By: Aaron Siebert
What’s your favorite thing about Halloween?
It’s a question that you’ve without a doubt heard multiple times in your life, but what’s always the first answer? Besides the costumes, decorations, weather, pumpkin spice everything, and candy; that’s right, horror movies!
No Halloween night is complete without a chilling piece of cinema made for the beautiful reason of keeping you up at night.
But everyone spends their Holiday differently, and therefore won’t be looking for the same thing. Some people are horror aficionados that are looking for a genuinely terrifying film, while others are casual watchers looking for a fun scary movie to fit their evening vibe.
So, I’ve compiled a collection of horror movies to fit any desired level of scary on the spectrum. No need to thank me.
The Family Halloween Night: Monster House
Fear Level: Goosebumps
Every family needs a Halloween plan. Of course they’re going to trick or treat and pass out candy, but rarely does the night end there. The kids are too busy with their sugar high to go directly to bed, so that’s where a great scary film for the whole family comes in hand. Enter Monster House.
From the outside this movie seems like light work, but as I and many others of my generation will attest, Monster House does not go easy on it’s audience. A movie about three kids uncovering the mystery behind a living building in their quiet suburban neighborhood is unlikely to traumatize kids, hopefully, but it will without a doubt make an impact on them with it’s incredible atmosphere and scenes of a terrifying house eating people alive. And for an animated movie from 2006 the visuals have aged incredibly well.
The thing that keeps the audience invested, however, is how much time the film dedicates to it’s characters, their relationships, and the tragic story behind the horrifying homestead.
Another great aspect of the movie is it’s dedication to the Holiday and it’s iconography. There’s trick or treaters, costumes, and plenty of autumn colors. It’s one of those films that’s always better if watched during the right time of the year.
Where to watch: Netflix
Halloween Party Movie
Fear Level: Creeped Out (I’m hilarious)
Let me paint you a picture of the near future: It’s Halloween night, you have a large group of friends coming over for the evening, and let’s be honest: your plans don’t involve watching a movie. You’re together to talk and excessively consume enough sugar to keep you in a candy coma for the next couple days.
But where are people going to be congregating for a bulk of the night? The living room. You aren’t looking for some introspective horror film to fill that screen, you want some good old fashioned scary fun. That’s where George Romero’s classic anthology film Creepshow comes in.
The best aspect of Creepshow is without a doubt it’s relentless scary scenes. As it’s runtime is filled with multiple different short stories, each section needs to pace itself well enough to tell a quick story that unnerves you as fast as possible.
Now as fun as the movie is, it doesn’t require much deep thinking. The visuals are perfect for the season and it never has a dull moment, perfect for a party! But the best part? There’s a sequel that feels like the exact same movie, so when your TV screen goes black you can just start Creepshow 2.
Where to watch: Prime Video
Ultra Halloween Imagery Vibe Time
Fear Level: Terrified but Loving it
Now, we all pursue different things during this season, some want to be scared and others want to be entertained. But one of the most common desires for someone’s night is the pure vibe. What is the pure vibe you ask? The classic halloween feeling that nobody can quite describe, yet, we all know what it is and what causes it.
What I can describe is what makes Trick ‘r Treat the ideal movie for anyone trying to get into their prime Halloween mood. The film is directed by Michael Dougherty, a horror fanatic, who seeked to give Halloween it’s own mascot in the shape of the terrifying trick or treater Sam.
But the film offers so much more than just one horror mascot, every frame of the movie is drenched in Halloween iconography. Are you looking for orange and black colors? You got them. You want pumpkins? You got them. You want costumes? They’re here. And candy? This movie got candy galore. I haven’t even mentioned all the different types of monsters, scares, and stories told in the movie.
If you want to taste the pure vibe of Halloween, this film is a buffet.
Where to watch: HBO Max
A Classic Evening
Fear Level: Chilling
There’s no doubting the importance the horror films of the 1930’s had on the genre. We’re all aware of Dracula and Frankenstein, and while those stories may have been written long before any adaptations were made, it was their early films that elevated them to the status of icons in our culture. This is the era of scary movies where The Old Dark House originates.
Not everyone loves the classics, unfortunately, but those who do really do, and must have their fill every year. Similar to more famous films of the time, The Old Dark House is also based on a novel titled Benighted by J.B. Priestley. The story is one of the originators of a classic setup. A group of strangers seek shelter from a violent storm in the middle of the night, hiding out in an isolated house in the country. Each character is unique and their interactions range from unnerving to intentionally hilarious.
The biggest draw of the film is easily it’s atmosphere. The shadows which are constantly present, the constant presence of thunder and rainfall, and the gothic set design for every room. These elements combined with the 1930’s technicalities create an unrelentlessly unnerving atmosphere.
Where to watch: Tubi and AMC+
For Horror Fanatics Only
Fear Level: Close your eyes and ears
And now we’ve come to a type of film that I would not recommend to most people. This is a horror movie for veterans of the genre, people looking for a genuine experience over just a casual viewing.
A film such as Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria is looking to terrify its audience in a way that goes beyond cheap jump scares or a general dark atmosphere. The themes, imagery, and connotations you face throughout the picture are enough to leave a genuine sense of dread within someone. So a great time for some people!
This 2018 film is a remake of a Dario Argento movie from 1977 of the same name. While the original version is seeping with colorful imagery and more fun performances to counterweight the horror, the remake is drained of a playful tone and replaces it with realistic performances and a gripping story. There’s no lack of disturbing scenes, but the impression Suspiria leaves cannot be understated.
Where to watch: Amazon Prime