In my household, Halloween is practically a high Holy day.
We’re not one of those homes that wraps the bushes in faux spider webs or, come the big night, blasts a soundtrack featuring creepy music and loud screams. But behind closed doors, all hell is breaking loose. Nubile teens are making bad decisions that lead to their demise and all manner of creature is being unleashed on unsuspecting (but largely deserving) victims. Forget your rom-coms and dramas… when October runs around, only one type of movie will do for us: horror.
As October approaches, my best friend and I will endlessly discuss and debate which movies will make the cut (pun intended) and be featured on Halloween and the nights leading up to it. The walls of our entertainment room, lined as they are with hundreds if not thousands of horror films, are scrutinized. Many contenders will be named, few will be chosen.
So when I decided to create a list of 10 scary movies you might consider viewing on All Hallow’s Eve, I suggested that Charlie make one of his own which we would compare. We each picked 10 movies ranging from least scary to the most blood curdling. Interestingly, while there was some variety as to which flicks each of us picked, there were five different cases of us selecting not only the same film, but placing it in the same spot on our “scream curve.”
So pop some corn, make sure the doors are locked and read on for our recommendations!
1) Fear of the Dark: This 2003 flick focuses on a 12-year-old boy who, thanks to some prank-pulling friends, has an acute fear of… well, the title kinda fills in that blank, doesn’t it? Throw in a babysitting big brother, a scary basement and you have the makings of a great flick that probably won’t cause you to lose any sleep, but has enough thrills to make for a fun night.
2) Kingdom of the Spiders: Never fear. Anytime things get a little bit too creepy in this tale of man vs. nature, William Shatner’s acting is on had to offer up a little comic relief. The final shot will stay with folks who hate walking into spider webs for a long, long time.
3) The Devil’s Nightmare: This 1971 Italian offering can be found on a lot of those cheap collections you’ll find on Amazon. Though low on gore, this chiller — about a group of tourists who cross paths with a succubus — isn’t for kiddies thanks to the kind of gratuitous nudity the genre so often offers.
4) Night of the Living Dead: We’re stepping up the fear factor a little bit here, but not as much as you might expect. We’re talking the original 1968, black-and-white version here, not the more gory remakes. Sure, there are some shots of innards being muched on by slow-moving zombies, but this one’s more about tension than bloodshed.
5) Poltergeist: This one comes right smack in the middle of our “scream curve” because, although it’s not bloody, the tag line of this 1982 fright fest was right: It knows what scares you. What really makes this film work is that the house being haunted is not some creepy mansion in the boonies, it’s the one next door. And rather than relying on zombies or monsters, the scares here come courtesy of everyday objects like trees and toys.
6) Trick ‘r Treat: The only anthology to make our list, this 2007 treat features four stories that are woven together via a creepy, costumed tyke named Sam. The stories have a lot of fun with various Halloween traditions, making it a perfect flick for the holiday season!
7) The Blair Witch Project: Let’s face it… you’re either gonna love or hate the flick which launched a thousand imitators. Rare is the person who is indifferent toward it. Personally? Just thinking about that final shot sends shivers down my spine.
8) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: This 1974 shocker was made for less than $300,000 and features a cast of folks you’ve never heard of. But it doesn’t matter, because the only name you’ll walk away remembering is the one that’s never actually uttered: Leatherface.
9) Midnight Meat Train: Based on a short story by Clive Barker (who also gave us Hellraiser), this shocker follows photographer Bradley Cooper as he tries to solve the secrets of the Subway Butcher. Let’s just say that some mysteries are definitely better left unsolved.
10) The Strangers: When Charlie and I were pondering which movie we’d call the scariest of all time, this movie instantly leapt to both of our minds. Why? Simply put, this relentlessly tense and terrifying film doesn’t feature ghosts or goblins, zombies or vampires, but rather, the most horrifying of all creatures: mere mortals stripped of their humanity. The brutal and ultimately pointless violence will rock you to the core… and have you triple-checking to make sure the doors and windows are locked.
So that was our list… and trust me, there were dozens of others fighting for a slot! Among the contenders? The Nightmare Before Christmas (which perfectly bridges the gap between Halloween and it’s fellow holiday), Halloween (which seemed a tad too obvious a choice), the third Paranormal Activity flick (the best in the series) and Happy Birthday To Me (for the sheer fun of seeing LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE’s Mary go on a killing spree. But of course, lists are subjective… so what flick would you put on the list and why? Head to the comments and offer up your suggestions!
And just for joining the conversation, we’ll enter your name into a drawing that could really leave you terrified! Why? Because 10 lucky winners will receive a copy of Homesick, the new horror novel by our regular contributor, Richard M. Simms. Simply comment below before midnight on November 5th. Then, on or around November 15th, we’ll randomly select 10 lucky winners!