I love, love, love Halloween. It's my favorite holiday. I love Halloween decorations, themed food, costumes, and above all else, the movies. I love horror movies and family-oriented Halloween movies and cheesy Halloween movies equally. You have to have a little light to balance the dark. I like scary movies of all kinds but my favorites are ghost/haunting movies and zombie movies. I also really enjoy a good vampire movie (sorry, Twilight fans I just don't buy it) and I do like 70s and 80s slasher movies like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Halloween. I can't stand the torture porn slasher movies that are popular now and I hope that they'll go away sooner rather than later.
I can remember the first time I ever saw The Exorcist, the first movie that truly terrified me. I was about 12 or 13 years old and I watched it in the basement (a finished basement with dark wood paneling), at night with the lights off, by myself. Because I'm a moron. It was one of the greatest cinematic experiences of my life and I continue to enjoy scary movies to this day because of The Exorcist. I get chills when I hear the score or see the poster. It's that scary and that good. No other exorcism themed movie will ever compare to this classic. No one should even try because they will fail.
Anyway, I really got into horror movies and books because of Stephen King. My older brother read his novels and passed them along to me. I remember reading Carrie for the first time. It's a truly terrifying novel and the Sissy Spacek film is another movie that terrified and still terrifies me. The creepy Jesus statue the mother has in the closet? The ending? I don't want to ruin it for anyone but I remember jumping out of my seat the first time I saw that last scene. Brian DePalma is a genius. And let's be honest: we all thought there was a girl in our high school that was Carrie and we thought something terrible would happen at prom. Or maybe that was just my group of friends. The other thing that impressed me about the book was how honestly and accurately Stephen King depicted teenage girls and puberty. Girls are awful and Carrie's mom knew it (even though she was off the charts crazy). I get chills just thinking about Piper Laurie saying, "They're all gonna laugh at you."
My other favorite King books are Christine, Salem's Lot, IT, and The Stand (and I like the film versions of all of them too). Let's talk a little about IT. The very notion of a villain that materializes as a clown named Pennywise is enough to make my skin crawl. I have never, ever liked clowns. I think they're creepy and unnecessary. There is nothing, absolutely nothing funny or amusing about a clown. I can't stress this enough. Stephen King hit so close to my actual fears that the book just creeped me out to the point that I had nightmares about it. But I still loved it and reread it several times. And then the tv movie version came along. And Tim Curry starred as Pennywise. Dr. Frank-N-Furter and The Grand Wizard (two of my favorite Curry roles that are not frightening at all) was now the creepiest clown ever. Around the time this movie came out, I was also watching old black and white creature movies like The Wolf Man and Frankenstein. I think a character like Pennywise has a definite link to those creature features.
Despite the dread or the terror I feel when I watch a horror movie, there's something magical about sitting in a dark theatre (or your parents' basement or your living room) and watching that terror unfold or not knowing what's going to happen next. Goosebumps and jumping in your seat. If you're with someone, do you grab their hand when you get spooked? Or hide your eyes like my friend Jessica? Do you check under the bed before you go to sleep? Do you keep the closet light on? Or the shower curtain open? The shock, the fear - that's why we keep watching.
So because it's almost Halloween and I like you, here are my top 50 suggestions for the perfect horror/Halloween movie fest. I like to mix terrifying with hilarious so my list tries to balance that for you. Unless otherwise noted, I'm referring to the original versions of these movies. I'm not a huge fan of remakes but occasionally one comes along that I enjoy.
- The Exorcist
- The Worst Witch
- Freaks (This is why I love my DVR-this is on this week while I'm at work and I already have the recording set. It's one of my favorite films of the 30s.)
- Night of the Living Dead
- The Omen
- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
- Rocky Horror Picture Show
- The Shining
- The People Under the Stairs
- Teen Witch
- Near Dark (Possibly one of the most unexpected and awesome vampire movies ever.)
- Cat People (The 1942 version is creepier but I also love the version from the 80s.)
- Hocus Pocus
- Salem's Lot
- The Haunting (1963)
- Rosemary's Baby (You know who's awesome in this film? John Cassavetes.)
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
- House of Wax (Any of Vincent Price's horror movies are worth a view. They're creepy but also really campy so you know they're fantastic.)
- Let the Right One In (I'm told the English version Let Me In is also very good but I haven't seen it.)
- The Addams Family
- Bride of Frankenstein
- Shaun of the Dead
- The Others
- Dawn of the Dead
- Fright Night
- The Craft
- Maximum Overdrive
- The Mummy (1932-I also really like the first one starring Brendan Fraser. Classic Universal storytelling in both.)
- Planet Terror
- House of Haunted Hill (1959-The remake in the late 90s was decent but this is classic Vincent Price.)
- Nosferatu (I saw the original silent film a few years ago and it's really amazing. The shadows are the best part.)
- Corpse Bride
- Nightmare on Elm Street
- Pet Sematary
- An American Werewolf in London
- The Nightmare Before Christmas (Honestly, I can watch this movie all year long.)
- Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness (You really can't watch one without watching the others so I've decided they count as one on the list.)
- Haunted Honeymoon
- Sleepy Hollow (You can decide if you want to watch the cartoon version or the Johnny Depp version. I like them both.)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I know most people prefer the tv show to the movie but I love the movie. Kristy Swanson is hilarious and Paul Reubens steals every scene he is in. It's worth the watch.)
Happy Halloween Island readers! I'll leave you with this: