Halloween is almost upon us! The dark realm of the dead is yawning wider the nearer we get to the thirty-first and I couldn’t be more excited! The trees are changing, the air is cooler and shadows move in the twilight of day’s ending. It’s time to have some hot cider, get a nice sticky caramel apple, kill those lights and hunker down for a very Manic Halloween Movies List!
Halloween movies, well there are tons to choose from. Trying to narrow down a top countdown of my personal favorites was not an easy task. I’ve tried to include those all-time classics as well as a few modern day masterpieces. Still, when it comes to Halloween there’s just so much to cover! And I’m not just talking about movies, but there is ‘what music to play for your fangtastic Halloween party’ – I always go with a good Alice Cooper album – or what are some great books to read to get you in that hellishly good mood?
I might cover those very subjects at a later time. But today we’re all about movies – Halloween movies! And I’ve compiled a valuable list of freakish films the House of Exorcism relies heavily on every year to set the perfect Halloween mood. So crank Alice Cooper’s I Love the Dead, cuddle up to the ghoul of your dreams – here are ten Halloween movies I recommend the spooky season.
Disclaimer: Halloween Movies That Always Get Mentioned
Most lists would mention Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead, Psycho, or John Carpenter’s Halloween. I’m stepping outside the box here though. Those movies are all amazing, and they’re a given to watch. But I want to focus on movies that might go unmentioned or overlooked. And with that said…
Let’s start things out right with a modern retelling of a movie we all grew up with. IT is more than a remake though, it’s quickly proven to be the horror breakthrough us fans have been waiting so eagerly for in the genre. IT is a new Stephen King masterpiece befitting to sit alongside other King classics such as The Shining, Pet Sematary, Misery and Shawshank Redemption.
You can still catch IT in local theaters, so I had to include this modern marvel. We all need a great (and I’m not using that term loosely at all here – it truly is great) horror movie to go see on the big screen this Halloween.
The movie is about seven friends who must face their own individual fears to overcome a primordial evil that lingers in the humid guts of their quiet little town. The movie does not shy away from gore and flows with beautifully portrayed characterization as it tells its horrific tale.
Pet Sematary (1989)
Continuing in the creepy Stephen King vein, I simply could not leave this dark classic off my list. Despite being mostly filmed in the open air, the atmosphere of the movie creates a threatening and claustrophobic tone imprisoning the poor victims of our tale in its insidious talons. The movie is once again proof that Stephen King is the master of horror, but not because of the gore or shocks – which, rest assured, are seasoned thoughout his work. But where King always shines the brightest is in the way he makes us care for the characters in his stories. His horror is about everyday people who must face off against insurmountable terrors awakened in the stillness of every backyard in America.
The Creed family has just moved into their new home, but unbeknownst to them the Pet Sematary is just a small walk away from their happy lives. And beyond the Pet Sematary – a dangerous and secret place where the soil (like the soil of a man’s heart) is stonier. Dark forces conspire against the Creeds as tragedy befalls their home in the worst way imaginable. Only then, once the grief sets in, once the final good-bye is said and with mascara still streaking across reddened cheeks, does the actual terror truly begin to surface.
“Keep away from Pumpkinhead,
Unless you’re tired of living,
His enemies are mostly dead,
He’s mean and unforgiving,
Laugh at him and you’re undone,
But in some dreadful fashion,
Vengeance, he considers fun,
And plans it with a passion,
Time will not erase or blot,
A plot that he has brewing,
It’s when you think that he’s forgot,
He’ll conjure your undoing,
Bolted doors and windows barred,
Guard dogs prowling in the yard,
Won’t protect you in your bed,
Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead!”
We need a good creature feature on a Halloween movies list, and by God this one delivers! The lead role – played brilliantly by Lance Henriksen– is a tragic one. Ed Harley is a simple man who loves his son, his one reason for living. When his little boy is accidently killed by careless tourists, Ed loses it. And here is where Henriksen shines. The look of pure hatred he shoots at the murderers is chilling. At times he proves to be more dangerous than the lead demon of the film.
Seeking vengeance for the death of his child, Harley seeks out the old witch of the woods who wields the power to raise the Pumpkinhead – a demon of local legend, and a vile reality proving to me far too much to control. Once risen, Pumpkinhead slays the guilty one by one.
Sleepy Hollow (1998)
The Hessian has always been my favorite phantasm! Ever since I first watched the old Disney cartoon I’ve loved the Headless Horseman. Tim Burton brought the legend to life in a movie that is fat with Halloween spirit. Danny Elfman’s chilling soundtrack glows among the heavy mists of Sleepy Hollow as the dim countryside huddles together in unshakable terror whenever the sound of raging hoof beats are heard in the hills.
The Headless Horseman rises from his unquiet grave to collect heads and return back to Hell with his dripping trophies. Heads roll aplenty here in this definitive Halloween must!
The Howling (1981)
One more creature feature to add to our list, but it simply wouldn’t be a proper Halloween movies list without some burly, grisly, howling good fun!
Reviving the thrill of werewolf movies, The Howling brought the lycanthrope into the 80’s and combined a classic monster with the slasher craze. The movie sports some incredible werewolf effects, and lots of blood. It’s another hair-raising must for your viewing pleasure.
I do recommend sticking to just this movie and ignoring the sequels. Unless you like crappy campy ‘what the Hell’ kind of movies. If so, knock yourself out with The Howling II: Your Sister’s A Werewolf. No, like for real. That’s the actual name of the movie. See what I mean? And it only gets weirder from there.
The VVitch (2016)
Another modern day entry to horror, this is a smart and darkly brilliant movie. One that perfectly captures the isolation and paranoia of Puritan America and the terrors they encountered by night. At the peak of all the witch hysteria, a lone family must build their home from the ground up and carve out an existence out in the wilderness.
They are outcasts and days away from any help. The evil out in the dark of the forests – that insidious realm of all our most primal nightmares – is one they must face on their own. One by one the dark enchantments of the old-world’s blackest wiles overthrow the family’s sanity and wellbeing.
The movie captures the old superstitions of that era with a satanic flair! I’ve gone back to this one time and again. In fact it’s one I had to see twice in the theater during its run. It’s truly haunting and deserves a place on any Halloween movies list.
Zombi(2)/ Zombie Flesh Eaters (1980)
When it comes to zombies, well we’ve been overrun. The living dead are absolutely everywhere among us. They’ve invaded our culture and it’s honestly surprising to think that just 10 years ago zombie movies were pretty much, well, dead. Now they’re just another part of our society and even non-horror fans love zombies. It’s really weird when you think about it. So what Halloween list would be complete without at least one zombie movie? But where do you begin? There are so many to choose from.
For me it’s easy. I know most lists would recommend Romero’s incredible Dawn of the Dead, but that’s the obvious choice. I turn to Lucio Fulci’s Zombi (2). The movie goes by a couple of titles, so look to see if it’s directed by Fulci. Zombi (2) was the immediate response to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which was released in Italy under the title of Zombi. Hence the name Zombi 2, making this an unofficial sequel to the Dead series.
The movie also got itself on the infamous Video Nasties list, which made me have to seek it out all the more. And it doesn’t disappoint. The movie holds some truly nasty moments. Not to mention it treats us to the insane zombie vs shark scene.
Cannibal Holocaust (1985)
Staying in the muck of gore and guts, I have to include this notorious film on the list. Cannibal Holocaust can be found on every single list dealing with the most controversial movies ever made. And believe me, it earns its infamy honestly. The movie is truly shocking and I have to stress is not for every audience.
Before there was Blair Witch Project or Green Inferno, there was the infamous Cannibal Holocaust.
Cannibal Holocaust was one of the earliest movies to have been considered pure snuff, so that should alert you to the level of shocks this movie holds in store for any unsuspecting viewer. After all the movie does include real animal killing in it, which alone keeps many viewers away. And the special effects are so state of the art – even by today’s standards – that people really believed the actors had been killed to give more authenticity to the shocking nature of the movie’s cruel material.
It also didn’t help that the actors had a clause in their contracts stating they had to stay out of the public’s eye for a year to perpetuate the idea they had been killed. They even had fake obituaries made. It was all so real that the director was arrested for murder charges. People were convinced he was a murderer. During his trial he had to call the actors to the stand proving they were in fact alive.
The movie still lives up to the grizzly hype.
At last year’s Halloween party I screened this movie for the guests, many who had still never seen it. The film still shocked new audiences. So this is one for all the gore hounds out there.
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
As far as Halloween movies go this is a definite must!
I’m surprised there are still people who have not yet seen this one. Following in the tradition of Creepshow, Trick ‘r Treat is an anthology film with one over-arching theme through each of it’s segments. The entire movie takes place over the course of Halloween night and is packed full of spooky fun and chilling surprises!
Trick ‘r Treat is damn near the perfect Halloween movie and honestly could be enjoyed every year right along side John Carpenter’s slasher classic. More so than all the rest of the films aforementioned this one encapsulates the Halloween season in a near perfect result. The one thing we take away from this movie is to respect the ancient traditions of the season. Traditions that have been established for your safety come the night of sovereign fear.
Halloween is a night of living shadows. When beasts walk in the disguise of human jest. It’s a night of tricks and a revelry of mischievous treats. Although, someone’s treat might turn out to be your trick. So beware, lovelies. Watch this one with the lights off and heed the ancient traditions of our most beloved night of the year.
This has been Manic Exorcism once again and I hope you’ve enjoyed the Halloween movies here recommended.