitation to the rich, spooky story.
Favorite Scene: Ichabod Crane learns the legend.
R • Guilty Pleasure • Horror Fans
Many people place John Carpenter's Halloween at the top of their list. Rightly so. It's a great film that I love. BUT, I actually find myself drawn to Halloween 3: Season of the Witch a bit more. This movie is widely hated, partially due to the fact that Michael Myers is not in it. When I first saw it as a kid, I didn't really care about that because I viewed it as a separate film. I'm not sure I even knew it was supposed to be tied to the other Halloween movies. Because of that, I was able to enjoy it for what it is. At it's core, it's a story about the foundation and practice of Samhain (pronounced SAH-win), the grandaddy of our current Halloween traditions. Add that to the iconic Silver Shamrock masks and theme song, and you can see why Halloween 3 has become somewhat of a cult classic in the horror genre.
Favorite Scene: Watch the magic pumpkin.....
Garfield's Halloween Adventure
G • Personal Favorite • For Everyone
Halloween isn't just about scary stuff. It's also about being a kid, having fun, and eating TONS of candy. Garfield was a huge part of my childhood, and I've continued to love that fat orange cat into adulthood. Garfield's Halloween Adventure always takes me back to my time as a kid in the 80's and 90's. He and Odie have a ball finding costumes, getting as much candy as they can, and even fighting off ghost pirates. It's fun for the whole family!
Favorite Scene: Garfield threatens a housewife's curtains.
Trick r' Treat
R • New Classic • Teens + Adults
In my opinion, Trick r' Treat is THE Halloween movie. If you only watch one this year, it has to be this one. It teaches the history and traditions of Halloween as we follow four different creepy stories throughout the night. They are all tied together by Sam, an adorable but formidable protector of All Hallows' Eve. The storytelling and art direction are fantastic. You won't find a more magical, entertaining and delightfully scary version of my favorite holiday anywhere else.
Favorite Scene: The Halloween School Bus Massacre
Hocus Pocus, Candyman, Fright Night, Carrie, Silent Hill, Phantasm, The Mist, Scream, House of the Devil, 13 Ghosts