It’s an annual celebration. Every year at the end of October my friends and I watch our favorite scary movies to celebrate Samhain in its proper way. Here is my list of the top ten Halloween movies we like to share with each other.
- Nightmare before Christmas– Okay, we need one movie that is appropriate for my 6-year-old son to watch. He loves this movie and thrills at the escapades of Jack Skellington as he tries to co-opt Christmas for his scary buddies.
Even though I allow my son to watch this, Tim Burton has a twisted imagination and I made sure to discuss the movie as we are watching it. It can be a little scary for the little ones, and even my friends, the hardened Halloween experts can enjoy this classic.
- Evil Dead– This movie is all about excess. And it fulfills its quest admirably. With a torrential downpour of dismembered bodies and over the top acting Sam Raimi has created on the most memorable cult favorites.
Bruce Cambell and Sam Raimi were a great team and they succeeded in this film. Yes, the effects were cheesy and the acting overly done, but that was part of its charm. This will forever remain one of my favorites.
- Shining– “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” Didn’t we all cringe when we saw only those words written down page after page? Jack Nicholson is brilliant as a family man driven to the point of homicidal fury and insanity.
There was so much for us to visually see in this movie. Each part of the hotel was a feast for the eyes and we see more as the main character sinks into the horrible role he is about to fill.
This movie can still scare the pants off most people, even after all these years and after having seen it more than once. And, that is one of the multitude of reasons it is on my list of the best Halloween movies.
- Carrie– This movie hits on many different levels. It is scary, but we also care about the person who is going to cause all the destruction.
Carrie is a high-school student who has a horrible home life and the kids in school make it worse. They torment her and make her feel she will never be cared for.
But, then she discovers she has a gift. And that would have been fine, getting a little payback to her tormentors, and ending it there. However, those same horrible people play a devastating practical joke on Carrie and it is this that causes her to wreak havoc and destruction on the prom.
We have all dreamt about getting back at those who are mean to us, but Carrie brings it to the next level. It is because we can understand her pain and why this happens that draws us into her story and makes this movie truly frightening. This is the ultimate scary ending for a bad practical joke.
- Friday the 13th– We have all been to summer camp. And, that is why this film works so well. Out on the camp grounds at night, all the sounds and movements of nature are very scary. This film takes advantage of that.
It does resort to a lot of gore, but that is only part of what makes it so scary. Music and human curiosity tend to get the better of us and we can’t help but jump and scream exactly when they want us to. A good movie on this special night.
- Nightmare on Elm Street– This is a well known horror flick. We all remember the first time we saw this frightening vision attacking through dreams. It reaches a place we all hold close. Those monsters in the closet or under the bed are getting out when we sleep. Can’t beat that for good scary scenery chewing.
Robert Englund without the makeup does not dredge up the horror that Freddy Krueger does. And, maybe, that’s also part of the thrill. I mean, hey, you never know what lurks underneath.
- The Exorcist– This movie is a classic. The well-known scene with the little girl, Regan, and the priest trying to exorcise the devil out of her has been parodied and redone by other films a multitude of time.
It is every parent’s nightmare that they won’t be able to help their child when called upon to do. It reaches a primal place inside each of us, we can’t help it. This is an excellent choice to scare the pants off your friend at a Halloween party. It scared me.
- Dawn of the Dead– I am talking about the original George A Romero version of course. It is one of my all time favorite movies in this genre. I guess we need to also attach Night of the Living Dead to this pick, because they were a pair of movies that may never be topped.
Part of the reason I like this so much is that it did so much more than scare you. It was as much about society’s ills as it was about flesh eating zombies.
Let’s just say that Mall food will never be the same to me again. Go ahead and rent this and its prequel Night of the Living Dead, you will be very happy you did.
- Psycho– Few people can tell a story like Alfred Hitchcock. And this movie was no exception.
There is very little gore found on screen. What Hitchcock so masterfully invents is a tense, suspense-filled tale, accented by rises and falls in the music, which is perfectly timed and placed. Surprises and a believably psychopath fill out the rest of this classic. We enter the seemingly harmless hotel and exit knowing a lot more than we want to.
We see that we don’t need to have all the hideous images because when done correctly a movie such as psycho can be creepy without all the bells and whistles.
- 1. Halloween– There is nothing like this original to scare you out of your wits. The first time I saw this movie, I was babysitting and made the child’s father walk me home. Every sound found me jumpy and nervous, exactly what the film was aiming for.
If you haven’t seen it before, you will find yourself screaming with Laurie Strode (portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis) when Michael Myers arrives on the scene.
Although it is an older movie than some of the gore-fests we have now, this movie was felt on many levels, not just what you saw on the screen. This movie is perfect for my number 1 pick.
So, there are my picks. Are yours on the list? What movies should I have left off? What should I have put on? I am looking forward to hearing your picks.