Halloween Night Movies – a diverse collection of movies to enjoy this All Hallows’ Eve

27th October 2020

Halloween Night Movies – a diverse collection of movies to enjoy this All Hallows’ Eve.



Words: Sab Astley

Halloween is an iconic benchmark of modern horror. Whether you’ve never seen any horror before or are a hardened expert, the original Halloween is required viewing. It encapsulates a rolling dread of being watched as Michael Myers quietly stalks a neighbourhood. Myers is terrifying because he’s not afraid of you seeing him; he wants you to – if only for a second. I recently watched Carpenter’s movie for the fifth or sixth time with a friend (first-timer!), and it still managed to spook us. Halloween is a masterclass in slow-build tension, sharpening it into a deadly point before going in for the kill. One of the most frightening aspects of Halloween is its voyeuristic camerawork, aligning us with Michael’s perspective. Here, the camera and Michael share a vicious, calculated movement that’s terrifying in delivery. Michael Myers knows there’s a camera watching him, that we are observing him, his cold, blank stare piercing through the protective silver screen that separates our world from his. 

Even when Michael’s nowhere to be seen, Carpenter’s subtle incorporation of Michael’s physiology into the camera’s movement makes it feel like he’s still somehow with us. What we’re watching isn’t a man, but a thing – or perhaps a ‘Shape’, as he’d come to be known. It’s no coincidence that there are multiple cameos of The Thing from Another World, a title Carpenter would come to remake himself a few years later. Michael is Carpenter’s Thing – not of this world, someone entirely evil disguised in a flesh suit. At the same time, the director’s love of Eyes Without a Face inspires one of the most famous horror masks in film history. Even more impressive, Halloween has one of the best horror soundtracks in the genre’s history; its titular theme is utterly iconic, with its eerie synth providing an unsettling backdrop to a traditionally quiet American suburbia. Here, the unearthly droning follows Michael like a demented organ, poisoning the tranquil silence of Halloween night. This theme would go on to inspire a myriad of iconic soundtracks. Halloween is a brilliant reminder of how the best horror is often executed in the simplest ways – a strange figure in an unsettling mask, watching you, lurking in the silence. 




Words: Sab Astley

By re-entering Haddonfield 40 years on, David Gordon Green’s film explores the paradox of Carpenter’s Halloween. For Laurie Strode, that night was cataclysmic, the trauma imprisoning her psychologically while infecting her relationship with her children and grandchildren. But in Haddonfield, October 31st 1978, fell into nothing more than a story – as one teen remarks, “he only killed like four people.” It’s a brilliant dichotomy that feels real in its history. Haddonfield has moved past that night easily, while Laurie Strode relives it daily. What follows is, in many ways, a re-dressing of the original, but with full intention. This time, Laurie is the predator, and whether he feels it or not, Michael is the prey. It’s fucking fantastic to see Jamie Lee Curtis become this unstoppable force of nature, taking back the power Michael wielded. For the first time, we see Michael on the back foot and Laurie on top.

Halloween (2018) is bound in a close historical link between the two – both tied to one another. It’s not a case that one will destroy the other as their need for mutual destruction links them. There’s so much rich thematic resonance to be mined from this re-introduction to Halloween’s world, from Laurie’s PTSD to the mythologisation of horrific events, as well as the subversion of the final girl. It’s a beautifully skilled continuation that complements the original brilliantly, and let’s face it, that doesn’t happen every day. 



Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat is one of the best Halloween Night movies ever made. Taking clear inspiration from 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 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.

Halloween Night Movies



Just for a moment, I want you to picture a large cinematic blender. Into that imaginary blender, I want you to place Animal House (1978), The Blob (1958), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and finally, Dawn of the Dead (1978), then sprinkle in a bit of the John Hughes classic Sixteen Candles (1984). The result of this decadent cinematic cocktail could well resemble Fred Dekker’s inspired slice of 1980s B-Movie science fiction/horror, Night of the Creeps. Dekker’s directorial debut would initially suffer from a limited theatrical release, but by the time it hit the local video shops, Night of the Creeps had found its audience. It was in my local video store in 1994 that I, too, discovered Dekker’s movie. As I arrived home with my bundle of VHS treasures in hand, I had no idea what to expect, but as I switched on the TV and inserted the tape, I was in for a wonderful surprise.

Night of the Creeps carries a tongue-in-cheek charm that earns it a place in the 80s Horror Hall of Fame. In essence, Dekker’s movie is a delightful mashup of the horrors he grew up watching as a kid before honing his directorial skills at the tender age of twenty-six. Like all debuts, Night of the Creeps isn’t perfect, but it is a delightful late-night 80s B-Movie horror that deserves far more praise.



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.

Halloween Night Movies


TROLL (1986)

Troll is not one of the worst movies ever made by a long shot; that title goes to its 1990 sequel. But Troll did have some serious narrative problems, from its confusing mix of gothic fairytale horror and comedy to its low-budget Gremlins-inspired effects. However, despite these flaws, John Carl Buechler’s movie remains a true guilty pleasure. In Buechler’s strange fantasy, we are introduced to The Potter family: Harry Potter Senior (yes, that’s right, Harry Potter!), his wife Anne, teenage son Harry Junior and young daughter Wendy. The Potters have just moved into a brand new San Francisco apartment building filled with more than a few colourful characters. But just a few hours into their arrival, Wendy is attacked in the basement by a troll who takes her physical form and is determined to create a new Troll kingdom.

If all this sounds nuts, it is! Buechler’s movie is a bizarre yet entertaining mix of fantasy, horror and comedy that never quite decides where its heart lies. But it remains entertaining and unique all the same due to the performances of Noah Hathaway, June Lockhart and Jenny Beck. Released ten months before Critters (1986), Troll bombed at the box office but has since earned a place in the hearts of millions of fans.




In 1982, Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper would combine their talents with Poltergeist, with Hooper’s eye for classic horror dovetailing with Spielberg’s fierce imagination and technical prowess. The result was a scary, fun, and unexpected rollercoaster ride full of our deepest childhood and adult fears. In Hooper and Spielberg’s world, toys come alive, a paranormal beast hides in the closet, a terrifying tree invades the safety of a child’s bedroom, and a child is taken from the safety of a loving family home. There are echoes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Twilight Zone and The Changeling (also based on the alleged Cheesman Park haunting) in Poltergeist. However, while many argue Poltergeist’s terror resides in the classic family invasion, at its heart, Poltergeist is a maternal horror. It’s JoBeth Williams’ who sits centre stage as she fights to bring her child home from a spiritual abduction, with the film’s final scenes akin to childbirth. Here, a middle-class American mum fights an unseen force to protect her children at any cost, and maybe that’s why Poltergeist continues to speak to new audiences today. Poltergeist gave birth to a host of supernatural horrors, from The Conjuring to Paranormal Activity and Insidious. But no film since has captured the atmosphere, fun or maternal terror at the heart of Hooper and Spielberg’s film, making Poltergeist one of the most influential horror movies ever made.



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; it’s neither horror nor thriller, as it pays homage to the work of M.R James while also embracing Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire and slushy ghost dramas like Always and Field of Dreams. It’s Shyamalan’s masterpiece.



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 reality 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.

Halloween Night Movies


CULT (2019)

If you 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 destined to 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 and religious control.


TURBO KID (2019)

As a film-obsessed teenager of the late 1980s and early 90s, my local video rental store was a magical movie cave filled with wonder and potential. Here, the endless shelves of shiny VHS boxes provided me with a pick-n-mix heaven as I spent whole afternoons searching for my Saturday night entertainment. After much deliberation, I would leave the shop cradling my precious tapes with a large bar of Dairy Milk chocolate for the viewing ahead, my Saturday night sorted. Like so many teenagers of my era, straight-to VHS films offered rich pickings, their low-budget effects and rushed release, either striking gold or falling off a cliff. Turbo Kid bathes its audience in a delightfully retro, VHS-inspired story with lashings of blood and humour. Its synthesised score, BMX bikes, and 80s-inspired horror-comedy take the audience back to those glorious days of fuzzy VHS tapes in a post-apocalyptic movie set in 1997. Here, global warming has killed off the majority of the human race, and the survivors live in tin sheds and underground bunkers drinking water made from the juicing of other humans. 

Within this devilish world, we meet our BMX riding hero (Munro Chambers), a teenager who scavenges pop culture relics. But the kid’s life is about to change forever when he meets a peculiar girl named Apple and crosses the path of a sadistic gangster named Zeus (Michael Ironside). Turbo Kid embraces retro action, guts and gore with pride while paying homage to the best in 80s fantasy horror. 

Turbo Kid



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 a vision of Hook called Max (Ed Herrman). It is within this macabre Pan-inspired fairground of choices and hormones that the 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-based horror.



“It’s showtime!” – three simple words that summon the chaotic and comical world of Tim Burton’s vibrant, dark, and joyously nutty Beetlejuice. Burton’s movie is a delightfully dark and subversive exploration of death and the afterlife. Rather than depicting these concepts as sombre and frightening, the film injects humour and absurdity as death itself becomes a bureaucratic process. This approach challenges conventional notions of death, rendering it less fearsome and more absurdly human. However, it is Michael Keaton who steals the show with his devilishly wild bio-exorcist. Keaton’s portrayal blends comedy, charm and unpredictability in creating a unique anti-hero whose antics both entertain and disturb the audience. Beetlejuice is, in many ways, the birth of Tim Burton’s genius; it’s a love letter to gothic horror, fantasy and art set to the rhythm of Harry Belafonte.

Halloween Night Movies



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.



Words: Sab Astley

Opening in cinemas the same year as Peeping Tom and Psycho, George Franju’s picture courted similar controversy on release to its peers. Yet, despite this, Eyes Without a Face continues to receive far less attention than its peers. Franju’s complex and multifaceted narrative is laced with discussions on love, loss, guilt, and control, while its striking and haunting visuals would inspire a range of directors, from John Carpenter to John Woo and Edgar Wright. Often cited as a benchmark in modern horror, Franju’s film is packed tight with meaning but not densely so. The tension between its artistic merit and the horrific imagery is sutured together, much like Christiane’s face. Here, its poetic language is full of visual metaphors that deepen its world and the emotional complexity of each character – everyone has a façade, and no one is who they initially seem to be. The result is a film that demands multiple viewings. Franju’s film is an example of a remarkably complex yet seductively inviting picture that represents the power of horror as an art form. 

Eyes Without a Face



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.




Ealing Studios’ horror anthology, Dead of Night, is one of the most remarkable British horrors from the 1940s. Made by four accomplished directors, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer, Alberto Cavalcanti, and Charles Crichton, Dead of Night offers us a compilation of supernatural tales told by guests who gather in a countryside house in Kent, each account framed by an equally chilling, nightmarish overarching story. Dead of Night would lay the groundwork for The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) and Tales of the Unexpected (1979-1988), with five amazing stories that differ stylistically. The Hearse Driver deals with death and fate, while The Christmas Party is a gothic ghost story, and The Haunted Mirror and The Ventriloquist’s Dummy delve into human psychology. And while there is a misstep with the fifth, The Golfer’s Story, in a brilliant plot twist, the last scene cleverly feeds back to all the tales told beforehand, climaxing in a surreal, grotesque and truly chilling montage that leaves us with an urgent need to turn the lights on.

Dead of Night



VHS and video rental were the saviours of many low-budget horror movies in the 1980s and 1990s. But VHS didn’t just save The Evil Dead; it ensured Sam Raimi’s film became a cult classic. If you are of a certain age, the video cover of The Evil Dead (1981) is forever etched in your memory, as is the movie itself, which many of us illicitly watched at home under age after persuading an older friend, parent or relative to rent it out. The Evil Dead is a foundation stone for many an individual journey into horror, and let’s face it, there isn’t a better place to start. It’s a miracle The Evil Dead made it to video stores; after all, it was labelled as “obscene” and quickly removed on its first video outing as a “video nasty” before being resubmitted to the BBFC for VHS classification in 1990. Even then, it was cut from the version played in cinemas. It wasn’t until 2001 that The Evil Dead finally found peace in its uncut 18 certificate form. But all this “video nasty” discussion and trauma only added to the mystique of Raimi’s film and its popularity.

Sam Raimi’s masterpiece isn’t your standard early eighties horror; it’s a highly creative journey in visual and auditory terror. Working alongside Tim Philo and effects lead Tom Sullivan, Raimi’s low-budget gem creates an unforgettable and absurd movie experience through a bucket load of fake blood, prosthetics and model work. Here, elements of Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would combine with the atmosphere of H.P. Lovecraft as Raimi unpicked the classic ‘cabin in the Woods’ premise. The Evil Dead’s ability to dovetail gut-wrenching and blood-soaked terror with moments of deliciously dark comedy naturally led to its sequel, Evil Dead II, in 1987. But as sequels go, Raimi was about to throw the world a blood-drenched curveball as Bruce Campbell returned as Ash.

It could be argued Evil Dead II is a comedy disguised as horror. But this simply isn’t true, for Evil Dead II defies all genre labels anyone cares to throw at it. It is quite simply one of the most unique, creative and indescribable movies ever made: a fever dream that burrows into your mind and stays there forever, occasionally popping out to laugh uncontrollably and wave its bloody hand. There is no doubt that while The Evil Dead remains the franchise’s father, it was Evil Dead II that gave birth to all that was yet to come.


Halloween Night Movies



The 1970s may have offered us some of the best horrors ever made, from The Omen to Alien, but Horror Hospital isn’t one of them! In fact, it’s far from it, but it is a delicious slice of low-budget British horror that is so bad it’s brilliant. Anthony Balch’s gloriously camp creation offers us Nazi-inspired doctors, leather-clad bikers and gallons of tomato sauce in a film that never takes itself seriously. Horror Hospital is quintessentially British as it bathes its audience in sex, gore and screams while poking fun at the might of the Hammer House of Horror. While many may now find the 70s dialogue dated and, at times, overtly sexist and homophobic by today’s standards, Horror Hospital is a wonderfully camp gem of 70s moviemaking that can’t help but put a smile on your face.



Bathed in a Giallo-Esque glow, Edgar Wright’s deliciously twisted mystery bends, distorts and dissolves time through Chung Chung-hoon’s bright, bold, nostalgic cinematography, a soundtrack of sixties classics and a Hitchcock-inspired classical score by Steven Price. Eloise and Sandie’s mirror life shimmers with echoes of Hammer’s underappreciated flick Vampire Circus (1972), while the style and use of colour pay homage to Dario Argento’s Deep Red (1975) and Vertigo (1958). But, like all of Wright’s work, at the heart of this deliciously structured mystery and horror, a musical sits in the shadows, screaming to be freed. Like the perfectly orchestrated music and action of Baby Driver, the lifeblood of Last Night in Soho is the auditory wonder of its sound and the beautifully timed choreography of its performances. What starts as a musical love letter to a decade of freedom and hope slowly descends into darkness as the bright colours morph into a neon nightmare of no escape that Hitchcock would have been proud to call his own.

On its release, many argued that Last Night in Soho failed to deliver the horror of its premise. I beg to differ. Last Night in Soho understands that memorable horror isn’t all about the blood and gore; it’s about subverting the securities we hold dear. In Repulsion, Polanski twisted the joy of sex into a terrifying fever dream. In Last Night in Soho, Wright takes the energetic pop of the 60s into the cold, damp, dark backstreets of a city steeped in loneliness and despair. It is an auditory and visual masterclass, a delectable horror homage, and a very British love letter to classic supernatural terror.

Last Night in Soho



Who remembers Brad Pitt’s first lead role in a feature film? By the late 80s, Pitt had been seen in a swathe of minor and uncredited roles, from a blink, and you will miss it fight scene in Less than Zero to a partygoer in No Way Out. In addition, he had made a name for himself in TV shows like Dallas and 21 Jump Street, but his movie career began with The Dark Side of the Sun in 1988, a film about a teen with a rare skin condition called Xeroderma Pigmentosum. No one remembers Dark Side of the Sun today, but they do remember Pitt’s next movie, which aimed to challenge and change the teenage slasher format. That film was the 1989 low-budget comedy-horror Cutting Class, directed by Rospo Pallenberg and starring Donovan Leitch, Jill Schoelen, Brenda Lynn Klemme, and the legendary Roddy McDowell

Steve Slavkin’s screenplay would mesh the 80’s slasher with the classic whodunit and, in turn, help to give birth to a new style of teen horror as the 80s came to a close. However, Cutting Class is rarely discussed or mentioned as an innovative forerunner of 90s horrors such as Scream. This is partially due to Pallenburg mixing moments of whodunnit brilliance, from red herrings to Pitt and Schoelen’s chemistry and a stoned and creepy caretaker, Robert Glaudini, with a range of tiresome and lazy gags and cliches. 

While Cutting Class may not always work, when it does, it sizzles. Now best known for introducing a VHS-obsessed generation to a young Brad Pitt, Cutting Class has more to offer than just mere eye candy. But whether it is enough to fork out the money to buy this rare horror-comedy classic is ultimately up to you. Either way, Cutting Class deserves a reappraisal of its place in teen horror history.

Cutting Class



How many movies contain a teenage brain transplant into a mechanical T-Rex, a host of squashed bullies and Paul Walker in a crop top? The answer is only one! Director Stewart Raffill unashamedly cashes in on the post-Jurassic Park fever of 1993 with a horror comedy that is as ridiculous as it is brilliant. Whether or not Raffill’s movie is called Tammy and the T-Rex or Tanny and the Teenage T-Rex continues to cause debate. But, title aside, this 1994 B-Movie is a bizarre, deliciously dark and downright silly movie that gave Paul Walker and Denise Richards their breakout roles. Tammy and the T-Rex had a tough journey to the screen, its hurried studio re-edit transforming an R-rated comedy-horror into a PG-13 love story. Thankfully, the original version remained intact, and in 2019, the world finally got to see the film Raffill intended.

Jurassic Park, it’s not, as a hormonal teenage T-Rex stomps all over the horror-comedy genre. But, take it from me; this slice of B-Movie heaven will earn a place in your heart, and despite its kooky screenplay and dodgy effects, it’s laced with great dark humour and performances that understand the tongue-in-cheek nature of the action on screen. So grab the popcorn and settle in for a roaring good time.



Hands up if A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors was one of your first VHS rental horrors. If your hand is up, you are not alone, and I am willing to bet that Freddy’s third outing left a scar, whether from the devilish death by TV or the vein-shredding puppet act. Directed by Chuck Russell, Dream Warriors would attempt to reverse much of the criticism levelled at Freddy’s Revenge by handing the story-writing duties back to Wes Craven for what was initially planned to be the final outing for Krugar.

Craven and his fellow writer Bruce Wagner would jettison the single heroine or hero and introduce a group of sleep-deprived fighters as co-leads in the battle against Krugar. But they would equally re-introduce a series of familiar faces from the first outing to ensure continuity while allowing cameos from Zsa Zsa Gabor and Dick Cavett to help up the humour. Equally, Dream Warriors would play with the popularity of the roleplaying game in teen culture, creating a fantasy-laced horror that firmly placed Freddy at the forefront of a changing technological era in filmmaking. The result is a movie that laces sharp humour with teenage fantasy and unforgettable gore.

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