Happy Halloween everyone. I was thinking of idea of what kind of post I would like to do for this year’s Halloween, and then I remember my Christmas post where I asked some of my friends to contribute a short paragraph on their favourite Christmas film. I decided that I would love to do that again with another Holiday. This time I asked my friends to think about their favourite film to watch around Halloween or their favourite horror film. So without further ado lets celebrate some of our favourite Halloween films.
Abby Weaver: The Lost Boys – The Lost Boys is a 1987 horror comedy from my childhood, a film my Dad would let me watch, when Mum was away I’m sure! It’s not the classic hide-behind-sofa horror that tends to come with Halloween classics, yet still something I can’t watch any other time of the year! It’s the story of two boys who move to Santa Carla with their newly divorced mum, only to find the town infested with Vampires!! The younger brother Sam teams up with two insane, self-declared vampire hunters, to help save his older brother Michael, and well, you get the gist. It combines some pretty gory death scenes with brilliant comedy, creating a priceless Halloween watch.
Anthony Levitt: ParaNorman – ParaNorman is the only Halloween film that I’ve ever seen in the cinema, for the very simple reason that I was still too frightened for The Corpse Bride when that came out. My fear of horror has restricted my viewing to darker kids’ films. That being said, ParaNorman has a modern and fresh plot, using stop motion animation to bring the story to life, if you’ll pardon the pun. It’s seriously underappreciated, and almost forgot amongst cult classics of Hocus Pocus and The Nightmare Before Christmas, but I believe it’s truly worth a viewing, if only for the fact it actually has a Gay™ in it.
Becky Pritchard: The Others – My favourite Halloween film would have to be The Others. I am not a huge fan of horror films filled with blood, gore and jump scares and prefer to have to think and question the story which is why psychological thrillers/horrors are a top pick for me. The Others is a supernatural gothic horror film with aspects of psychological horror thrown in. My Mum didn’t like us to watch horror films as she doesn’t like them herself but we used to be allowed to watch them with my Dad as a special treat, which is why I probably think back on this film with fond memories. I love everything about The Others from the brilliant storyline to the fantastic acting.
Hannah Latham: The Neon Demon – In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a psychological horror. There’s also nothing better than the clinically smooth cinematography and lighting of a Nicolas Winding Refn movie. The love child of these two, The Neon Demon, is on the more indie end of the horror/thriller genre. You don’t get assaulted by jump scares and cheap looking wigs, leaving the theatre feeling relatively empty and more than a little disappointed once the lights come on. Instead, Refn provides a lucid commentary on the modelling industry, completed by a magnificent soundtrack of his usual pairings of Electric Youth and Cliff Martinez. Fanning’s cherubic portrayal of Jesse heads the film and offers a great contrast to the harsher supporting characters. It’s creepy, it’s fantastic, and there’s more than one scene that will stick with you in that way only psychological horror can do.
John Parker: An American Werewolf in London – This absolute classic monster flick perfectly balances genuine tension with brilliant, British dark humour; a horrific gore scene in the opening ten or so minutes is offset by playing the rather cheerful classic ‘Bad Moon Rising’. Similarly, the village characters of rural Britain are almost straight out of a Python sketch. As a viewer it makes you want to laugh at times when you know you really shouldn’t, it plays with your emotions, in much the same way that the recently released IT (2017) does, offsetting childish American humour with nightmare scenes of clownish horror. And in a similar manner Severance (2006) uses cheerful music to offset scenes of horrific murder. For me, a truly great horror film uses cheer and positive emotions to lull you into a sense of calm, and then flips the switch to devastating effect, giving the fear all the more impact. Certainly there are scarier films that use this technique and others better than An American Werewolf in London, and better-made ones at that, but watching this as a young boy gave me a genuine fear of werewolves throughout my childhood, this is why it will always be the number one Halloween film for me.
Michael Hamon: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – My all time favourite Halloween film would have to be The Nightmare Before Christmas. This film is a brilliant stop motion work, which flips the stereotypes of the genre on its head. I’m not a huge fan of films that try too hard to scare you, which is why I love how this film gives off a spooky atmosphere without being scary. I love the whole design idea behind stop motion films and love how the characters are designed to move around the screen in their own Halloween landscape. The Nightmare Before Christmas is a fabulously quirky film and brilliant for both adults and kids – it was one of my favourite films as a child and the catchy songs bring back memories of watching this on Halloween.
Nye Rees: 28 Weeks Later – 28 Weeks Later has to be one of my favourite horror films. Partially because supernatural horror very rarely hits the right notes for me (i.e. it’s not scary enough), but also because the franchise changed the genre’s depiction of the ‘living dead’; you can see it’s influence on the genre at work in films like World War Z or Charlie Brooker’s mini-series, Dead Set. The reason I chose the sequel rather than Danny Boyle’s original is because while the first film, 28 Days Later, uses suspense as its primary technique, 28 Weeks Later has you on the edge of your seat trying to escape your sofa instead of cowering back to avoid being hit by a generally inevitable jump scare. Right up my street.
Sophie Booth: Shaun of the Dead – Although this wasn’t actually released at Halloween, Shaun of the Dead is definite an easy fix for those after some zombies and gore at this time of year. As the first part of The Cornetto Trilogy, it obviously doesn’t fail to amuse, with classic gags still quotable 13 years after release. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do an excellent job in this film, particularly during the final fight scene at the Winchester, managing to combine the increasing underlying tension as the apocalypse approaches, but still managing to make some ridiculous and hilarious moments from it.
Will Ingram: Scooby-Doo – No I don’t mean Melvin Doo. The fact I like this film is probably more to do with the quality of the cartoon than the quality of the actual film. Apparently written by James Gunn, the man who went on to direct Guardians of the Galaxy, Scooby-Doo is about the ongoing adventures of Mystery Incorporated. Scooby himself is good enough CGI and with Rowan Atkinson as the bad guy (sort of), and a very impressive cast in the main roles, the film ticked enough boxes for me to enjoy watching, and rewatching. Nostalgia certainly adds a lot but it is a genuinely funny movie, worth a Halloween viewing.
Shuggie: Scream – Scream is definitely amongst my favourite horror films, but it doesn’t quite rank as my absolute top horror. However for me it is the perfect Halloween film. A meta examination of the slasher genre Scream is funny, intelligent, and scary. It manages to dissect the tropes of most horror films whilst still creating some of the most iconic and creepy horror moments ever. What makes it such a perfect Halloween film is that Scream is a film that deserves to be watched with a group of friends because it’s such a fun ride, where at times the characters within the film almost act as part of the audience. Ghostface as the antagonist is actually one of the scariest horror villains ever because he’s not supernatural in any way, and he could be absolutely anyone. What Scream offers is the perfect mix of humour and scares. It also doesn’t hurt that director Wes Craven appears in the film dressed similarly to his most famous creation, Freddy Krueger; so there is a nice nod to what was my very close second choice, A Nightmare on Elm Street. So take my advice this Halloween, get some of your friends over, get some candy and drinks, and enjoy watching Wes Craven’s 1996 masterpiece, Scream.
I want to say a huge thank you to all my friends who took their time to contribute to this list. I’m glad we’ve had so many eclectic and different films picked, and maybe this has given you an idea of something a little different to watch this Halloween.