25 Halloween films to watch on Fright Night
Halloween parties are off, but don’t let that stop you from embracing fright night with a movie marathon that’ll require popcorn, a stiff drink, and a pillow to hide behind.
Scream (1996, 18)
Worship at the horror alter of director Wes Craven – he’s a master of of the genre. Scream, based on the real life case of the Gainesville Ripper, is a clever spoof slasher film packed full of big name stars from Courtney Cox to Drew Barrymore, all primed for a bloody end. The film tour up the horror rule book and satirises all the clichés that we all know and love to hate. Get a menacing phone call from a creepy man? Sure go outside and take a look.
The Woman In Black (2012, 15)
The Woman in Black is one of the most terrifying live theatre productions EVER! So Daniel Radcliffe had big, scary shoes to fill in this 2012 supernatural horror film directed by James Watkins and written by the super talented Jane Goldman. Radcliffe play a young recently widowed lawyer who travels to a remote village where he discovers a vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorising the locals. Makes a change from it being the villagers. Be warned, there are plenty of jumpy moments.
28 Days Later (2002, 18)
No, not London during lockdown, although it certainly felt like a scene from 28 Days Later. This, of course, is Danny Boyle’s big screen zombie apocalypse, starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris and Christopher Ecclestone. The plot depicts the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious virus and focuses upon the struggle of four survivors. Eerily familiar and possibly a little too near the knuckle for some.
Shaun Of The Dead (2004, 15)
Not all Halloween movies have to be viewed from behind a cushion, some have a heavy dose of humour. Enter stage left… Shaun Of The Dead a comedy horror written and starring Simon Pegg. Caught unaware by the zombie apocalypse Shaun (Pegg) and his mate Ed (Nick Frost) attempt to take refuge in their safe space – local pub, The Winchester. The critics loved it, we loved it, so if you need a little light relief, this is the one.
Nightmare On Elm Street (1984, 18)
Yikes! Perhaps give the pepperoni pizza a swerve for this one – it’s resemblance to Freddy’s face is uncanny. Having watched this when it was originally released in 1984, Nightmare On Elm Street is the the stuff of nightmares. High School Musical it is not, but it’s worth a re-run to see Wes Craven’s iconic dream killer with razors for fingernails. Eyes peeled for a very young Johnny Depp and remember: ‘One, Two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four better lock your door…’
The Exorcist (1973, 18)
What an excellent day for an exorcism! Can you believe The Exorcist – one of the most iconic horror films of all time – is 47 years old? It’s a cult classic (racking up $450 million at the box office to date) and the storyline’s just as disturbing today as it was back then. If you’re unaware of the plot, or you’ve blanked it from your memory, it’s basically a story about Satanic child abuse. Let’s just say, the pea-soup industry still hasn’t recovered from its product’s memorable “cameo” in this film. The power of Christ compels you to see it again.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968, 15)
A magnificent exercise in escalating unease, Roman Polanski’s poker-faced adaptation of Ira Levin’s neo gothic bestseller follows the harrowing gestation of Manhattan mum-to-be Mia Farrow as she unwittingly carries the devil’s offspring. We’re not quite in a documentary – Polanski is too careful with his camera – but it might as well be one, set on the same wing as the Draper residence.
The Lost Boys (1987, 15)
Eighties poster boys stripped to the waist and wearing spray-on leather trousers for The Lost Boys – it’s what throwback dreams are made of. Starring Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland, these boys were plastered over many teen girls’ walls and exercise books back in the day. New romantics meets vampires, it’s a worth at trip down memory lane.
Fright Night (1985, 18)
Blimey hon, if you need the name of a good cosmetic dentist, I can hook you up. Legendary horror director Tom Holland made his directorial debut with vampire movie Fright Night and it is considered a cult classic. If you’re more scream queen than scaredy cat, then you’ll love this film about a teenager who discovers his neighbours are literally from hell and enlists the help up TV vampire hunter Peter Vincent.
An American Werewolf in London (1981, 18)
I too have massive hands. It’s a curse. But David Naughton also has to contend with excessive body hair and the drooling teeth as a werewolf. The transformation scene in An American Werewolf In London took a week to shoot and in one scene he had to run naked around London Zoo’s wolf cage – fortunately they had just been fed. It’s a cult classic that blends humour and horror to perfection.
Halloween (1978, 15)
He’s not going to win first prize with this lame effort Halloween costume, but there’s something about that dead-eyed stare and giant knife that brings out in a cold sweat. John Carpenter’s ingenious minimalist nugget, Halloween, about suburban teens and an unstoppable killer is one of the most influential horror films ever – plus it stars Jamie Lee Curtis. The film was rebooted two years ago but stick with the original.
Beetlejuice (1987, PG)
Ahhh, Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. His 1997 film became the surprise lockdown hit and is now one of Netflix’s most-watched movies. Why? It’s about a couple who are living in enforced isolation filled with ghostly hijinks and an unfortunate run-in with creepy bio-exorcist Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton). It all feels very 2020.
Edward Scissorhands (1995, 12)
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have long been a match made in horror heaven but it all started with Edward Scissorhands – about a gothic robot with knives for fingers plonked into pastel suburbia where the bored housewives have the hots for their freakishly snippy neighbour. Plus there’s a bittersweet romance between Edward and Kim (Winona Ryder). It’s as fun as Burton’s other films but with the heart to match. Also good for hairdressing tips.
Carrie (1976, 18)
Corsages, the battle for prom queen and king, all those ruffles – prom sounds like a nightmare.Carrie won’t change your mind – it’s one of the creepiest teen films EVER. Carrie White, a shy, friendless girl, who is sheltered by her mega religious mum, unleashes her woo woo powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom. It’s based on Stephen King’s novel adaptation which should tell you everything you need to know.
IT (2017, 18)
Clowns! Need I say more? Preying on everyone’s aversion to ruffles and grease paint, IT – based on Stephen King’s novel – is the highest grossing horror movie in history having racked up $700 million in ticket sales. Combined with It: Chapter Two‘s $437 million box office tally, the It saga is one of only a few horror franchises to cross the coveted billion-dollar mark. Kerching!
Child’s Play (1988, 15)
Loved playing with dolls as a child? Well, Chucky’s about to ruin that for you. He’s a doll possessed by a serial killer and sent on a murder spree. As implausible as it might sound, Child’s Play was a huge hit and spawned a whole franchise – despite accusations it made kids turn into violent lunatics. Perhaps one to watch without the kids. If you love it, there’s seven more to sink your teeth into.
The Blair Witch Project (1999, 15)
The Blair Witch Project debuted on the cusp of the millennium when, if you wanted to find stuff out, you couldn’t just Google it. Based on a true story, it follows three student filmmakers into the Black Hills in Maryland as they make a documentary about the local legend of the Blair Witch. The film is shot with wobbly camera reality and there’s a high risk of motion sickness (speaking from experience here). The mystery is: why is the camera equipment found and not the students’ bodies? If your nerves aren’t shredded, it forms part of a trilogy.
The Sixth Sense (1999, 15)
Whisper it: ‘I see dead people‘… Most chats my kids are about what’s for tea and that they got a sticker for not calling out. But fortunately, my life’s not a psychological thriller. The Sixth Senseis a classic supernatural horror starring Bruce Willis, Toni Collette and Haley Joel Osment as the young boy. Bruce tries to save the day but uncovers some some hard truths about his own life. It’s genuinely creepy.
The Witches of Eastwick (1987, 18)
Fright night feminism, anyone? The Witches of Eastwick is stylish dark comedy never disappoints. What’s not to love about a screen shared by Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jack Nicholson? These three frustrated women laughingly try to conjure a man to fulfil all their desires. Soon enough, Daryl Van Horne (Nicholson) moves into town, but has strange effect on each of them. You’ll never look at a bowl of cherries the same way.
Sleepy Hollow (2017, 15)
Gothic puppet master Tim Burton teams up with Johnny Depp for another dance on the dark side. Sleepy Hollow is a period, gothic drama about a police constable, played by Depp, sent to investigate the Headless Horseman murders in small town. Beautifully shot, creepy as hell. It’s perfect for Halloween.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, 18)
When horror meets fashion – the massive lacy collar is to die for in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This Francis Ford Coppola-directed gothic horror, starring Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, puts an artistic spin on an age-old classic. This iteration takes place in late 19th century London, as Dracula ruthlessly pursues a woman who looks like his late wife.
The Shining (1980, 15)
You could say, all of Stanley Kubrick’s movies are horror films: 2001’s terrifying cosmic loneliness, Dr. Strangelove’s cheery annihilation, the death duels from Barry Lyndon. Which is all a way of saying that when the director finally got around to making a proper thriller inThe Shining, he paradoxically produced the ultimate comic satire on the American family. With blood in elevators and terrifying kids.
The Ring (2002, 15)
If you could watch this from start to finish, I salute you. This film had a cult following in the early noughties and a multitude of teens were convinced they would die within seven days of watching it. The classic elements of a horror film amass in the form of a possessed and bedraggled young girl, a mysterious hut in the woods, a creepy cursed videotape and a relative of a dead girl committed to unearthing the truth. This film will have you gripping the edge of your seat and the psychological thrill remains a week later. Consider yourself warned!
Friday the 13th (1980, 18)
Once a goofy superstition, now a chilling reminder that men in hockey masts are best avoided. Friday The 13th might have been a one-off, had it not been made on a teeny tiny budget only for it to blow up at the box office. Hockey loving Jason Voorhees, the killer at the centre of the story, became a bizarre pop-culture icon and camping nosedived in popularity. If you need a get out for your next night under the stars, this is it.
Poltergeist (1982, 15)
When Poltergeist was released it was a PG. Seriously?! The ratings bods must have been on crack. Apparently producer Stephen Spielberg put up a strong argument for it to be kid friendly, but there’s nothing warm and fuzzy about it. It’s also cursed, resulting in the death of four of the cast. Having used real skeletons during filming, this was the spirit world’s payback. Who knows? But what we do know is that it will still scare the bejesus out of you 38 years after it was made.