Halloween horror: What to watch

Not everyone goes out partying or trick-or-treating. Here’s a list of some great scary movies to check out in the meantime!

In this in-depth list, you’ll find seven categories of horror movies you can check out. Not all of them are on Netflix, so if they sound appealing, you may have to do some digging for them.

Comedy

Shaun of the Dead: Edgar Wright writes and directs this zombie flick starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The film itself is a spoof of classic zombie movies like Night of the Living Dead yet contains enough originality, humour and action to put it above so many other zombie movies.

The Cabin in the Woods: What may look like an innocent horror movie is actually masked as a very unique and interesting horror movie. I can’t go in to many details without spoiling the film itself, so it’s best for you to check it out for yourself!

What We Do in the Shadows: Taika Waititi’s first major film dealing with vampires, werewolves and the troubles of flatmates serves as a hilarious film to check out with your friends. If you like it, you can also watch the FX series of the same name which finished its first season a few months ago and is currently filming its second season.

Beetlejuice: A classic Tim Burton movie starring Michael Keaton as ‘the ghost with the most!’ Featuring the iconic imagery and spooky atmospheres that Burton is known for, Beetlejuice has become a staple of Halloween movies for a number of years now, not to mention making the Banana Boat song and dance iconic.

Dead Alive: From the director of The Lord of the Rings comes this raunchy and hilarious zombie comedy movie. Peter Jackson got his start in practical, low-budget horror films and Dead Alive (or Braindead, as its known in some regions) is a staple of not only comedy horror movies, but Jackson’s filmography as well.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Shaun of the Dead. © Universal Pictures

Gore Fiends

SAW: James Wan’s thrilling and terrifying film took the world by storm (15 years ago today, to be exact) and rightly so. Loaded with brutal deaths and traps, the first film is one of eight films to check out with a reboot/remake on the way to reinvigorate the franchise.

Hostel: Eli Roth’s terrifying tail of American travellers ending up in a deadly scenario became infamous for a particular scene. If you’ve seen the movie, you know which one I’m referencing. No gore list is complete without Hostel, but you can go ahead and skip the two sequels.

The Human Centipede: The title of the movie does not leave much room for imagination as to what the movie itself is about. A stomach-turning movie about a science experiment, it’s been known to make a number of people sick just watching it.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974): What’s worse than being held against your will in a rundown farmhouse? Being held against your will in a rundown farmhouse with a monstrous, chainsaw-wielding brute roaming the area. The character of Leatherface is one of the most brutal and relentless killers in horror films.

The Hills Have Eyes (2006): The remake to Wes Craven’s 1977 film is surprisingly faithful, creepy and violent. Remaking a horror movie is always a gamble but it pays off tremendously here in a movie I remember being largely popular among my age group at the time it came out.

Shawnee Smith fights for her life in SAW. © Twisted Pictures

Action

Van Helsing: Hugh Jackman took a break from being Wolverine to take up being history’s most famous vampire hunter. Loaded with classic gothic settings and monsters, from Dracula to Frankenstein to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – the film is an absolute blast.

Zombieland: With Zombieland: Double Tap still in theatres, it’s never too late to revisit the original that became a cult classic among horror fans and action fans alike. Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin and Woody Harrelson deliver a banger of a movie.

Blade: Wesley Snipes was making obscure Marvel characters cool long before Chris Pratt or Paul Rudd did. Half-human and half-vampire, Blade prowls the darkness hunting his own kind (the vampires, of course).

Hellboy: Guillermo Del Toro could probably make his fair share of comic book movies these days, but his contribution to the overall genre came in the form of Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army; two films that hold up incredibly well over a decade later. The first, in my opinion, edges out the second one by a bit.

Aliens: James Cameron’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s iconic horror film in space took on a much more action-oriented outlook and turned Sigourney Weaver into a complete badass (at least, more than she was in the first film). The debate even continues to this day as to which film, Alien or Aliens, is the better movie.

Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale in Van Helsing. © Stillking Films

The Paranormal

The Conjuring/The Conjuring 2: James Wan lands another spot on this list, and he’s one of my personal favourite horror filmmakers working today. Both Conjuring movies lend themselves to classic horror movies with modern technology and performances. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson, two powerhouse actors, are able to carry both films with ease.

The Exorcist: In the realm of horror movies, none stir up controversy and chills like William Friedkin’s masterpiece. When it comes to movies supposedly causing mass panic and terror at the theatre, this movie did it first. The film follows young Regan MacNeil who becomes possessed by the Devil, and one priests unwavering duty to save her soul.

The Fourth Kind: Ghosts and demons are terrifying as they are, but they’re harder to prove – aliens however, land in a spot where it’s more believable. The film details a woman’s hypnosis sessions with patients where she discovers they may have been abducted.

The Grudge: I’ve always said that Japanese urban legends and scary stories were the creepiest, and The Grudge is further proof of that. A house haunted by the spirits of a mother and child murdered in said home, the spirits latch themselves on to whoever enters the home, and in true Japanese fashion, these spirits are pale with black hair and slink along the ground.

The Amityville Horror (1979): One of the most famous cases of a haunting in the world, the Amityville house is said to be built on an ancient Indigenous burial ground and be filled with violent spirits (poltergeists). The original film is based on the accounts of the Lutz family who lived in that house after a brutal and gruesome murder was carried out.

Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist. © Hoya Productions

Found Footage

The Blair Witch Project: This is the one that kickstarted it all. A group of friends embark on a mission into the woods to document the legend of the Blair Witch, and it isn’t long before that trip turns sour.

Paranormal Activity: This movie reinvigorated the found footage genre. Made on a budget of hardly anything in the director’s home, the film terrified moviegoers worldwide for it’s jump-scares and hyper-realistic effects. To this day, some of my friends refuse to watch it with the lights off.

REC.: Be sure to watch REC. and not Quarantine in this scenario, as the latter is an American remake of the Spanish found footage original. When a reporter and her cameraman are covering a firefighter intervention at an apartment complex, the two come to discover something far more dangerous that the reported old man locked in her apartment.

Grave Encounters: When a reality series crew enters an abandoned asylum to film a tv episode, they are unaware that it will become their last. A Canadian-made film that seemed to garner mainly mixed reviews, it isn’t as terrible as reviews will lead you to believe.

As Above, So Below: A film I quite enjoyed that I feel goes under the radar far too often. As Above, So Below details a group of adults who venture too deep into the catacombs beneath Paris, France and become lost. After continuing further and further into the tunnels, they come across something most would never want to encounter – the gates of Hell.

The ghostly haunting of Paranormal Activity. © Blumhouse Productions

Classic Slasher

Halloween: John Carpenter’s classic featuring the iconic Michael Myers is a must have for any Halloween film night. Jamie Lee Curtis became a horror icon because of this movie, and no scary soundtrack is complete without Carpenter’s memorable theme.

Friday the 13th, Part 2: A common misconception about this franchise is that Jason was the antagonist from the start, but really, he didn’t appear as the killer we all know and love (and fear) until part 2. If you’re looking for your fix of Jason, start here and work your way through the series.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: Wes Craven’s famous series brought sadistic murderer Freddy Krueger to the world of horror. Burned alive by an angry mob, Krueger haunts people in their dreams, only when he kills them in their sleep, they die for real. The original film also featured a young Johnny Depp, long before he became the star he is today.

Psycho: Starting at the beginning with slasher flicks is always a good time. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho tells the story of the unsettling character Norman Bates. The character of Bates actually drew inspiration from the real-life serial killer Ed Gein, and if you want a really creepy story – go ahead and google him.

Scream: The mask of the ghostface killer is among the most iconic images for horror movies and on-screen serial killers. The pale face with elongated mouth and droopy eyes redefined slasher movies in the 1990s. The character was also created by Wes Craven who seemed to be on a role with creating iconic slasher characters.


Remakes

Are they many remakes worth seeing? Depends. If you’re looking for a solid reimagining, Fede Alvarez’s remake of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead was a very solid movie. You could also check out the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th which played up the franchise’s campiness (and sexuality) but was also a solid watch.

Rob Zombie tackled a remake of Halloween which brought his signature style to the town of Haddonfield, but I would only watch the first one as his remake of the second goes a little off the rails and becomes unfocused.

A Nightmare on Elm Street was remade with Jackie Earl Hayley replacing Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, and while I personally enjoyed it for what it was, it isn’t the strongest movie.

I hope this list provides some context for your movie marathon on the spookiest of nights, and if you decide to go out partying or scaring others, be safe and have a happy Halloween!

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