Halloween has always been one of my favourite times of the year. When I was young, the thought that for one night per year the veil between the living and the dead dropped, leaving the world full of magic and mystery was both exciting and terrifying. I still enjoy the same sense of build-up that comes with Christmas; decorating the house, listening to Halloween hits and of course, watching a fair amount of seasonal movies.
The only problem I have with Halloween movies is that I’m actually a bit of a wimp. As much as I like to be scared, I can’t stand excessive gore or anything that is going to stick in my mind and make me see monsters hiding in the dark corners of my bedroom. I’m sure I’m not alone in this – I am ‘horror lite’. I enjoy the spooky, but not the gruesome.
With that in mind, myself and the team at So Just Be wanted to share a list of our favourite spooky thrills and chills to get you in the mood for the season of the witch so you can plan your own movie marathon. You won’t find the likes of ‘Saw’ or ‘Hostel’ in this list, nor will you find movies like ‘The Conjuring’. This is a list for Halloween enjoyment; a little bit nostalgic, a little bit funny and scary enough to get you in the mood. Hopefully, they won’t give you nightmares….but do beware of spoilers!
For me, the original ‘Halloween’ is the quintessential movie to watch on Halloween night. It makes me feel cosy and nostalgic which is weird, I know! John Carpenter’s soundtrack is very much the soundtrack to the season and every time I watch it, I still get a thrill when the music kicks in. The story of the escaped serial killer wreaking havoc and sewing fear in the small town of Haddonfield never fails to keep me glued to the screen.
On Halloween night, Michael Myers escapes the sanitarium fifteen years after being incarcerated for the murder of his sister back when he was a child. Michael is an enigma. He hasn’t spoken a word to anyone in years and his psychiatrist, Doctor Loomis believes him to be pure evil incarnate. Hiding behind his mask, Michael stalks high school student Laurie Strode and her friends as they babysit.
Michael is completely unfathomable and you find yourself wondering if he is more than just a man. There’s something almost supernatural about him. Jamie Curtis’ break out role as Laurie Strode is equally entertaining. The pairing of Michael and Laurie works so well that it’s kept audiences coming back for more for decades, spawning 8 sequels and a brand new trilogy. Check out this classic! I feel like it’s still going to be a seasonal favourite for many years to come
The Lost Boys (1987)
As a teenager, I must have watched this movie about 100 times. I just love it and still do! It’s 80’s cool and spawned a long held crush on Kiefer Sutherland for me. With a cracking rock soundtrack and featuring lots of cool, beautiful, grungy teenagers, it ticked all of my teenage, horror boxes. It’s also the first vampire movie I ever watched where they came across as gorgeous outcasts rather than monsters.
Lucy Hale and her two sons, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim) move in with their grandfather in the small coastal town of Santa Carla. Grandpa is a bit eccentric, Lucy is licking her wounds after a nasty divorce and the boys are in full on rebellious mode. It doesn’t take long for motorbike-riding, leather-jacket wearing, delicious Michael to set his heart on the beautiful, hippy-chick Star. One small problem – Star ‘belongs’ to the local biker gang (in more ways than one).
Michael ends up falling under the sway of the peroxide leader of the gang (Kiefer Sutherland…swoon), undergoes a trippy initiation ritual and before you know it, he’s sleeping in until the afternoon and rocking shades whenever the sun’s up. Meanwhile, little brother Sam has made friends with the Frog Brothers who work in a comic book store by day and hunt vampires by night. Good-looking, bloody hijinks ensue.
‘The Lost Boys’ is not only a love song to the 80’s long-hair brigade, it’s an ode to vampires being cool and I love it.
The Cabin in The Woods (2011)
Five college kids go for a weekend in a backwoods cabin in the middle of nowhere – what could possibly go wrong? Well, everything of course. They start getting picked off one by one by an ancient horror of unimaginable evil and that would be that if this was a normal horror story. Spoiler: It’s not.
Unbeknownst to the good-looking stereotypical teenagers (one of whom is Chris Hemsworth…yum), they have been chosen to participate in an ancient ritual to appease the elder gods, all run by a massive underground bureaucratic organisation. We get to see these office-working, middle-aged, average Joe’s place bets on the ancient evil that is summoned, manipulate the teenagers into their certain doom and talk about office politics. They are joyously normal amid the chaos that ensues. It’s their jobs.
‘The Cabin in The Woods’ presents us with a lovely twist on why horror movies fit certain stereotypes and turns the genre on it’s head. Clever rather than terrifying, it serves to leave us with more questions than answers and actually makes you think and giggle, occasionally at the same time. Bit gory at the end but other than that, a thoroughly entertaining story.
“Do you like scary movies?” For people of a certain age, just uttering this line to someone in a Jack Nicholson style voice will let them know immediately what movie you’re talking about. ‘Scream’ was a bonafide hit when it came out and I was all over it. Featuring the likes of Drew Barrymore, Courtney Cox and introducing us to Neve Campbell, ‘Scream’ served to introduce us to self-aware horror and gave us some strong-ass ladies to boot.
Ostensibly the tale of a serial killer, ‘Ghostface’, who stalks the teenagers of a small american town, ‘Scream’ is a movie that questions certain horror tropes. To highlight a few: – Why does the girl always run upstairs rather than out the front door? If you have sex in a horror movie does it automatically guarantee your death?
The script is witty, the plot is tight and the twists keep coming as Neve’s heroine, Sidney, tries to survive one bloody weekend, aided by ambitious reporter, Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) and sweet Sheriff’s deputy Dewey. More murder mystery than horror movie, ‘Scream’ keeps you guessing to the very end.
The Babysitter (2017)
Along with it’s sequel, ‘The Babysitter’ is a joy of a movie that I recently discovered whilst binge-watching Netflix during lockdown. It’s smart, colourful and full of sass! Directed by McG who was responsible for the fun and frivolous ‘Charlie’s Angels’ movies in the noughties, ‘The Babysitter’ echoes the same fun and bright cinematography, making it the perfect popcorn movie for a Friday night.
Cole has a close bond with his vivacious, teenage babysitter, Bee. She seems to love hanging out with him and makes every babysitting gig fun. He clearly has a big ass crush on her. There’s just one thing he’s curious about:- What does she do when he goes to bed? Together with his best friend, who just so happens to live on the same street, Cole devises a plan to stay up late and spy on what his babysitter gets up to after lights out.
Needless to say, Bee has a nefarious, bloody secret – she’s in a satanic death cult and her friends are less than charming (but hilarious). Cole soon finds himself in a battle for life and death as he tries to do the right thing and stop the teenagers from completing their bloody, satanic ritual, even if it means betraying Bee.
Fresh, funny and a bit bloodier than expected, I recommend this for anyone who fancies a bloody good laugh.
The Babysitter – Killer Queen (2020)
Like all popular movies on Netflix, a sequel to ‘The Babysitter’ was not far behind and I only had to wait two weeks after watching the first one to leap right back into Cole’s nightmare world. Two years have passed and Cole is now a bonafide teenager, navigating his way through high school. Only problem is that he’s a little weird and a social pariah. No one believes the story of what happened to him, including his parents.
Cole’s best friend has now grown into a hottie and he moons after her whilst she dates a complete idiot (always the way). He ends up tagging along to a boat party with her and her friends and guess what? Bloody hijinks ensue! The satanic death cult is back for one night only, determined to finish their ritual and escape from purgatory – all they need is Cole’s blood to do it.
I found the sequel to be just as good as the original, still colourful, still funny and just as entertaining. Why not indulge in a Halloween double bill?
You Might Be The Killer (2018)
I found this little known horror on Amazon Prime when I was looking for something quirky to watch. I figured, it’s got to be good, it’s got Alyson Hannigan in it and it didn’t fail to disappoint!
Summer Camp owner and lead camp councillor, Sam, is in a bit of a pickle. His fellow councillors are being stalked by a serial killer and he keeps blacking out and waking up next to dead people. He phones his best friend Chuck for advice (played by the amazing Alyson Hannigan).
Chuck is completely clued up on horror movie lore (and owns a Comic-book store which is damn cool) and is able to offer Sam some extremely zeitgeist advice on how to figure out his situation and try to survive the night.
Was it a bit bloody? Yep. Was it quirky and funny? Definitely! ‘You Might Be the Killer’ is a little b-movie gem of a movie and I highly recommend that you track it down.
Interview With The Vampire (1994)
One of the first grown-up books I ever read as a child, ‘Interview with the Vampire’, introduced me to the world of the undead and I immediately became fascinated with the idea of beautiful, immortal monsters roaming the earth throughout time. I read all of Anne Rice’s ‘Vampire Chronicles’ and fell head over heels in love with the vampire Lestat.
When they cast Tom Cruise as Lestat, I was sceptical to say the least. Undeterred, when the movie came out I badgered and begged my mum to take me to see it. She hated it but I was mesmerised. Tom Cruise brought the character to life and I was glued to the screen.
A historical epic, ‘Interview’ explores the life of Louis, an 18th century plantation owner who is turned into a vampire by the charismatic Lestat. It shows their life together, their nefarious deeds (including the horrific existence of their ‘daughter’ Claudia) and their opposing attitudes to their life of darkness.
It’s sumptuous, lavish, beautiful and quite bloody as you’d expect from a vampire movie. The script is quirky and told entirely from Louis’ point of view as he tells his tale to a young reporter who becomes mesmerised by the epic tale. I adore this film and I still read the books from time to time. Indulge in this visual treat!
Shaun of The Dead (2004)
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost battle zombies – what’s not to love? What would you do if you woke up one morning to find yourself living in a zombie apocalypse? For Shaun and his best friend Ed, they’re immediate thought is to head to their local pub, ‘The Winchester’, have a pint and wait for it to all blow over.
Along the way, they form a rescue plan to pick up Shaun’s on-again, off-again girlfriend who just wants him to grow up and stop wasting his life down the pub. Next stop, is Shaun’s mum and stepdad. Along the way they pick up a few more acquaintances and meet more than a few zombies.
With the apocalypse closing in, Shaun finally comes of age, understands the meaning of responsibility and realises that there is more to life than a pint of lager and a packet of crisps! Hilarious, suspenseful in places and a bit action-packed, ‘Shaun of the Dead’ is an unparalleled horror comedy that will have your sides splitting in no time.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
If you’ve never seen this movie, you’re missing a seasonal treat! Definitely one for all the family, ‘Hocus Pocus’ is like the Halloween version of ‘Santa Claus – The Movie’. It’s fun, spooky and Disney at it’s best.
New to the small town of Salem, Massachusetts, Max Dennison doesn’t believe in the local legend of the Sanderson sisters, witches who were said to have plagued the town and stolen children more than 300 years ago. Keen to impress his school crush, Allison, he asks her to convince him that witches are real. They break into the local museum, he ends up lighting a candle and all hell breaks loose.
The Sanderson Sisters are back from the dead and only have Halloween night to perform a ritual that will keep them alive permanently. If it had been me, I’d have let them! Played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker, the witches are an absolute, over-the-top delight! They struggle to get to grips with the modern world, constantly bicker with each other and do more than a little bit of magic as Max and his friends try to find a way to stop them and save the day.
A magical treat with some of the best comedy actresses ever, ‘Hocus Pocus’ is a wonderfully warm and funny film that will get you in the Halloween spirit in no time!
We hope that this list has given you a few ideas to get your spooky on this Halloween. Grab the popcorn, get comfy on your sofa and so just be!