Screen or Scream
Halloween can be a tough time for the cinephile. Not because there are no good horror films out there, but because horror may be the most over played genre today. With hundreds of titles on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, it can start to feel like the good horror movies are as rare as the winning lotto numbers.
To make things a little simpler for this Halloween, we’ve collected our favorite Halloween movies into a list that will make sure your holiday is a SCREEEEEEEAM!!!
Top 5 Halloween Films
For many, Halloween is a time for pants wetting scares nail-biting tension. If you are a fan of jump scares, pick any of Netflix’s recommended horror films, but if you want to dread what waits behind every door, what lurks within of every heart, and what lingers in the very air which surrounds us, then strap yourself in for our Five Favorite Halloween Films.
With the modern-American reimagining of this film on the horizon, it is the perfect time to visit Dario Argento’s twisted world of terror, where dance studios are run by witches covens and walls do nothing more than force your imagination to envision what terrible designs the teachers/servants-of-Satan have in store for their dancing debutantes.
Few Horror movies have captured the sense of dread in Stanley Kubrick’s horror masterpiece, “The Shining.” Theories abound as to what the movie means but one thing is sure, this film has been a source of delicious psychological torture for generations and will continue to do so for generations to come. It does nothing short of play on the imaginations and fears of every person who views it.
Long before the franchise turned into the torture porn version of the MCU, the original film “Saw” scared and shocked audiences with its use of a small budget, tight main set (bordering on a bottle episode), and a twist that no one expected. More of a hard R Thriller than a slasher, “Saw” pushes beyond the edge of what films like “Seven” and “Silence of the Lambs” always backed away from; True Horror.
The Evil Dead 2
“Evil Dead 2” might be the pinnacle of the splatterfest subgenre. While, schlocky and silly in all the right ways, the film still has grotesque moments that will truly surprise even the most genre hardened fans. The gory special effects might be what the film is famous for, but Bruce Campbell's absolutely bonkers performance is the reason you'll return to this film over and over again.
One of the best modern horror films available. Set in the 1600s, the dialogue is a little tough to get used to at first but you adjust quickly enough to their King James verbal stylings. The careful attention to things like the dialogue, dress, and cultural attitudes make the setting immersive and full of dread. A film about the longing we feel for community and connection as well as our distrust of those same communities, “The Witch” may just go down in history with films like, “The Exorcist” and “Rosemary’s Baby” as the finest cinematic horror films ever made.
Halloween Party Films
Popping in your favorite slow burn horror film may be great for your solo night in but if you are having a party on Halloween Night you might opt for a more group experience focused film than our Top 5. Iconic scenes, interesting visuals, and moments which grab your attention away from beer pong and cards against humanity make these films perfect for the projection screen in your hay filled barn party or apartment soiree.
Ghostbusters & Young Frankenstein
These two horror comedies are so classic and funny that almost everyone who would go to a Halloween party has seen at least one of them. As scene after hilarious scene plays out in the background you’ll find conversations and games punctuated with cries of “Wait wait. This is the best scene,” from your guests, without having to be sit-down-and-watch-a-movie party.
Scream & Cabin in the Woods
These two films excel at the tongue-in-cheek style of horror that plays especially well at a party of mixed company (cinephiles and normies.) Iconic scenes with a splash of irony walk the perfect line between scary and fun to set the tone for a lighthearted evening of peeled grape eyeballs and spiked pumpkin juice.
Halloween for Kids
Of course, Halloween for many people means kids. Parties, trick or treat, and crazy costumes are great but nothing tops of the night like a scary movie for a sleepover of impressionable and wide eyed youngsters. How can a responsible parent choose fun movies for Halloween without scarring the more gentle of our kiddos? Try these Halloween movies which are safe for the little ones.
This adventure film based on a book by Roald Dhal (author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James, and the Giant Peach”), is full of childhood hijinx and scares that revolve around a child’s sense of being a small creature in a world which is larger than themselves in which they feel forever an outcast and victim. With great practical effects that are simultaneously horrifying (to a child) but not gruesome, it is the kind of film that revels in the grossness of green slime and scary looking witches without becoming too violent for kids to watch.
An often overlooked kid’s film “Monster House” may not have enough to keep the attention of an adult but children will eat up this movie about ‘the scary house at the end of the road.‘ Full of friendship, scares, and humor, this movie will creep the kids out but ultimately, leave them laughing.
C’mon. If you don’t realize that Gremlins was one of the movies that sparked the invention of the PG13 rating (famously this film is rated PG but was considered to scary but not violent enough for an R rating) then you might have accidentally shown this film to your kids when they were just a little young for it. By modern standards this film doesn’t have a lot that would make this seem like anything other than a fantastic magical object/unforseen consequences focused horror-by-way-of-mayhem film for kids around the age of 8-12.
Not technically a Halloween film, this gorgeous animated film from Pixar focuses on Dia De Los Muertos (the central american tradition of the Day of the Dead.) Music and adventure punctuate this film which focuses more on the importance of family and remembering those who have passed away rather than fearing them. If your kids are on the sensitive side, this film is perfect for a halloween snuggle time and sing-a-long.