Halloween Movies

Scary movies are great year-round but are always fun near Halloween. There are always lists of well-known movies for Halloween, but those are boring! Everyone knows about them. Ya know, Halloween, Evil Dead, Nightmare of Elm Street, etc.

Hopefully, these are not too difficult to find. These are of varying degrees of obscure and varying types of horror genre.

Kid’s movies

I strive to make this site family-friendly so here are a couple good movies for everyone.

Ernest Scared Stupid

Released: Out of all the Ernest movies, and there are a lot of them, this is the only one I really liked.

He is sort of like a less insane version of Pee Wee Herman if you are not familiar with these movies.

Very fun movie.

RIP Jim Varney.

For some reason, I couldn’t find the actual trailer. This fan trailer makes it seem way more dark and scary than it is.

Spaced Invaders

Prepare to die, earth scum!

Released: 1990

This is a surprisingly clever movie, set during Halloween. Some stupid Martian’s get a radio broadcast from earth of Orson Wells’ radio broadcast of War of the Worlds and the Martian’s mistakenly believe it is a real news report of an attack on earth, so they go join the attack.

Simple premise, but hilarious, and you get to hear a lot of the broadcast in the background during the course of the movie. My kids adored this movie and I didn’t mind it either, but I have an eight-year-olds sense of humor.

Creature Features

These sorts of movies have a special place in my dark and empty heart. There is something great about a good creature movie. I got addicted back in 1983 or so, the local UHF station would air “Groovy Movies” on Saturday afternoon. Usually featuring horror movies, and many creature features.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon especially scared me as a kid. That makes me laugh. I watched it again maybe 10 years ago and laughed that I found it scary as a kid. Still, it is a good movie. The 1950s were the golden age for creature features. I wish I could remember the names of them. There are the obvious: King Kong and Godzilla, but I am trying to remember the names of movies like the one with giant spiders attacking a town. Taller than the houses.

I would add Arachnophobia as a decent creature feature and of course Tremors, as modern-ish good examples. Now I feel old!

Except for the sad fact that modern Hollywood can’t come up with a quality movie today, I would hope that they start making them again. It seems like when an excellent show comes out, it feels accidental, and they will find a way to ruin it. A Quiet Place seems to be the pinnacle of today’s creature feature and that is pretty sad. That is a movie with potential, but with too much nonsense for it to rise to the level of good.

Favorite Horror Movies

With perhaps one or two exceptions, these are pretty obscure but all fun and creepy. These are in no particular order.

Prince Of Darkness

Released: 1987

From John Carpenter, this is not one of his most well known movies. Horror, or otherwise. Other movies that he made: Halloween, Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and many other great movies.

This is a slow burning, not a lot of gore or action, and kind of quiet horror movie.

It is a weird mix of theology and quantum physics, and it actually works, mostly.

This is the only movie I have seen that actually scared me. As an aside, the only book that scared me was Pet Semetery - but the movie was not great.

Stars Donald Pleasence, who was also in his Halloween movies, Victor Wong, and Parker Jameson from the awesome 80’s TV show Simon and Simon. Also has a star from the woefully underrated show Riptide, in a small role: Thom Bray, who played a nerd on both. Alice Cooper has a small role as well.

Exorcism of Emily Rose

Released: 2005

emily rose poster

Fun fact: my oldest granddaughter was going to be named Emily Rose until my daughter found out about this movie.

This is perhaps the first courtroom drama-horror movie. You heard me. It is not especially creepy, but it has a dark, somewhat creepy feeling that is really cool. Sort of like Prince of Darkness but not nearly as creepy. Perhaps understated is a better term?

The movie is about demon possession, or is it? It is nowhere near as great as The Exorcist, but that one is hardly obscure.

Advertising claims that it is based on a true story. That is a bit of a red herring. It sort of is, but there is no Emily Rose. It is based very roughly on something that happened in Germany back in the 60s or 70s.

The best part is that the movie never tells you the truth, it is up to you to decide. I follow Fox Mulder’s (The X-Files) claim of “I want to believe” so you can probably guess where I fall in this argument.

Stars Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson, two excellent actors.

Return of the Living Dead

Released: 1985

This is the best comedy/horror zombie movie until Shaun of the Dead came along and even that is debatable. It has an excellent punk rock soundtrack. The Repo Man of horror movies.

Acting is mostly bad, the plot doesn’t make a ton of sense and that is exactly how it should be.

As a bonus, a zombie actually explains why they eat brains. Didn’t you ever want to know why that is?

They are also smart, can communicate and make plans together. The zombie horde in this movie just might be the strongest in zombie history.

The movie is chaotic, funny, and brutal, it has much to like, just pretend that there are no sequels.

Dawn of the Dead(remake)

Released: 2004

I can’t say that this is a fun Halloween movie, but it is a good one. It might be blasphemy, but I was not a fan of the original.

This one is fast-paced and very brutal - a newborn baby zombie? Horrifying - and ends the way that all good zombie movies should end.

Waxwork

Released: 1988

This is a fun little movie. There are various monster movie scenes at a waxwork and if someone steps into the display it comes alive and really bad things happen if they all come alive. It is very cool, it is sort of like an anthology. There is a werewolf story, Dracula, Mummy, and even Marquis De Sade, an odd story and choice for a movie like this.

It stars Deborah Foreman(April Fool’s Day - a decent horror movie, Valley Girl, My Chauffeur).

It is an extremely 80s movie with all the good and bad that that entails.

Nightbreed

Released: 1990

From Clive Barker, an excellent horror/fantasy author. Hellraiser is his, the first two anyway and two more good ones, Candyman and Lord of Illusions, all of which I highly recommend. This is based on the short story Cabal. Most of his short stories are horror. His full length novels are almost exclusively fantasy. Not the wizards and orc variety of fantasy, but parallel worlds fantasy. My favorite books of his are Imajica, The Great and Secret Show, The Thief of Always (a book suitable for younger readers), and Sacrament. I am not sure that I have read a bad story written by him.

This is a remarkable monster story that turns the genre on its head. Low budget, but good quality.

Neon Maniacs

Released: 1986

This one is a bit of an oddity. It took forever to film this. So much so that they had to use different actors in the monster roles and the movie was never actually finished, and it shows. I am not sure if anyone knows how this was really supposed to end. It doesn’t end, it just kind of stops. They tried to have an ending, but I doubt it could be called that.

Who are the neon maniacs? Why are they called that? Where do they come from? What is their motivation? Why do they have such a weird weakness? No one knows! Neon Maniac trading cards? wut?

Not-so-great acting makes this one even better. A lot of the guys in my artillery battery would hang out many late Friday nights and watch this, along with Night of the Creeps in my room.

Witchboard

Released: 1986

Another slow-burning horror movie. This is a ghost story and possession by said ghost. Sometimes it is unintentionally funny, sometimes it is legitimately scary. If that is not enough there is a 80s valley girl that is a medium.

The Frighteners

Released: 1996

This movie is, by far, the best movie Peter Jackson ever made. Yeah, I thought the Lord of the Rings movies were a desecration and an abomination.

This is a ghost story starring Michael J. Fox who plays someone who can talk to ghosts and uses some as part of a con to get people to pay him to act like a ghostbuster and rid their house of his buddy ghosts. At least until a seriously messed up woman and a spree killer (Jake Busey), but now ghost, terrorize their little town. These two were heavily based on real life murderers Caril Ann Fugate and Charles Starkweather.

Also has Jeffery Combs(lots of horror movies and Star Trek episodes) as a strange FBI agent and R. Lee Ermey reprising his infamous drill sergeant role from Full Metal Jacket. Yes, that actually works.

Like the LOTR, this was also filmed in New Zealand and gives it a spooky charm.

Night of the Creeps

Released: 1986

This has something for everyone. Zombies, alien worms, hatchet murderers, fraternities, sororities, nerds. It starts in the 1950s, but most is in the 80s. Stars Jason Lively, the older brother of Robin and Blake Lively. He wasn’t in very many movies.

The story actually makes sense, it is well-paced, explained well, funny at times - intentionally and not - decent acting, and the requisite ending that hints at a sequel that sadly never came. That is probably for the best.

Most of the characters are named after some of the best horror directors ever.

I would put this movie up against just about any horror movie in existence. It is just plain fun.

Thrill me!

These aren’t for everyone but if you have seen all the standard horror movies, why not? Most of these are 80s movies and for good reason, the best decade for horror movies.