Halloween doth approach, the time of every year where we celebrate all that is dark, violent and spooky. It is unique amongst all the other holidays of the year, which preach lame things like forgiveness and love, as it gives us a time to sit back and appreciate the macabre.
You may be wondering, what horror films should I watch? The perfect Halloween horror film is one that, while still scary and unsettling, is hokey and silly, just like the holiday itself. We here at n3rdabl3 have got you covered. Welcome to our 10 Halloween Horror movie recommendations. In no particular order, let’s begin
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Who doesn’t love the Friday the 13th series? Other than camp counsellors, film critics and stuffy old fogies. The films are formulaic, full of terrible acting and paper thin plots, yet there is just something that works about them. It’s not the characters, the story, or the direction. Maybe it’s just the combination of tits and violence, who knows?
I’m sure you all know the basic premise, but let’s just quickly go over it anyway. Crystal Lake is a small town in the American mid-West where the local Summer camp happens to have a higher murder rate than the entirety of Mexico. This is largely in part to Jason Vorhees, a physically imposing and mentally disabled man who nearly drowned at the camp due to counsellor negligence when he was a lad. He lived the rest of his days in the woods surrounding the lake, eventually deciding that he needed to murder any counsellors or teenagers that ever wandered into his domain. Jason also enjoys hockey, long walks by the lake and is single, in case any of you lucky ladies out there are interested.
So, out of all the 12 Friday the 13th films, why part 6? Jason Lives is probably the most self aware of the series. It is very stupid and it knows it; this is the film where Jason is revived as an unkillable zombie by a bolt of lightning, after all. The film takes its ridiculous premise and has a lot of fun with it. We get to see Jason slaughter his way through graveyards, paintball sessions and, of course, a Summer camp. The blood and guts is a bit toned down compared to previous entries, but this is appropriate given its lighter tone.
The film also marks the final appearance of long-standing survivor Tommy Jarvis, sadly in his most bland appearance. It is also the first time that Jason appears as his famous undead self. If any of you care about the Friday the 13th lore (the filmmakers don’t, why should you?), this is one you cannot miss.
The Blob is one of those remakes that just completely outshines its original. The film takes the basic story but presents it in a fresh and more interesting way: a strange object crashes in small town America and soon a couple of teenager must defend their home from an all consuming, seemingly unkillable giant blob.
The original was your standard 1950s B movie which sadly does not hold up very well to a modern audience, but the remake is still your perfect Halloween movie. The film is gross; when the blob eats someone you get to see them scream as they are dissolved in the creature’s digestive goo!
The characters are very strong too, with the fantastic cast really making you feel for this poor town besieged by the unstoppable terror. The film is directed by Frank Darabont, famous for The Walking Dead’s first season and for The Shawshank Redemption. Yes the man who made The Shawshank Redemption made a movie about a huge killer blob. Yes, you should definitely watch it.
Galaxy of Terror
What can you say about Galaxy of Terror? Well, it follows the crew of a spaceship crash landing on a strange world called Morganthus. While searching their surroundings, the crew begin to be killed off one by one, each in a weirder and more horrific way than the last. It is also about 90 minutes long.
Beyond that, it’s hard to describe. The film is quite surreal, and the plot goes to pretty strange places beyond its generic premise. It also features a very memorable scene. I don’t want to spoil it, it is much better to see it without any preparation. Let’s just say, you’ll know it when you see it.
The violence can be a bit disturbing at times, but some scenes are just so weird that you and your friends are bound to be laughing by the end. Have a few drinks and enjoy.
Reanimator: Herbert West
Ah, Reanimator, you are my favourite film that features a cat being bashed and broken with a baseball bat…
Let me start again, before I drive you all away from this masterpiece of intentionally bad 80s horror comedy. Reanimator is loosely based on the HP Lovecraft story of the same name. very, very loosely. Like, more loose than Miley Cyrus in her bad girl phase. The film follows the socially awkward yet incredibly driven Dr Herbert West as he tries to perfect his serum that brings things back from the dead. How could it ever go wrong?
He is assisted by his beleaguered roommate, and together they must combat the horror they inadvertently unleash. The film is hilariously bloody yet genuinely creepy at times too. A lot of is this because of the performances, both by Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West and the surrounding cast. Dr Hill makes for a great antithesis to Herbert West, as he is the sleazy, stuck in his ways professional to West’s young brilliant overzealous scientist.
Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors
The second entry on this list from a long running horror series, Dream Warriors is one of the most popular films in the franchise, and for good reason. For those who list their home address as ‘ Under T. Rock, Middle of Nowhere, Nebraska’, The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise follows several teenagers attempts to stop Freddy Krueger, a child murderer in life who returns from the dead to haunt the dreams of his killers’ offspring. Unlike your regular nightmares brought on by a lifetime of regret, in a Freddy Kruger nightmare you can actually die for realsies. Why can’t this problem just be solved by the teenagers downing a bottle of scotch and collapsing into a sweet, dreamless coma? Probably because you have to be 21 in the States to buy alcohol. See America! Your Draconian alcohol laws kill! The movie probably comes only second to the original in terms of quality. So why is this on the list, and the first film not?
Well, on Halloween you want a few chuckles thrown in with the horror, and this film certainly delivers that. Freddie Kruger (played superbly, as always, by Robert Englund) really starts to get into his famous wisecracking in this entry, and delivers some of his best lines. Unlike the later entries, where Freddy becomes so comedic the horror just stops, here Kruger is funny but still genuinely intimidating at times. Add to that that this film includes some of the most creative kills seen in any slasher film, and you have a recipe for a great Halloween movie.
The film also features a brilliant (and hilariously 80s) theme song by glam metal band Dokken, which you should watch below:
The film also marks the return of famous horror director Wes Craven to the series, as well as Heather Lagencamp reprising her role as Nancy, the protagonist in the original movie.This is probably one of the most fun horror movies of the decade and will make a great addition to your Halloween watchlist.
Evil Dead, the film where it’s hard to judge what’s scarier: demonic possession, being sexually assaulted by trees, or Bruce Campbell’s chin. The Evil Dead series is a huge success across the world today, with it having a hit TV show, a long series of comic books and a remake a few years back that was actually surprisingly decent. Most of this success derives from the second film in the franchise, Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn.
So why should you watch the first film? Well, you have probably seen the second movie for one; it is far more popular, after all. There is also something so charming about Evil Dead that I think is just a great fit for Halloween. It’s horrific yet still silly, but unlike the sequel, where this is the intended effect, the original is trying so damn hard that it’s just has a certain naivety about it.
Director Sam Raimi just wanted to make a horror movie so badly, but had neither the budget nor the connections to get it done correctly. The end result is Evil Dead, equal parts gore and hilarity. Through into the mix some really great filmmaking and you have the recipe for a horror classic.
A brief synopsis: Evil Dead’ plot, as far as it has one, follows a group of young people who go to a creepy old cabin in the woods in order to drink. While there, they discover an ancient book that, if read allowed, summons demonic spirits. Naturally, it gets read out loud, and the rest of the film is the main characters trying to survive the chaos they have brought about.
Like I have said, it’s a horror classic and will make a great addition to your Halloween watch list.
What images are conjured to your mind when you hear that title? Terror? A shoddy ripoff to The Thing? Nothing because the title is as bland as you can get?
I doubt giant man-eating ants came to mind, but that is what Them! Is all about. Made in the much simpler time of the 1950s, Them! Is a classic of science fiction B-movies and features all the hallmarks of that genre: quick dialogue, wooden acting, dated special effects, effete scientists and tough, grizzled military types.
Them! Is one of the better examples of the genre, though, as the silly premise of giant radioactive ants is taken very seriously and at times is quite unsettling. The different solutions the characters come up with to deal with the ants are also makes for engaging viewing. The film also lacks some of the awful modern B-movie cliches we have to deal with nowadays, and the whole thing feels very comfy. Will you be scared? Probably not. Will you enjoy it? Probably yes. The aforementioned special effects are really hilarious at times, though also fairly impressive considering they didn’t have access to the modern movie sorcery that is CGI. Additionally, the Fallout franchise owes a lot to films like Them!, and you might find yourself noticing a lot of similarities between them. If you are a fan of Fallout then you should definitely check it out. The film hearkens back to a simpler time when men were men, women were unemployed, and there was only a 30% chance of being crippled for life by Polio. And isn’t that the life we all want really?
No? Well just go watch this shoddy film about giant ants eating people and leave me alone!
Bride of Chucky
The Child’s Play series is one of the few horror franchises from the 1980s that is still going strong today, with its seventh entry, Cult of Chucky being released earlier this year..
For those who don’t know the premise, the series follows Chucky, a murderous doll possessed by the soul of a Voodoo obsessed serial killer. Most of the films feature him trying to implant his soul into an unlucky human while he murders a bunch of people for no reason along the way.
I have recommended the fourth film in the franchise,Bride of Chucky, for your Halloween extravaganza as this is where the series started to plunge more into horror comedy and so it is a perfect fit for Halloween viewing. This time, Chucky’s old girlfriend Tina (played brilliantly by Jennifer Tilly) is trying to revive him. The interactions between the two are fantastic and is certainly the highlight of the movie. The human characters, while pretty paper thin, are funny enough to keep the movie going, and, as always, watching a two foot tall doll try to murder them all is great for a laugh.
If you like this film, you should definitely also locate the sequel Seed of Chucky, which gets even weirder and more wonderful than this masterpiece of horror schlock. A large part of what makes these movies great has to be Brad Dourif, who has voiced the titular killer doll since the 1980s. Whether the films are trying to be comical or genuinely terrifying, Dourif always manages to deliver the intended effect.
Return of the Living Dead
Return of the Living Dead is a largely forgotten film that has had a surprising impact on pop culture; it is from this movie that the zombies famous cry of ‘brains’ originates.
The film was written by John Russo, erstwhile partner of the more famous George Romero, with whom he made the seminal Night of the Living Dead with. When Romero went on to forge the zombie genre, Russo decided to make a much lighter film.
Return of the Living Dead is a downward slide into complete chaos. Starting with a couple of idiot medical warehouse workers letting loose a zombie creating gas, everything just continues to get worse from there. The film is filled with memorable characters and music, which helps carry the films bare bones plot.
The most awesome part of the film is the zombies themselves, which is quite rare in the overstuffed genre. Rather than the usual bumbling, mindless shoot-em-in-the-head garden variety zombie you normally find, Return of the Living Dead features a fresh new interpretation of the classic movie monster. The zombies here talk, run and are nigh indestructible. The effects are wonderful, with this being made in the mid 80s when make-up and gross out practical effects were at their peak.
Gruesome, unsettling and bloody hilarious, Return of the Living Dead is perfect for the spookiest holiday of the year.
Rats: Night of Terror
And now we come to the Magnum Opus of bad-funny horror films: Feast your eyes on Rats: Night of Terror, a film that is a masterpiece in terrible movie-making. Set in the year 225 AB (After the Bomb, as the long opening narration sequence helpfully explains), the film follows a bunch of post-apocalyptic bikers who arrive at an abandoned science lab and try to set up shop. Soon, they discover that the rats that inhabit the lab murdered all the crew, and are now trying to eat them!
The film comes from that glorious time in Italian horror cinema where each movie was written by someone who barely knows English, acted by people who definitely do not know English, and directed by someone who knows enough English to say “can I have the cheque now?”. The hapless fellow in the director’s chair this time is Bruno Mattei, a man who brought us such hits as SS Girls, Zombie Flesh Eaters 2, and Hell of the Living Dead. If the titles alone don’t give it away, Mattei is notorious for his so-bad-they’re-amazing films, and each one of those listed is a hoot.
The film is full of sewer rats, completely quotable lines, animal cruelty and good old Italian racism. All these elements blend together to deliver what is probably the best bad film ever made. Yes, it’s better than THE ROOM.
The only real issue is that it can be an arse to find, but if you locate a copy, check it out. You will not regret it and it will make your Halloween night.