It's that time of year where horror becomes all the rage, and with All Hallow's Eve quickly approaching, we at SF Weekly
decided it was time to determine what are the best Halloween-themed (or horror-filled movies) to watch on October 31 — most
of these films will fill your nightmares and memories long after Halloween has ended.
10.) The Orphanage
This Spanish-language flick shows that horror and suspense doesn't require gore nor English language sentences to be terrifying because fright is universal. With clever narration and cinematography from Guillermo del Torro, the man who directed, wrote, and produced the critically acclaimed and Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth
, this is one film where one must continuously remind oneself that it's only a movie and not real life.
Although teenage girls chased by masked psychopaths is now a staple theme in the horror genre, back in in 1978, John Carpenter's Halloween
employing this plot line was innovative. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, a teenager who has a tragic Halloween after a psycho killer escapes from an insane asylum; the music alone is enough to send chills down your spine.
8.) The Blair Witch Project
Definitely one of the first films to use the mockumentary and found footage style in horror, this film relates the story of three student filmmakers who disappeared while hiking in the Black Hills of Maryland in 1994 while filming a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch. Viewers are told the three were never seen or heard from again, although their video and sound equipment (along with most of the footage they shot) was discovered a year later and that this "recovered footage" is the film the viewer is watching. The Blair Witch Project
went on to be one of the highest grossing independent films of all time.
7.) Hocus Pocus
Not all Halloween films have to scare the crap out of you! When one mentions All Hallow's Eve, many think of trick-or-treating and witches, and this film delivers — full of ghoulish fun, this Halloween movie is must watch, especially for anyone who grew up in the '90s. Plus it's frightening to think that the woman known for her her character Carrie Bradshaw used to have frayed hair and a horrendous wardrobe.
6.) The Nightmare on Elm Street
The film that introduced Freddy Kruegger to horrified audiences back in 1984 still to this day remains in our collective consciousness and nightmares.
Creepy clowns. Enough said.
4.) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The film's title is self-explanatory — it's Texan, it's got chainsaws, and there's a massacre. Produced with a small budget of $300,000, movie history was forever changed. Great horror films didn't need a big budget, careful cinematography and known actors. Only a great idea, clever directing and a willingness to push boundaries is required.
3.) The Shining
Considered an inferior classic in the Stanley Kubrick canon, this 1980 film is known for its unrelenting tension and Jack Nicholson's performance as the homicidal Jack Torrence. Although overshadowed by Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove
and 2001: A Space Odyssey
, this 1980 flick has probably been re-watched and scrutinized by more people than any other work in this director's library based on the sheer amount of theories surrounding the meaning of the film. This goes to show that the greatest works of horror aren't always those that shock upfront, but linger around, churning inside your head, for years on end.
2.) It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
This is the greatest Halloween movie ever filmed that has no horror whatsoever but still reminds us of everything great about this autumn holiday: costumes, candy, pumpkins, childhood innocence, and fright-less frills.
1.) The Exorcist
The 1973 horror flick deals with the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her mother's desperate attempts to win back her child through an exorcism conducted by two priests. Not only is this one the scariest films for it's content and possessive scenes, the film went on to prove that horror could both be popular, mainstream, and critically lauded. It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and was the first horror film ever nominated for Best Picture. (Silence of the Lambs
was the second and last be nominated, and to date, the only scary flick to win the coveted statuette.) But The Exorcist
paved the way and set the standard of quality suspense and frightening cinema.