Okay, so Hallowe’en is on its way. Maybe you’re planning a party, maybe you’re thinking about what horror movies you should watch leading up to the big day in general.
Sure, you could watch 3 flicks from the same property like Evil Dead, or Halloween, George A. Romero’s zombies… but horror movies spawn a lot of sequels of varying quality (I’m talking to you, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)).
Instead, I’ve created a list of possible movie-combos based on themes. I hope you like them, and maybe they will give you some new ideas.
1. FUNNY (but not for kids)
These are some (sometimes unintentional) comedy-horrors that make for good popcorn-eating, drinking-game-playing, party movies, but still have moments that might creep people out.
Night of the Demons (1988) The weird kid decides to have a Hallowe’en party at the local haunted house. Things get really scary. Lipstick, ladies?
The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987) Evil deadites possess the living (and the woods themselves) in an isolated cabin. These are the films that made Sam Raimi’s career and his eccentric camera work, paired with Bruce Campbell’s off-the-wall performance make these a mainstay of Hallowe’en programming everywhere.
The Return of the Living Dead (1985) An homage to the George A. Romero films, this is a new take on his zombies that pits a bunch of no-good-punks against government-produced zombies.
Re-Animator (1985) A sort-of H.P. Lovecraft story, with the best mad scientist I’ve seen on film.
Dead Alive AKA Braindead (1992) Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings) was clearly inspired by Raimi. He made a low-budget horror film with some great props and crazed ideas. You may never look at a lawnmower the same way again.
There are many more self-aware horror-comedies now. I will list some, but they wink at the audience pretty broadly: Lake Placid (1999), Shaun of the Dead (2004), Slither (2006), Drag me to Hell (2009), Zombieland (2009), What We Do in the Shadows (2014), Get Out (2017).
2. BODY HORROR
This is the opposite end of the spectrum from above, while there are some funny elements, there are genuine gross-out points here. I have given almost no information so you can get the full experience.
Dead Ringers (1988) Jeremy Irons is twin gynecologists.
Scanners (1981) One of the most iconic explosions, ever.
The Thing (1982) Kurt Russel is part of a team in an Antarctic scientific outpost and they are under attack.
The Fly (1986) Jeff Goldblum is a scientist working on teleportation.
From Beyond (1986) Barbara Crampton is a psychologist trying to understand one patient’s madness.
3. REALLY CREEPY
Martin (1978) This movie is ambivalent about whether Martin is or is not a vampire. It makes for an interesting watch.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968) A classic for a reason, this movie is all about paranoia.
28 Days Later (2002) Kind of a big deal when it came out, this movie brought us the “fast zombie” and really got into living through the zombie apocalypse.
It Follows (2014) Gets by more on creep-factor than content, per se, but really stuck with me.
It Comes at Night (2017) More upsetting emotionally than anything else. Not a creature feature.
4. EVIL, MAGICAL GIRLS
As I’ve discussed in other posts, this is really its own category of horror films. Girls are often used as the site of societal fears.
Phenomena (1985) An often-overlooked Argento film, in which a girl has an unusual bond with insects.
The Exorcist (1973) An obvious choice, but it still holds up pretty well, blurring the lines between psychopathy and evil.
Carrie (1976) Another obvious choice, but it remains a chilling portrait of teenage cruelty.
Let the Right One In (2008) A new take on young vampires.
The Witch (2015) A new take on the psychology of witchcraft.
Hereditary (2018) Although my husband maintains that this was “a dark comedy”, I found it really got under my skin. It works both as a metaphor and a literal story, so it’s pretty neat.
5. STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE
Mandy (2018) This movie is all about looks, and I’m fine with that; it’s visual storytelling.
White Zombie (1932) I would be remiss not to include a Lugosi film, and this one is more interesting to look at than some of his other ventures, while not noteworthy for its plot.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) If you can get over Keanu’s attempt at a British accent… well, you can’t, but this movie is sexy and super cool to look at.
Sleepy Hollow (1999) A re-telling of the horror classic with sets to die for (ah, puns).
Crimson Peak (2015) A Gothic-with-a-capital-G film all about ambiance and colour.
6. THE OBVIOUS CHOICES
These are all classics for a reason. You can’t mess with Psycho (1960), The Omen (1976), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Halloween (1978), The Shining (1980), An American Werewolf in London (1982), Silence of the Lambs (1991), or Candyman (1992) but even I get burnt-out on the classics after a while.
7. JUST SKIP IT
These are some of the supposed classics and game-changers that left me unmoved or felt too much “of an era” to remain relevant: Suspiria (1977), Poltergeist (1982), The Hunger (1983), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Hellraiser (1987), Tremors (1990), Scream (1996), The Blair Witch Project (1999), Saw (2004), The Descent (2005), Paranormal Activity (2007), Sinister (2012), The Conjuring (2013), Antibirth (2016), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016), It (2017), A Quiet Place (2018).
8. HONOURABLE MENTIONS
These don’t quite fit the categories that I defined, but are worth watching in general:
Pet Sematary (1989) Great film, sequel not wanted.
The Others (2001) Ghosts!
Shadow of the Vampire (2000) A fictitious look at filming on the set of Nosferatu (1922)
Mama (2013) Sort of creepy kids and ghosts.
The Babadook (2014) Worth the hype.
Bone Tomahawk (2015) Sort of a Western, but also horror.
The Ritual (2017) A creature feature, but cooler than it sounds.
Annihilation (2018) Although the ending left me a bit dissatisfied, this sci-fi horror is inventive visually.
9. KID STUFF
Young Frankenstein (1974) I mean… I saw it as a kid despite adult situations.
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Beetlejuice (1988) I mean… I saw it as a kid despite adult situations.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Corpse Bride (2005)
Any viewing suggestions that I missed? Please post a comment.