October is the month of falling leaves and warm, pumpkin pies. A season of windy mornings, when you can almost catch a whiff of that chilly winter air, and one of rainy afternoons to sooth the stressful, busy day. As Halloween is on our doorstep, I wanted to lay out a list of my all-time favourite classic fright flicks and hand it over to you under the cloak of witching hour.
So, here we go – embarking on a journey through the land of nightmare fuel.
Let’s start with the king of Hallows’ Day characters – “Beetlejuice”, just be careful not to call his name three times! Otherwise, Michael Keaton will appear in your mirror and probably get super annoyed you’ve summoned him away from home. A highly imaginative, snappy and funny flick, which is not afraid to make you sit through a naughty joke or two. Tim Burton puts life into very memorable characters, creating a film that has lasted the ages.
Film: “Edward Scissorhands”
I wasn’t even around when this fan-favourite came around cinemas, but I sure do love it and so does everyone with a semi-good DVD collection. Brace yourselves, children, for this list features Tim Burton creations multiple a-time, and although his latest films haven’t exactly hit the sweet spot in box office terms, once upon two decades ago he was a true master of the craft. Sweet, heartfelt and well-rounded movie, which will make you weep and giggle!
A film praised for its dry, snappy humour and nifty effects, we all know Venkman’s legacy one way or another. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Sigourney Weaver are the leads of a ghost-fuelled adventure around New York City, which takes them to ancient spirits and fat, green blobs alike. Watch out for the impending invasion of otherworldly creatures that only our band of geeks can prevent. An additional bonus is are the animated effects, which truly send your head into the eighties.
Film: “From Dusk Till Dawn”
For the lovers of swear-ridden dialogue and George Clooney’s face, I present to you the Tarantino Delight! Crime, bar fights, weapons, gore, exotic dancers and vampires – everything a spicy Halloween party needs is mushed together in “From Dusk Till Dawn”. Plus, it will give you an immediate excuse to watch the spin-off series on Netflix, which has been gathering friction. You get the movie and the episode binges, too! Win-win. Also, everyone gets street cred for making outdated Tarantino references, right?
Film: “Hocus Pocus”
In case your Halloween party has been infested with little goblins, otherwise specified as human children, which… Let’s face it – highly plausible scenario… Then “Hocus Pocus” is here to save the day! I mean night! Three Salem witches are resurrected on the night of many terrors and and only a funky group of local teens can restore peace. It’s witty and exciting in a very charming way, so for the sake of the young ‘uns – give this film a chance!
Film: “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”
Now, we’ve already patted Burton’s back (and shall do so again), we’ve shaken Tarantino’s hand, but one mustn’t forget legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who directed this film back in the early nineties. It stars Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder, which should tell you how compelling the story must be, and how the looming torment is perfected. We’ve seen vampire renditions everywhere, so why not catch a glimpse of their origin – ancient Dracula himself.
Film: “Sleepy Hollow”
Nine years after Depp and Burton collaborated on “Edward Scissorhands”, this dark fantasy was born into existence. The familiar tale of a mysterious horseman who chases straying locals in search for his long-lost head, the evil demon who swings a heavy axe and reeks of death itself – brought to life on screen. Turn the lights off and grab an apple cider for the ultimate villager experience.
Film: “Corpse Bride”
Let’s play a little game called guess the director and then another one called guess the lead actor, too! No, I’m not sorry this is on the list, because it’s yet another Burton/Depp bromance brain-child, which has rightfully earned a place on the Halloween list. Honestly! I’m not being sponsored by Tim here, although I’d take a sponsorship should he like to give a film nerd some gentle endorsement. Watch the story of Victor, who accidentally finds himself married to… You guessed it! A corpse bride. Will he choose the world of the living or the side of the dead instead?
Stephen King should be a part of any good fright fest and here we have a prime example with the original cinematic experience of “Carrie” – the girl with telekinetic powers whose Christian mother and mean-hearted school mates push the bar on her sanity. The reason I am recommending this above the 2013 re-make is that 1976 wasn’t trying to over-glorify the story! They made a realistic and psychologically torturing film, as opposed to a pile of over-chewed shock factor production design. Also – boobs.
Film: “Interview with The Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles”
Tom Cruise’s young seduction years and Brad Pitt’s adorable baby face really pulled through on the visual perfection side of this film. The horror and beauty of eternal life are explored deeply in “Interview with the Vampire”, alongside diverse questions of morality and the nature of humanity, which leave the spectator repelled and fascinated with the lives of these modern monsters. A classic for a reason, people! Also, I didn’t know there was more to the title, too, don’t worry.
Whoa, this list actually features something from the past five years, what an absolute turn of events here! I remember seeing “ParaNorman” in the cinema when I was in college and loving every second of it. A stop-motion animation which genuinely makes you feel like a kid again, from zombies and old curses to supernatural adventures and a group of young misfits, who come together in an unlikely battle against evil. It’s colourful, fast-paced, childish, charming and funny.
Film: “Ginger Snaps”
This is a classic audience splitter. I’ve heard both ends of the magnet, some say they hate it and other say they love it, so beware “Ginger Snaps” might be a bit of a gamble if you have a larger group in your party. I, for one, quite like the werewolf flick, which tackles high school life, love, family, suicide, depression and… Periods? Yeah, you heard me right. I guess blood makes us all a little crazy sometimes – she said, howling against the Halloween moon.
Film: “Young Frankenstein”
Why would you watch a seventies film that is not just black and white, but also made to look like a nineteen-thirties mishap? Because it’s positively hilarious! An original parody of the overused drama in motion pictures of the past, filled to the brim with one-liners and convention twists. Mel Brooks’s baby will bring you cinematic joy in ways that you have not experienced in perhaps a very long time. Plus, one must never have Halloween without science’s king monster – the unnatural(ly funny)Frankenstein creation itself.
Here goes to one of the slasher world’s favourite franchise starters – the original “Scream”, hailing once more from the rather successfully creepy nineties. Bloody knives, the raspy voice of a violent stranger stalking you over the phone and Ghostface’s manipulative obsession make this thriller a Halloween winner. Wes Craven has been a legendary name in the film community, so including him in your celebration can only be the right decision. Also, knowing this film can open your eyes to so many references in surrounding culture, you’ll be stunned to the attic and back.
Speaking of slashers, I couldn’t possibly compile a Halloween list without the actual “Halloween” movie, could I? Another horror and another legendary director – John Carpenter, whose efforts in this flick have made it a timeless piece and a part of many collections around the globe. Here is the origin of the scream queen culture, led long and proud by Jamie Lee Curtis. I would recommend hot cocoa for this particular choice, so as to lower the fear factor.
Film: “A Nightmare on Elm Street”
Yet another franchise starter by the talented mind of Wes Craven, here comes Freddie to haunt your Halloween night and following dreams altogether. We step into a realm of non-reality where a serial killer preys on young flesh for harvest. The eighties meet horror, meet high school, meet murder. Great opportunity for drinking games galore, take it from the master!
Film: “Shaun of the Dead”
Let’s end our list on a bright note, shall we? All this slasher talk is making my neck cold, so Simon Pegg and Nick Frost burst into the scene, waving a set of random weapons around, hoping to rectify the situation! Mundane everyday life is suddenly made complicated for two best friends, when they stumble upon a zombie in their shed. From then on, we are dragged into a run for our lives and the love of Liz, ending up in an old Victorian pub called the “Winchester Tavern”. A hilarious trip into an endearing story of friendship!
And thus concludes the classic Halloween film list! But of course, all titles mentioned above are a personal choice, so if you think I’ve missed a crucial movie, please let me know. Some honourable mentions to this article include “The Exorcist”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “King Kong” and “Bride of Frankenstein”, which hold a place in my heart, but simply didn’t make the cut. I have tried my very best to not make a horror-exlclusive list, because that would just be… Well, a horror list, and to me Halloween is more than just jump scares and blood – it’s fun, costumes, family, friends and candy.
Have a very scary Halloween and always stay safe!
(and never, ever say that you would be back into a room)