The Top 10 Horror Movies to Watch in October
From time to time, we like to have a little fun here at Monstrum Athenaeum because we know it can’t all be a history lesson or a conspiracy (sorry Argus). Since Halloween is right around the corner, we wanted to share with you those movies and films that have a warm place in our hearts, bringing back fond memories. Which type of movies you ask? Well the scariest horror movies of course!
Horror movies are enjoyable at any time of the year but it is a tradition in many households to have a marathon of the very best options around Halloween. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 horror movies that need to be a part of your Halloween festivities. In fact, this list is the perfect replacement for all of the family friendly so-called spooky programming that has taken over most of the television networks choosing to honor the best holiday of the year. Even if you’ve seen these movies a million times (they’re great – why wouldn’t you?), they’ll still put you in the proper mood to celebrate the dark and macabre aspects of life we’re encouraged to embrace on Halloween.
The Top 10 List
1. Halloween (1978) – The original Halloween by John Carpenter is a moody, atmospheric movie that helped create and define the slasher genre. It’s often considered one of the scariest horror movies of all time. The choice of a blank mask (thank you Bill!) for the character of Michael Myers, AKA The Shape, was way more terrifying than any gruesome makeup because it made it clear the boogeyman could truly be anyone. This ambiguous trait of the character was ruined by Rob Zombie’s decision to delve into the past, so it is definitely better to stick with the original film so that you can experience the terror of being chased by someone who essentially has no face or discernible identity.
Even though we end up learning Myers did have a motive, it’s still easy to put ourselves in Laurie Strode’s place because any of us could have a deep, dark family secret just waiting for the right moment to strike. Halloween is both a fun slasher and a metaphor for the potential destructiveness of keeping secrets. It also taught me NOT to get in my car if the windows are fogged up – best horror scene ever!
2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – Freddy Krueger eventually became a wisecracking monster who audiences rooted for because of the increasing complexity and psychology behind each of his kills, but he was initially kept primarily in the shadows in order to increase each audience member’s sense of dread. The original film introduced a new type of madness within this character who was driven by revenge to murder the teenagers of Elm Street through their dreams.
The premise was fantastic and all rules were off the table! The characters were truly in trouble when Krueger mutilated his own body by cutting off a finger and laughing maniacally. After all, if the bad guy doesn’t even care about his own body, what will he do to yours? A Nightmare on Elm Street built on the success of films like Halloween and Friday the 13th but took special effects and gore to new levels. Combine this with the fact the script was actually inspired by a true story, it becomes easy to understand why this film is still a fan favorite after so many years.
3. Trick ‘r Treat (2007) – Most horror movies, aside from Halloween, do not actually take place on or near October 31st. This trend was bucked by the inventive anthology movie Trick ‘r Treat. The film was actually so clever it ended up sitting on the shelf for a couple of years before it was released due to concerns it wouldn’t be accessible to a wider audience. Unfortunately, movie studios often ascribe to the misconception horror fans want to see sequels of established characters more than original content, commonly believing anthologies are less intriguing to moviegoers.
Trick ‘r Treat proved both of these thought processes wrong when horror enthusiasts were finally able to delve into four stories connected by the mischievous and murderous character of Sam. Exploring popular horror themes and urban legends, this film includes a long list of recognizable actors and actresses brought to life by writer/director Michael Dougherty. This is by no means the best horror film ever been made but it should definitely get added to your Halloween night must see list; especially since you probably haven’t seen it which makes it even more exciting.
4. Dawn of the Dead (2004) – Remakes are a very contentious issue within the horror community, but they occasionally manage to get everything right. For example, this retelling of George A. Romero’s classic 1978 film keeps the most important parts of his original vision alive while also giving the zombies a modern twist making the movie extremely enjoyable to watch. The reason this film works so well and maintains much of Romero’s social commentary is the fact he contributed to the screenplay.
Dawn of the Dead is also quite simply a fun romp for anyone loving zombies and gore to appreciate. It’s a great choice for your Halloween night but you should also consider watching it back to back with the original in order to develop a greater appreciation for the differences and similarities between these two interpretations of the zombie legend Romero helped turn into such a huge aspect of pop-culture.
5. Hellraiser (1987) – Writer, director and artist Clive Barker has built a strong career out of his fantastically twisted imagination but his major film debut with 1987’s Hellraiser is still arguably the most effective thing he has ever created. Based on the novella The Hellbound Heart, Hellraiser tells the story of a group of demons known as Cenobites who are led by an aristocratic sadist nicknamed Pinhead. Barker was raised in England and it’s easy to see the influence of Hammer films and Edgar Allen Poe in the slower build up to the revelation of the many nasty horrors awaiting the film’s characters.
The Lament Configuration is an intriguing puzzle box which unlocks the gates of hell. Anyone unfortunate enough (or perhaps lucky enough) to solve the puzzle ends up facing their worst nightmare or a dream come true. The special effects in this movie still hold up surprisingly well, so it’s definitely a good choice for people who enjoy an intriguing storyline accompanied by a healthy dose of gore.
6. The Shining (1980) – Stephen King might enjoy complaining about it, but Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of the original source material for The Shining is typically referred to as brilliant by horror fans and people who simply enjoy quality cinema. When you get down to it, the tweaks made to adapt the book to film were essential and certain components of King’s work would have quite simply been preposterous once translated to the big screen. With that said, Kubrick did keep some of the most evocative imagery intact, and made the perfect casting decision when he gave the role of tortured writer Jack Torrance to Jack Nicholson.
The Shining succeeds at drawing people in and challenges them to question whether the ghosts are real or simply a fragment of Jack’s splintered psyche. The Shining is an enjoyable and thought-provoking movie appealing to a diverse audience. If you are planning to have friends over to watch a horror movie this October, you definitely cannot go wrong selecting this title to anchor your evening.
7. Poltergeist (1982) – Ghost stories and Halloween go hand-in-hand, so it’s no surprise Poltergeist has retained its popularity for so many years. The so-called Poltergeist Curse has certainly pulled newer audiences into the experience who might have otherwise ignored this Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper classic about a family terrorized by ghosts.
Perhaps one of the most compelling and terrifying suspense builders in the movie is the subtle manipulation the poltergeists employ to capture the trust of each family member, especially young Carol Anne. At first, the poltergeists seem to be friendly spirits who enjoy amusing the family but before long, their true deadly intentions shake the family to their core and compel them to fight a battle against the forces of evil in order to save Carol Anne’s life. There have been a plethora of ghost flicks during the last decade which sounded interesting but ultimately ended up disappointing so it’s better to revisit the classic film that actually got the formula right.
8. [REC] (2007) – The found footage sub-genre has quickly become filled with inferior quality films, but [REC] is one of the rare exceptions which utilizes this format with a high level of skill. Many English speaking horror fans have seen the American remake entitled Quarantine, but it is important to note the original source material is much better. Even if you typically try to avoid movies with subtitles, you should add [REC] to your must see list.
Be prepared to become fully immersed in the most unusual night a fire department and news crew has ever experienced as a zombie-like virus begins making people do unimaginable things to each other. On this basic level, [REC] works extremely well and it even tosses in an unexpected twist taking the subject matter into an intriguing new direction. Few horror movies have what it takes to make die-hard fans sit on their edge of their seat but [REC] delivers and for this reason it’s generally regarded as one of the absolute best found footage horror films made.
9. Shaun of the Dead (2004) – Have you got a little bit of red on you? If you do not understand this joke, it is imperative to watch the horror comedy Shaun of the Dead right away. All of the other movies on this list take their subject matter very seriously but Shaun of the Dead shows viewers just how comical zombies can actually be. The film was created as a metaphor for British society and yet it also allows an unlikely hero to emerge and a romantic subplot to develop while avoiding feeling overly cheesy or merely tacked on to attract a more diverse audience.
The zombies in Shaun of the Dead actually feel truly menacing at times which is a nice change of pace from other horror comedies. However, the film does ultimately invite the viewer to look at the humorous parallels between a society feeling almost zombified due to its love affair with technology combined with a lack of interpersonal skills and the actual creatures obsessed with consuming human flesh. Shaun of the Dead is the perfect horror film for a Halloween party, and it’s an ideal choice to enjoy with a horror loving significant other.
10. Nosferatu (1922) – Long before vampires sparkled and were turned into sex symbols, there was a classic silent movie named Nosferatu that truly captured the creepy essence of the vampire legend and Bram Stoker’s seminal Dracula novel. Unfortunately, the filmmakers neglected to properly acquire the rights to make their movie so they were forced to change the main character’s name to Count Orlock prior to release. Even with this one concession, though, it was obvious to everyone Nosferatu was based almost exclusively on Stoker’s book and this was the only movie adaptation remaining true to the hideous visage described in certain sections of the novel.
Some horror fans unfairly overlook Nosferatu because of its age and the absence of spoken dialogue but in many respects the film is actually scarier than many of the movies popular today. Do yourself a favor and put away your preconceived notions about what makes a film enjoyable so you can experience one of the first movies that helped create the modern version of the genre you know and love.
11. Pact Des Loups (2001) – Consider this a bonus; we had to add Pact Des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf) onto this list because it is one of the finest horror films ever made and terrifying from start to finish. Don’t believe me? I bet you’ll either pee your pants in the first 5 minutes or pass out because you forgot to breath. It’s an excellent film with perfect cinematography and a story line based on a true story.
The “wolf” in this film is based on The Beast of Gevaudan which was a mysterious creature which still, to this day, has not been identified. The creature famously terrorized the people of the province of Gevaudan, in the Haute-Loire, France between 1764 and 1767. The film is shot entirely in French and subtitled in English but you’ll never notice – it’s just that good.
Well, that completes our list of the top 10+1 scariest horror movies to watch in October. Do you agree or disagree? Maybe you feel your horror favorite was slighted, and you have a creepier idea for a horror marathon. Be sure to tell us what you think in the comments below and check out our list of horror movies that could be real.