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 great Halloween night flicks. Each one is 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, 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!. Dougherty’s movie takes clear inspiration from Stephen King’s Creepshow in embracing a five-story structure while weaving each delicious short into a much broader Halloween night story. Here scares, jumps and delicious comic book horror weave into the very fabric of the October holiday, from jump scares to pumpkins, candy bars and costumes. Meanwhile, its blood-soaked terror pays homage to the traditional slasher film, while in turn, finding a unique folk horror voice.
However, Trick r Treat is at its most fascinating when exploring its link to the festive movie, in particular, A Christmas Carol. Here we are given 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.
READ MORE: HOCUS POCUS
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Twenty-one years on from its premiere in 1999, M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense remains one of the finest ghost stories of the past thirty years. Its ability to enthral, shock, and engage audiences, intact despite most people knowing its finale’s killer twist. So what is the reason for its enduring appeal? In my opinion, much of the classic secret recipe comes from the performances at the heart of the movie, with Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment outstanding. However, maybe its lasting appeal also comes from its genre-defying place in cinema. After all, this is a film where classic M.R. James inspired horror dovetails with crime drama, coming-of-age and mystery.
The result of this was a picture that ensured the viewer only saw what the director wanted them to see before being forced to admit they were tricked all along. The Sixth Sense remains Shyamalan’s best work to date and is well worth revisiting even if you know the ending.
READ MORE: LADY IN WHITE
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, creating a folklore horror embedded in social themes of poverty, crime, and race.
These powerful themes are just as urgent today in the social divide of Trumps USA as they were in the post-Reagan era and sadly still all too relevant. 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 genuinely unique horror that has earned its place as one of the finest movies of the early 1990s.
READ MORE: CANDYMAN (2021)
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)
In 1981, Alvin Schwartz released the first volume of his Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, introducing children and teens to a new nightmare world of folk horror. His books would prove to be a huge success and inspire a whole generation of horror fans through tales of mysterious creatures, ghosts, and things that went bump in the night. In translating his material to the screen, a choice would need to be made over the target audience. Unlike Goosebumps, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark would opt for a mid-teenage audience in its collection of interlinked tales. It’s fair to say that some of these work and others fall flat, with the most significant problem held in the conjoining story.
But despite this, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a visual delight, bathing its audience in the autumnal colour of Halloween and the vivid reds and blues of a nightmare world as it plays in the space between childhood fear and adult folklore.
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The Lost Boys (1987)
The Lost Boys is in many ways a joyous time capsule of 80s music, style and energy. However, underneath Joel Schumacher and Richard Donner’s movie’s comic book horror is an inspired take on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Here the dark and mysterious (Kiefer Sutherland) and his band of bikers embody the lost boys of Barrie’s story. Their desire to stay young forever led not by an impish Peter Pan, but the Hook inspired Max (Ed Herrman). Here our new boys Michael (Jason Patric) and his young kid brother, Sam (Corey Haim), find themselves wrapped in the horror of a vampiric Pan orientated fairground of choices.
The Lost Boys is, undoubtedly, one of the most creative, inspired and visually stunning movies of the late 1980s. It’s brilliantly written screenplay, wrapped in the eternal desire to remain young forever. Here our young hero Sam comes closest to Barrie’s Pan, as Corey Haim provides us with the bright light of innocence and adventure in the darkness.
Vibrant, dark, and joyously nutty, Beetlejuice remains one of Tim Burton’s most loved films. The film itself is a mix of surrealist comedy and biting satire as it unpicks the capitalist ideals of Reagan’s economics. While at the same time, its groundbreaking use of physical visual effects continues to ensure a fresh feeling to its action some 32 years later. Here Burton’s interpretation of a bureaucratic afterlife would inspire countless new stories on film.
However, Michael Keaton 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 rhythm of Harry Belafonte.
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 centres around our human need to cheat death; here, the grief and pain of losing a loved one are surrounded by a selfish need to turn back time. However, death cannot be cheated without a devastating price, as we learn that sometimes, dead is better.
Stephen King’s book has two cinematic adaptations in 1989 and 2019, the latter opting to rewrite the book’s end. But, for me, it’s Mary Lamberts 1989 version that remains faithful to King’s material, and in turn, offers us a far scarier journey. Here Lambert brutally submerges Lewis Creed and his family in an escalating terror born of tragedy. The tension and horror of her vision burnt into the viewer’s memory. However, despite this Lambert’s genuinely terrifying vision, Pet Sematary was mauled by critics on its release. However, this is one film where the critics got it wrong.
READ MORE: PET SEMATARY (2019)
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