Oct 17, 2013

13 Things To Watch On Halloween Besides Halloween

Article By: Ben Raphael Sher

John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) is a perfect film, and it should be watched every single day of the year (several of its sequels are great, too!). But sometimes, on Halloween night, you want to watch something different. Whether you like cheesy lunacy, nostalgia for childhood, or deep, dark scares, we present to you 13 Halloween themed horror movies and TV shows that will give you what you need on this most blessed of holidays!

1. Trick r' Treat (2007)

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A legitimate horror epic, and one that should go down in film history as a classic. The movie tells four stories (featuring stars like Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker and Leslie Bibb) that take place on Halloween in the same small town: A high school principal has a nasty secret; a couple of guys try to seduce a group of bimbos on their way to a costume party; a group of teenagers try to pull a nasty prank in the woods and become stalked by an angry apparition; a woman who hates the holidays has to deal with her Halloween-obsessed husband. All of these stories brilliantly intertwine. It’s like Magnolia (1999) with pumpkins and werewolves. The filmmakers’ use their knowledge of horror conventions to fill their picture with exhilarating surprises, mixing horror and comedy with unusual success. Most importantly, Trick ‘r Treat drips with Halloween atmosphere.


2. House of 1,000 Corpses (2003)

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Rob Zombie’s scary, crazily theatrical feature film debut is like an awesome hour and a half long haunted house ride. On Halloween night, a group of unlikable teenagers find themselves trapped in the lair of the Firefly clan, a murderous family with a love for crazy costumes, talent shows, mermaid sculptures made out of fresh corpses, old horror movies, and Satanic rituals. The late, great icon Karen Black has one of her best roles of recent years as the glamorous yet creepy family matriarch, cult legends Sid Haig and Bill Moseley created new horror icons in Captain Spalding and Otis, and Sherri Moon Zombie’s Baby is annoying and yet terrifyingly unhinged. Like Trick ‘r Treat and John Carpenter’s Halloween, House… gives you the feeling of watching horror movies on TV late at night after an evening of begging for candy.


3. The Lady in White (1988)

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A little boy is locked in the cloakroom at school on Halloween in 1962, where he meets the ghost of a young girl and finds himself tormented by a masked murderer. After he escapes, he tries to uncover the mystery of what he saw, which leads him to encounter a spooky spinster (Katharine Helmond) and a ghostly lady in white. The Lady in White gets under your skin by presenting the extraordinary in the most believable, ordinary places and circumstances. Its unforgettable imagery undoubtedly traumatized many a youngster during its repeated afternoon airings on HBO in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.




4. Tales From The Darkside (The Halloween Episodes)

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Tales from the Darkside was one of the great horror shows of the 1980s. Inspired by The Twilight Zone and Creepshow, it offered up horrific tales of varying quality every week. Its Halloween episodes, “Trick or Treat” (the series pilot, which aired October 29, 1983) and season two’s “Halloween Candy” (October 27, 1985), were two of the series’ most memorable episodes. In “Trick or Treat,” a greedy, spiteful old banker invites kids to search his gothic house for their parents’ mortgages on Halloween night. When they arrive, he scares them with mechanical ghosts. The tables turn when a nasty real witch shows up at his door. In “Halloween Candy,” another miserly old man ruins kids’ Halloween by pouring slimy goo into their Trick or Treat bags (the worst!)! Demonic bugs and a monster (which strongly resembles the beast from the Creepshow segment “The Crate”) visit the jerk, giving him a taste of the Halloween spirit.

Here's "Trick or Treat"



And here's "Halloween Candy":




5. The Midnight Hour (1985)

A legendary made for TV movie. The Midnight Hour tells the tale of a group of teenagers try to steal costumes from the local wax museum to wear at a rad Halloween party. They accidentally inflict a zombie apocalypse on their small town by resurrecting Lucinda Cavander, a pissed off persecuted witch. With Lucinda’s help, coffins explode from the ground and their occupants roam the streets, parents murder children on vintage Cadillacs, werewolves, vampires, and zombies participate in a dance number, and that’s just scratching the surface. Only the ghost of a gorgeous 1950s cheerleader can help save the day. The soundtrack features music by The Smiths, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wilson Pickett, and Three Dog Night. The cast includes Dick Van Patten, Lavar “Reading Rainbow” Burton, and Deedee “Michelle’s Little Sister” Pfeiffer. In other words, this is the perfect movie to watch while strung out on candy.


6. The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (1976)

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This extremely eerie, melancholy, and intelligent character study begins on Halloween, when Rynn (Jodie Foster) celebrates her birthday alone. She lives in a big house in a seaside community, and her parents never seem to be home. As several snobby, sleazy, and lecherous adults try to find out Rynn’s secrets (and possibly exploit her), Rynn finds that she must do anything she can to survive. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is as spooky as they come (and on Halloween night, “spooky” is often more appealing than “scary”). Its dense autumnal setting will make you smell burning leaves and feel the chill.




7. Trick or Treat (1986)

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The other Trick or Treat. The one with Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons. Eddie (played by Marc “Skippy from Family Ties” Price!) is a heavy metal-loving high school outcast who becomes devastated when his hero, Satanic rocker Sammi Curr, dies in a hotel fire. A disc jockey (Simmons) gives Eddie Sammi’s last recording. When Eddie plays it, he brings the legend back from the dead to help get revenge on all of the persecuting preps at the local high school (led by Doug Savant, the gay guy from Melrose Place, which gives this movie an excellent Battle of the Prime Time Stars subtext). All hell breaks loose when Sammi goes on a killing spree at the town’s Halloween dance, while Eddie tries to send him back to hell by breaking radios. Ozzy Osbourne appears as a raving reverend. Tipper Gore, who rallied against heavy metal’s Satanic potential in the ‘80s, must have nodded in approval throughout this film.


8. Hellbent (2004)

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Hellbent is one of only a handful of reasonably stylish, suspenseful, jump-inducing horror movies about gay men. A group of gay male friends make the mistake of mooning a muscle-bound masked man at a Halloween party (the gay version of Annie Brackett’s unwise announcement to Michael Myers, “Hey Jerk, speed kills!”) He stalks them one by one while they go about their business cruising, partying, getting into drama, and celebrating the season. Writer-director Paul Etheredge wittily adapts the classic slasher conventions to contemporary gay life, and happily reminds viewers everywhere that people celebrate Halloween in California, too.


9. Hack-O-Lantern (1988)

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There must be a lot of fans of really bad horror movies out there, so Hack-O-Lantern has its place on this list! It’s Halloween, and little Tommy has a lot of problems. His skeevy grandfather, a Satanic leader, tells him that he’s the next Antichrist. Grandpa is also a child molester, and Tommy’s mother might be his sister. Years later, Tommy grows up to be a metal head who works out all the time. He fantasizes that he’s the star of a music video about a scantily clad girl (who could have walked out of Purple Rain) shooting lasers and killing his bandmates. Then local teenagers start getting killed by a slasher on Halloween, and Tommy’s sister goes to a party where one of his grandfather’s sacrificial victims does a strip number and a lame comedian imitates a one eyed turkey. Surprisingly, director Jag Mundhra also helmed the made for video sensation Night Eyes (1990) starring Tanya Roberts, the most profound meditation on sexuality since Last Tango in Paris (1972). Here is the important music video fantasy:


10. Jack-O (1995)

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An old warlock (John Carradine) curses every generation of the Kelly family (whose patriarch inspired his death) by summoning Jack-O, a murderous scarecrow with the head of a pumpkin. 81 years later, the Kellys are stocking up on fake blood and other props to mount a haunted garage, mom is putting together her sexy vampire costume, and Jack-O comes back. Strangely, he murders a bunch of partying teenagers instead of harming the Kellys, but eventually comes face to face with the family’s youngest son. Euro-horror star Cameron Mitchell (Blood and Black Lace) plays the host of a TV horror movie marathon, goddess Linnea Quigley has a five-minute shower scene, and a woman is randomly burned to a skeleton when she puts her fingers in the toaster (a death that has nothing to do with Jack-O!) Jack-O’s sort of lame, but in a lovable way. Like a fun size 100 Grand bar, it is chock full of mid-‘90s suburban Halloween goodness.


11. Garfield's Halloween Adventure (1985)

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We like to keep things horrific around here, but it is necessary to pay homage to the amazing Halloween-themed children’s programming that has graced us over the years. The particularly badass Garfield’s Halloween Adventure is basically a remake of John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980), starring animated animals. On their quest for candy, Garfield and Odie accidentally become targeted by ghost pirates, who sail into the port of Garfield’s small town shrouded in eerie mist. Unlike most Halloween kiddie fare, the ghosts in this movie are actually pretty creepy. If Dr. Liz Wilson, Garfield’s veterinarian and the object of Jon’s lust, had played a D.J. in a lighthouse, this film—which won a PrimeTime Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program—would be perfect. If you want to be frightened not by ghosts, but by your loss of innocence, check out the seminal It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966).


12. Satan's Little Helper (2004)

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Young Douglas Whooley is obsessed with Satan because of a videogame titled Satan’s Little Helper, in which the player helps Satan to carry out his evil bidding. When his beloved older sister comes home from college with an unexpected boyfriend in tow, he angrily takes to the streets dressed as Satan’s helper, hoping to find the dark lord who will kill the unwanted guest. Sure enough, he comes into contact with a guy dressed like Satan who, as it turns out, is just your average run of the mill serial killer in a costume, and the two of them cut the town red. Satan’s Little Helper is an unapologetically sick and twisted horror-comedy. You have to appreciate the way in which it makes fun of all of those “videogames create killers” proponents by gleefully demonstrating, in an insane and over the top way, that they do!


13. May (2002)

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Undoubtedly the most disturbing Halloween movie on this list, this underrated film follows May (Angela Bettis), a socially awkward girl with an intense trauma history. The movie follows her efforts to find a loving relationship with a mechanic who made cannibal films in college, and a co-worker (Anna Faris). Her love interests eventually pull back from May’s increasing weirdness, and she begins to descend into lonely insanity. Suffice it to say that all hell breaks loose on Halloween night, and it will get deep under your skin.

What did we miss? What did you think? Speak out on our Facebook page or on Twitter!

Ben Raphael Sher is a Ph.D. candidate at UCLA, where he also teaches.  His work has appeared in Fangoria, Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, and Back Stage. You can read more of his work here.

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