Halloween – the best day of the year when we can eat candy and watch horror movie after horror movie. The holiday which consequently becomes more and more popular in Poland is distinguished by a truly magical atmosphere. To celebrate the upcoming “Day of the Ghosts” we have prepared for you a list of top ten horror movies either set on Halloween or with a Halloween theme neatly woven into the plot. Light your pumpkin lanterns and start watching!
Best Halloween Movies – Top 10
“House of a 1000 Corpses” (2003)
On Halloween night, a group of friends travel to the outskirts of Texas. They learn about the legend of Dr Satan, a local sadist hanged on a tree for his evil deeds. They decide to find the killer’s resting place, but come across the house of a thousand corpses. Its owners, the psychotic members of the Firefly family, make sure the newcomers are treated properly…
Over the years Rob Zombie’s directorial debut has grown into an absolute cult film. The film is grotesque, exaggerated and full of pitch-black humour, and its anti-heroes – including the brilliant Sid Haig – are bizarre individuals. The horror is perfect for a Halloween screening: Firefly’s mansion resembles a (ghoulish) amusement park and Zombie has a unique sense of style. It’s clear to the naked eye that Halloween is one of his favourite days of the year.
There’s no surprise: John Carpenter’s film is an immortal classic, the best Halloween-themed horror film, and one of the best horror films in general – period. Minimalist in its form, chilling and unhurried, but full of suspense, awe-inspiring scares, and brooding emotions. Roger Ebert once wrote that you don’t watch this film, you experience it – it “happens” to the audience, just like Laurie chased by the murderous Michael Myers. It’s hard to find a better recommendation.
The simple but effective slasher pulled off a long-running series, and many of its segments could be ranked here (some of the best are “Halloween Kills,” “20 Years Later,” and Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II”). However, it can’t compete with Carpenter’s original – it’s an absolute masterpiece.
“The Barn” (2016)
Staying on the topic of low-budget horror movies, a worthy title to recommend is Justin Seaman’s “The Barn”. “Halloween” cost about 300 thousand dollars, and “The Barn” – it’s hard to predict, maybe even less than 50 thousand. And you know what? With such a small budget, they managed to create fantastic cinema.
“The Barn” is a throwback horror film, stylistically similar to the stalk n’ slash movies of the 1980s. Blood, guts, naked boobs and lots of rock and roll – that’s what you should expect from the film. Seaman has shot a love letter to the slasher sub-genre, written in nostalgic ink. Lots of grindhouse charm in his production, lots of coolly coiffed kitsch. The story takes place on Halloween night, with the main characters bringing to life three autumnal ghouls: the Boogeyman, Hollow Jack and a ghoulish scarecrow.
The best horror movies about Halloween
“The Houses October Built” (2014).
The title already promises a lot. In the film, a group of documentary filmmakers travel through the American provinces in search of Halloween Haunted Houses – where disguised actors play frightening tricks on the guests. What they find is something more – a place where there are no rules and the employees are highly psychopathic.
The film is capably shot. The camera accentuates everything that is most important for Halloween lovers: smouldering pumpkin lanterns, dancing leaves and scarlet branches, and omnipresent browns and reds. The atmosphere is truly autumnal, sultry, and appropriately claustrophobic. 2017 saw a sequel, The Houses October Built 2 – sadly, weaker than its predecessor.
Queer slasher inspired by “Scream”. In the film, a group of attractive friends from West Hollywood are getting ready for a Halloween party at one of the local nightclubs. Their every move is watched by the Devil in a mask and bare torso – with a sharpened sickle in his hand.
Stalk n’ slash horror films often centre around female characters. Paul Etheredge-Ouzts plays with this scheme and chooses a group of gay men as his protagonists. They are far from the stereotype, as one of them is a policeman, while another one is a motorcyclist practising karate strokes in front of a mirror. In the hands of the director, an interesting play with form was created, which does not lack a decent body count and suspenseful scenes of escape from the murderer. West Hollywood itself perfectly captures the heat of Halloween night.
“Headless Horseman” (1999)
The only film in this ranking that doesn’t actually take place on the Feast of Ghosts – but over the years it has become a Halloween classic. Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, the town of the title, is an exceptionally gloomy place, and you can die of fright in the woods surrounding it. The whole “Horseman…” is a horror film with a grotesque, “gripping”, strangely ominous atmosphere, and its autumnal aura seems unmistakable. The whole thing has a fairy-tale flavour, but it’s more of a Brothers Grimm-type of story. For a Halloween screening, it fits like a glove.
The best Halloween horror movies,
Lucky McKee’s first famous film – and his best to date. The titular May is a socially withdrawn and eccentric veterinarian who, after many amorous failures, decides to create a friend for herself by assembling him from cut-up body parts. The most important night for her “experiment” will, of course, be the one that falls on the 31st of October. Angela Bettis creates an ambitious and complex performance, and the film itself, like any good psychological horror, is actually a journey through the protagonist’s mind. The film moves, shocks, hurts and doesn’t let you forget for a long time.
“The Guest” (2014)
A mix of horror and action cinema that grew into a cult masterpiece a few months after its release. Dan Stevens stars here as a discharged soldier who moves in with his dead buddy’s family. He, of course, has a dark secret of his own. The film is notable for its camp aesthetic and great staging. You can feel the Halloween spirit in it – the action takes place in October, the Petersons’ house is decorated with pumpkin jack-o-lanterns, and the final scene takes place at a Halloween party. “The Guest” is a neon, synth-sounding thriller that’s impossible to get bored with.
The eponymous Haunted Mansion is an amusement park from which there is no escape. Its attractions seem both realistic and suspicious to the main characters – with good reason. The film by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (“A Quiet Place”) has a familiar flavour and is very reminiscent of horror films from thirty, or forty years ago – it’s uncomplicated, but never verges on cliché. The space of the film set was used superbly. The house of horrors is arranged in a nightmarish network of corridors, mazes, tunnels and deadly rooms – all of which are blazing in harsh, sinister colours. The set designers won’t be denied creative thinking, and the special effects staff do a great job of “putting the actors to death” in front of the camera.
“Trick ‘r Treat” (2007)
Old-school in its arrangement of horror filmed in anthology form. It’s got the visual grind, an interesting script, and a pinch of grindhouse. Michael Dougherty celebrates the Halloween holiday in “Spooky Night…” Halloween holiday, he puts up a monument to it. Reportedly, the director plans to release a sequel in the future – let’s hope he doesn’t make fans wait much longer than before.