Best Halloween Movies
October 21, 2018
Halloween is almost here and people are getting ready. Carving jack-o-lanterns, eating candy meant for trick-or-treaters, getting lost in corn mazes, and watching scary movies. There are so many great scary movies to choose, it can be difficult to pick the perfect one for a scary (or not-so-scary) Halloween night. Here are my top picks in no particular order. Note: These are Halloween picks, not all time scary picks. I think Jaws is one of the ultimate scary movies, but it doesn't have any sort of Halloween vibe. Silence of the Lambs is also scary and great, but not "spooky" enough for this list.
Disney's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is an old story, written in 1820. I have never read it, so I don't know how close the movie is to the book, but the movie is one of my Halloween favorites. We used to watch it each year in elementary school, probably just to give the librarian a break from us, but I always looked forward to it. It stars the awkward school teacher, Ichabod Crane, and his rival, Brom Bones. Supposedly Brom Bones was the inspiration for Beauty and the Beast's Gaston, and it really shows, but Brom is not as annoying. It has a great setting of a New England town in the 1700's. It is spooky, but obviously the Disney version isn't very scary. It is still one of my favorites.
Scooby Doo on Zombie Island
Zombie Island is hands-down the best Scooby Doo movie in my opinion. It is a spooky Louisiana ghost-story and has everything: zombies, pirates, a spooky swamp, alligators, ghosts, were-cats (like werewovles), and Mystery Inc. The setting is a remote island in the Louisiana Bayou. The soundtrack is excellent, with some memorable songs and some zydeco effects. If you really want to check out a Louisiana swamp with alligators, I highly recommend the Bayou Teche Experience in Breaux Bridge, Louisana reviewed by me here.
Another option with a good soundtrack, Ghostbusters starts out with a scary ghost scene, but quickly gets funny too. New York City's old buildings are a spooky setting, and a ghost-catching squad is a really fun idea. I've always thought the plot was overly complicated, but with ghost catching, a giant marshmellow monster, and a lot of good comedy, I like Ghostbusters.
Semi Scary Options
The Thing (1982)
The Thing is incredibly suspenseful. It is set in an Antarctic research station, which is really scary because they are basically alone out there, and also stuck, as the temperature outside prevents them from really leaving. Basically, a parasite gets in their research station, able to perfectly imitate other life forms. The researchers get freaked out when they realize they don't know if their fellow researchers are really themselves--or The Thing. The special effects are kind of cheesy, but it is definitely one of the best scary movies ever.
Famous for "the shower scene", Psycho is a mystery taking place at the remote "Bates Motel" with the creepy owner and his mother. Psycho is one of the famous Alfred Hitchcock movies and deserves a watch. If you like it, the modern day TV-series Bates Motel gives you five seasons of Norman (played by Freddie Highmore) and his mother, as a prequel to the movie.
Let the Right One In
Forget everything you thought you knew about vampires for this movie. They don't sparkle and they don't turn into bats. Let the Right One In is a Swedish movie, so you'll have to use subtitles if you don't know Swedish, but it is amazing. It is about a boy who befriends a vampire in 1980's Sweden, but don't think it's a kids movie. The setting is creepy, with the long winter nights. The vampire is kind to the boy, but brutal to her victims, and really gets you excited about having a vampire friend. You also feel some sympathy for the vampire, which is unusual for a vampire movie. If you absolutely cannot deal with subtitles, the American remake Let Me In is very good too. I highly recommend Let the Right One In.
Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead is a comedy, but also a very good zombie movie. The characters are idiots and don't realize they are in a zombie apocalypse scenario until partway through the movie, which is really funny. Their quest is to get to the only place they know of in their English town with a gun, and is a fun adventure getting there.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Dawn of the Dead really scared me as a kid. My dad let me watch it in 5th grade, and I loved it, but thought about zombies constantly afterward. The premise is really cool. A zombie outbreak is happening, and a group of survivors come across a mall, and decide to live there. Of course, the zombies get in and ruin everything, but it is such a fun idea for a movie. The zombies are standard, slow-moving zombies, which are my favorite. My dad and brother and I have spent a lot of time planning what we would do and where we would go in a zombie situation, and Dawn of the Dead caused those fun ideas.
Alien is very similar to The Thing in that the characters are trapped with a monster. But in Alien, they are trapped on a ship in outer space. It isn't a Star Trek Enterprise type of ship either, it is a creepy mining ship, very utilitarian, and old. It is a perfect setting for a creepy movie about an Alien. The isolation of the creepy ship really makes the movie, and the Alien is scary too. They are really creepy, and have multiple mouths. Definitely a scary sci-fi horror movie.
Paranormal Activity is a found-footage type of movie about a demon haunting a lady. It is by far the scariest movie on the list. I watched it at home on a college break, and couldn't wait to get back to school and have a roommate again, it was that scary.
An old, silent film (not really silent, there is music), Nosferatu is a scary vampire movie. Nosferatu is a really creepy looking vampire. I think the oldness of the movie and lack of voices make it even creepier. It probably isn't for everyone, but is scary and regarded as a classic.