Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. It takes place in my favorite month, allows people to dress up in fun costumes, and, most importantly… SCARY MOVIES! I love a good scary film. Unfortunately, finding a new, good, movie to watch around Halloween should be simple, but I usually end up watching the same ones every year. I prefer atmosphere and suspense, over jump scares and straight out horror. That means most modern movies, bore me. Not that I don’t get their appeal, I mean they can be fun, in a packed theater on opening night. But, after the jump scares, there is nothing left. But, this isn’t a treaty on the aspects of modern horror films. It’s a list of my favorite films to watch on Halloween. Not the scariest films I’ve seen. Just the ones I usually watch this time of year. Without further ado…
MY FAVORITE HALLOWEEN MOVIES
This is the first scary movie I saw and it terrified me. It still does on some level. The combination of a Spielberg family movie mixed with the horror of Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) somehow works. And works for the better. The scene with the clown is enough to drive any child into fits of paranoia. And once the psychic (Zelda Rubinstein) with the disturbing voice arrive I am petrified. Seriously, this movie is just creepy. And I love creepy. Special shout out to Poltergeist II (which is nowhere near the quality of the first one,) and the old man who is without a doubt one of the creepiest characters of all time.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
Wait? What? How can To Kill a Mockingbird be considered a good movie to watch around Halloween? Let me explain. The first half is about a group of kids obsessed with a haunted house, where a character named BOO lives. The second half is about the scariest group of people in America, doing horrific things: poor white folk. And the last scene takes place after a Halloween performance. I may be on my own with this one, but I always love to watch my favorite movie of all time, and Halloween is the perfect time to do it.
Evil Dead 2 (1987)
This one is just so much fun. Is it scary? Sure. But, it’s also fun and gross. A classic, that I always try to rewatch this time of year.
The Witch (2015)
One of the newer horror films from A24, that lives on atmosphere and suspense. I truly loved it. All imagery, suspense, and atmosphere.
The Conjuring (2013)
This one by James Wan is my favorite of the modern horror genre. It has jump scares, but it also has plenty of creep and good performances. Watching at home with a good surround sound system, makes this one stand out.
The Exorcist (1973)
What’s to say about The Exorcist that hasn’t been said before? Again a classic horror film that relies on atmosphere and tension not manufactured jumps. The first half is an excellent look at a family slowly unraveling, before the horror kicks in.
The Shining (1980)
Probably the scariest film ever made. Kubrick took Stephen King’s novel about a family going insane and reversed it. Instead of watching the family go insane, Kubrick tries to make the audience go insane. He embarks on a mission to scare the crap out of the audience. Everything is designed to make you feel uneasy. It works.
The Thing (1982)
This is one of those movies that is so good I’m surprised by how little I knew about it growing up. John Carpenter is a master at the slow burn. He waits and waits, and then all hell breaks loose. Again, the suspense is the key to any good horror movie.
Surprise! I bet you didn’t think this one would be on the list. I love this movie. It’s pretty tame by modern standards, but the way John Carpenter frames every shot and moves the camera is beyond artistic, it’s beautiful. This is the pinnacle of low-budget horror and in the hands of a quality filmmaker, it works beyond expectations. Also, I hated every single sequel. All of them. Even H2O, which isn’t as bad, but still feels cheap. The new Halloween, was actually well made and got within spitting distance of the original, but still had some issues that didn’t work for me.
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
The one film I try to watch every Halloween if I don’t have the time for others. It’s fun, scary and perfectly sums up the joy and fear of the holiday. The interconnected stories, all work together, to create a tapestry of the holiday. This is the film, that John Carpenter envisioned as a sequel to Halloween. An anthology series that took place on the holiday, not Michael Myers coming back over and over again (See Halloween III). Trick r’ Treat is not my favorite scary movie. It, probably, wouldn’t make it on my top 100 films, but it is my favorite film to watch on Halloween.