It’s Halloween which means horror films are out in full force. Here is a list of 15 films to get you ready for the holiday from fun animated classics to terrifying demonic possessions. Whether you like the gore of slasher films or the fun of witchcraft there is something for everyone, even the kids.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
This 1984 horror flick written and directed by Wes Craven had people afraid to go to sleep! It was the first film in the franchise and starred Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia, Robert Englund, and Johnny Depp. It also marks Depp’s feature film debut! Set in the fictional town of Springwood Ohio, the story follows several teenagers who are stalked and killed in their dreams by Freddy Krueger, doesn’t sound scary because we all have nightmares right? Well when Freddy strikes in your dreams, you won’t wake up in real life either. The film toys with what’s reality and what’s in your imagination and is a favorite of all Slasher Film fans.
Walt Disney Pictures brought us HOCUS POCUS in 1993 it is described as a Horror/Comedy and is my go to Halloween film. It is campy, fun and has witches! Starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thora Birch and Kathy Majimy. It has been three centuries since the Sanderson Sisters have walked the earth, but when a cynical teenage boy, his younger sister, and his crush resurrect the trio Halloween in Salem is about to get bewitched. The sisters have until morning to take the life force of a child, or the three will turn to dust. It is up to two teenagers, a child and an immortal cat to put an end to the witches terror! While it didn’t do well at the box office and received negative reviews by most critics the film has gained a cult following since it’s release on home video.
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Also called TIM BURTON’S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS this 1993 stop motion fantasy film was a huge success. Directed by Henry Selick and produced and co-written by Tim Burton THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS tells the story of Jack Skellington from “Halloween Town” who opens a portal to “Christmas Town” and is excited about the idea of this holiday. He brings the ideas back to Halloween Town and decides that they too should celebrate the holiday and take over Christmas. Every resident has a task to help make the holiday possible including kidnapping Santa Clause. The film is original, funny and visually stunning. The stop motion was exquisite.
John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN is a favorite of horror fans everywhere. Released in 1978 the film has withstood the test of time and still terrifies its viewers. This was the first film in the franchise and has gone on to release ten slasher films. It is the story of Michael Myers, who killed his older sister with a kitchen knife when he was only six years-old on Halloween night in 1963. 15 years later he escapes from the hospital and returns home where he stalks and tries to kill Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her friends. It is at the top of every horror fans list and is credited as the first in a long line of slasher films.
TRICK ‘R TREAT
Written and directed by Michael Dougherty and stars Dylan Baker, Anna Paquin, Rochelle Aytes and Brian Cox. The film centers around four Halloween related horror stories all with one common thread, Sam. Sam is a creepy, mysterious and small trick-or-treater in a shabby orange suit with burlap sack on his head and shows up when a holiday tradition is broken which has deadly consequences.
FRIDAY THE 13TH
Also considered one of the first true slasher films, this 1980 directed by Sean S. Cunningham and written by Victor Miller is a classic horror film. The film follows a group of teenagers who are working as camp counselors at the newly reopened Camp Crystal Lake who are murdered one by one. Jason remains one of the most spine-chilling characters in the history of horror films.
An urban legend you may never forget. CANDYMAN hit theatres in 1992 and followed a skeptic grad student, Helen, who was writing her thesis on urban legends. She hears the legend of CANDYMAN the son of a slave who had one hand replaced by a hook and was murdered. The urban legend says if you say his name five times in a mirror he will appear and murder whoever has summoned him. Of course Helen has to at least try right? The film has two sequels and to me is even more terrifying once you learn why Candyman comes back to kill those who call his name.
THE THING also by John Carpenter came out in 1982 and starred Kurt Russell. Another film that gained a cult following once it was released on home video THE THING has terrorized horror fans for years. The shape shifting alien that takes over the appearance of a human being then kills it, strikes scientists in the antarctic. In 2011 a prequel was made, with the same name, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton but the original remains the horror fans favorite.
In 1989 Steven King’s novel PET SEMETARY came to life on the big screen. Directed by Mary Lambert and written by King, the story follows the Creed family who has moved from Chicago to a small town in Maine. Behind the family’s home is an isolated Pet Cemetary, which is misspelled Semetary, it is believed to be a true burial ground. But when the families cat dies, and comes back to life after being buried there, they realize the burial ground may hold a dark secret, life after death. Even after being warned of the terrible things to follow, Luis decides to burry his son Gage in the Pet Semetary after he is killed in a freak accident and the Creed family is never the same again.
The supernatural horror film that is most likely to blame for scarring me as a child is the 1982 film POLTERGEIST. It was the first and the most successful in the franchise. The story focuses on a family living in a suburb of California who’s house is invaded by ghosts that kid-nap the families youngest daughter, who seems to be stuck in the TV, or at least that’s where they can communicate with her. It is full of scary moments, ghost and even a creepy medium named Tangina who still haunts my nightmares. As if the film wasn’t enough to scare me, the franchise is believed to be cursed, due to the premature deaths of several people that were associated with the film!
In 1973 came the terrifying film about a teenage girl who was possessed by evil forces called THE EXORCIST, based on the novel of the same name. The book is based on the 1949 exorcism case of Ronald Doe. It is as much a psychological thriller as it is a horror film, watching a young girl go from sweet and innocent to a head spinning murderous creature. Doubted by everyone the young girls mother, a successful actress, desperately reaches out to two priests to help save her daughter’s life. It was the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture and earned 10 Academy Award nominations.
CHILD’S PLAY was a 1988 horror film directed by Tom Holland, that made children’s toy become a bit more scary. It was the first film in the series, and the first to feature the killer doll Chucky. The story features a voo-doo practicing serial killer who transfers his soul to a children’s doll before being killed. Enter Karen a single mom who buys the doll of a homeless person on the street for her sons sixth birthday. Soon her sons babysitter is dead and the police are suspecting her son. Chucky is not only on a killing spree, but he is also controlling Andy, Karen’s six year old son. When the police finally see what the doll is capable of, Chucky escapes and heads to a witch doctor who tells him he must possess the first person he told about his possession which is Andy. It may sound silly but CHILD’S PLAY has horrified viewers for years and has a cult following among fans of the horror genre.
EVIL DEAD is a 2013 horror film that is the fourth in the franchise, the first to not be directed by Sam Raimi, and serves as both a re-boot and a remake of the original film THE EVIL DEAD from 1981. It serves as the feature debut of director Fede Alvarez, who was picked by Raimi, and was a box office hit for the franchise. As in any good horror franchise EVIL DEAD follows five friends who head to a remote cabin in the woods and discover a book of the dead. Clearly they have never watched a horror film because they think it is a great idea to send for demons that could be in the woods surrounding them. They of course succeed and an evil presence starts to take over them until only one is left to fight for survival. Fans and critics alike agreed the film was “a near perfect experience” in horror films.
Originally releases in 1984, directed and produced by the talented Ivan Reitman, GHOSTBUSTERS may not be scary but has your fair share of ghosts. Three unemployed parapsychology professors start up a business catching ghosts. While they are at first laughed at, their business soon starts to pick up, and when a high-rise apartment in NY becomes the center of spirit activity, well “Who you gonna call?” GOHSTBUSTERS! It is a fun film full of paranormal activities and amazing characters that has withstood the test of time.
IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN
First shown in 1966 as a prime time television special, this animated classic has been a treasured Halloween film for families young and old. Based on the comic strip characters, Peanuts, the film has been re-aired all the way up to 2014. It features the entire Peanuts gang celebrating Halloween while Linus waits for The Great Pumpkin, who no-one believes is real except for him. Whether you are a fan of Horror films or not IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN remains a Halloween classic.