Film: Celebrate Halloween with seven spooky flicks

By Will Ashton |

Halloween is tomorrow, and if you’re anything like me, this is the time to sit back and check a few horror/holiday flicks off your list.

But perhaps you don’t know where to begin your time of blood, screams, and crackles? Well, I’m here to help. I’m not the world’s biggest horror aficionado, but I still have my personal favorites, and as the clock is now officially counting down to All Hallows Eve, I offer you my seven Halloween picks.

So grab your bowl of candy and let’s wind down this dark, spooky trail.

  1. The Evil Dead 1&2 and/or Army of DarknessI’m kind of cheating here, sure, but if you haven’t seen any of these, you need to check them out. Before Sam Raimi became a household name making the (original…) Spider-Man trilogy, he had another series. When it comes to plot, the Evil Dead movies are pretty much as simple as they get: Five friends head down to an abandoned cabin, where they stumble upon the Necronomicon, a book of Sumerian texts which casts hellish spirits onto their festivities. Following our main protagonist Ash, played by no other than The Chin himself Bruce Campbell, the film(s) may sound like every other horror movie today. But through invocative camera work, strong atmosphere, and a great sense of humor, these films are trademarks in low-budget horror; representing everything you’d want in cheap horror thrills and laughs. Watch this now before the remake, which actually looks surprisingly awesome, comes this spring.
  2. Dead Alive, a.k.a Braindead Much like Raimi, before Peter Jackson made a little-known series of films about Lord of the Rings, he was actually a cult-favorite, low-budget horror director in New Zealand. Heavily inspired by the Evil Dead movies, he made what I easily consider one of my favorite horror/comedies of all time, Dead Alive. Titled Braindead by everyone outside of the U.S., the movie is considered one of the goriest films of all time, as it follows a young man named Lionel who must fight a town full of zombies caused by a Sumatran rat-monkey. Much like Evil Dead, even on a very low budget, it’s easy to see Jackson’s talent boom through his innovative camera angles and unique sense of humor. Filled with great one-liners like “I kick ass for the Lord,” and one of the most bloody awesome (literally) climaxes I have ever seen, Dead Alive should fulfill your thirst for blood, laughs, and gore.
  3. Scream- The quintessential horror movie of the ‘90s, I consider Scream to be the near perfect balance of horror and comedy. The combination of Kevin Williamson’s insanely witty and loving script, combined with Wes Craven’s expert direction of horror, the movie is able to be self-aware without being too self-aware, a problem so many horror comedies (besides The Cabin in the Woods and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil) suffer from today, and refreshingly original during its time.  If your movie features David Arquette and Jaime Kennedy, and makes them not only likeable, but two of the best characters in the whole film? Then you have magic. While not as good, Scream 2 is also just as worthy as the first. But 3 and 4? Let’s just pretend they never happened…

  4. The Nightmare Before Christmas- But perhaps you’re not a fan of the blood and gore, yet still want to participate in the Halloween movie fun? Then, if you somehow missed it during your childhood, check out The Nightmare Before Christmas. Produced by Tim Burton (but NOT DIRECTED, a very common mistake) and directed by Harry Selick (Coraline), the film follows Jack Skeleton, the king of Halloweentown, who, one day, stumbles upon the land of Christmas Town and decides to create some mischief fun.  Beautifully animated, incredibly clever and original, and featuring a killer soundtrack, The Nightmare Before Christmas has been a Halloween (and Christmas) classic for me since childhood, and remains one to this day.
  5. Trick ‘R Treat- While not my favorite Halloween film, Trick ‘R Treat still remains a criminally-underrated Halloween horror flick to this day.  Following four interwoven Halloween stories, the film focuses on a high school principal, a college student, a group of teenagers, and a Halloween-hating woman, among others, as they fall victim to the terrors and haunting powers which live around the town on one Halloween night. Both inspired and bold, this movie isn’t afraid to get dark and edgy, all the while remaining fun and unique.  While some stories are better than others, and the film may be slightly uneven, it still deserves way more fans than it actually has, so seek it out and enjoy this hidden Halloween favorite.
  6. The Nightmare on Elm Street- It was a toss-up between this and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the originals of course, but ultimately I found the former a little more festive for this time of the year. If you don’t know about this flick, or don’t recall the name Freddy Krueger, then you must have been living under a pretty solid horror rock throughout your whole life. Arguably the ultimate horror movie slasher, Krueger is unquestionably one of the most memorable villains in film history, let alone horror movie history.  Plus, the movie features a small performance by no other than Johnny Depp himself.  So, what are you waiting for?  Check it out.  Also, you can skip the remake (sorry Jackie Earle Haley).
  7. Halloween- A Halloween horror list without Halloween would be the equivalent of apple pie without apples. The two go together unquestionably. The influence to countless horror slasher films to follow, Halloween remains so memorable, even to this day, because of its effective use of atmosphere, tension, and music, among other factors. It’s extremely simplistic, almost even to a fault, yet captures so much with so little that it is undoubtedly a must-see for Halloween. Despite all the sequels, and the remake (which I consider half a good film, half a completely terrible film) to follow, nothing beats the original.

So there you have it.  These may not be the best horror films, or even the best Halloween films, but they are all worth watching, in any order. So turn off the lights, turn on the DVD/ Blu-Ray player, and have yourself some good horror fun.

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