The season is upon us: the season of spooky skeletons and eerie lights, of uneaten candy corn and tacky blow-up yard decorations. But what is Halloween without the plethora of scary films that accompany this wonderful time? Personally, I look forward to Halloween more than any other holiday in the year. There’s just something about fall, costumes, candy, and being with great friends. So grab a few pals and get started on these five must-watch Halloween films!
1. Halloween (1978)
It goes without saying that John Carpenter’s “Halloween” is the most quintessential October film in history. A campy slasher set in a small midwestern town follows a standard horror movie pattern: creepy psychopath with daddy issues stalks a few babysitters, slicing and dicing as he goes along. “Halloween” set the standard for a scream queen protagonist, starring a young Jamie Lee Curtis, before she made the mistake of acting in “Freaky Friday.” This feminist slasher was way ahead of its time.
2. Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost (1999)
Hailed by most serious Scooby-Doo fans as the best original movie in the franchise’s long run, “Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost” is an essential fall film for all ages. The story features a surprising paradigm shift that left fans reeling. Set in a quaint New England town with the backdrop of a Thanksgiving festival, “Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost” is sure to please those who love a good animated classic and surprise those who think that the monsters are always people wearing masks.
3. The Strangers (2008)
For those in the mood for a serious scare, the 2008 home invasion film “The Strangers” is a perfect fit. Set in the middle of nowhere in rural Texas, “The Strangers” features a young couple fighting for their lives against a seemingly existential trio of masked murderers. The film asks the question, “why do killers kill?” and gives viewers a wild ride of suspense, jump scares, and heartwrenching human moments the whole way through. Perhaps the most haunting aspect of the film is the thought that this could happen to anyone.
4. The Evil Dead (1981)
This cult classic, set in an abandoned cabin in the woods and starring a young and energetic Bruce Campbell, disregards film convention in exchange for a roller-coaster ride of blood, guts, and glory. Campbell is in his element in his first B-movie role, fighting off demonic girlfriends and the evil spirits that haunt his neck of the woods. Sure to please, “The Evil Dead” is a basketful of laughs, shock value, and the kind of cheap, queasy gore that makes your stomach churn.
5. Scream (1996)
Perhaps my favorite of the bunch, Scream is an iconoclastic classic, the kind that only comes once in a decade. Taking place during the fall months in a small Californian community, “Scream” follows my favorite scream queen heroine, Sydney Prescott, as she navigates the twists and turns of senior year drama, with a little dash of a pyscho-killer-on-the-loose. Mixing an all-star cast and good old-fashioned scares with Wes Craven’s affinity for meta humor and self-reflection, “Scream” is an exciting ride.
Philip Berntson is a sophomore from Illinois.