It’s that time of year again when the leaves turn gold, the air gets cold, and the candy companies flood every corner and grocery store across America. Halloween comes back around every Autumn, coinciding with the start of the NFL, NBA and NHL seasons, which makes it one of the best times of the year! To capture the true feeling of this fun and historical holiday (Halloween is based on an ancient festival known as Samhain, celebrating the end of summer and those who have passed from the Earth), be sure to check out some classic horror movies that have made Halloween so enjoyable throughout the years.
1. Halloween, Halloween II (1978, 1981)
John Carpenter and Debra Hill made horror movie history when their low-budget horror film, simply entitled Halloween, broke box office records and made newcomer Jamie Lee Curtis an instant star. Donald Pleasance (1919-1995) starred in the lead role as psychiatrist Sam Loomis (taking the name from the characgter Sam Loomis in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, which also starred Jamie Lee Curtis’s mother Janet Leigh!), who pursues his escaped mental patient to his hometown in order to prevent a massive killing spree on Halloween night, only to find himself and the Haddonfield Police unable to cope with the evil that is Michael Myers. The film has gone on to have seven sequels and most recently a “revision” of the original films by director Rob Zombie, but none have ever been able to top the movie that’s become known as the first of the “slasher-movie genre.”
2. The Exorcist (1973)
Known as the scariest movie of all time, The Exorcist set a new standard for the horror movie genre when it won four Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (William Friedkin), Best Supporting Actress (Linda Blair), and Best Screenplay (William Peter Blatty). Based on the novel by William Blatty, who would return in 1990 to write and direct Exorcist 3 based on his novel Legion, The Exorcist frightened audiences with its revolutionary sound effects, makeup art, and cinematography. Sound editors Robert Knudson and Christopher Newman also won the Academy Award for Best Sound, and the film has gone down in history as the definitive horror film, praying on the audiences’ inner demons and fear of the unknown. A definite must see if you never have before!
3. Frankenstein (1931)
Whether you’re a fan of scary movies or not, chances are you’ve seen some variation of Frankenstein. Boris Karloff, however, has always maintained the definitive look that everyone associates with the creature created by a mad scientist for his own ambitions. Although the story has gone on to have countless sequels and remakes, director James Whales’ original set a horror standard for its time, and helped Boris Karloff become one of the most famous faces the horror genre ever saw. After you watch the classic, check out Mel Brooks’ hilarious spin on the story, Young Frankenstein (1974).
4. The Amityville Horror (1979, 2005)
Based on the book The Amityville Horror: A True Story by author Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror is one of the iconic haunted house stories. Playing with both psychological thrill and jump-from-the-screen screams, Amityville has maintained a reputation as one of the most famous horror movies, partly in fact because it is based on actual events. Having more than four sequels, and a re-make staring Ryan Reynolds in 2005, Amityville definitely makes the list of classics!
5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, 2003)
Another movie that has been revamped for new generations, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a great watch for the Halloween spirit. Based in part on the crimes of actual murderer Ed Gein, Chainsaw follows a group of friends as they travel through Texas and experience horrors beyond nightmares when they come across Leatherface and his family of cannibals and deep-country incest. The film has also had several sequels and a successful re-make in 2003 starring Jessica Biel. The story is pretty entertaining whether you watch the original or the new one, so knock yourself out.
Other honorable mentions you should definitely check out include:
6. The Shining (1980)
7. Friday The 13th, Part I and II (1980, 1981)
8. Dracula (1931)
9. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
10. Psycho (1960)