TOP TEN: THE BEST HALLOWEEN MOVIES

Posted on Oct 18, 2012 in All Reviews, Best of the Best, Halloween, Horror for the Holidays, Lists & Countdowns | 4 comments

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It’s the darkly magical time of year again: Halloween.

 

Mystical, morbid, and magnificent, this is any true horror fan’s favorite time of the year. I always get antsy and even more horror obsessed than usual when the leaves turn. But this is also the time of year when that is welcomed by others. In fact, this is when they always turn to me for fright advice, particularly when it comes to movies.

Now there are a lot of great scary movies out there, and any of them will do for Halloween time fright fests. However, with this list I have decided to pinpoint movies that embody the true spirit of Halloween itself. I have picked here ten movies (or movie combos) that I feel make for the best seasonal viewing, offering up not only chills but also a sense of holiday tradition and elements of the classic nature of horror entertainment. Many of them deal with Halloween directly, while others possess important traits that separate them for being just a scary movie and elevate them to the higher level of seasonal-specific scares.

But either way, each of these selections should be added to your holiday horrorshow.

 

TOP TEN HALLOWEEN MOVIES

 

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10. Both CREEPSHOW films (1982, 1987)

Combining the awesome talents of zombie film legend George Romero and horror genius Stephen King, both Creepshow films, being anthologies, offer a wide variety of terrifying tales ranging from revenge from beyond the grave to blobish, lake dwelling monsters.

The classic Vault of Horror comic-book style of the films adds a touch of nostalgia, while the gore effects are both fun and plentiful. Even after 30 years of repeated viewing, Creepshow still offers its audiences all they could ask for in a cauldron full of freakish vignettes.

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9. GINGER SNAPS (2000)

What would Halloween be without werewolves? While viewings of An American Werewolf in London and The Howling are great choices, I’d like to shed a little moonlight on this often overlooked teenage wolf saga. But don’t let the word “teenage” being in there fool you. This ain’t Twilight or Teen Wolf.  This is gore galore with a wild, inventive storyline about one hell of a beast.

We even get a Halloween party scene that couldn’t be better. I love when only the audience knows the beast isn’t dressed up!

You could follow it up with the equally good Ginger Snaps 2, which highlights Emily Perkins more (Stephen King’s It), but avoid the tiresome prequel Ginger Snaps Back.

 

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8. FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)

Now that you have your werewolf, you’re gonna need a solid vampire. Sure, there are plenty to choose from, but which one offers the most blood for your buck? This is just a personal choice, but the original Fright Night is my favorite vampire movie. It’s just beyond fun and incredibly entertaining every time I watch it. About a young man dealing with his suave but merciless vampire neighbor (played immaculately by Chris Sarandon), Fright Night combines a love for classic horror films with a modern (80’s) touch of wild effects and blatant sexuality.

There was a remake of this that I never bothered watching. Why have hamburger when you can have steak?

 

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7. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)

I’m glad that this once loathed film has had a resurgence of fandom over the past few years. Yes, there is no Myers here, but what we do have is a bizarre (albeit flawed) tale of witchcraft in the computer age.

This film touches back to the holiday’s dark roots and it also manages to plays upon a love of Halloween masks, which everyone has had at one point in their childhood (and, in my case, adulthood). Foreboding and oddly hypnotic, you might want to give this one a second chance.

 

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6. DEAD AND BURIED (1981)

This seemingly forgotten 80’s horror flick is a loving nod to old-fashioned Twilight Zone horror tales while also being chock full of entertaining kills and gruesome gore effects that were so popular at the time. Featuring a small town with a terrible secret, this film has a great narrative with a surprising twist ending that could teach M. Night Shyamalan a thing or two.

I think this is a perfect Halloween movie because it deals with the ultimate fear of death itself, and you probably haven’t seen it before either.

 

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5. THE MONSTER SQUAD

What are the two central ingredients that give Halloween its magic? Youth and old-fashioned monsters. Featuring all of the Universal Monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, The Mummy and even The Creature from The Black Lagoon), and a group of underage heroes, this film was my The Goonies growing up, and it will fill your classic monster quota in one sitting. While more kid friendly than the rest of the list, the film doesn’t go too softly, offering up some grisly moments of old school horror.

 

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4. FRANKENSTEIN

All of the Universal Horror Classics make for ideal viewing this time of year, but this one stands above all others. Frankenstein is simply a brilliant movie, and the undisputed king of monster films. Featuring dark castles, thunder and lightening storms, grave-robbing, mad scientists, the walking dead and more, this is the Citizen Cane of horror.

 

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3. NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988)

This riotous romp of late-80’s madness is about as fun as a campy horror movie can get.

A Halloween party at an old, spooky mansion turns into a nightmare when a black magic ritual pits the drunken, horny teens up against demonic possession. As bloody as it is completely insane, Night of the Demons makes for a hell of a Saturday night fright with some friends and a whole lot of brews.

Like Fright Night, this one also got the remake treatment, so make sure you’re picking up the original.

 

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TRICK R’ TREAT (2008)

This anthology film is about as loving of a tribute to the spirit of Halloween as you can get.

Featuring several intersecting tales that all occur on Halloween night, Trick R’ Treat is whimsical and imaginative, and yet it’s as vicious as black cat’s sudden claws. Principal serial killers, tales of ghost children, and the lil’ rascally mascot for the holiday itself all make chilling appearances.

Not to be confused with the 1986 heavy metal horror flick Trick or Treat, which is blast of a throwback, and a fun horror film in its own right.

 

 

But the BEST HALLOWEEN HORROR MOVIE?

 

1. The HALLOWEEN Trilogy

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Of course you knew I couldn’t leave out the godfather of slashers who is obviously synonymous with Halloween. Nor would I wish to. Michael Myers is the boogeyman of our time and rightly so. But so much has happened since his debut in 1978 that it can be hard for people to know which of his many movies to select. Okay, here is what I consider to be the true, definitive Michael Myers Halloween trilogy. Watch John Carpenter’s original masterpiece Halloween, then Halloween II for a bridge, and then conclude with Halloween IV: The Return of Michael MyersHalloween III: Season of the Witchis completely unrelated so you don’t need it for continuity.

These three films form one complete chilling story that is totally derailed by all of the other sequels, reboots, and those despicable remakes. The trilogy is particularly good if you can find the extended television cut of the original, which features additional scenes that link the first movie up with the second (including a stellar foreshadowing scene with Loomis in the sanitarium when Michael is still young). Purists will say that the original is a standalone masterpiece and shouldn’t be trifled with. While I’m not arguing that fact, I will say that the extended cut helps pave the way for plot points in the sequels.

I think of the final moments in Halloween IV to be the end of the Myers saga and I always will. It’s an incredible finale if you accept it as one, and it is a film of rich atmosphere that recaptures the spirit of the original even better than Halloween II did. Often overlooked as just another link in the endless sequel train, Halloween IV is one movie I would suggest everyone watch again with fresh eyes, especially if you precede it with the first two, rounding out the Myers legend with style and morbid grace.

That’s all for this list! We at Tavern of Terror certainly wish all of you happy viewing, and a very happy Halloween as well!

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4 Comments

  1. Glad to see you include part IV for Halloween. Fantastic sequel and I wish they’d explore this darker angle in subsequent films instead of the series devolving into silliness (druids? REALLY?).

  2. I like Part 4, but I think Halloween 1, 2 and H2O make a better trilogy myself. Good list though! Always nice to see Monster Squad love.

    • A lot of people love H20. It doesn’t do it for me, but it is easily one of the better sequels/remakes. Monster Squad forever!

  3. Both Halloween 4 and The Monster Squad are highly underrated films! Thanks for the comments, guys!

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