It’s almost that time of year again, the time of year that for horror writers is like a combination of Christmas and… well, Halloween.
Of course I’m talking about Halloween. And what better way to celebrate than by watching a suitably scary movie. But what makes a great Halloween classic? My own recipe for a ghoulish treat involves some great scares, a sense of fun, a lot of comedy, some cheesy dialogue, and a good dose of escapism. These may not be the world’s scariest movies, but they among the most fun to watch, especially on the spookiest night of the year!
So without further ado or aplomb, here are my own favourite Halloween movies…
Dance of the Vampires aka The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
Roman Polanski’s take of two bungling vampire hunters has enough scares and laughs for everyone.
This has to be the most appropriate movie ever made for Halloween. Pumpkins and trick-or-treaters abound in John Carpenter’s superbly economical slasher movie. By the end, you’ll be afraid to turn out the lights!
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
The original zombie apocalyptic thrill ride!
The Fog (1980)
Some great scares in this John Carpenter classic about ghostly pirates. Johnny Depp is nowhere to be seen.
American Werewolf in London (1981)
John Landis pumps up the scares and the laughs in this outrageous werewolf story. Terrifying and laugh out loud funny at the same time!
Stephen King writes and acts! B-movie staples are given a fresh lease of life in this shot story compendium.
Night of the Comet (1984)
Note to self: if a particularly bright meteor shower promises a spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime light show, do not watch it! Post-apocalyptic teen v zombies hijinks ensue.
Vampire strippers. Sound familiar? But add fashion icon Grace Jones and some cheesy Eighties teens you have a recipe for a fangtastic movie. Get it? Fang-tastic? Oh, forget it.
Fright Night (1985)
Another great Eighties vampire comedy. Only the original version is actually funny. Roddy McDowell lends humour and pathos to his role as a has-been TV vampire hunter who finds the real deal living in the suburbs.
Night of the Creeps (1986)
Nobody did teen comedy better than the Eighties. Jocks getting dismembered? Check. Cheerleaders attacked by aliens? Check. Mutant alien slugs infesting people? Check… wait, what…
An overlooked gem starring William Katt (Greatest American Hero) as a guest in a very unwelcoming home filled with rubberized ghosts and ghouls!
Aliens make contact, and they look like prickly care bears! Great home siege movie with some very silly monsters.
The Monster Squad 1987
Dracula, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon descend upon a small American town. Who’s going to stop them? Frankenstein, that’s who!
Lost Boys (1987)
So obvious it’s barely worth a mention. But it does stand up well, even now. Coreys Haim and Feldman’s finest hour.
Evil Dead II (1987)
A retelling of the Evil Dead, but with added humour and slapstick. It’s like watching a live-action cartoon. You can almost forget this is a movie about cannibalistic, soul-stealing demons.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
A light, family film but not without its share of thrills. Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker (yes, that one) star as hopeless witches out to rule the world on Halloween!
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Always good after a few beers. Most employed store staff can relate to Simon Pegg’s eponymous hero, who is distinctly unimpressed that his day is being ruined by a zombie invasion.
So there you have it, my tops picks for an entertaining night in front of the TV this Halloween. Let me know if you agree or if I missed anything. And happy screaming!