Halloween is here. Damn. October seemed to go by so fast! I hope you were able to view a metric ton of horror films, but if you weren’t don’t worry…the season isn’t over yet! The purpose of this list is to go over some of the horror films set on Halloween night (or the climax of the film is Halloween night). I hope you enjoy this list and the rest of your Halloween season, cause let’s face it for most of us Fiends – Halloween is our Christmas. So Happy Holidays and let’s get to it!
10. Night of the Demons
This cult classic is bound to end your Halloween on a good note, and is most likely the film that garnered the PSAs about parents checking their kid’s Halloween candy for razor blades. Though Night of the Demons didn’t see great critical success, it did eventually gain quite the cult following, bringing the fun and charm a lot of 80s horror films seemed to effortlessly capture. The story is fairly cookie cutter, which doesn’t take away from it at all: a bunch of sex-crazed high school seniors go to an abandoned [fill in the blank], hijinks ensue, people die, and it’s tons of fun. If you’re looking for a copy of this film Shout! Factory has a really great release with some wicked cover art and some head spinning bonus features. Night of the Demons will leave you telling your significant others, “Happy Halloween, dear.”
9. Trick or Treat (1986)
This bargain bin classic may be the most fun on the list. When you have Ozzy Osbourne playing a reverend you know you did something right! The film follows a kid who has to stop his heavy metal idol from coming back and bringing the wrath of Satan with him. This film marked the directorial debut of Charles Martin Smith, who mainly stuck to acting beforehand ,with credits to his name like John Carpenter’s Starman and early 70s classic American Graffiti. Trick or Treat is a staple of the genre and a go-to film for metalhead horror fans.
8. Donnie Darko (2001)
This entry is a classic of not just the genre but of cinema as a whole. This Science Fiction/Thriller is as gripping as it is charming. While this film isn’t generally straight-up horror, it does contain many elements of the genre and uses them wisely to balance out the sci-fi elements. It’s a good-looking film technically, with a cast to knock your boots off – specifically standout performances from Patrick Swayze, Drew Barrymore, and a young Seth Rogen. The tone of this film is fairly nihilistic and makes us question what reality truly is.
7. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Hey, didn’t you say no obvious films? Well, yeah. Hands down this film is a treat inside and out *pun intended*, though it doesn’t really get the accolades it deserves…it seems like most people overlook this film. Trick ‘r Treat is a brilliant nonlinear film that stupendously elevates the bar for storytelling in the genre, while still providing admirable scares. The story elements are woven into a duvet of frightful fun, with their wraparound character Sam. If you have not seen this wonderful film you should just drop everything you’re doing and go watch it. Also if you happen to be in California you can check out the Trick ‘r Treat maze at Halloween Horror Night at Universal Studios!
6. V/H/S segment 10/31/98 (2012)
V/H/S was a game changer for anthology films. Created by Brad Miska (founder of Bloody Disgusting), V/H/S took the genre by storm creating fervor and rejuvenation to the seemingly endless flow of less than B-level found footage films. Segment 10/31/98 is one of the strongest in the trilogy creating an exciting denouement with fantastic effects and solid acting (which can be very rare in the found footage subgenre). This segment is directed by a group known as Radio Silence, who is also the group who made another fairly solid anthology film Southbound. We follow a group of friends in search for a Halloween party, when they find one things…don’t go so well. Plus there’s a great homage to Day of the Dead in there!
5. Terrifier (2017)
Dread Central Presents’ first physical release, though second in spine numbering, is a midnight movie to the extreme! Damien Leone’s followup to his anthology film All Hallows’ Eve, featuring the same antagonist Art the Clown in Terrifier, is a film unlike many others out there. It’s visceral disregard for humanity brings a certain type of charm which leads to wanting to view it multiple times. The film follows two women heading home from a Halloween party, who decide to grab a slice of ‘za and have an unfortunate run in with good ole Art the Clown. Art’s brutality is that of an uncontrollable sociopath, making for one HELL of an antagonist who ranks top of the list of most abysmal killers in the genre. Art is fabulously portrayed by David Howard Thorton, who brings an interesting edge of comedic gravitas to the surface, though he is able to reign it in when killin’ time comes. Terrifier is currently streaming on Netflix although you could purchase the DVD/BluRay that comes with some beautiful reverse cover art!
4. The Houses October Built (1&2) (2014 & ’17)
Looking for a fun double feature that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still manages to bring some pretty intense scares? Then you definitely stumbled upon the right film(s)! The Houses October Built is about a group of friends making a documentary where they attempt to find the most extreme haunted house attractions, which we’ll refer to as “haunts”. They wind up hearing talks of something called “Blue Skeleton,” an underground haunt experience unlike any other. Sooner than later Blue Skeleton hears about THEM…this winds up to a very tense final act, where all prospective comedy is dropped and it turns into straight up horror. The follow-up, THOB 2, is significantly better than its predecessor in so many ways, by taking the things that worked in the first one and expanding on them. We’re not going to discuss any plot from the sequel as it would be a major spoiler for what happens in the first one–but this is another instance of a sequel being genetically superior to its source material.
3. House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Rob Zombie’s directorial debut is a tour de force hour-and-a-half visual representation of his music. That’s pretty much the only way to describe it. Zombie’s music is fantastically horrifying and gains heavy inspiration from tons of older horror films, making him the prime person to make an exploitation flick himself. HOTC brings truly detestable characters, humanizes them *slightly*, and has you rooting for them. House of 1000 Corpses sets up the characters we get to fall in love with over the next two films (though the third in the series hasn’t come out yet). The cast is super rad too, with Bill Moseley, Karen Black, Sid Haig, Sheri Moon Zombie, Walter Goggins, Dwigh–I mean Rainn Wilson, and Chris Hardwick.
2. 31 (2016)
Hey another Rob Zombie movie! 31 is unlike Zombie’s other films, as this one was completely crowdfunded! Zombie didn’t believe he could make films like he used to, which means he didn’t want studios stifling his creative freedom. He turned to crowdfunding and ran an incredibly successful campaign. This film is about a group of carnies (is that an offensive term?) who get kidnapped by a group of people called The Heads and get forced to play a game called 31, with the ultimate consequence…death! While this film is not his most superior film, 31 is still a fun flick to pop some corn, have a nice cup of warm cider, and watch a little person dressed up as Hitler chasing Sheri Moon Zombie around. Oh, and Malcolm McDowell is in the cast as well!
1. Halloween (1978)
The film that seemingly started it all. Halloween was a film unlike any other we had seen to date. From Carpenter’s enigmatic score to his suspenseful directing–Halloween is an all around astounding horror film. Even if someone hasn’t seen the film, if they hear Carpenter’s theme song they automatically know what movie that’s from – which is pretty damn rare for a horror film (the only other one I can think of is the noise from the shower scene in Psycho). Halloween gave birth to Michael Myers, who became one of the most influential (oh boy, it sounds really strange saying that) antagonists throughout the whole genre–and still lives at the top of that list. With a new incarnation of The Shape hitting theaters earlier this month it seems there may finally be the remake that gives its source material a run for its money!
As All Hallow’s Eve draws near I wish you nothing but good fortune with your film viewing, and hope that you get to watch horror films to your heart’s desire! What horror films that take place on or around Halloween are your favorite?