Classic Halloween Night Movies features:
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 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 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 and weirdly cute killers ever committed to film, Sam, who is, in essence, 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 remains intact despite most people knowing its finale’s killer twist for over twenty years. 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 was a picture wrapped in what the director wanted us to see before the final trick was uncovered. 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 Trump’s 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 and 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. However, in translating his material to the screen, a choice would need to be made over the target audience, and unlike Goosebumps, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark would opt for a mid-teenage audience. It’s fair to say that some of the stories work, and others fall flat, with the most significant problem held in the conjoining narrative. 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.
READ MORE: ANTLERS
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 by 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 one of the most creative, inspired and visually stunning movies of the late 1980s. Lost Boy’s screenplay is wrapped in the desire to remain young forever. But it’s our young hero, Sam, who comes closest to Barrie’s Pan as a bright light of innocence in the pervading 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 as Burton explores a bureaucratic and comedy rich afterlife. However, Michael Keaton steals the show, his devilishly wild bio-exorcist, earning a place as one of the most enduring characters of 1980s cinema. 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 buzz 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 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 Lambert’s 1989 version that remains faithful to King’s material and 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)
Tales From The Crypt (1972) & Creepshow (1982)
During the late 1940s, the go-to comic outlet for grizzly tales of ghosts, murder and the undead was EC Comics. EC was sadly short-lived, but the companies lasting legacy would earn a place in the horror hall of fame, with many of their avid young readers going on to write and direct, including Stephen King and Joe Dante. Meanwhile, these deliciously dark comics would inspire a whole host of horror movies, TV shows and short films. But it’s Tales from the Crypt 1972 and Creepshow 1982 that pay homage to the true genius of the EC Comics collection. So sit back, dim the lights, grab a drink, lock the doors and enjoy this camp, dark and comedic collection of macabre short stories this Halloween.
While you are here, why not explore more Spotlight Classics.