The pumpkins are carved, the candles are lit, and the snacks are ready; all you need now is a great Halloween night movie to add to the atmosphere. So settle back as we bring you a great selection of top-rated Halloween night flicks. Each one handpicked to help you celebrate the night the dead come out to play under the light of the moon. Featuring, Trick ‘r Treat, The Sixth Sense, Halloween, Candyman, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, The Lost Boys, Beetlejuice and Pet Sematary.
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Is Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat one of the best Halloween Night movies ever made? The answer is, YES!. His film taking inspiration from Stephen King’s Creepshow in its five-story structure, while weaving each delicious short into a much broader Halloween night story. With the scares, jumps and horror entwined into the very fabric of the holiday, from pumpkins to candy bars and costumes. Meanwhile, its blood-soaked terror pays homage to the slasher film template, while in turn, finding a unique folk horror voice. And let’s not forget one of the creepiest yet weirdly cute killers ever committed to film; Sam, the spirit of Halloween past and present. So grab some pumpkin-shaped snacks, dim the lights and enter a world of glorious Halloween inspired comic book horror.
John Carpenters Halloween took the slasher horror of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and coupled it with the teen based terror of Black Christmas. In turn, giving birth to the teen slasher film template, we know today. Meanwhile, creating an iconic masked murderer who gave birth to a franchise that still breathes 40 years later. Of course, this is all the more surprising considering the shoestring budget Halloween had on its filming in 1977/78. However, Carpenter knew how to build on the success of early slasher films, while also embedding the more obscure terror of movies such as ‘Eyes With Out a Face.’ The resulting picture, one of the defining horrors of the past 40 years.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Twenty-one years on from its cinematic premiere in 1999, M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense remains one of the finest ghost stories of the past two decades. With its ability to enthral, shock and engage audiences mainly intact despite most people now knowing the killer twist of its finale. The reason for its enduring appeal coming from the performances at its heart, with Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment shining throughout. However, even more, intriguing is the fact that The Sixth Sense sits outside of the classic horror genre. Its scares and jumps laced within a narrative that is part love story, part supernatural horror and part fantasy. The resulting picture ensuring the viewer only sees what they want to see in each frame, before being forced to admit they were tricked all along.
Born in the imagination of the formidable Clive Barker in a collection of short stories The Books Of Blood (1984-1985). Barker’s original story took place on a Liverpool housing estate, as its residents investigated the urban legend of a local serial killer. However, in the translation to film, British director Bernard Rose (Paper House) transferred the action to the urban decay of 90s Chicago. In turn, creating a nuanced horror embedded in social themes of poverty, crime, and race. With these powerful themes just as urgent today in the social divide of Trumps USA as they were in the post-Reagan era. Candyman’s horror comes from mixing urban legend with the uncomfortable realities of a racially divided America still living in the shadow of slavery. Once seen never forgotten, Candyman is a truly unique horror that has earned its place as one of the finest movies of the early 1990s.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
Back in 1981, Alvin Schwartz released the first volume of his Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, introducing children and teens to the nightmare world of folk horror. His books not only proving a huge success but also inspiring a whole generation of horror fans. With tales of mysterious creatures, ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Of course, there is a challenge in bringing short story anthologies to the big screen. And unlike, Creepshow and Trick ‘r Treat, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark occasionally struggles to lace its short tales together.
But despite this, the result is a visual delight, bathing its audience in the autumnal colour of Halloween. With the golden-brown colours of comfort cut against the vivid reds and blues of a nightmare world. Equally impressive are the short but sweet horrors conjured from the haunted book; each short story playing with the interface between childhood fear and folklore.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Joel Schumacher and Richard Donner’s movie is nothing short of a joyous time capsule of 80s music, style and energy. However, underneath the vivid colour, comic book-inspired horror and timeless humour The Lost Boys is a bold vampire inspired take on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. With the dark and mysterious (Kiefer Sutherland) and his band of bikers embodying and subverting The Lost Boys theme of Barrie’s story. Their desire to stay young forever led not by Peter Pan, but the Hook inspired figure of Max (Ed Herrman). Meanwhile, our new boys in the neighbourhood Michael (Jason Patric) and young kid brother, Sam (Corey Haim) find themselves wrapped in the horror of a vampiric fairground.
The result is undoubtedly one of the most creative, inspired and visually stunning movies of the late 1980s. While at the same time embodying the eternal desire to remain young forever, and the feelings of invulnerability we all have during our teenage years. And in terms of JM Barrie, its the hero of the piece Sam, who comes closest to Pan. With Corey Haim’s innocence, and perfectly timed humour shining through the darkness. So why not treat yourself this Halloween to one of Schumacher’s best movies.
Vibrant, dark, and joyously nutty, Beetlejuice remains one of Tim Burton’s most loved cinematic outings. The film itself a mix of surrealist comedy and biting satire as it unpicks the capitalist ideals of Reagan economics. While at the same time, its groundbreaking use of physical visual effects ensures a fresh feeling to its action 32 years later. Its interpretation of a bureaucratic afterlife continuing to inspire new stories on film.
However, it is Michael Keaton who steals the show, his devilishly wild bio-exorcist, earning a place as one of the most enduring characters of 1980s cinema. While at the same time landing him the role of Batman a year later. Beetlejuice is in many ways the birth of Tim Burton’s genius, its scope and vision unlike anything before it. While at the same time its love of gothic horror, fantasy and art ooze from each frame to the rhythms of Harry Belafonte. Ensuring Beetlejuice remains one of the most fun Halloween night movies in the history of cinema.
Pet Sematary (1989)
No Halloween night movie list would be complete without some Stephen King-inspired horror. And Pet Sematary is without a doubt one of his more gruesome books. The narrative centred around our human need to cheat death. The grief and pain of losing a loved one surrounded by a selfish need to heal our trauma. However, nature cannot be subverted without a price, and sometimes, dead is better.
Stephen King’s book has been brought to the screen twice since it was published in 1983, with the 2018 remake choosing to rewrite the books ending. But, Mary Lamberts original 1989 version is faithful to King’s material, and in turn, far scarier than the unnecessary remake. With Lambert brutally submerging Lewis Creed and his family in escalating terror and tragedy. The tension, horror and scares of her vision burning a place in the memory of the viewer. However, despite this Lambert’s genuinely terrifying vision was slated on release by critics. But, this is one film where the critics, in our opinion, got it wrong. The result not only reflecting the trauma of grief but also the hope of resurrection. In a movie that delights in making the audience squirm as the danger of subverting natures chosen path is laid bare.