Halloween is finally upon us!! I’ll be honest, I don’t love Halloween like some do. It’s fun sure, but once you hit a certain age (at least for me), it’s not as fun. I LOOOVED this time of year when I was little, I dressed up, I went to people’s houses and got candy for free, and I got scared shitless. Well now, dressing up isn’t really my thing anymore and I definitely can’t get candy for free from strangers anymore. There are aspects of Halloween that I enjoy. I love a good scary movie; they scare the shit out of me (for some reason I enjoy it, don’t really know why), they keep me interested, and they’re usually insane. Sure, I love a good comedy, and a drama, but when it comes to October I go all out with my scary movies, why wouldn’t I?!? If there’s anything I can do to celebrate the Halloween spirit, it’s watching a bunch of movies. So that’s why I’ve decided to make this list, my personal top 12 scary movies for you to watch on the spooky night itself .. whether you don’t know what to watch or you need a few options here are my favorites.
12. Drag Me To Hell
The best part about Drag Me To Hell is how batshit crazy it is. With a courageous title like that you could either have a horrible film or an amazing one, luckily this one is a keeper. Not like I would expect any less from Sam Raimi after seeing The Evil Dead and some of his films that followed. I put this film last because I never really found the film that scary as much as just fun and insane. I mean, this movie is so over the top you can’t not laugh at it’s ridiculousness sometimes. Alison Lohman is good as the lead, Christine in the film but the props should really go to Lorna Raver as Mrs. Ganush. Mrs. Ganush is not only an insanely wacky and creepy character to witness but she is played beautifully by this actress. If you’re in the mood for a blood ride of a film and are in the mood for some over the top carnage I would say this is the Halloween movie for you.
Brutal deaths in an insanely beautifully lit ballet studio? Shit, I’m in. Suspiria is probably one of the more wacky horror films that I’ve come across. Directed by Dario Argento, Suspiria might also be one of the most beautiful horror movies I’ve seen, with bright colors that pop out at you in each and every scene, you could almost watch the film on mute. But then again, there is also a beautifully haunting soundtrack that accompanies the film and it really sets the tone for the film. I would say that if you’re not good with movies that have a slow burn then this might not be the one for you. But for me and the rest of you, there is definitely something there worth watching.
Kathy Bates, that’s all you need to know about this movie. She is the selling point of Misery and the most blatantly creepy thing about it. I always thought that Stephen King’s best work was when he went simple and not so … supernatural or out of this world, and that’s what Misery really is … simplicity. With really only two main characters played by Bates and James Caan, you get a chilly feeling of isolation throughout the movie. You’re trapped in this cold small house with Annie and there’s no way out (literally, the doors are locked and you’re paralyzed). You would think a movie like this could easily become slow and boring, but it never does either of those things. The two performances and the tension between these characters keeps you locked in for the whole hour and 47 minutes. And now I’ve learned from this film that I never want to stay in a room with Kathy Bates.
9. Friday the 13th, Part 2
I’m gonna be honest ….I don’t like Friday the 13th. Whether that statement affects you or not, I’m sorry I just don’t. That being said, I oddly enjoy the second installment in the rather large franchise of Jason Vorhees’ adventures, whether it be in New York or Hell or Space. It’s funny when I think about it because it’s pretty much the first movie if you took out Kevin Bacon and company and replaced them with a whole new group of horny teens. I recently watched the original again to compare and see why I loved Part 2 so much more. It concluded to a few little things, but the biggest seemed to be the pacing of the film. Part 2 starts with a bang and just keeps going, beginning with the death of Alice from the first film which ends up being sort of unnecessary (and kind of funny) since we never cared THAT much about her in the first film anyway. The other big difference in this film is the fact that we have Jason killing for the first time in the series, don’t get too excited though he still doesn’t have a hockey mask. So I would say if you’re in the mood for a bloody 80’s slasher that doesn’t require really any brain power than this is the one for you!
8. The Shining
How could I NOT include this?!?! It’s just too good to pass up. The Shining is probably the most respected horror movie around, if that makes sense. By respected I mean it’s not just a slasher film and it’s not just horror, it’s psychological and it’s Stanley Kubrick, so therefore it is much more respected. I don’t even really need to explain this one, even the people who haven’t seen this movie know The Shining … that’s how it was for me before I saw it! When I was little (and so innocent …aah the days), I had always heard about the movie that had Jack Nicholson in it and there was a hotel, there were twins … you just knew about this movie. For me, it was a movie that almost felt like a myth in some ways, I would see parts of it on tv sometimes and never watch all of it because I was too scared of the results. Regardless of my banter, The Shining is a classic and definitely deserves to be watched around the Halloween season.
7. The Evil Dead
Talk about a bloody good time. The Evil Dead is one of many scary movies centered in a cabin, definitely not the first but it somehow manages to make itself original. There’s nothing too complicated about the plot, there’s a book, there’s a passage … you get the point. What I love most about The Evil Dead is the fact that it’s so gross and over the top yet all these effects are pretty much hand made. With a tasteful use of stop motion animation in some areas we get gory scenes that are so unique and odd that you can’t stop watching. Bruce Campbell is the star of the film and he shines. Sure, he doesn’t get a chainsaw arm till the sequel but hey! he does what he can with what he has. The Evil Dead is a fun, crazy ride that never stops once it goes, so if you’re in the mood for a wild ride, this is the one for you. And while you’re at it you might as well check out the sequels and the remake (which is like a bloodier and more dramatic version).
6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
I have a specific memory from when I was younger of walking into my house from a long night of trick or treating and seeing my sisters watching the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I didn’t know what movie it was at the time, all I could see in the moment was that Jessica Biel was in it and there was a lot of screaming. Little did I know that I would watch it again years later and be so creeped out by it. And while the 2003 version is not as bas as it could’ve (or really should’ve) been, the 1974 version is better … it just is. I have nothing against you if you love the remake, remakes are fine (for the most part), but the original is the winner. I think the biggest appeal/selling point from the original for me was the grittiness of it, the fact that it was so raw. I’ve only seen the original twice, when I got to the end I always had a feeling of unease. What this film doesn’t have is many jump scares or crazy stalkers .. you could argue that Leatherface is a stalker, but the way I see it he really isn’t. Leatherface is clearly always portrayed as the villain in these films because of course he is! He’s running around with a chainsaw in his hands trying to slice people in two! But when you see the outcome of the film you realize that this is just the lifestyle he’s been raised in. Leatherface is like an animal, he hunts .. and these people are his dinner. That’s what I always enjoyed so much about this film, there’s a sense of humanity to it that’s actually terrifying to think about. And it’s something that no remake could ever duplicate.
5. Trick ‘r Treat
Anthology movies are always very hit or miss for me, so when I decided to dive in and watch Trick ‘r Treat, I was a bit skeptical and wasn’t really sure what to expect. Surprisingly, I fell in love with it. With the anthology effect there is so much that could go wrong, there’s always the stories that you enjoy a lot more than others, so when that one goes away you’re wishing you were watching that instead. Sure, while I don’t love some of the stories in this as much as others, they’re still fun and intriguing to watch. My favorite storyline is probably the one including Anna Paquin. Without spoiling, I’ll just say that I didn’t see the outcome of the situations coming. Trick ‘r Treat is a fun tribute to the famous holiday of Halloween and never lets you down.
4. A Nightmare On Elm Street
Remember a few numbers before this I told you that the Texas Chainsaw remake actually wasn’t that bad? Yeah, well the Nightmare On Elm Street remake is the complete opposite, don’t even get me started. A Nightmare On Elm Street is considered a classic in the eyes of many .. haunting the dreams of many people that saw it when it was released and giving people actual nightmares to this day, this film perfectly illustrates the black magic that Wes Craven (rest in peace!!) could pull off in his movies. The idea of the film alone is so interesting and creepy that it makes the experience all the more fun to watch. With Freddy Kreuger being the force behind the bloody nightmares of the kids in the film, we get so many inventive and crazy death scenes they’re almost fun to watch. One of the most memorable for me, especially when watching at a younger age (I know it sounds bad, but I can’t help it if I snuck around and watched scary movies!), was the death of Johnny Depp’s character in the film. I won’t say anything if you haven’t seen Nightmare, but it’s insanely wonderful. This film shows the true talent that Wes Craven himself had and how memorable his films really are.
3. The Descent
I just watched this film the other night and realized that I forgot a lot of the shenanigans that go on. Of course I remembered the hungry blind beasts in the underground cave and the literal pool of blood, but I didn’t remember how much backstory is given to the characters in this film. When I watched The Descent for the 2nd time in about 5 or 6 years I realized how bad I felt for this main character, Sarah. You feel bad for all these characters actually. None of them are assholes (maybe Juno a little though), none are annoying, they just want to have a good time with each other … little did they know there would be bloodthirsty monsters down below, hate when that happens. I also happened to notice how well crafted each scene is, whether it’s climbing through small spaces (one of the hardest parts of the film for me to sit through), or beating the shit out of monsters. This is definitely one of those films that never got the recognition it should’ve gotten. It may be a slower build but it’s totally worth it.
Is it that surprising that I put this movie so high up on my list? I’ve bragged about my liking for the Scream series in a couple of posts before, and for a good reason. Not only is Scream actually scary at times, but it’s also really funny at times. It’s super meta and it’s super fun. Taking the idea of a serial killer to a whole new level, the film explores what the killer’s motives are, the rules of a scary movie, and a colorful cast of characters. Like I said with A Nightmare On Elm Street, this magnificent and horrifying fun is all due to Wes Craven. There’s a reason why I have two of his movies on my list, he was able to make his films more than just a scary movie. Sure there were girls running away from a person with a mask and a knife, but we knew these characters, we felt for them when they died or when they were scared shitless. The Scream films (not including #3 … sorry if you liked that one) are probably my favorite of his collection. They were obviously so self aware and great but what I’ve also found over the years is that they’re so re-watchable. I first saw this film in middle school and I am still watch it like it’s my first time. So if you want to laugh but also be terrified … the Scream movies are you’re pick.
I know this is the obvious choice and all but I can’t help it if the movie is so frightening. There’s a reason why it’s on every Halloween movie list! It’s name is literally Halloween, it just had to happen. Plus I really do think this is a grade A horror flick. It’s simple and scary. You don’t really know much about the stalker/killer, but you don’t really need to. Jamie Lee Curtis is probably my favorite part of this movie, she’s so convincing as Laurie, plus she has that iconic scream (guess she takes after her mom). There’s also just something about the way this film feels and looks. It takes place in a suburban like neighborhood where all of our younger characters are babysitting on Halloween. Some of the scariest parts for me are when Michael is stalking these girls in the daylight and he’ll just slowly and randomly step out from a bush (like the picture above). John Carpenter was able to make something so scary out of such a simple subject. It’s something that modern day horror films have seemed to have lost sight of and it’s why Halloween is such a great movie to watch on the holiday it’s named after.
Thanks for checking out my post and make sure to check out my other stuff if you liked this! Also, have a happy Halloween, and like every parent says .. be safe!! Hope you enjoyed my picks.