Summer is gone, and that means the beast called winter is fast approaching. First though, Halloween is thrust upon us. Although here in the U.K it’s not as huge as it stateside, we still embrace it, and so i decided to put together a list of my favourite movies to watch this Halloween ranked in reverse order from 10 to 1. This is a list of my personal choices and the reasons why i love them. Disagree or want to list your own top 10? Leave a comment and let me know! So, Let’s kick things off with no 10 on my list of Halloween movies:
10: PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
Say what you like about the so so sequels, but for me the first in this franchise was surprisingly effective at using the whole found footage idea. Tense and filled with suspense, it came at a time when found footage films were relatively new and, dare i say, original. If you haven’t seen it already, there was also an alternate ending shot for the film which i think is better than the one used in the theatrical cut, but even now a few years on, this is still well worthy of a watch this Halloween.
9: SHAUN OF THE DEAD
Cornetto! Shaun of the Dead is still one of my favourite ever movies. If i happen to catch it on TV, I’ll still watch it. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost steal the show as a couple of hapless working class people caught up in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. This is a funny film, and in my opinion the best of the Pegg/Frost Cornetto trilogy of movies (the others being HOT FUZZ and THE WORLD’S END). A great supporting cast help drive the film along as Pegg and Frost go from one blunder to another. It has comedy, zombies, blood and a couple of surprisingly touching moments. If you want something a bit lighter amid the horror this Halloween, this one is for you.
8: CABIN IN THE WOODS
Another one which has more laughs than scares. This film takes every cliché in horror and puts a clever twist on it that makes it an incredibly fun watch. This is mindless fun but fun nonetheless. Another one to disengage the brain and watch without taking it too seriously.
Still one my favourite movies of all time, Jaws in a masterclass in building drama and tension. Showing how sometimes less is more, the film still stands up well today, particularly the recent Blu Ray restoration which looks stunning. I’m sure you’ve all seen this one multiple times, and Halloween is as good a time as any to dust off the DVD (or aforementioned Blu Ray) and give it another watch. Also consider checking out the book. there are some key differences between the two versions which give a very different experience.
Forget the recent awful remake. I’m talking about the original film which scared me to death as a kid. There is one particular scene with a toy clown which, after seeing as a child scarred me for life and made me afraid of them ever since. If you’ve only seen the recent remake, you NEED to check out this original version. It succeeds everywhere the new one fails and still delivers a creepy experience years later. Perfect Halloween viewing.
5: 28 DAYS LATER
Halfway through the list and we come to one of my favourite zombie films. 28 Days Later was a bit of a sleeper hit when it was released, and with its fast moving zombies and stellar british cast, you won’t go far wrong with this one. not only is this the story of the apocalypse, but also has a lot to say about the brutality of man and how even in the face of disaster there are worse things out there than the undead.
4: THE SHINING
Number four on the list is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. This is another film that i remember watching when i was younger and it scaring me. I recently watched it again when it was remastered for Blu Ray (like Jaws, with breathtaking results) and found it to be just as creepy now as it was then. The sense of foreboding and isolation is captured perfectly as the overlook hotel slowly begins to change Jack Torrance from loving husband and father to something much worse. another perfect Halloween watch.
Anyone who knows me knows i LOVE a good horror anthology, both in written form or visual, and Creepshow is one of my favourites. it was a close call between this and the Twilight Zone movie, but i still have a soft spot for this one so it got the nod (just). I remember having a grainy VHS copy of this back in the day and having no clue that Stephen King not only wrote it, but starred in it too. (check out his super hammy performance in The lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill). Every story in this is a hit for fans of the genre.
2: TRICK R TREAT
I couldn’t decide for a long time between the number one and two spot. In the end, i placed Trick R Treat at number two. Another anthology of individual stories told non chronologically (Cheap plug: much like the coming reissue of my story collection, Dark Corners available on Halloween and available now to pre order HERE). Each story is brilliantly clever in their own right. You will see scenes from other tales from different perspectives and angles as we jump around the timeline of Halloween night revealing horror after horror. GO BUY IT!
What else could top the list but the john Carpenter classic? Shot on a miniscule budget, Halloween is a masterclass in horror. The fact that our monster (the iconic Michael Myers) stalks around in daylight instead of solely jumping out of the shadows like many other films of the era gives it an edge. Then of course there is the musical score. Everyone gets goosebumps at that, surely? The sign of a good film is in how well it ages and Halloween is just as frightening today no matter how many times you may have already seen it.
And so that’s my list. Not strictly the best films, but my favourites. Think something is wrong or have a different opinion? Leave a comment and let me know. List your favourites and why, I’d love to see what you recommend.