Halloween Movies: A Viewer’s Guide

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Halloween Movies: A viewer's guide

Vanessa Sully

Vanessa Sully

Vanessa Sully

Vanessa Sully

Guest Host / Matt’s Wife / Chris’ Sister-in-Law / Isabel’s Mom / Writer / Movie Lover

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

No, not Christmas. We’ll get to that later. It’s Halloween-time! Time for thrills and chills and things that go bump in the night. Time to snuggle up with a blanket, turn off the lights and play non-stop horror movies for the next few weeks. 

I realize not everyone has a bloodlust as developed as my own. There truly is something in this genre for everyone. So whether you’re looking for something fun and campy or something truly twisted, my guide below, separated into sub-genres and with a new and old offering, will put you on the right track. This list is in no way complete. I could’ve added at least 10 more for each category. But, it’s definitely a good start. Happy Watching!

Photo by Daisy Anderson from Pexels

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Halloween (1978) – Directed by John Carpenter. Let’s just start with the top. Michael Myers and the infamous babysitter killings. His silent determination. Those dark eyes. That EPIC score. Masterpiece. 

Scre4m (2011) – Directed by Wes Craven. The last entry in the Scream franchise came after an 11 year hiatus. A much more adult Sydney is again being tormented by Ghostface. This script is a return to the original Scream vibe and what made the series so brutal and so much fun. 


Hocus Pocus (1993) – Directed by Kenny Ortega. The Sanderson sisters return to Salem 300 years after they were hanged for being witches. And they only have until morning to send them back from whence they came. Hilarity ensues.  

Paranorman (2012) – Directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell. From the Laika studio. On the surface, it’s a movie about a little boy who can see the dead and must save his town from a centuries-old curse. If you dig deeper, however, there’s kind of a heavy story here – very Silent Hill (later in the list). And very unexpected. Don’t worry. The kids’ll probably miss it. 

Haunted House:

Poltergeist (1983) – Directed by Tobe Hooper. The movie that made me a horror-fiend. A suburban family is tormented by some very snatchy ghosts. This pre-CGI masterpiece holds up well and has some scenes that will stay with you – toy clown, anyone? 

The Conjuring (2013) – Directed James Wan. Based on the true story of the Perron family and their battle against the evil entities in their new home. Ed and Lorraine Warren (Amityville fame) are called in to help and all hell breaks loose. Literally. This is a terrifying movie. 


Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) – Directed by Stephen Chiodo. Aliens invade a small-town disguised as weird-ass looking clowns. This movie is so strange and over-the-top that you can’t look away. You’ll never look at popcorn and cotton candy in the same way again. 

Ready or Not (2019) – Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett. A bride is forced to play a sinister game with her new in-laws on her wedding night.This one was an unexpected treat. It’s funny. The concept is downright silly. And boy is it ever bloody. But, it works. Stay to the end, trust me. 

Psychological Horror:

Flatliners (1990) – Directed by Joel Schumacher. Five med students decide to play with “near death” experiences. Things go awry. This one has such a mood. It is eerily suspenseful and perfectly executed by the cast. Lots of familiar faces here. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT watch the 2017 version. Not even close.

Get Out (2017) – Directed by Jordan Peele. Dang, Jordan came out of nowhere with this masterful directorial debut. An African-American man goes with his white girlfriend to meet her family. They are very welcoming but something just isn’t right. I can’t say anymore, it gives it away. Watch it. Stop reading. Go now. 


Night of the Living Dead (1990) – Directed by Tom Savini. The dead return and hunt the living. I’m not usually one for remakes but this one gets it right. The evolution of the main character here is so good. And the overall tone of the movie is super eerie, hopeless even. 

Train to Busan (2016) Directed by Sang-ho Yeon. The Zombie Apocalypse is happening while a group of people are on a train from Seoul to Busan. This movie is tense right from the start and does not stop. If you’re looking for action, suspense, explosions, betrayal, blood (so much blood) and super-fast zombies, this is the one for you. 


Hellraiser (1987) – Directed by Clive Barker. God, how to explain… A woman discovers that her brother-in-law and former lover is living in the attic of the house she and her husband just moved into. Now the gross part. Having escaped demons (The Cenobites – which he summoned with a puzzle box), to whom he lost his earthly body, he is only half-formed and she must help him by murdering and feeding him fresh victims. Meanwhile, the Cenobites want him back. Yes, ew. Think of the grossest thing possible. That is this movie. If you can handle the gore, the story is actually quite brilliant. Good luck. 

Silent Hill (2006) – Directed by Christophe Gans. A woman goes looking for her adopted daughter and is led to the town of Silent Hill. Based on the video game with the same name. Another surprisingly entertaining movie. The imagery is spectacular and is true to the game itself. But it is bloody – so very savagely bloody. And I’ll just say children are not safe from the horrors of Silent Hill. 

Notable mentions: 

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! (1966)

Cabin in the Woods (2011)

Goosebumps (2015)

Happy Haunting!

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