Whether or not you trick or treat, venture out to a costume party, or just stay in, there is something so satisfying about watching a movie on Halloween. There are so many sub-genres of horror that it's hard to choose. Do you like the bloodiest, goriest movies out there, or are you more into the creepy classics of the '60s and '70s? Even if you can't handle what goes bump in the night, you can always revisit a family feel-good Halloween movie. After you get back from the monster mash, check out our Top 5 classic killer flicks to get you in the mood for All Hallows Eve.
Haute Tension (Alexandre Films)
For those who like violent slasher films, check out Haute Tension -- a French horror film from 2003. Marie (Cécile de France) and Alex (Maïwenn Le Besco), two college students, are on their way to Alex’s parents’ house to study for their exams. In the middle of the night, a man shows up at their door and attacks the entire family. This classic home invasion plot shifts when Marie must hunt down the demented serial killer. It may sound like a familiar story, but the swift cinematography, ruthless protagonist, and eerie music score make a tense psychological thriller that disturbs long after its ending. The film was released in the U.S. with an NC-17 rating, and then cut to get that coveted R. You can still buy the uncensored version on DVD, though, in order to get the full-scale brutality. Watch this one in the dark with friends; jumping and screaming in unison will make for a scary Halloween night.
What Lies Beneath (Dreamworks, 20th Century Fox)
For some reason, ghost/possession/supernatural movies give me the heebie-jeebies more than any other genre. There’s something about an unnatural presence taking over that chills to the bone. One film I saw a few years ago still gets me every time: What Lies Beneath. Claire Spencer (Michele Pfeiffer) and her scientist husband, Norman (Harrison Ford), begin experiencing a haunting in their house after their daughter goes away to college. Claire begins to unravel a mystery reminiscent of Hitchcock’s old films. Intriguing and clever, this is a much more subtle kind of scary, and perfect to cozy up to on Halloween.
Hatchet (ArieScope Pictures)
On a lighter note, if you’re a fan of Evil Dead II, check out Hatchet -- a horror-comedy from the mind of Adam Green. Set in voodoo-practicin’, bead-tossin’ New Orleans, the film follows a group of tourists who take a haunted boat ride through the bayou during Mardis Gras. A pack of porn stars, a humdrum middle-aged couple from Minnesota, an inexperienced tour guide, a mysterious girl, and a pair of twenty-something guys find themselves caught up in a Louisiana urban legend. Victor Crawley, an oversized and deformed boy, was kept hidden away by his father. One Halloween, a group of kids threw firecrackers at him as a prank, and set his house on fire. Victor’s father inadvertently hacks his poor son with a hatchet in his attempt to save him. Locals believe Victor roams the swamps, seeking revenge. With spectacularly disgusting special FX and makeup, and self-referential dialogue reminiscent of the Scream series, Hatchet is utterly hilarious. Look out for cameos from horror movie heroes like Tony Todd (Candyman) and Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street).
The Shining (Warner Bros Pictures)
If you can’t jive with blood and guts and prefer a classic suspense movie, there is nothing creepier than The Shining. Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, the 1980 Stanley Kubrick film has frightened audiences for 30 years. Jack Nicholson’s performance as Jack Torrance is timeless. When Jack, his wife (Shelley Duvall), and young son Danny (Danny Lloyd) move up to an isolated hotel, they become trapped in a snowstorm. Even if you’ve seen it before, The Shining never fails to terrify. Watch this one with a friend or loved one – you’re going to need someone to grab onto.
Hocus Pocus (Walt Disney Pictures)
If you’ve got kids, or just want to relive your childhood, my favorite family Halloween movie is an easy choice. Hocus Pocus, the 1993 classic Disney movie, stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy as the Sanderson sisters -- a trio of evil witches. The cackling hags sucked the lives out of children in Salem, Massachusetts and were burned at the stake in 1693. They are brought back to life 300 years later by Max (Omri Katz), a clueless skater boy, and his sassy kid sister Dani (Thora Birch). Along with Max’s dreamboat crush, the kids must find a way to send the witches back to their grave before sunrise. Endlessly quotable and enjoyable even for parents, Hocus Pocus is a kid’s version of "classic." This would be great to watch with the whole family, or with a group of friends who know every line.
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