25 Good Movies for Halloween

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 5:28 pm
By Shane Rivers

Halloween is right around the corner, and there’s no better time to get your horror movie fix.  That’s why I’ve put together this list of 25 good horror movies for Halloween.  Sure, we’ve all seen films like Friday the 13th, Frankenstein, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is why I made sure to include plenty of cult classics and foreign movies.  There’s something here to suit the tastes of every horror fan, from the ultra-gory to the more subdued.

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1. Ginger Snaps (2000) – Werewolves and teenage girls collide in this Canadian film which compares lycanthropy to the onset of menstruation.  A surprise hit, it also spawned two sequels.  If you’re looking for a non-traditional werewolf movie, Ginger Snaps should fit the bill nicely.  Fans of big boobs and former Scientologists should also appreciate the presence of Mimi Rogers.

2. Witchfinder General (1968) – Vincent Price is at his most sinister in this film loosely based on the real-life exploits of sadistic witch hunter Matthew Hopkins in 17th century England.  Filled with plenty of gruesome torture scenes, especially for a film of that time period.  Also known as The Conqueror Worm in the United States.  One of the best Vincent Price roles ever, so fans of the mustachioed actor should pick up a copy.  For all you Internet movie fans, this one’s available for instant viewing on Netflix.

3. Dog Soldiers (2002) – Out on military maneuvers, a group of soldiers run afoul of a vicious pack of werewolves.  Seeking refuge in an isolated house, they must fend off their attackers or face a grisly death.  Lots of gunplay, werewolves, and fine performances from Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd.  The directorial debut of Neil Marshall (The Descent, Doomsday).

4. Freaks (1932) – An oldie but a goodie.  A money-hungry circus performer marries a sideshow midget in order to get her hands on his sizable inheritance.  But when she tries to murder him, his fellow freaks take matters into their own hands and exact a horrible revenge.  Director Tod Browning based much of the film on his experiences as part of a circus, and it’s worth noting that the so-called freaks are honorable and loving (in comparison to the scheming and murderous “normal” folks).


5. The Fog (1980) – A glowing fog descends over a California fishing town, and something inside is killing anyone in its path.  John Carpenter directs, and the film stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Tom Atkins, Adrienne Barbeau, John Houseman, and Hal Holbrook.  As usual, Carpenter does a superb job of building tension throughout.

6. The Ordeal (2004) – This Belgian horror film concerns a pop singer who has car trouble on the way to his next gig.  He’s forced to spend the night at an inn run by Mr. Bartel, a lonely man who seems friendly enough at first.  But as the film progresses, we learn that Bartel is anything but sane, and his mental condition is wonderful compared to the lunatics in the nearby village.  If you thought Deliverance was creepy, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

7. Event Horizon (1997) – When the starship Event Horizon suddenly reappears after being thought lost for seven years, a rescue craft is dispatched to investigate.  The rescuers find a ship filled with madness and death, as the Event Horizon has traveled to places unfit for the human mind and returned with a malevolent presence.  The film fared poorly at the box office, but it has developed a cult following in recent years.  Stars Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, and Joely Richardson.  Think Lovecraft in space, and you’ve got an idea of what Event Horizon is all about.

8. The Cottage (2008) – A pair of bumbling kidnappers hide out at an abandoned cottage with their victim (played by the buxom Jennifer Ellison), who happens to be the stepdaughter of a crime boss.  The criminal sends his goons for some payback, and everyone soon discovers that a hideous serial killer known only as The Farmer lives nearby.  Andy Serkis (Gollum from the Lord of the Rings trilogy) delivers plenty of laughs as the more competent criminal surrounded by morons.  An excellent UK release which deftly blends dark humor and graphic violence in the tradition of Shaun of the Dead.

9. Phantasm (1977) – Two brothers and an ice cream vendor begin to suspect that the local mortician, The Tall Man (Angus Scrimm), is responsible for all the deaths plaguing their small town.  This leads to a series of harrowing experiences involving dwarf zombies and lethal silver spheres.  Four sequels would follow, but Phantasm remains the best of the bunch.

10. Malefique (2003) – Four men share a prison cell in this French film, but their lives of confinement are disrupted when they discover a magical book hidden in the wall.  As they slowly explore the writings within, a series of bizarre events begin to occur, and the prisoners come to realize that magic does exist, but it always comes with a price.  Fans of Lovecraft should get a kick out of this one, as it has a similar feel to some of his non-Cthulhu stories.


11. Prince of Darkness (1987) – John Carpenter directs this tale of a canister filled with green liquid and hidden deep beneath a Los Angeles church.  When the object is discovered by church officials, a group of scientists are called in to conduct a study.  But the group soon finds that their science is powerless against the ancient evil lurking inside the canister, and the world they know may soon be coming to an end.  Prince of Darkness has a capable cast (including Donald Pleasence, Jameson Parker, Alice Cooper, and Victor Wong), a relentless John Carpenter soundtrack, and plenty of people spewing unholy liquids onto one another.  This was the second part of Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy,” which started with The Thing and concluded with In the Mouth of Madness.

12. Otis (2008) – Since this one went straight-to-DVD, you may have missed it the first time around.  Now’s the time to correct that mistake, as Otis delivers some demented comic moments intertwined with torture, murder, and Kevin Pollack as an abusive badass.  Jere Burns is a hoot as an incompetent FBI agent trying to locate the missing daughter of parents played by Daniel Stern and Illeana Douglas.  Meanwhile, the daughter (Ashley Johnson) must fend off the advances of her kidnapper, a lonely psycho named Otis (Bostin Christopher).

13. Inside (2007) – A pregnant widow chills out on Christmas Eve and awaits her trip to the hospital to give birth the following morning.  Little does she know that’s she being stalked by a deranged woman intent on stealing her unborn child straight from her belly.  As friends and relatives show up to check on the expecting mother, the body count begins to rise in the graphic fashion one might expect from modern French horror films.

14. Cat People (1942) – This black-and-white horror film scares viewers with what they don’t see.  Produced by the legendary Val Lewton, Cat People tells the story of a construction worker who becomes involved with a Serbian-born woman with a secret.  Seems that she believes she’ll turn into a panther if overcome with strong emotions such as passion or jealousy.  The two get married, and that’s when things start to go all to hell.  If you’re looking for some gore-free fun, then give this classic a try.

15. Race with the Devil (1975) – Mixing elements of horror, action, and car chase films, Race with the Devil is about two Texas couples (including Warren Oates, Peter Fonda, and Loretta Swit) bound for Colorado in a RV.  After stumbling across a Satanic ritual, they’re relentlessly pursued by cultists who seem to be active in every small Texas town.  This leads to an action-packed finale, as the travelers and their RV are pitted against the cultists and their convoy of trucks.  Good ‘ol B-movie fun.

16. The Thing (1982) – This John Carpenter film bombed at the box office, but it’s now regarded as one of the great horror movies.  Kurt Russell stars as a helicopter pilot for an American research station in Antarctica.  Things are pretty dull around the station, at least until a murderous, shape-shifting alien gets loose in the facility.  A strong ensemble cast (including Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Richard Masur, and Donald Moffat), an isolated location, and superior effects work by Rob Bottin all add up to one helluva horror movie.  When it comes to good horror movies for Halloween, you can’t do any better.


17. Feast (2005) – The winner of the third season of Project Greenlight, Feast is one of the rare modern horror films which goes out of its way to keep the audience guessing.  The plucky kid?  Dead within the first 20 minutes.  The female heroine?  Turning tricks for money.  The hero?  Dead within minutes of being introduced.  And so it goes.  You never know what’s going to happen next, and that, combined with plenty of dark humor and over-the-top gore, is what makes it so much fun.  The cast isn’t half bad either, with Clu Gulagher, Jason Mewes, Judah Friedlander, Henry Rollins, and Balthazar Getty.  If you’re looking for something to keep a large group of people entertained at a Halloween party, give Feast a try.

18. Marebito (2004) – After becoming obsessed with the nature of fear, a man descends into a series of underground tunnels and finds a young woman (Tomomi Miyashita) naked and chained to a wall.  Taking her home, he soon begins to realize that she has special dietary considerations, but I’ll leave it up to you to discover what those are.  As the film progresses, the man comes to question his very sanity, wondering if the events in the underworld ever took place and whether or not the girl came from somewhere else.  Another bizarre-yet-fascinating film from Japan.

19. Pieces (1982) – Eli Roth has referred to this flick as “a masterpiece of ’80s sleaze.”  That’s high praise, indeed, but Pieces is certainly deserving.  A psychopath is on the loose on a college campus, and its up to a pair of detectives (Christopher George and Lynda Day George) to stop his or her killing spree.  The performances are better than you’d expect, and the gore is plentiful.  Here’s a tip, by the way: if you’re a hot co-ed, don’t sunbathe near someone with a chainsaw (especially when a madman is on the loose).

20. Angel Heart (1987) – Years before his comeback, Mickey Rourke starred in this gritty flick which is one part horror movie and one part hard-boiled private eye film.  Rourke plays Harry Angel, a 1950’s private dick hired by the sinister Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) to find a missing crooner named Johnny Favorite.  Angel’s search soon uncovers a number of mysteries, and people start popping up dead in rather short order.  His search leads to New Orleans and a world filled with voodoo and Satanic worship.  An appropriately bleak ending and strong performance from Rourke make this a classic spooky film.  Controversial when it was released, as former Cosby Show daughter Lisa Bonet gets naked in a steamy sex scene with Rourke.

21. Sheitan (2006) – A group of French kids meet a girl at a Paris nightclub and head to her home in the country.  There, they meet her housekeeper Joseph (Vincent Cassel), a hulking brute with a cheery smile.  But underneath his pleasant exterior, there’s something very dark going on.  Cassel steals the show, and his gorgeous wife, Monica Belucci, also puts in a cameo appearance.  Creepy locals, a deranged girl masturbating a dog, and Vincent Cassel in drag.  What more could you possibly want from a modern French horror film?

22. The Exorcist III (1990) – Oscar-winning actor George C. Scott stars in this sadly underrated horror flick.  A grisly killer is racking up a body count in Georgetown, and Det. William Kinderman (Scott) gets caught up in a bizarre series of events including possession, madmen returning from the dead, and plenty of vacant stares from creepy mental patients.  Cameos abound, including Patrick Ewing, Fabio, Larry King, and C. Everett Koop.  Samuel L. Jackson also has a small role as a blind man.  Author William Peter Blatty (The Exorcist) wrote and directed the film, and it’s chock full of genuinely creepy moments, solid-as-hell acting, and plenty of dark comic moments.  If you’re a fan of good horror movies, you’ll definitely want to add this one to your must-see list.

23. Tales from the Hood (1995) – A horror anthology directed by Rusty Cundieff, the man behind the brilliant Fear of a Black Hat.  As three drug dealers look to buy some “merchandise” from a creepy funeral home director (Clarence Williams III), they have a series of deranged tales related to them.  These include a black rights activist getting revenge on corrupt cops, an abusive stepfather receiving his just desserts, a racist politician terrorized by living dolls, and a violent gang member who gets one last chance at redemption.  And keep an eye out for David Alan Grier in one story, as the comedic actor proves he’s capable of so much more.  Think Creepshow but with more of an urban feel.


24. Demons (1985) – Directed by Italian horrormeister Lamberto Bava, this nasty little gorefest from the ’80s revolves around a new theater in Berlin and the patrons who might fight for their lives after fellow moviegoers start transforming into bloodythirsty, pus-spewing demons.  The film also boasts a rockin’ soundtrack with Accept, Billy Idol, Motley Crue, and Saxon (not to mention Go West and Rick Springfield).  If you’re tired of modern films which offer watered-down violence, Demons won’t leave you disappointed.  Certainly one of the goriest on our list of 25 horror films for Halloween.

25. The Burning (1981) – Cropsy, a crabby summer camp caretaker, gets served up extra-crispy after a prank goes awry. Before you can say “bloody revenge,” he escapes from the hospital and returns for some payback.  Features a young cast of future stars such as Jason Alexander and Fisher Stevens.  The lake massacre scene is one of the best in slasher movie history, and the last 30 minutes of the film are a nice departure from the usual formula.

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