The pumpkins are out and the candy is piling up. Halloween is back to haunt us again, and despite taking place on a dreadful Monday this year, there’s no way we’re stopping the celebrations.
It’s time to pop-in the horror movies to get in the spirit of the season, but which movies really get that Halloween atmosphere, that combination of fright and fun, right? Well, after a heated and scientifically accurate study, here are the 5 greatest Halloween classics that have mastered the art of getting us into the spooky festivities year after year.
5. Evil Dead 2
The model for horror comedy, Evil Dead 2 surpasses its predecessor in every way. While actually serving as a sort of remake of the first with a larger budget, Evil Dead 2 moves away from the pure horror of the original to instead double down on its surreal brand of humour. While it’s mostly played for laughs, that doesn’t stop the film from presenting some memorable and disturbing visuals and scenarios for its insanely charismatic hero Ash as he’s tormented by insane spirits in a secluded cabin. While its follow-up Army of Darkness moves even further from horror to embrace its comedic side, Evil Dead 2 remains the quintessential blend of two genres that shouldn’t work together at all, but still manage to create a movie like none other that encompasses the best of both.
4. Cabin in the Woods
While it may be one of the greatest Halloween movies, Cabin in the Woods may have actually ruined the horror genre for me. Putting similar films like Scream and the awful Scary Movie series to shame, Cabin in the Woods serves as the greatest love letter and parody of the horror genre. Innocuously beginning as a typical slasher movie, it’s soon apparent that the movie intends to play with horror traditions and tropes to hilarious and entertaining results. What really elevates Cabin in the Woods into classic status though is it’s final act, which explodes into an unforgettably entertaining and satisfying symphony of the best horror has to offer. It’s really a climax that has to be seen to be believed, and any fan of horror will find themselves sharing in Cabin of the Woods’ love of the genre.
One of the first, and still arguably greatest of the slasher subgenre, John Carpenter’s Halloween perfectly captures the gruesome fear instilled in the holiday. Taking place during Halloween, the masked killer Michael Myers escapes custody and cuts a bloody path through a quiet suburban neighbourhood. It may not be exactly the most charming of Halloween flicks, but seeing horny teens killed in all sorts of twisted ways by a haunting bogeyman is a staple of horror and is always fun for the whole family. It’s actually surprising how well the film holds up despite the slew of mediocre slash films throughout the years in its wake. While being the progenitor of many horror tropes still seen today, Halloween surpasses these now-cliches to deliver something tense and atmospheric, creating an anxious sense of dread and anxiety in its timing, visuals, and let’s not forget that iconical creepy theme song.
2. Trick ‘r Treat
Another movie actually actually centered directly on the holiday, Trick ‘r Treat surprisingly feels like Goosebumps made for adults. As a collection of short stories that eventually come together to tell a satisfyingly terrifying narrative, all while taking place on one fateful Halloween night, Trick ‘r Treat feels oddly nostalgic. Not only for its depiction of the holiday, but specifically its recreation of the charm and horrors we experienced annually growing up in our impressionable young minds. In fact, Trick ‘r Treat actually manages to take this nostalgia and frame it for an R-rated mindset. The creepiness is more disturbing, the costumes are sexier, and the violence and gore even more gruesome, all while still possessing that unmistakable Halloween magic.
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas
With Jack Skellington as the long overused mascot for Hot Topic and emo kids throughout the 2000’s, it’s high time we take back the animated classic to celebrate it as the Halloween staple that it is. No other film completely instills the Halloween spirit with creepy visuals, a fun and enjoyable plot for all ages, and unforgettably catchy tunes.The incredible stop motion animation still holds up today, giving the film a timeless and forever spooky sense of aesthetics and motion. While it’s perfect for getting us into the Halloween spirit, it also works to segue right into the Christmas season without losing its dark edge along the way. The Nightmare Before Christmas works not only as the perfect movie to get in the Halloween spirit, but as a reminder of those unforgettable feelings we’d have building up in us as excited children for the entire fall season.