Halloween is just around the corner and besides decorating my home with tacky decor, I like to get in the mood by watching (and re-watching) as many scary movies as I can. The list below is what I consider must-sees whether it be the day before Halloween or any month of the year.
The list is a mix of films I remember watching as a child (although I don’t think I should have been) and films I have seen recently. My dad was and still is a huge fan of the Sci-Fi/Horror genres so growing up there was always some sort of TV Show or movie on within the realm of those genres so naturally I grew up to love them too. From X-Files to Evil Dead to Starship Troopers, I loved them all. So, below is a compiled list of, in my opinion, some films I think are perfect for the upcoming holiday.
Please be aware of upcoming spoilers even though I will try not to give too much away.
The Strangers (2008)
Starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, this simple yet horrifying film sets the couple in a remote vacation home of their friends for the night. Maybe just being unlucky, they are terrorized by three masked assailants the entire night into the morning. This film is truly scary because of that. We never know who the three masked individuals are or why they picked this couple. Add to the fact that this could happen in real life and we have a horror film.
Last Shift (2014)
Beyond a film potentially being a true story, there are also films that play with characters and viewers psychologically. I recently watched Last Shift expecting a low-budget film that has a few jumps and scares here or there. I was wrong. It surrounds a rookie cop that has her first shift at an old police station. Having personal ties to the station and events that happened a year earlier, it makes for a perfect setup of a bad situation. Being alone and wanting to prove herself, the woman tries to ignore what’s going on around her. The plot of the story echoes John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 but with a more demonic twist.
A Halloween movie list isn’t complete without one of the original Halloween films. When I think of Halloween and what I want to watch to prep for it, this is always a must-see. It is a classic and was directed by John Carpenter, one of my favorite directors. It also paved seasoned actress, Jamie Lee Curtis’s Hollywood fame as a young woman. Masked man with a knife? This film is The slasher movie of all slasher movies.
Another recent film but highly more publicized, is a prequel to The Conjuring. Besides Barbie Dolls, as a child I was terrified of dolls. It could be because I accidentally watched Child’s Play too soon and never really got over it. Director John R. Leonetti also produced the films, The Conjuring, Insidious and Insidious 2 so I had an idea of what it would be like. Annabelle centers around a young couple that owns a doll named Annabelle and shortly after, their home is broken into by members of a satanic cult. Let’s just say one of the member’s presence it still known after they are dead.
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
This was one of my first horror films. If you haven’t been living under a rock, this probably is on your list too. Starring Jodie Foster, she plays a young F.B.I agent that must gain a cannibals trust (Anthony Hopkins) in hopes of him helping her with a current case of a killer who skins his victims. Great acting, creepy scenes, perfect Halloween movie.
The Evil Dead (1981)
Besides this film giving me the creeps, there is some humor to it as well. I believe adding humor into a horror film makes the film much scarier because it plays with emotions that are very different from one another. The Evil Dead is one of those classics I grew up watching. Bruce Campbell is a legend, and brings unforgettable acting to the screen. A bunch of young people staying in a dingy cabin for a couple days in the woods? Superb set-up for supernatural behavior. If you can, watch the second and third installments of the film as well.
The Exorcist (1973)
Perhaps one of the most iconic movies to date, The Exorcist brought true horror to the screen in the 70s (or so my Dad tells me). When a teenage girl is possessed by a demonic presence, her mother seeks help of two priests to save her daughter. Linda Blair’s most famous role, and anything involved with kids is scary enough.
The Descent (2005)
If caves, small spaces, and darkness are three factors that make you want to cry, see The Descent. Not only are a group of women discovering an unmapped cave, they also stumble upon something else that has been inhabiting those caverns for years. The women must fight and find their way out of the cave before they become a meal. I like to watch this one with the lights on.
28 Days Later (2002)
I went back and forth between several zombie-themed movies and decided on this one. Of all the scary movies there are, zombies freak me out the most. Probably because I’ve seen too many zombie movies and or TV Shows. 28 Days Later gives me the creeps because not only are the living dead walking among the living, but they can still run. At least with the typical slow-moving, dragging their broken limbs zombies, characters have a chance. Perhaps the UK films have it figured out, but this one gave me nightmares. Starring Cillian Murphy, if you are a fan of zombies and haven’t seen this one, you are missing out.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This film is a tradition of mine to watch before Halloween. Anything involving Tim Burton has my attention and The Nightmare Before Christmas is my favorite. Jack Skellington (Danny Elfman), embarks on an undiscovered part of the forest in Halloween Town where he finds Christmas Town hidden in a tree. For years I didn’t know if I should watch this movie around Halloween or Christmas. But recently, during the Telluride Horror Festival, a fan asked director Henry Selick which it was. I think many are happy to know that it is more so a movie watched in the month of October rather than December.
So there you have it. The above films stand out the most to me while getting in the mood for one of my favorite holidays, Halloween. Enjoy, and I apologize for the future nightmares.