Here we are, the last list of this Halloween season! These films are the films that are MUST see films before and on Halloween. These may not be the best of the best of the horror genre, but they are the best at getting you in the mood for the best holiday of the year. If you have missed past installments, click here for 1-10 and click here for 11-20.
Read my review here. Did you read my review? You better get over there and check it out. I’m serious. I’ll wait. Ok? Clearly, you need to see this film if you never have. The production design is top notch, it has a riveting creature that is gorgeous in it’s gruseomeness and it stars a never better Lance Henriksen. Forget the straight to video sequels. This is the only film in the series worth seeing. It is actually better now than it was in 1988. This is an overlooked and underrated gem. See it on October 21, and start getting yourself revved up for Halloween!
Hellraiser, Hellbound: Hellraiser II double feature
The first film in the long running series is the best. It is a dark, brutal beast decades before Saw and the more recent influx of ‘torture porn’. It is graphic. It is dark. It is Clive Barker. It introduced us to one of the creatures of our nightmares, Pinhead, played magnificently by Doug Bradley. The second film ratchets up the gore (the scene with the dude, bugs, and straight razor still gives me the willies), but drops some of the claustrophobic scares conjured up in the first. On October 22, watch these back to back. Just be prepared to go into work a little tired the next morning, as you probably won’t sleep well . . . Want to know how bad some of the sequels got? Click here and read my review of Hellraiser: Revelations . . .
28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later double feature
Anyone want to argue with me that these AREN’T zombie movies? That’s what I though. These two films are the best of the best when it comes to zombie films. While they both play in the same world with the same rage virus, they are both completely different animals. The first film is about trying to survive in this world that has been turned upside down. It is more about the animals that men become. The second film deals with the attempted rebuilding of England when the virus breaks out again. The first stars a pre-Batman Begins Cillian Murphy, and the second stars pre-Insidious Rose Byrne and pre-The Avengers Jeremy Renner. Watch these two on October 23!
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Read my review here. I absolutely LOVE this film! This is one of my top 10 horror films of all time. And after all of the serious horror films, we need to take a little break and watch something funny. The first 3/4 of this film are a hoot. The beginning of this film is a mocumentary and a pretty damned funny one at that. The end, though, turns into a straight up slasher film. So, it has the best of both worlds. If you have never sen this, now is the time. You will love it. On October 24, it is time for some Leslie action!
A Nightmare on Elm Street
What is there to say about this film that hasn’t been said a hundred times before? This is a great film, let alone a horror film. While it never truly terrified me, even as a child, it is the introduction of Freddy Krueger, who then became a horror icon. In this film, he is still scary. In the later films, he became something of a joke. This is the film that started it all. Watch this on October 25, and remember when Freddy wasn’t a plush toy or Halloween mask for children. Remember when he was scary.
House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects double feature
This choice is going to raise some eyebrows. The reason these two films are included here is because of how Rob Zombie explored different types of horror in two films featuring the same characters. House of 1000 Corpses is more of a straight up horror film, in line with the ’80’s style horror. It is also the weakest of the two films, by far, despite some amazingly over the top performances. The Devil’s Rejects, though, is more of a tangible, real world horror. This is more in line with I Spit on Your Grave; the gritty, exploitative horror where the film is not technically a horror film but is horrifying. Both films are intended to feel like B-movies, and The Devil’s Rejects manages to pull it off amazingly well. House of 1000 Corpses. . . well, it certainly is an interesting film. Watch these on October 26. If you only have time to watch one of these, make sure it is The Devil’s Rejects. Honestly, that is Rob Zombie’s only good film . . .
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
After watching Zombie’s mind screwers, it’s time to unwind a little bit. Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas is the perfect way to do that. And hey, even the little ones should get a little Halloween movie action in! While this is technically more of a Christmas movie, it does feature Jack Skellington and Halloweentown, so it counts! While I am not a huge fan of the film itself, I do absolutely love the character designs and most of the songs. If you have little ones, make sure you put this on for them. You just might find yourself being entranced by the music and stop motion animation on display here. Watch this on October 27, and then re-watch it on December 24!
E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Read my review here. Ok, so this is probably the best all around movie on this list. This is a Steven Spielberg masterpiece. Why is it on this list of horror films? Well, we are close to Halloween and this film takes place around Halloween. So it qualifies. This is a wonderful movie that is child safe, not like most of this list. It is a good palate cleanser before we get into the last films to watch this Halloween season. Watch this on October 28 and remember how great it is. Just keep the tissues close . . .
One of only two good exorcism films, ever, this is a terrifying watch. Odds are, you have seen this one somewhere down the line. I had a terrible experience in the theater watching this; not because of the movie, but because of the audience. When they re-released ‘The Version You’ve Never Seen’, a friend and I rushed out to the theater to see this. The audience was filled with teenagers. The whole movie they were laughing at the ’70’s clothing and hairstyles and completely ruining the film for those of us there to experience it. Despite the distractions, the film was still a terrifying ride. The performances are top notch and the film is genuinely scary. I am not a religious man, but this film scared me. I cannot imagine what it is like for those of faith . . .This is your pick for October 29. Be ready for this one. . .
Read my review here. This is one of my favorite films of all time. “Devil’s fuckin’ Night.” That line is uttered by a cop in the beginning of the film. This is also the only film I know that actually takes place on Devil’s Night, the night before Halloween in some urban areas. While the film doesn’t focus on Devil’s Night and Halloween, it is set during those nights and qualifies to be on this list. This is an amazing film, and deserves to be sen over and over again. I can only guess that I have probably seen this 40-50 times since it’s initial release in 1994. Watch this on Devil’s Night, October 30, and be ready for tomorrow . . .
The Houses October Built, Trick r’ Treat, John Carpenter’s Halloween triple feature!!!
Here we are, Halloween night! And here are the three films you should make a point of seeing. All three are centered around the most magnificent of holiday’s and all three must be seen. Let’s discuss each film in a little more detail.
The Houses October Built
Read my review here. While this is not the best of the best when it comes to Halloween themed horror films, it does manage to find it’s own niche. By focusing on the haunted house thrill parks that open up around the country at this time of year, it exploits one of the last great untapped horror film settings. That in itself is surprising. I cannot think of another horror film that actually takes place at haunted house amusements. The film doesn’t focus on trick of treating or other Halloween staples. It stays firmly focused on haunted houses. And it is a damned entertaining film. Use this bad boy to warm you up for the next two. It is a great appetizer for what’s to follow.
Trick ‘r Treat
In the past, anthology films were a dime a dozen. The Twilight Zone: The Movie, Creepshow, and Creepshow 2 all spring to mind. There are many, many more. This film is a throwback to those anthology films while doing it’s own thing. It is a beautifully shot film; it is simply gorgeous to watch. It tells four different stories, all on the same Halloween night in a sleepy town. The stories are held together by Sam, the spirit of Halloween. Don’t break the rules of Halloween or Sam will get ya! While the film isn’t particularly terrifying, it is one of, if not the best, Halloween films ever made. It captures the spirit of the holiday in a way that no other film has done, with the exception of one, which is our last feature. This is a film that you should see, especially if you are a fan of horror or Halloween.
John Carpenter’s Halloween
This film is just as good today as it was when it was released. A low budget slasher film, the original Halloween has become the go to film for the season. It introduced us to The Shape, also known as Michael Meyers, a villain who never speaks and is unable to be killed. Sound familiar? Yes, numerous horror films since have used this tactic to keep their villains coming back film after film. This one just did it first. The film just oozes Halloween and captures the spirit of the holiday without beating you over the head with it. It truly is a magnificent film. This should be your final watch on Halloween night, before you blow out the candles on the jack o’ lanterns and shut off the LED lights around your windows. Turn off your porch light, lock the doors and try to sleep. This Halloween is over; just good luck sleeping after bingeing on these horror greats.