Every Halloween, people debate the important issues. Candy corn vs. no candy corn? Almond Joy or Mounds? Scary or sweet? And perhaps the most important question: What is the scariest Halloween movie you'd recommend? THIS is the question I'd like to answer, and it's a tricky one to figure, because everyone is afraid of something different.
However, I think many of us can agree that the films on my list are all a good fit for the holiday. So make sure to take note of these and add them to your fright-fest as Samhain grows closer...
In no particular order, I'd recommend the following for your Halloween viewing:
- The Exorcist. Yes, a tried and true favorite. But come on. It's scary, the possessed child pukes all over the priest, and you will never hear noise from your attic and think it's rats ever again.
- Friday the 13th--the original. Yes, this film may look cheesy to a newer generation, but the concept of a child who drowned coming back to take vengeance on the sexualized camp counselors who let him die? A golden trope of the genre. And we say hello to Jason and a spawn of B-movie sequels. (Also, for you Supernatural fans, Jared Padalecki stars in the remake which came out in 2009.)
- A Nightmare on Elm Street--the original. This Wes Craven classic put Robert Englund on the map and gave me nightmares for a long time to come. Freddy Krueger is a wonderful, terrible monster. Imagine no escape from an undead creature who haunts your dreams. And the movie had a young Johnny Depp too! I can still remember the spooky song those little girls were singing as they swung their jump rope. "One, two, Freddy's coming for you. Three, four better lock your door..." Gah.
- Halloween--the original. Yes, yes, I know, I'm old school. But this John Carpenter flick enabled us to identify with the villain from the get-go, as we looked through his eyes and watched the horror unfold. Ahead of its time, really. We were introduced to the immortal (does this guy never die? Really?) Michael Myers as he chased scream queen Jamie Curtis (love her!) all over the place. I will go one further to say I truly enjoyed the remake Rob Zombie did in 2007.
- Trick 'r Treat--I don't know if many of you will recognize this one, but I absolutely love it. There are four intertwined stories in this collection that work really well together. Anna Paquin makes an appearance in one story, and the final tale is more than creepy. Very well done. This one came out in 2007. I own the DVD and watch it every year.
- Creature from the Black Lagoon--Okay, this one isn't that scary by today's standards. It's in black and white, and it came out in 1954. But I LOVE it. A gilled man-like creature in the Amazon is attacked by humans so he kills them. So of course more humans come to investigate and want to study this thing. The creature falls for the token lovely lady on board and is eventually done in. This movie is so classic, though I do hate that the monster does not meet a better end. (Hope I didn't spoil it for anyone.)
- In the Mouth of Madness--A wonderful nod to HP Lovecraft. This film is just weird. Creatures from another dimension, a weird writer who is writing the present as it happens. Or is he causing the present to happen? Madness ensues. I wanted to yell to everyone, "Don't read the book!" Sam Neill stars in this one, and it's chilling.
- The Thing--I had to include this one, though it's less Halloweeny. It is a horror movie, and it came out in 1982. (Note, this isn't the original, but a remake and the best one, in my opinion--thanks for the correction, Virginia!) Imagine being stranded in Antarctica and there's an alien assimilating people, only they don't know it! You're already isolated, no one's close to help, and it's eating everyone... Starring Kurt Russell, this one is a definite thriller.
- Alien--You can't have The Thing and not have Alien. Space monsters that have acid for blood and incubate in human hosts--unbeknownst to the humans! Sigourney Weaver kicked major butt in this film, which was awesome. Hello female empowerment. She's the voice of reason throughout the film. And of course, the legendary cute baby alien bursting through John Hurt's chest never quite leaves you. Chills and thrills and scares in space. Oh yeah. A must-see.
- Saw--Now don't hate me for this, but if you watch the first one, there's so much more to the story than people getting gutted every five seconds. Saw brought back the term "torture porn." The story is basically two strangers trapped together in an unfamiliar place that's booby-trapped. To survive, they must figure out clues and sacrifice bits of themselves, either physically or emotionally. This led to a sequel, which explained so much more about the background of Jigsaw, the villain who puts people through such torment. It's so much more than a blood and guts movie. I just remember being so pleasantly surprised at the story behind the bad guy, though you might need to watch both Saw and Saw 2 to get that. Still, there's a twist behind every action in these movies.