Posted October 30, 2013 by Steven Gahm in Features

Top Ten Horror Movies To Watch On Halloween

What was your first time like? Relax, I’ll go first to make things easier. I was eleven and staying over at a friend’s house for the night. That was the night I enjoyed my first horror movie – Salem’s Lot.

Dawn of the Dead

My buddy and I were worried the noise from the television might get too loud and bring his mom into the room and that would have ended our entertainment for the evening. So we had the volume on very low, which meant we had to get very close to the TV.

We tucked our legs underneath the cart the TV was sitting on and leaned in to watch David Soul and company get very suspicious of the newcomer that had come to town with our backs leaning against the bed. We both played it tough when the vampire action started up. Granted, the floating Danny Glick tapping on the window would later haunt me for years but overall we were both pretty calm and really enjoyed the movie. Then Barlow popped up.

This was really more of a quick-cut startle as opposed to a truly creepy scare; except for one thing – we still had our legs underneath the TV cart. We both kicked upwards when Barlow was revealed and the TV fell toward us causing the master vampire to lunge right at us! After a couple of seconds of trying manfully not to scream (Mom-Wrath Avoidance + Macho Pre-Teen = Near Aneurysm) and playing a sort of impromptu game of hot potato with the fallen TV – we got it together without being found out.

So, my first horror movie scare was Barlow. No sparkle on that bit of nasty, right? I prefer my monsters to be monsters. I admit it. Now think back to your first. In the spirit the Halloween season I offer you a list of the top ten horror movies to watch on Halloween for your pleasure since this year it seems that all that is in the theaters is a re-make of another Stephen King movie, Carrie. Zombies rule the earth right now (The Walking Dead). Anyone in the media, and outside of it, can tell you that. Yet there is only one wide horror release near Halloween. The list below contains a little bit of every sort of my horror favorites. In other words, it is not all vampires or all slashers, or any one monster. It’s a sampler platter.

Watching these films all back to back would be my recommendation; but you may never ever sleep again.


10) Vampires (1998)

VampiresThis movie, directed by John Carpenter, is about a anti-hero vampire hunter named Jack Crow (James Woods) and his battle against a master vampire who is seeking an ancient relic so he can conduct a ritual to make himself immune to the sun. Do not ask me how Woods got talked into this role, but he seems to be having a great time. Most importantly, the vampires in the film are bad, bad, bad guys. No effete sparkles here. Got blood? Hell yeah!


9) Nightbreed (1990)

NightbreedClive Barker directed this movie that was based on his own book, Cabal (1988). This flick has become a cult classic that depicts the classic battle between good and evil. Aaron Boone (Craig Scheffer) is the hero who has bad luck with women and even worse luck with psychiatrists. Welcome to Midian, where the monster can turn out to be the good guy.


8) The Descent (2005)

The DescentNever before had I ever thought to be terrified of spelunking. In this film, a group of women accompany Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) into an unmapped cave and find out that there are worse things than being lost in the dark. Things like having flesh-eating underground-living humanoids hunting you. Yes, definitely much worse. The movie was written and directed by Neil Marshal. The claustrophobic scenes in this film are almost as tough to watch as the chompy bits. I have no idea how they filmed it exactly, I’m just glad they did.


7) Dog Soldiers (2002)

Dog SoldiersThis was writer/director Neil Marshal’s first film (before the previously mentioned The Descent). The lead is Private Cooper (Kevin McKidd). His squad ends up encountering serious furry trouble on what was supposed to be a weekend warrior’s retreat. The tropes of the werewolf genre are present here with the added spice of a cat and mouse game (and the dog that will happily eat them both) game that Cooper and the ranking officer on-site play while blockaded in a remote Scottish cottage.


6) Saw (2004)

SawJames Wan and Leigh Whannell were the director and screenplay writer, respectively, of this horror movie that spawned a seven film franchise and a sub-genre of movies that we call torture-porn today. Led by Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes), this movie will not be forgotten once you have seen it. One word of caution though, see The Princess Bride for a better look at Elwes. But be sure to see it before Saw since the reverse we be too creepy – even creepier than Jigsaw.


5) Hellraiser (1987)

HellraiserHellraiser was written and directed by Clive Barker, based upon Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart. Julia Cotton (Clare Higgins) is the heroine of the story and she is determined to find out what her demon-raising uncle is up to; only to immediately regret it. Naturally. Hellraiser brought us face to face with Pinhead and he makes Jigsaw look like a wanker.


4) Alien (1979)

AlienThis classic film was directed by Ridley Scott and features Lt. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver in her first leading role). The crew of the ship that Ripley serves on, the Nostromo, has first contact with a life-form that seems to be solely engineered to breed and then kill – everything. The balance in this film of suspense, scares, and intense action is truly a work of art.


3) Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the DeadDirected by Zack Snyder, this remake of the George Romero classic tells the story of Ana (Sarah Polley), a nurse who finds herself stranded at a mall with other survivors during an unexplained zombie outbreak. The movie was written by James Gunn and is worth seeing for the opening two minutes alone. The rest of the movie is just a bonus. Any zombie flick clearly owes its existence to George Romero, but this movie with updated effects and a more modern feel is even more fun to watch than Romero’s efforts, as those films show their age a bit too often. Without Romero this movie would not have happened and without this updated version, modern zombie cinema and television’s The Walking Dead would never have happened either.


2) The Thing (1982)

The ThingJohn Carpenter directed this re-make of the 1951 original, The Thing From Another World. The star is the anti-hero MacReady (Kurt Russell). A helicopter pilot at a research station in the Antarctic is an unlikely person to save the world from the apocalypse. You might say he is John McLain without a gun but with a righteous beard. He is a natural survivor that must overcome paranoia, the elements, and an alien creature that starts out as man’s best friend and ends up as quite the opposite.


1) Halloween II (1981)

Halloween IIThis film was directed by Rick Rosenthal and written and produced by John Carpenter, who created the original masterpiece – Halloween. The original Halloween set the bar for all the slashers to come after it clearly and paved the way for Jason, Freddy, and many more. Still, I enjoy this sequel even more than the first film simply because Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is aware of the stakes from the beginning yet at the same time is understandably lulled into a false sense of relief after seeing Michael die. The sequel picks up just hours after the original ended. Laurie surely feels like the most traumatic event of her life has just passed. When she sees Michael again she knows exactly how much danger she is in. She also is slammed by the knowledge that maybe this nightmare will never end since it is clearly impossible that it is happening again. How horribly awesome is that?

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Steven Gahm

Steven Gahm

Financial analyst by day. Film fan by night. Book that changed my life, "The Hobbit". Proof that the bible, by Tarantino, is a good read: "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. AND YOU WILL KNOW MY NAME IS THE LORD WHEN I LAY MY VENGEANCE UPON THEE.
Steven Gahm

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