Every October the Turner Classic Movies channel showcases a lot of great Halloween horror films. This is a list of some of the best they’ll be showing this year, so be sure to TiVo some of these great films for anytime during the month when you need your Halloween fix (All times listed are Eastern):
The Haunting (1963)
October 11, 4:00 pm and
October 20, 2:30 pm
This film about a very spooky haunted house is one of the best of the ghost genre. It centers on a group of paranormal investigators who decide to spend the night in a haunted mansion with very frightening results. The film has a very sinister feel to it, thanks to the music, lighting, and a storyline that involves one of the characters being drawn to the destructive house in a very disturbing way. For all of its great scary moments, however, there’s not a drop of blood shed in the film, so it’s a great ghost movie for Halloween viewing for those who want to be scared but not disgusted.
House of Usher (1960)
October 19, 1:30 pm and
October 30, 6:30 pm
You just have to watch a Vincent Price movie around Halloween! Vincent Price is one of the greatest horror film actors ever, and if you don’t know who he is, just wait until you hear his voice (it has been imitated a lot throughout the years in cartoons and other movies). This film is great because it combines Vincent Price’s acting with a classic horror tale by the great Edgar Allan Poe (Price starred in a series of films based on his horror stories). The film has a great gothic style to it with some pretty spooky moments, and it, amazingly, stays pretty true to Poe’s woeful tale. You just can’t get a better combination for a Halloween film: one of the best horror writers and one of the greatest horror film actors.
Eyes Without a Face (1960)
October 20, 2:00 am
This French horror film is one of the most disturbing on this list. It is about a surgeon who literally steals the faces of young women to perform experimental surgery on his daughter who has been horribly disfigured in a car accident. The film has surprisingly realistic special effects and seems to be somewhat ahead of its time in this area, and the scene where a girl’s face is being removed is still quite shocking, even by today’s gory standards. The film isn’t all about horror, however. The doctor performing these experiments truly loves his daughter and does have a human side, and the film almost has a poetic, very human feel to it that really makes it stand out from other horror flicks.
Cat People (1942)
October 23, 1:45 am and
October 31, 7:30 am
We all know the classic horror tale of the Wolfman, but this film focuses on a different kind of human/animal transformation. The beautiful Simone Simon stars as a woman who fears that her ancestors’ Satanic past may be affecting her existence, causing her to transform into a black panther when she gets too emotional. This film is an excellent combination of horror and film noir, and it’s a great choice for those who want to watch a great movie on Halloween that’s not so cliché.
The Body Snatcher (1945)
October 23, 5:30 am
I put this film on the list because it stars two of the greatest horror actors of all time, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and it is their final appearance together. It has a little more depth than some horror films, although the plot is classic horror cliché all the way, with plenty of grave robbing and murder. It may not be the best film on this list, but it is worth watching for Karloff and Lugosi.
October 25, 8:00 pm
If you haven’t seen this horror classic yet, well, there’s no time better than a few days before Halloween! It’s considered by many critics to be the best horror film of all time, and, after all these years, it still hasn’t lost its power to frighten audiences. The score is superb; Hitchcock does a wonderful job of pushing the envelope during a very uptight time period; and Anthony Perkins portrays a very twisted killer to perfection. It’s a very suspenseful film that will make you think twice about staying in one of those quaint little roadside motels.
Peeping Tom (1960)
October 25, 10:00 pm
You get a double feature of films that were considered too racy for their time here. This one is from the same time period as “Psycho”, and it comes from another director who is one of the greatest of all time, Michael Powell. With voyeurism, prostitution, serial killing, the first nude scene in a major British film, and child abuse, the film touched on many subjects that audiences of the time just weren’t ready for. Add a storyline that involves a man obsessed with recording the dying expressions on the faces of his victims with a very deadly movie camera, and you have a horror cult classic.
The Unknown (1927)
October 27, 1:30 am
I highly recommend that you watch a Lon Chaney film at some point in your lifetime. This film maybe silent, but horror king Lon Chaney’s expressive face is worth more than a thousand words. He is a fugitive who pretends to be an “armless wonder” and knife thrower (he uses his feet to do this) in a carnival, where he soon falls for the daughter of the circus owner (played by the legendary Joan Crawford). She has a fear of the touch of a man, so she befriends this armless man, believing he can’t touch her. Once his secret becomes known, however, this has horrifying results for the armless wonder himself, his love, the circus owner, and, in a very horrifying sequence, the circus strongman. Chaney’s performance in this film has been described by some as one of he greatest acting performances of all time, but you really have to see it to believe it.
Vampyr – Der Traum des Allan Grey (1932)
October 27, 2:30 am
You may have already seen all of the classic Dracula and vampire films, but they are nothing like this take on the popular vampire genre. The great Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer has turned the usual vampire story into an artistic film that is really more of a visual feast than anything. The atmosphere is somewhat bizarre and dreamlike, with strange occurrences like shadows coming to life and a lot of very stark, white backdrops. It is often overlooked as a great vampire film since it doesn’t focus so much on blood and a numerous number of victims, but it is great for viewing on Halloween for its spooky, surreal feel.
October 31, 9:00 am
This horror cult classic may be from the same year as the film listed above, but it couldn’t be any more different when it comes to its scare tactics. This film has garnered a lot of attention over the years for its use of real circus freaks and a plotline that really makes them the heroes of the film, although they look somewhat frightening and are involved in one very disturbing and memorable scene. The real monster in this film is the beautiful trapeze artist looking to cash in on the inheritance of one of the “freaks”, but she gets what’s coming to her in the end. This film shocked audiences because of its use of real people as the circus freaks (and the fact that they were made to be the “good guys”), and it effectively ended the career of its director because of the controversy surrounding it. It was revived in the 70’s and 80’s as a midnight movie, however, and has now gained a cult following.
The great thing about these Halloween movies is that they aren’t gory or disgusting (some scenes have even become laughable by today’s standards), so older children could even watch a few of them with you without you having to worry about them getting too scared. So if you are looking for some tame but frightening flicks to enjoy this Halloween season, be sure to TiVo a few of these films so you can get your frights for free.