10 Good Halloween Movies

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 11:01 am

October 31st is just around the corner, which means it’s time to take a closer look at 10 good Halloween movies. And, no, I’m not exclusively talking about films with axe-wielding nutcases and topless teens. The movies on this list have one thing in common: they’re set during Halloween. Maybe the whole shebang takes place on October 31st, or maybe it’s just one scene. But whatever the case, you can count on seeing trick-or-treaters, grinning jack-o’-lanterns, and large containers filled with delicious candy. And if you’re really lucky, maybe a severed head or two will be thrown in for good measure.

If you’d like to rent one of these good Halloween movies, your best bet is to visit either Netflix or Blockbuster. Both are located online, and both offer a huge selection of films from every conceivable genre. There are no hassles over late fees, shipping is free, and a number of pricing plans exist to meet any budget. Personally, I suggest you become a member of Netflix, as I’ve been a satisfied customer since 2005.

Halloween (1978) – What’s a list of good Halloween movies without this classic horror film from director John Carpenter? Helping to jumpstart the slasher genre that was so popular throughout the 1980s, Halloween tells the story of Michael Myers, a disturbed six-year-old who murders his sister on Halloween night (while wearing a clown costume) and gets sent to an institution for the next 15 years. But he escapes on his 21st birthday and returns to the quiet town of Haddonfield, intent on hacking up more family members and anyone else who gets in the way. Jamie Lee Curtis is the mousy babysitter who draws his notice, and Donald Pleasence is great as the psychiatrist who believes Myers to be evil incarnate. Surprisingly light on gore, but still awesomely effective.

The Crow (1994) – Those who believe in Hollywood curses must’ve seen this one coming. Brandon Lee, a promising young actor and son of the legendary Bruce Lee, died at a young age due to a tragic accident on the set. But The Crow still got finished, and it’s a fitting finale for Lee. After he and his girlfriend are murdered, rock musician Eric Draven (Lee) comes back from the dead to get revenge. Guided by a mystical crow, he wastes no time in methodically killing off the henchmen of Detroit crime lord Top Dollar (Michael Wincott). The bulk of the action is set during Devil’s Night, the night before Halloween traditionally reserved for criminals and idiots to engage in arson, but All Hallow’s Eve still manages to put in an appearance. Lee gets to show off his martial arts, but he also demonstrates acting skills that would’ve taken him far.

Mean Girls (2004) – One of the few Lindsay Lohan movies that doesn’t suck, Mean Girls was adapted by Tina Fey from the book by Rosalind Wiseman. Cady Heron (Lohan) is a 16-year-old who’s always been home-schooled by her geeky zoologist parents. But things get interesting when she attends public school for the first time, especially when she becomes acquainted with the most popular clique known as the Plastics (Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, and Amanda Seyfried). After an incident at a Halloween party, Cady decides to help a fellow student (Lizzy Caplan) get revenge on the leader of the Plastics, and she infiltrates the clique to destroy it from within. But absolute power corrupts absolutely, and soon Cady finds herself taking on all the bitchy qualities she once despised. A sharp-witted comedy that’s crafted for girls but should also manage to entertain the guys.

May (2000) – Angela Bettis stars as May Dove Canady, a lonely girl with a lazy eye. Made fun of for most of her life, she desperately wants some friends to call her own. Things seem to be going well when she becomes the object of affection for a local mechanic (Jeremy Sisto) and a lesbian co-worker (Anna Faris), but May’s odd behavior eventually alienates them both. Frequently talking to her doll named Suzy, May becomes increasingly disturbed. It all culminates on Halloween night, when she remembers the words of her long-dead mother, “If you can’t find a friend, make one.” Both sad and horrifying at the same time, May drew praise from many critics, including a four-star review from Roger Ebert.

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976) – Laird Koenig adapted his novel to the big screen, telling the story of a 13-year-old Rynn Jacobs (Jodi Foster) living all alone in a quite seaside town in New England. Her neighbors are relentlessly curious as to where her poet father is, although the young girl remains silent on the issue. But some secrets can’t stay buried forever, especially when the landlady (Alexis Smith) and her pedophile son (Martin Sheen) keep coming around. The winner of two Saturn Awards, including Best Horror Film and Best Actress for Foster. In case you’re wondering, the movie opens on Halloween with Rynn celebrating her birthday alone.

For more good Halloween movies, click this link and sign up for Netflix.

Mysterious Skin (2004) – Joseph Gordon-Levitt (yes, the formerly long-haired kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun) continues his string of strong performances as Neil McCormick, a teenage boy who was molested at the age of eight by his baseball coach (Bill Sage). Now a prostitute and petty criminal, he runs into a former classmate (Brady Corbet) who suffers from nosebleeds and amnesia due to his molestation at the hands of their coach. Together, these two damaged youths form a bond and help each other unravel the nightmares of their past. Critically acclaimed, one psychologist referred to it as “an uncommonly accurate portrayal of the long-term effect of child sexual abuse on boys.”

Trick ‘r Treat (2008) – An anthology of horror stories, each taking place on Halloween night. Brian Cox is a crabby old man tormented by what appears to be a kid wearing a burlap sack on his head and orange pajamas. Anna Paquin is a virginal gal who heads into the woods alone and gets stalked by a vampire…with surprising results. Dylan Baker is a demented school principal with a backyard full of bodies. And then there’s Rhonda (Samm Todd), a local kid who journeys with some friends to a local rock quarry, the site of the legendary “Halloween School Bus Massacre.” Mixing elements of comedy and horror, the film was originally intended for a theatrical release before eventually being dumped onto the straight-to-DVD market.

Satan’s Little Helper (2005) – A nine-year-old obsessed with video games comes across a madman decorating his lawn with a corpse. Believing the man to be Satan (the hero of his favorite video game), he begins hanging out with the psycho and helping him continue his murderous ways. Meanwhile, the kid’s family mistakes the nut for someone else (thanks to his Satan Halloween costume), allowing him to wander around their home and grope the youngster’s sexy actress sister. A bizarre mixture of horror and black comedy, all taking place on Halloween. Amanda Plummer co-stars as the boy’s mom.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – After his deadbeat alien parents accidentally abandon him on Earth, a little alien tries to find his way back home. Befriended by a human boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas), E.T. gobbles up Reece’s Pieces, hides in the closet, and tries his best to “phone home.” A heartwarming classic from director Steven Spielberg, E.T. works in the Halloween angle when Elliott and his sister (a very young Drew Barrymore) dress their alien pal as a ghost to sneak him out of the house. If you’re a parent and have never seen this one, gather the kids around and watch it immediately.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) – The third film in the series has nothing to do with iconic horror movie killer Michael Myers. Instead, we’re treated to an attempt to turn the franchise into a yearly anthology, with a different tale of terror being released each October. The experiment failed, but that doesn’t mean this tale of lethal Halloween masks and ancient pagan ceremonies isn’t a lot of fun. Those Silver Shamrock commercials are a real hoot, and the cast includes genre veterans such as Tom Atkins and Dan O’Herlihy.

Now that you’ve got your good Halloween movies all planned out, you can devote the rest of your time to picking out a costume and dreaming of all that candy you’ll end up eating. Since giving is a big part of Halloween, go ahead and give yourself a treat by becoming a member of Netflix. We do get a small commission if you sign up via one of our links, but we’ve gotta buy candy, too.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 at 11:01 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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