Halloween is just around the corner, the night where the veil which separates the worlds of the living and the dead is torn; when demons walk the earth, ghouls come out to play, spirits return to the land of the living, witches form in their covens and Sugar Cube fills up with a swarm of Harley Quinn’s.
But for horror aficionados, the month of October is a special time of the year, more akin to a holiday or special event, like Christmas or the Old Firm. There’s just something about this period that makes the experience of watching a horror film even more exhilarating, and as someone who’s spent a lifetime watching horror over dating and socialising, I’ve managed to see my fair share throughout the years.
Therefore, I’ve selected five horror movies which should appeal to different moods and tastes, but also encapsulate the atmosphere of the dark, cold autumn nights.
TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007)
Trick ‘r Treat is the quintessential film to watch on Halloween night, especially if you’re the type who prefers the holiday’s pagan traditions and supernatural hocus pocus over modern, party-centric commercialism.
It’s an anthology film which takes place on All Hallows Eve in a small suburban neighbourhood. There are five interconnected stories inspired by authentic Halloween lore, and it has a throwback feel reminiscent of the halcyon days of 80’s horror anthologies like Creepshow.
Not only is this one of the best horror films to watch on Halloween, it’s one of the best horror films of this century so far.
HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009)
During the 1980’s, America was a country undergoing a cultural epidemic perpetuated by evangelists, the media and law enforcement known as ‘Satanic panic.’ It was widely believed that Satanic cults were on the rise and committing ritualistic atrocities across the country.
Despite it turning out to be a load of tosh, it still instilled the fear of a national network of devil worshippers in many people, and as such, horror movies capitalised on it. 2009’s House of the Devil is an homage to that period in American history, along with the horror movies that were born during it.
The story sees a babysitter in peril after accepting a job at a house in the middle of nowhere; little does she know that she’s embroiled in a plan that’s wickedly devilish, unholy and sinister.
However, it is a slow film – one which opts to build tension as opposed to action set-pieces and gore. If you want a movie with the same concept but more visceral thrills, then check out Babysitter Wanted (2008).
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)
John Carpenter’s Halloween (1979) is arguably the most beloved horror film of all time. It made the slasher subgenre a phenomenon going into the 1980’s and introduced us to the iconic Michael Myers, whose slayings on Halloween night became a recurring event in the subsequent sequels.
However, there is one sequel which doesn’t include Myers, and it’s the vastly underrated Season of the Witch. The story focuses on an investigation into the mysterious owner of a toy company in the week approaching Halloween night, abandoning slasher tropes in favour of the occult and old Celtic fairytales.
It’s a misplaced entry in the seminal franchise, but as a horror film on its own terms, it’s absolutely perfect Halloween viewing.
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (1983)
Based on the novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes is perfect Halloween viewing for the whole family – but just because it’s child friendly, that doesn’t mean to say it won’t cause nightmares even for adults.
The film is also a Disney production, made during a time where they were trying to break free from the stereotype of only making animated family movies. It was during this period where they also produced the dark Wizard of Oz sequel, Return to Oz.
However, Something Wicked This Way Comes is their crowning achievement; a haunting marvel of spook tale, with a carnivalesque atmosphere, dead leaves and damned souls everywhere.
KILL LIST (2011)
When it comes to sheer unnerving horror fare, they don’t come much better than Ben Wheatley’s Kill List.
The High Rise director’s sophomore feature is a tour de force of terror which sees two strapped-for-cash hitmen enter the heart of darkness after accepting a seemingly routine assignment.
The less said about Kill List the better; go into as blind as possible and just let it have its way with you. It’s intense, ambiguous and the threat of violence is tangible in every frame – and when it reaches its apex, your jaw will hit the floor. In this writer’s humble opinion, it’s the best film of all time.