Ahhh October. The first real chill in the air. The days starting to get shorter. And of course, Halloween. I did not grow up a major lover of Halloween, except of course for the free candy. I hated being scared and generally wanted nothing to do with scary movies or haunted houses. But as I got older, and began to really appreciate film, I started to enjoy horror movies. Not necessarily for the gripping plot or characters, but for the art of eliciting terror in the viewer on a low budget. With that said, here are 7 scary movies to watch this Halloween!
7. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
So kicking off our list of scary movies, we have Halloween 3. Fans and critics alike panned this film when it released, because they were expecting more of Michael Myers. And more of Michael Myers, they did not get. Halloween III: Season of the Witch was supposed to take the film series in a new direction. It would have become an anthology series, telling a different Halloween-themed story each installment. However, the movie went over like a lead balloon so that plan was canned and Michael Myers was brought back for Halloween IV. Spoiler: Halloween IV is hot steamy garbage.
So why is Halloween III on this list? Because it’s actually pretty good. It’s a quintessential 80’s movie with electronic music, and a modern dystopian vibe. It follows two characters investigating a mystery that leads them to the Silver Shamrock company, which is preparing a pretty horrific plot for Halloween night. I really don’t want to say anything more, because if you haven’t seen it, you need to!
6. Hush (2016)
I spoke earlier of my love for the art of horror movies striking terror with low budgets. One of the primary ways to do this is through audio, and that’s why Hush makes the list. Hush follows our lead character who happens to be deaf, as she spends a few nights in her family’s cottage. A serial killer starts stalking her and is amused to discover she can’t hear. The scene where he tries to get her attention only to be completely ignored ends up being pretty humorous.
I love this movie not only for its expert use of sound but for how powerful her character ends up being. She fights back like no one’s business, and it’s really nice to not just see the final girl running and screaming all the time. Hush went under the radars of many, so if you haven’t seen it, check it out!
5. Hereditary (2018)
Our newest entry on the list is one that really caught me off guard. We live in an era of possession movies now. I don’t always mean literal possession, but the idea of a demon attaching itself to someone. Exorcism of Emily Rose, Insidious, The Nun… things of this nature. So I kind of expected Hereditary to just be another movie in that same vein. And while it does play some of the tropes, I ended up getting a movie that was a better version of The Babadook.
This one is still recent, so I don’t want to spoil too much in case you haven’t seen it. It’s incredibly well-paced, never giving the audience a chance to catch their breath or feel safe. It’s shot masterfully, and again the sound engineering is stellar. This one will definitely get your heart pumping!
4. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
As we reach the midway point in the list, let’s take a break and have some fun. The Cabin in the Woods is one of my all-time favorite horror movies. And it’s not a horror movie really, it’s more of a comedy. The plot features a group of stupid teenagers going to a cabin in the woods and getting murdered. Of course, the twist is that we find out that every major horror trope we’ve seen over the last 50 years is basically a government operation meant to sacrifice teenagers to appease an ancient demi-god.
Yes, you read that correctly. The movie is produced by Joss Whedon, and also features Chris Hemsworth in it. However, it’s Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford who end up stealing the show. You’ll see what I mean. It may not be one the truly scary Halloween movies, but it’s definitely worth a spot on this list. Enjoy! Who had Zombie Redneck Torture Family?!
3. The Thing (1982)
The best effects are done in front of the camera. You’ll never convince me I’m wrong, and this movie as well The Fly (1986) are the reasons why. John Carpenter, fresh off his success with Halloween takes on a remake of The Thing From Another World. The plot follows a team of Antarctic scientists who are beset by an alien that can shapeshift. As the team is picked off one by one, paranoia sets in as you never know who might be the monster.
The masterful gory effects, all practical, are some of the best ever committed to film. They look way better than the 2011 remake, so if you’ve seen that one, don’t let it ruin your opinion of the 1982 version. Kurt Russell turns in a strong performance, as does most of the cast. And now all I can remember is the defibrillator scene…. *shudders*
2. It Follows (2014)
Full disclosure, I have some bias for this movie. It was filmed in and around the town I grew up in. Hell, the climax of the film literally takes place in my high school’s pool. But nevertheless, let’s dive in. 2014’s It Follows tells the story of a ghostly curse that can only be passed on through having sex. The rules are simple. Only someone with the curse can see the ghost, but the ghost can take any form it wants. The ghost will never stop following you until it kills you. And you can pass the curse to someone else by having sex with them, but if they die, then it’s back to you.
The theme of this movie is ‘can I ever feel safe again?’ It executes this to perfection. Even as the leading lady passes the curse on, she’s always left to wonder if the next person she sees in a crowd is the ghost coming back for her. Excellent camera work and environment set this movie apart. What I love most about it though is the concept of the rules. I’ve always loved taking the ‘rules’ of the horror monster and trying to play with them. What if there’s not a TV anywhere near me 7 days after I watch The Ring? Things like that. This movie sees characters experimenting with those rules, with their lives on the line. If you haven’t seen it, you need to!
1. Halloween (1979)
It’s not original. It’s not controversial. Heck, it’s not even clever. But John Carpenter’s 1979 masterpiece Halloween absolutely needs to be on the list. It is the quintessential Halloween movie, taking place on Halloween night. I won’t bother going into the story, you already know it. The cinematography and music are some of the best in the last 50 years. If you start watching this movie around the time trick or treating starts, it’ll be wrapping up just as it ends. You’ll look outside and see the empty streets, and I guarantee you’ll wonder if the boogeyman is out there.
So this has been my list of 7 scary movies you absolutely need to watch this Halloween! Yes, some of them have aged, but they all hold up pretty well.