Horror is one of my favorite genres and Halloween (even one week after) is the best occasion to enjoy it. Here are my top picks for the best holiday.
Of course! This is the quintessential Halloween movie and the very first slasher film that provided the formula for all others to follow. Michael Myers is absolutely frightening. He doesn't speak a word throughout the film and you have no idea what his face looks like as an adult. It preys on our fears of strangers and the unknown. With a single minded, slow and steady nature (and a spray painted William Shatner mask), he pursues the chaste Laurie Strode and her more promiscuous, substance abusing friends on Halloween night. The soundtrack by the director John Carpenter is genius in its simplicity and its ability to create suspense and inspire fear. Even though it was made in the 70's and has spawned a great many sequels and remakes, Halloween is still a very scary movie and one of my favorites.
2) Trick 'r Treat
Trick 'r Treat is my second favorite Halloween themed film. It features five interweaving storylines that take strange and surprising turns, making this a unique horror film that breaks a lot of the typical conventions. It was never released in mainstream theaters and was only shown at conventions and film festivals before going straight to DVD, which is so disappointing. I think a lot of people would like it. It stars some familiar faces like Anna Paquin and Brian Cox. This is the only other horror film that is quintessentially Halloween. I can see myself watching it religiously every year along with Halloween and The Nightmare Before Christmas. One storyline deals with a virginal college student being preyed upon with unexpected results. Another features a high school principal who poisons candy to punish those not in the holiday spirit. Two of the storylines deal with Sam, the eternal trick or treater that appears to be a child in a costume, but is actually the spirit of Halloween. He may look cuddly and cute, but he is swift and brutal with his punishment of those that don't celebrate enthusiastically. The film is laced with creepiness, blood, and black humor. Right now, it's super cheap on Amazon, I recommend buying if you're interested!
3) The Descent
The Descent is the story of a group of women who go caving in a tourist for their reunion after a tragedy occurred. They realize that it's not the cave they thought and they have been led there as a horrible surprise by one of the group. As they get more hostile with each other and struggle to find a way out, these frightening, blind underground dwellers appear, ready to kill and eat them. This film is absolutely frightening. I watched it at home with my sister with all the lights out and very jumpy through the whole thing. The first half doesn't have anything super natural at all, but it feels claustrophobic. The women are trapped in the underground caves and that alone is scary without adding in creepy creatures. When they do come on the scene, the situation escalates. Although an aspect of the film is the gore and interesting kills, the driving force throughout is the characters, their past, and their relationships. I recommend watching the UK ending and pretending the US ending doesn't exist. And don't watch the sequel even if it's streaming on Netflix; it's horrible.
4) Night of the Living Dead
In Night of the Living Dead, the dead rise. No one truly knows why, but people are just focused on trying to survive. A group of random people barricade themselves in a house to escape the zombie horde. The living dead isn't their only problem, but also the people in the house with them. This is the very first zombie film as we know them today.In Night of the Living Dead, the dead rise. No one truly knows why, but people are just focused on trying to survive. A group of random people barricade themselves in a house to escape the zombie horde. The living dead isn't their only problem, but also the people in the house with them. This is the very first zombie film as we know them today. Lots of rules and conventions are created and it inspired so many people to make zombies their own and use them as symbols for the things we fear: science, consumerism, disease, social constructs, etc. This film is in the public domain, so you should be able to find it pretty much anywhere and purchase it very cheaply.
Honorable mention: Poltergeist - A very scary ghost movie that gave me nightmares throughout my childhood. If you were disappointed by the Paranormal Activity films, I highly recommend that you see what a real poltergeist can do.