Film Fest 10: 13 Must Watch Halloween Movies
By Lily Ratcliff
With Halloween (Old Hallows’ Eve) approaching this coming Monday, and with the darker autumn nights now rolling in, cosying up to watch a good film seems like the perfect thing to do. Below, is list of my top 13 (spooky) must watch Halloween Movies, ranging from family friendly to full-blown slasher; so hopefully, something to suit everyone’s cinematic needs. I’ve tried to keep this list, as much as possible, away from mainstream horror films, such as Saw (James Wan, 2004) or The Ring (Gore Verbinski, 2002), and even though these films have become Halloween favourites in their own right, this diverse list is aiming to offer a broader overview of Halloween films from over the last 50 years. So if you fancy watching a film this weekend to get you into the Halloween mood, give one of these a go!
1. What Lies Beneath (Robert Zemeckis, 2000)
A haunted house, an affair and the words ‘You Know’ written on the steam of a bathroom mirror; What lies Beneath stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford in this chilling ghost story about a young couple haunted by a woman, the truth will resurface eventually...
2. 13 Ghosts (William Castle,1960)
With the original tagline being ’13 times the thrill! 13 times the screams! 13 times the fun!’. 13 Ghosts has become a Hollywood classic and an essential horror film for any fans of the genre. The film follows the poor Zorba family as they inherit an old mansion. We soon discover there are 12 ghosts who haunt the house, and are keen for a new edition from the family. There is a legend that there is a fortune underneath the house and the Zorbas are intent on discovering it...
3. When the Lights Went Out (Pat Holden, 2012)
First of the British horrors on this list, When the Lights Went Out is a brilliant film, following a family in Yorkshire in 1974 who are haunted by a malevolent spirt. According to the filmmakers it is loosely based on true accounts. Definitely not one to watch alone!
4. Halloweentown (Duwayne Dunham, 1998)
This film was included for obvious reasons. Its a childhood classic as it played every Halloween on Disney Channel. With a very simple plot, this great film follows a girl who upon discovering she is a witch, travels to the magical Halloweentown and must help defeat the evil forces at work there.
5. Eden Lake (James Watkins, 2008)
Perhaps one of the more serious and gory choices included on this list, Eden Lake is a British slasher that stars Michael Fassbinder, Kelly Reilly and Jack O’Connell, and leaves your heart racing until the very end. A couple decided to have a weekend break at Eden Lake, a rather ironic title, but after a confrontation with a gang of youth they must fight for their survival.
6. The Skeleton Key (Ian Softley, 2005)
Set in New Orleans, a young nurse (Kate Hudson) is sent to look after an elderly couple, but the isolated mansion hides a dark secret that haunts everything, even the mirrors. If you like a ghost story with Voodoo and Hoodoo, then this is for you!
7. Byzantium (Neil Jordan, 2013)
Another amazing recent British film is Byzantium, a modern vampire film, that harks back to the very British cult films made by Hammer from the mid-1950s until 1970s. The narrative centers around two female vampires (played by Gemma Arteton and Saoirse Ronan) who are on the run and find shelter at a small seaside resort. Aesthetically the film is beautiful, especially the ‘rebirth’ scene, and the cast, also including Sam Riley and Johnny Lee Miller, is superb. For a well-made, brilliantly acted and interesting plot, I recommend you watch this film.
8. The Others (Alejandro Amenábar, 2001)
Set during World War Two, in a remote English estate, Grace (Nicole Kidman) and her two children (who suffer from a life-threatening photosensitive disease) wait for their husband/father to return home. The house remains often in darkness to protect the children, however, when new servants arrive, the daughter, Anne, claims to start seeing apparitions in the dark, that force Grace to unravel the house’s biggest mystery of all. While this film was given a '12' rating in the UK and not deemed too scary, it still packs a few good screams and is brilliantly made.
9. Hocus Pocus (Kenny Ortega, 1993)
Hocus Pocus is a Halloween classic, and for most of us a childhood favourite. Three witch sisters are summoned back from the dead by Max. To save the people of his new hometown, Salem, Massachusetts, Max, his sister Dani and Allison (along with a talking cat, Thackeray Binx) must use the witches' spells to defeat the Sanderson Sisters.
10. When a Stranger Calls (1979)
If you have ever been a babysitter, than I’m sure you will agree, that this film would be a living nightmare. Probably, the scariest on the list, When a Stranger Calls is realistic in its horror. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, just don’t watch this film alone. You'll never want to babysit again!
11. 1408 (Mikael Håfström, 2007)
Fractured writer Mike (John Cusack) travels across America to haunted hotels and houses, debunking all theories that ghost or the afterlife is real, however when he receives a call from the mysterious owner of The Dolphin Hotel (Samuel L. Jackson) to come and stay in the haunted room, 1408, he soon discovers that he may not be alone... This is a brilliant and complex horror, a must watch for all psychological horror fans.
12. The Resident (Antti Jokinen, 2010)
The film follows a landlord who becomes obsessed with his new tenant. While this plot is simplistic in its plot, the thriller is tense, intriguing, and full of a great cast: Hillary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and the late Christopher Lee.
13. The Orphanage (Juan Antonio Bayona, 2007)
As the only foreign language film on this list, I thoroughly recommended that you what this film. After having bought the orphanage of her childhood years, Laura and her husband and their adopted son decide to live there to start a new life in the Spanish countryside. However, the fond memories from her childhood soon vanish when her son disappears and she begins to hear spirit voices whom she believes might be trying to help her. This is another very psychological horror film, which has beautiful cinematography and captivating acting - a must-watch.
Have a happy Halloween, everyone!