I, like so many others, have made it my tradition to watch a movie every year on Halloween. I’m not exactly a horror fan, so I tend to stick with spooky or humorous rather than gory. We all know that “Cabin in the Woods” and “The Strangers” are great picks, so I’ve decided to fill up this list with titles that you won’t see on your everyday, average “Halloween Movie” list. The following are my suggestions for the perfect Halloween movie night:
I’m a huge Hitchcock fan, so you can expect more of his films to show up on this list. This film, based on Daphne du Maurier’s novel, is set primarily in a stunning (and haunted) mansion called Manderley in Cornwall and features beautiful, lavish costumes. It’s creepy, it’s psychological, it’s the perfect gothic tale. Also, Laurence Olivier.
2. Rear Window (1954)
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly
You’ve got Grace in fabulous costumes, you’ve got Jimmy in a leg cast. You’ve got a suspicious neighbor and several moments of nail-biting tension. The plot involves Stewart as a photojournalist who is confined to his apartment and begins spying innocently on his neighbors and, eventually, believes he has witnessed a murder. This is a perfect movie if I ever saw one. I must mention the fact that I often feel as though I am in this movie because my dorm window looks out straight into the windows across the courtyard.
3. Night of the Hunter (1955)
Directed by: Charles Laughton
Starring: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters
Robert Mitchum is so creepy in this movie. It is a classic tale of good vs. evil, wherein a preacher (Mitchum) marries a widow (Winters). The man then becomes a complete nightmare for the widow’s children as well as for the viewer. The film is shot beautifully and is super eerie. Also, I find it worth mentioning that the preacher has the words “LOVE” and “HATE” tattooed on his knuckles…
4. Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long
Okay, so perhaps this film can be found on other lists, but I had to include it. It’s completely hilarious. A loan officer (Lohman) is cursed by an old gypsy after refusing to give her an extension on her mortgage. What follows is a beautiful, hot mess of crazy spirits, seances, and talking goats. I’ve read some interesting theories regarding the film’s potential hidden meaning, but to me it’s just a funny, ridiculous film.
5. Psycho (1960)
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh
More Hitchcock, more handsome actors. Psycho is a pretty obvious choice, but it must be discussed. In case you haven’t seen it, the movie is about a young woman (Leigh) on the run after stealing money from her company’s client. She ends up a creepy little motel run by Norman Bates (Perkins). As we all know, the young woman is murdered in the infamous shower scene. The rest of the film follows her sister and boyfriend as they arrive at the motel and discover the truth about Norman Bates and his beloved mother.
6. Funny Games (2007)
Directed by: Michael Haneke
Starring: Michael Pitt, Naomi Watts, Tim Roth
There’s something about this film that really freaks me out. The director Michael Haneke originally made the movie in Austria in 1997, but remade it for the U.S. ten years later. In the recent version, Naomi Watts and Tim Roth play a couple who have just arrived with their son at the family lake house. They soon meet two (handsome) young men, played by the insane Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet, who eventually take the family hostage. The setting, the props, the clothing, and everything is so realistic that this movie is truly terrifying to me.
7. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Directed by: Eli Craig
Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden
This one is sort of in the same vein as The Cabin in the Woods, in that it is a clever, genuinely funny parody of typical gory, horror films. While vacationing at their cabin in the mountains, best friends Tucker and Dale cross paths with a group of college kids who mistake the pair for murderous hillbillies when, in reality, they are just two normal, friendly guys who just want to hang out in their cabin. What follows is an array of over-the-top, hyper-violent death scenes which poke fun at the horror genre.
8. The Craft (1996)
Directed by: Andrew Fleming
Starring: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell
Supernatural teen movie or iconic 90s fashion film? It’s about a girl named Sarah (Tunney) who moves to Los Angeles and unknowingly meets a group of witches at her catholic school. There’s witches, fashion, and a fantastic soundtrack including songs by Our Lady Peace, Jewel, and Portishead. Perfect for Halloween and for a 90s-throwback.
9. The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
Directed by: Roman Polanski
Starring: Roman Polanski, Jack MacGowran, Sharon Tate
This movie is set in snowy Transylvania and follows two vampire killers, Professor Abronsius (MacGowran) and his assistant Alfred (Polanski), who are on a mission to rescue an inn-keeper’s daughter (Tate) who has been kidnapped by the creepy Count von Krolock. The setting is gorgeous and the story is funny. To prove my point, I offer you to the film’s full title: The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are In My Neck.
10. The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962)
Directed by: Henry Levin & George Pal
Starring: Laurence Harvey, Karl Bohm, Claire Bloom and more
The main plot centers around Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, who are working on a writing job. Wilhelm would rather be writing fairytales. Actual Grimm fairytales such as “The Cobbler and the Elves”, “The Singing Bone”, and “The Dancing Princess” are included in the film, as well. This is my go-to sick day movie, but it definitely works for Halloween as well. My favourite story is “The Dancing Princess” (watch the video above!), which includes Russ Tamblyn dancing around the forest.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!