Fans of Halloween-themed movie marathons and the horror genre in general are probably familiar with John Carpenter’s classic “Halloween.” Many of those same fans probably watch “Halloween” every year on the holiday itself. If you’re looking for a little variety this year, consider watching one of a number of other horror classics. They may not be Halloween-themed, but they all contain more than enough scares to get the job done right. There’s nothing wrong with Carpenter’s magnum opus, but even the most die-hard of fans can use something new every now and again.
In fact, movies centered on Halloween are not all that common. The majority of those that have been made fit into the horror and thriller film genres. The following ten Halloween movies stand out from the crowd based on entertainment value, story quality, cinematography and character development.
1. The Crow (1994)
The Crow is a fantasy-adventure story that starred Brandon Lee as an artist who is killed by a gang led by Top Dollar (Michael Wincott). Eric Draven (Lee) returns from the undead to avenge his fiancée’s murder. The Crow is so-named because of the black bird that accompanies Draven and serves as his gateway to the land of the living. The Crow is not a traditional “Halloween” movie, but much of the story is driven by the obsession with murder and chaos on the eve of Halloween. Mayhem is what drove the villains in the movie to commit the murder. The dramatic, mysterious, fantasy nature of this story, combined with amazing cinematography, make it an awesome Halloween movie.
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven directed this classic horror tale that spawned one of the most notorious and frightening villains of all time – Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp also starred. The story is about a child killer who goes after the children of those responsible for his lynching. What makes Nightmare so compelling is the irony that the murderer haunts the dreams of his prey before he kills them. This contributes to its lore as a nightmare-inducing Halloween thriller.
3. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Johnny Depp also starred as Ichabod Crane in this modern retelling of the classic Halloween story of the headless horseman. Tim Burton directed this compelling story about Crane’s investigation into three mysterious decapitations. Part murder mystery, party fantasy, Sleepy Hollow is ripe with great visual imagery and a riveting plot.
4. Halloween (1978)
Directed by John Carpenter, Halloween routinely appears at or near the top of best Halloween movie lists. The film had a lot to do with Jamie Lee Curtis’ rise to horror film fame. Halloween has a simple, but sinister story that appeals to horror film fans. It tells the tale of a psychotic killer who escapes the mental institution just in time to go on a killing rampage for Halloween.
5. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Living Dead is about as classic Halloween as a Halloween movie gets. This film has been remade a few times since the original production in 1968, but nothing beats the first film and its frightening tale. Directed by George A. Romero, Night of the Living Dead is the zombie thriller that beats all zombie films. Though a simple concept, the movie shares the horror of a group of people trapped in a farmhouse as the hungry zombies surround them.
6. Alien (1979)
Ridley Scott’s 1979 original is still one of the best horror films of all time. Though it starts out admittedly slow, by the time that classic “face hugger” alien wraps itself around John Hurt’s face, all bets are off. The thrilling and horrifying sequences last right up until the end of the film. If you get to the climax and want more, there are five sequels to the original for you to enjoy.
7. The Exorcist (1973)
William Friedkin’s The Exorcist remains perhaps the seminal “true” horror film of all time. In this instance, “true” means that it doesn’t include another genre like “Alien” does with science fiction. “The Exorcist” is another slow burn horror movie about a little girl possessed with the devil. That slow buildup is more than worth it during the climactic exorcism sequence that sees a team of priests try to rid young Reagan of her demons once and for all.
8. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Rosemary’s Baby is the story about a young woman who moves into a new apartment where things are not as they seem. She soon finds out that not only are her neighbors members of a satanic coven, but those same neighbors want to sacrifice her newborn child to the Devil. The shocking twist comes in the climax where it is revealed that Rosemary has given birth to the spawn of Satan himself.
9. The Shining (1980)
The Shining has the honor of being among the best works in the storied careers of both the actor Jack Nicholson and director Stanley Kubrick. Nicholson stars as Jack Torrance, a writer who moves with his family to a secluded and closed hotel for the winter so that he can earn some extra money and start a new writing project. Jack, his wife and his young son soon find out that they may not be the only people living in the Overlook Hotel that season. The creepiness only increases from there and builds to a horrifying climax that sees Jack turn into a raving lunatic out to murder his own wife and child.
10. The Evil Dead (1981)
Sam Raimi’s original classic practically evented a whole sub-genre of horror films. If you’ve ever watched a movie where a bunch of kids go to a secluded cabin in the woods and get attacked by monsters, that movie owes its very existence to The Evil Dead. This film also marks the professional acting debut of Bruce Campbell who would later go on to star in such shows as “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” and such films as “My Name is Bruce.”
If you are on a tight budget or you just don’t want to go anywhere, watching a few horror movies is one of the best ways to celebrate Halloween. You can watch them with your partner or/and friends and have lots of fun without spending money. What’s your favorite Halloween-themed movie?