Want to be scared? Boo!
A list of movies for halloween. Hope you like them.
I love scary movies. There is something about getting the frights that brings you right back to being a kid and feeling small in the great unknown darkness is oddly freeing. That said, there are only a few movies that I have found really frightening. And if asked what movies do you find scary I can only ever think of one off the top of my head – The Shining. I find that film so so so creepy. I’m getting a little creeped out now just thinking about it. I don’t find films like The Exorcist or Poltergeist even vaguely frightening and I find it hard to understand how anyone does. And I think that’s the interesting about horror movies; they are only scary if they manage to tap into one of deep dark fears, you know that irrational terror you have of something beyond your control, beyond your understanding. And of course that fear is childish nonsense because nothing is beyond our understanding in this logical and sensible adult world, right? Yeah, right…
So I thought I’d put together some lists of movies for Halloween and group them by the fears they evoke in me, and also list some not scary but enjoyable Halloween movies for those who want to get into the spirit of things while not been in anyway scared. Oh yeah and a list of zombies movies. I don’t find zombie movies scary but I love them – there should be more zombie movies.
WARNING: I’m terrible for giving away spoilers so this list may well contain some.
Can you feel it? Something else is here…
Ever been somewhere all by yourself but had a really strong feeling you were not alone? Ever entered some room or some building and been overcome by some feeling?
Obviously The Shining is my #1 scary film but the rest of the titles on this list are in no particular order.
The Shining (1980)
A father accepts a job as a caretaker of a huge and isolated hotel. He is a struggling writer, currently down on his luck, hoping to write a book while there and basically get life back on track for his family. Unfortunately the hotel has other plans for him.
Everyone in this great and it’s so creepy. Check out the trailer. This is a fan’s trailer and it gives a lot away but really if it spoils it for you it’s your own fault for not having seen The Shining already… (just joking – if you haven’t seen the film watch it first.)
The 6th Sense (1999)
I didn’t actually find this all that scary while watching it. I really like the film but it’s more scary after the fact, when you wake up in the dead of night and think “it’s so cold!” before realising you’re in Ireland, in the middle of winter, in a poorly insulated house.
The kid sees dead people. It’s good, check out the trailer.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
I know loads of people who don’t find this scary at all, but I did. I think this was the first really popular “found footage” style horror, or it may have been the first of that genre full-stop. Three film students go off to make a documentary about the legend of the Blair Witch and end up her prey. I love how nothing gory is really shown. Imagination is always more effective than concrete visuals.
Watch in darkness, with the lights out, with no one allowed to ask incessantly “Why don’t they just kill that girl? She’s so annoying. And no one will find the body out there.” as it will break the tension. And the trailer…
What Lies Beneath (2000)
OK, I’m not sure how scary I would have found this if I knew it was a horror before I saw it. I went to the cinema to see Cast Away and it was booked out, so ended up going to What Lies Beneath. It wasn’t my choice. I assumed that it was a psychological exploration of a mid-life couple forced to get to know each other again when their child leaves home. I hate drama. There are some excellent dramas out there which I love and they are some of my favourite films. But generally I hate dramas because they are depressing and have nothing I can relate to. Give me zombies, vampires, fantasy, sci-fi madness and I’m entertained, and if the movie is really well done, who knows, I may even find some meaning.
Anyway my assumption was completely wrong, and I ended up really enjoying this and jumping out of my seat a few times.
I’m not linking to the trailer for this one as it’s 2.33 minutes long, gives away most of film, contains clips from the last quarter of the film and generally breaks all the rules for a good movie teaser. It’s not a tease if you’re throwing it away – bad trailer makers, bad!
Yes, Cast Away is also drama. And no it wasn’t my choice either.
The Orphanage (2007)
This wasn’t all that scary but it has a lovely sad sweetness to it and it is definitely creepy in parts. It’s about a woman who has bought the orphanage where she was once resident, her son starts making imaginary friends there and then goes missing. It’s a Guillermo del Toro film, the guy who made Pan’s Labyrinth which I love. If you like the feeling of that film you’ll probably like The Orphanage also, even though it’s a totally different story.
I really don’t think much of the trailer for this one either – why are trailers so useless these days? – but here’s the shortest one I could find.
Dead of Night (1945)
This is an English black and white movie. I have a big soft spot for black and white movies (or rather movies from the first half of the 20th century) from where-ever. Generally “scary” black and white movies are not really that scary so I wasn’t expecting anything from this but I was surprised by 1. how creepy some parts of this were, 2. how many scary movies seemed to have borrowed elements from this film and 3. even though it was a collection of short stories which is a type of movie I generally don’t like because you don’t have enough time to build up any feeling for the characters, this one really worked for me. Again maybe the fact that I was expecting to find it just charming and nothing more helped.
I’m going to be a bit bold and link to the full movie. It’s only got 242 views so far, surely it deserves it a few more? And it got a good few more after that, until it was removed from youtube. There isn’t really any point watching trailers or clips from it. I’ve also seen a lot more black and white horror movies since then and some really are good. But I like this film because lots of things from it have been used again and the ventriloquist’s story really is quite creepy.
It’s all so wrong, but who can I turn to?
You know the type of movie, the ones that capture that feeling of claustrophobic paranoia so well. I think the Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies are the best of this kind, so again I do have a (joint) #1 in this list but the rest are in no particular order.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (both the 1956 and 1978 versions)
When people go to sleep they are replaced with soulless replicas, alike in every way but the way that matters most. There is no way to prove it. No one will believe you. They’ll lock you up. But you must stay vigilant, you must stay alert, but you’re so tired, so exhausted, you just need a little rest…
I first saw Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) when I was child and it was the first movie that terrified me. I was watching it late at night (well, what felt like late at night but was probably around 9pm) and I was trying to stay awake, although my eyelids were getting heavier and heavier, and I watched them hiding out in the cave thinking “how can you stay awake, it’s impossible” and I closed my eyes for just a second and then it was too late, so sad… I still love this movie today. I think it’s great. Here’s the trailer – I think this one is too long also, maybe I just don’t like trailers…
The 1978 remake manages a rare feat; it’s even better than the original. Here’s the trailer – which inexplicably has a bagpipe version of Amazing Grace playing in the background – I don’t remember any bagpipe music in the film.
Sadly none of the other remakes are any good but you should definitely check out these two gems.
The Stepford Wives (1975)
Yes it’s cheesy, yes the plot is a bit ridiculous and sexist (against men) but does it capture the feeling of “there’s something really wrong here and no will believe me and there’s nowhere I can go”? Yes, it does. The 2004 remake is dire, don’t waste your time, but if you like movies that capture this feeling and you can overlook the sexism then I think you’ll enjoy this.
The story is about a family who move to Stepford where the wives seem to behave like drones. The woman who’s just moved there is becoming more and more anxious that she’s going to turn into one of them and her husband can’t see anything wrong. Here’s the trailer.
Spoorloos – The Vanishing (1988)
I don’t know how well this fits into this genre but it’s a really good film and you do get that feeling of it being a quest that is sending the hero on a dangerous and lonely road where he would be better off being more paranoid. If you’re into action packed scares this is definitely not going to be your thing but if you like something different and if you’re into films about serial killers then this is one for you. Most films about serial killers glamourize the killer, showing how in control they are and I really like the way this shows how much the killer wants to appear like that but really he just fumbles his way through. And the trailer.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
I didn’t find this one scary but it’s definitely got the paranoid claustrophobic feeling down. I don’t want to give anything away so just watch the trailer.
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Yet another film that I wouldn’t really describe as scary but definitely it is paranoid and it also is very sad and sweet. It’s confusing but in a way that really works and is still easy to follow. This trailer is actually over 3 minutes long, but it’s not the official one (which was out of synch so I’m not linking to it) and even though it’s very long, I don’t think it gives too much away and it’s clearly made by someone who loves the film, so
here it is. Unfortunately Studiocanal blocked that video on copyright grounds … why on earth would you do that to a fan who has crafted something that will make people want to watch the film? Here’s the official trailer, which is fine but not as good as the fan’s one. Apparently this film was the inspiration for Silent Hill, so if you like that you should definitely give this one a little look.
It’s OK, it’s OK, everything’s fine … OH God, it’s not!!!
Ringu – Ring (1998)
Nothing that scary happens in this film. You watch it thinking why is this recommended as a scary film, no one would be scared by this. Until the last 2 minutes of the film and then you’re totally creeped out. And I don’t think it would be half as scary if the rest of the film had been in any way scary. This film is the perfect example of feeling everything’s fine and then suddenly it’s not. I only watched it once, didn’t watch the remake, probably won’t watch it again because I doubt it would have the same effect the second time around, but this movie is one of the scariest I’ve seen. And the trailer piques your interest without giving too much away – see it can be done.
The Wicker Man (1973)
This film is pretty strange from start to finish, but you think you know where it’s going and then … well … here’s the trailer.
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
OK, you do know from the get-go that something is very wrong with that preacher man but the way the atmosphere and tension builds in this is great. Kids in particular will be scared by this one, but still this is a quite a family friendly movie. Here’s the trailer.
Mm brains Zombies…
I love zombie movies. I watched Night of the Living Dead about 10 years ago for the first time and was completely captivated by it because it reminded me of nightmares I had as a child.* So I didn’t find it scary instead I got just got this really strange sense of nostalgia watching it. I also like how those films espouse hippie values without being in any way smug or self-righteous. In fairness it’s kind of hard to be smug and self-righteous when surrounded by flesh eating zombies. Since then I’ve watched a fair number of zombie movies, most of which were terrible but the following are watchable, particularly if you like zombies – the films – I don’t think anyone likes reanimated corpses, but then you never know…
* So just in case you’re thinking “she had dreams about zombies?!?” Ah no, come on, you’d need to grow up in a war zone or something to have nightmares of that sort. No, the nightmares were actually very ordinary. You’ve probably dreamed something similar yourself; the dream starts in the middle, it doesn’t have a beginning, something slow moving and unseen is chasing you, you should be able to get away easily, but you’re having trouble running and it gets more and more difficult till you can’t move your legs forward at all, and when you go to scream the scream goes inside you rather than out where it can be heard. And that’s when you wake up.
While I found the dream terrifying in the moment the fear would vanish completely on waking. – And slow moving zombie movies remind me of those nightmares just a little – it gives me a very odd sort of feeling of nostalgia.
This list is in no particular order – there can be no order when the dead walk the earth!!!
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Yes it’s cheesy, hammy, it would make a good sandwich filler, but I love it. The trailer gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect. Ah… the movie is a bit better than that… I do find the ending genuinely moving. Funny I know but I do… Give it a go you might too.
Night of the Living Dead is by George A. Romero so if you enjoy that you’ll also enjoy:
Dawn of the Dead (1978) – trailer
Day of the Dead (1985) – trailer
Land of the Dead (2005) – trailer
Diary of the Dead (2007) – trailer
Survival of the Dead (2009) – trailer– haven’t actually seen this one yet.
28 Days Later (2002)
I think this is a great film and whether you like zombies or not you will probably enjoy it. It’s by the same guy that made Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and Slumdog Millionaire. Some people argue that this does not qualify as a zombie movie since the rampaging flesh eaters in this one are live humans infected with the Rage virus. Some people, eh?
A man wakes up in hospital to find that while he was in a coma his whole world has been destroyed. See the trailer.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
The sequel to 28 Days Later is also well worth the watch. I think it’s made by a different group of people but it carries on the story very well. See the trailer.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
It’s a remake of the 1978 version. There isn’t really any questioning of a consumerist society in this one but there is a great action-packed zombie film. And here’s the proof.
Day of the Dead (2008)
This is a remake of the 1985 movie. It’s quite different from the original. It’s not as good as the Dawn of the Dead remake but in comparison to the average zombie movie it’s still very watchable. I enjoyed it. Here’s the trailer.
Rammbock: Berlin Undead (2010)
I normally don’t like low budget movies but I enjoyed this and it was sweet too. Michael is visiting his ex-girfriend with whom he is still very much in love. She is nowhere to be found so he waits in the flat for her, while a deadly and shocking new virus is starting to run rampant throughout the city. It’s different, take a look.
I’m sure the purists would argue that this is not a zombie movie since you are dealing with mutants not zombies. In fairness, with this one they might have a point because these mutants aren’t brainless. But still, this does have most of the elements that make a movie a zombie movie and bizarrely it’s another love story meets zombie apocalypse scenario. Low budget again, but if you’re looking for something a bit different, give it a whirl.
Now is it vampires or zombies in this film? I’m not really sure. It’s a great movie. Forget about the remake Quarantine, which doesn’t work because you know everyone is doomed right from the start. This one does work and has a sense of the occult about it which I think adds to the atmosphere, particularly at the end. I’m not sure if it’s a zombie movie, but it’s definitely one for Halloween. The trailer…
The Walking Dead – the series
I nearly forgot to mention this. There is a zombie series and it’s quite good. The last one I saw they killed off the hippie but hopefully they’ll not lose their values completely. And yes, there’s a trailer.
In the Spirit of things…
So you don’t really like scary movies but you still want some movies for Halloween? Maybe you might like some of these –
The Frighteners (1996)
Not in any way frightening but it is fun. A man can see spirits after surviving the car crash which killed his wife. He uses his gift to make money but some evil spirit is lurking around and making things difficult for him. See trailer
The Lost Boys (1987)
A comedy set in a town of vampires. Another fun one. I haven’t seen the remake but here’s the trailer for the original.
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
It’s not a zombie movie, it’s a comedy. However there are zombies in it and it is about a zombie outbreak. It’s still not a zombie movie though. But it is funny. Here’s the trailer.
They bust ghosts. Fun! Here’s the trailer.
Blithe Spirit (1945)
A charming comedy about a man who accidentally summons the spirit of his dead wife during a seance, much to the annoyance of his current wife. It’s based on a Noel Coward play so if you like that type of humour you’ll enjoy this.
The Lady Vanishes (both 1938 and 1979 versions)
I love this film, both versions. I love the pair of cricket fans. I’m convinced the two old codgers in the muppets were based on them. The trailers make it look like a pure thriller but really it’s a charming comedy. The 1938 trailer and the 1979 one.
They Live (1988)
“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick butt, and I’m all out of bubblegum.” If that quote doesn’t convince you to watch this I don’t know what will. Here’s the trailer. How cute is it that you couldn’t say butt in an 80s trailer?
Shallow Grave (1994)
So this is still sort of a comedy albeit a pretty dark one. It’s a good thriller too. A guy moves into a flat and dies whereupon his three new flatmates find a suitcase full of money and instead of going to the cops they decide to dispose of the body and share the money between themselves. But it’s not so easy to do the wrong thing… Here’s the trailer.
It’s about demon so I think that qualifies it as a Halloween movie. How do you deal with a demon? I still don’t know… Here’s the trailer.
Donnie Darko (2001)
The trailer for this movie makes it look like a proper Halloween movie but really it’s a bittersweet nostalgia trip for 80s kids. I’m very fond of bittersweet stuff and this is no exception – here’s the trailer.
Minority Report (2002)
A psychic police force that jails you before you do anything wrong has got to qualify as a Halloween movie, right? It’s not scary but it’s a great piece of sci-fi. Here’s the trailer.
This is another 1984ish type world but it’s like a lighthearted look at what life under Big Brother would be like. There’s isn’t actually a Big Brother… If you like the trailer, you’ll like the film.
Dial M for Murder (1954)
I think this is my favourite Hitchcock film, that isn’t a comedy. How does it qualify as a Halloween movie? – I don’t know I’ve forgotten the rules I set for this by now. Anyway here’s the trailer. Watching that trailer was painful. The movie is good, honestly.
I started with a Stephen King so I might as well end with one. A popular writer crashes his car and is rescued by his number 1 fan who doesn’t want him to ever get better. Here’s the trailer.
I’m not sure exactly how many of the movies I mentioned are really all that scary but if you’re searching for something different to watch this Halloween hopefully this list will be some use.