Halloween Night Movies

Halloween Night Movies

Halloween Night Movies


Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat is one of the best Halloween Night movies ever made. Taking clear inspiration from Stephen King’s Creepshow, Dougherty’s anthology is full of dark humour, jump scares and delicious comic book horror. Here its blood-soaked homage to EC Comics, 80s slashers, and 70s TV horror is nothing short of sublime. However, Trick ‘r Treat is at its most fascinating when lacing its horror with a nod to A Christmas Carol. Here we are given one of the creepiest and 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 with Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat.



I have no intention of attempting to fully unpack Richard Kelly’s sublime slice of science fiction, horror and drama; after all, even a fair few dissertations have been unable to nail down the themes held in Donnie Darko. Kelly’s movie is the cinematic equivalent of an earworm, as it consumes your thoughts for days, weeks and even months after viewing. It’s like being shrunk and injected into the confused and volatile mind of a teenager, or a vivid dream that gnaws away at you long after you wake. In short, Donnie Darko is a cinematic masterpiece that came close to never making it into theatres. Like so many of the best films ever made, from Citizen Kane to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kelly’s film means different things to different people and morphs into something new with every repeat journey down the cinematic rabbit hole, and to be Frank, that’s a damn rare and precious thing.


Over twenty years on from its release in 1999, M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense remains one of the best ghost stories of the past thirty years. This is mainly due to its ongoing ability to enthral, shock, and engage audiences despite most of us knowing its final killer twist. In my opinion, much of this success comes from its classic ghostly recipe and the performances of Willis, Osment and Collette. The Sixth Sense remains unclassifiable in its genre. It’s neither horror nor thriller, as it pays homage to the work of M.R James while nodding toward Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire and more slushy ghost dramas like Always or Field of Dreams. It’s Shyamalan’s masterpiece, as he channels Speilberg while also finding his own unique voice.



Candyman was born in the imagination of the formidable Clive Barker in The Books Of Blood (1984-1985). Barker’s original story took place on a Liverpool housing estate as residents investigated the urban legend of a local serial killer. However, British director Bernard Rose (Paper House) would transfer the action to 90s Chicago, creating a folk horror embedded in social themes of poverty, crime, and racial oppression, themes just as urgent today 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. 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.

CULT (2019)

Fancy something different for Halloween Night? You won’t go far wrong with Luke Ibbetson’s debut feature film CULT, a delightful mockumentary following the final months of a Cornish cult named F.A.T.E (Friends at the End). Here we meet a small band of outcast followers who patiently await the arrival of a comet that will destroy the world. Ibbetson’s film revels in the mockumentary’s ability to reflect both the reality and the absurdity of the human experience, layering vibrant comedy with a sincere exploration of loneliness and group belonging. But it is within the final scenes that Ibbetson throws us a curveball, as CULT turns from comedy to an emotional exploration of social control. 



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, inspiring a whole generation through tales of mysterious creatures, ghosts, and things that go 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-teen audience. It’s fair to say that some stories work, and others fall flat, with the most significant problem being 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 with the void between childhood fears and adult terrors.



The Lost Boys has long been celebrated as a brilliantly entertaining slice of 80s moviemaking. In many ways, The Lost Boys was the Top Gun of teenage horror; a feature-length music video featuring Gerard McMann, Inxs and Echo and the Bunnymen. But under the hood, Joel Schumacher and Richard Donner‘s comic book horror was an inspired vampiric take on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. The dark and mysterious (Kiefer Sutherland) and his band of bikers are The Lost Boys of Barrie’s story, but they are not led by an impish Peter Pan but by the Hook-inspired Max (Ed Herrman). It is within this macabre Pan-orientated fairground of choices and hormones that new boys in town, Michael (Jason Patric) and his kid brother, Sam (Corey Haim), find themselves trapped. Here themes of conformity, peer pressure, sexuality and identity surround Donner and Schumacher’s visually stunning Santa Carla horror.


Vibrant, dark, and joyously nutty, Beetlejuice remains one of Tim Burton’s most beloved films as it mixes surrealist comedy with biting satire and comic book horror. However, Michael Keaton steals the show with his devilishly wild bio-exorcist, earning a place as one of the most loved characters in 80s cinema. Beetlejuice is, in many ways, the birth of Tim Burton’s genius, with a scope and vision unlike anything before it; its love of gothic horror, fantasy and art swaying to the rhythms of Harry Belafonte.


No Halloween night movie list would be complete without Stephen King, and Pet Sematary is undoubtedly one of his more gruesome outings. Pet Sematary laces the grief and pain of losing a loved one with the selfish need to turn back time. However, death cannot be cheated without a devastating price, and we soon learn that sometimes, dead is better. The book has two cinematic outings (1989 and 2019), with the most recent opting to change the end of King’s book. For me, it is Mary Lambert’s 1989 version that remains the most faithful to King’s material. Lambert brutally submerges Lewis Creed and his family in an escalating terror born of tragedy.



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 company’s 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. Tales from the Crypt 1972 and Creepshow 1982 pay homage to the genius of the EC Comics collection with a diverse and wickedly entertaining anthology of stories. So sit back, dim the lights, grab a drink, lock the doors and enjoy this camp, dark and comedic collection of macabre short stories.

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