Halloween is around the corner, and it is time to start thinking seriously about what horror movies you should be watching this ghoulish time of year. Stuck on what classics to give another spin? Can’t be bothered to wade through Netflix? Then here’s a sure fire list to satisfy your horror cravings on Halloween.
The Exorcist I feel somewhat redundant recommending this classic horror as surely everybody has seen The Exorcist. Right? A friend of mine recently confessed to never sitting through this seminal horror, when I asked if he has seen it his response was thus; “That’s the one with the girl who pisses her self and throws up on a vicar who is so distraught he hurls himself down a flight of stairs.” An economical albeit misguided distillation of the narrative, but it proved that even a titan like The Exorcist still has new eyes to haunt.
For our full review of The Exorcist click here.
The Descent Neil Marshall followed Dog Soldiers with this no holds barred panic attack inducing nightmare. That might be a lot of adjectives, but it is well deserving of each and every one. A group of old friends reform after a tragedy, instead of copious amounts of wine and watching Magic Mike they opt to go spelunking. After an accident leaves one of them injured, the women attempt to find their way out of the narrow passages unaware that something stalks them in the darkness.
Ignore the sequel and the US cut that jettisoned the bleak ending in favour of a slightly more chirpy conclusion. The Descent remains on the best UK horror movies of the last 20 years.
What We Do In The Shadows Who says Halloween can’t be without a few laughs? A marvelous mockumentary from Jerome Clement and Taika Waititi, who star, write and direct What We Do In The Shadows. A camera crew is given access to a coven of vampires as they go about their day to day eternal lives. There are festivities to prepare for with the masquerade ball and the naming of this year’s top vampire.
Keenly observed and frequently hilarious, What We Do In The Shadows is an instant cult classic and deserves your attention. Currently streaming on Netflix, you have no reason not to include this in your Halloween celebrations. Unless of course you don’t have Netflix.
Cabin In The Woods Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s meta-horror is as good on the 21st watch as it was on the second, but never as rewarding as the first time. Not since Wes Craven’s Scream has the horror genre been turned on its head,
Funny, gruesome and just a little bit insane, Cabin In The Woods flips the conventions of the genre on its head with glee. For Jim’s comprehensive dissection of Cabin In The Woods, you can read his review in all its glory right here.
The Conjuring After the gore excesses of Saw, the retro chills of Insidious, director James Wan pulls out all the stops for The Conjuring. I won’t waste your time hyping The Conjuring up any further; it’s an elegant horror film that values the slow burn over cheap scares. If you need more convincing, then check out my full spoilers filled review here.
The Orphanage Produced by Guillermo Del Toro, this back to basics ghost story that stays with you long after the credits have rolled. While Del Toro’s latest offering Crimson Peak is a romance before it’s a horror, The Orphanage is a love letter to the spooky. For the same reasons I adore The Conjuring for its elegance and grace, The Orphanage is a beautiful nightmare you won’t forget in a hurry.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare Wes Craven’s iconic creation had been turned into something of a parody of itself by the time The Final Nightmare was release in 3D. Seeking to put the fear back into Freddy Kruger, Craven devised a meta-sequel that foreshadows Scream in more ways than one.
Wes Craven was an indomitable force in the horror genre creating multiple classics across his prolific career. He is sorely missed.
The Children A neat little Brit-chiller that will put you off answering the front door to trick or treaters for fear of being hacked to pieces. A family getaway turns murderous when a mysterious disease turns the kiddie winks into psycho killers. Perhaps not the most original movie ever made, The Children has plenty of frights on offer. Director Tom Shankland has yet to helm a second film; he has remained a fixture on TV with episodes of The Missing, Dirk Gently and The Fades under his belt.
You’re Next Before he made the seriously impressive The Guest, director Adam Wingard made this gruesomely good no frills horror. I say no fills as a compliment, Wingard wastes no time cutting to the chase and if you can stomach the gore, You’re Next is best enjoyed knowing as little as possible. While I have included a trailer below, don’t watch it just see the movie.
The Lost Boys Here’s a scary thought, Joel Schumacher’s comic vampire movie is almost 30 years old. The Lost Boys started life as a Richard Donner project (he remained onboard as a producer), but after years of false starts, he jumped ship and made Lethal Weapon. As a life long fan The Goonies, the combination of Donner, Cory Feldman, vampires and a moody soundtrack was irresistible.
Forget Twilight (if you can), The Lost Boys is the only human/vampire love story for teenagers we need.
It Follows For the most part, modern horror is a never-ending conveyor belt of found footage misery and gore soaked madness, naturally there are exceptions but broadly speaking this is a sad fact. David Robert Mitchell clearly adores old-fashioned horror as his debut in this cluttered genre stands out as a rarity, a horror film with brains. It Follows will stay with you long after you’ve seen it, and I dare you not to keep checking behind you on your way home from the cinema. A simple but hugely effective horror film that gets under your skin and stays there, read our review right here.
Final Destination Like all long running horror franchises, Final Destination was running on fumes by the the part five hit cinemas, However, the first three are filled with some of the most inventive death scenes committed to film. A premonition of a horrific plane crash causes several students to be thrown off their flight. After the plane crashes, the survivors are picked off one by one as death seeks them out.
A strong concept and laced with dark comedy, Final Destination is a franchise to be reckoned with 15 years after it launched.
Tucker and Dale Vs Evil This hugely underrated comedy horror gem slipped under most people’s radar upon its release, despite winning a multitude of awards and gaining a cult following it’s still not held in high enough esteem for my liking. Starring Tyler Labine as Dale, and Joss Whedon regular Alan Tudyk as Tucker, we follow two best friends on holiday in their old mountain cabin looking to take in some much-needed relation. Now, these fine fellas aren’t the sharpest pins on the drawing board but they mean well but are about to have the holiday from hell.
Drag Me To Hell After all that full on horror, Sam Raimi’s triumphant return to the genre is the perfect way to conclude this list of recommendations. Raimi knows how to balance horror and comedy, too much of either is poison and Drag Me To Hell has the perfect balance of both. Being scared and laughing uncontrollably are essentially the same involuntary reaction, you can’t help what frighten you any more than you can switch off your funny bone.
Raimi is clearly having a ball behind the camera here, and it shows as Mrs. Ganush is a marvelous horror creation and she provides several gross-out moments as well as being frightening. The cast are all playing it straight, perhaps Justin Long is the only weak link as he still looks 12 and a half years old.
So there you have it, a wide selection of movies that your Halloween shouldn’t be deprived of. Just remember, a good horror movie isn’t just for Halloween it’s for life.