May 9, 2021

The ultimate spooky Halloween watchlist

With Halloween just a couple weeks away, it’s safe to say that spooky season is officially upon us. There are many ways to celebrate this time of year, but perhaps one of the easiest and most fun ways to celebrate is by cozying up and watching a good horror movie. 

I am someone who watches as many movies as I can leading up to Halloween in order to fully get into the spooky spirit. This year I compiled a watchlist of some of my favorite movies that I feel would appeal to just about any type of movie watcher. 

Whether you’re someone who prefers a gory slasher flick, or a nostalgic, family friendly classic to get you into the Halloween mood, this list will probably have something for you.

“American Psycho” (2000)

Photo by Lions Gate/Kobal/Shutterstock

Christian Bale gives what I believe to be the best performance of his career in this psychological slasher film. It centers around Patrick Bateman, a wealthy investment banker whose psychopathic tendencies start to escalate around his co-workers and friends as he slips deeper into his dark, twisted fantasies. 

You get to watch everything unfold from the point of view of the psychopath, which makes  “American Psycho” one of the more unique and thought-provoking films in this particular sub genre. 

“The Cabin in the Woods” (2011)

This movie may seem like any other cheesy horror blockbuster on the surface, but that’s kind of the point. It is inherently meta, or self-aware, and aims to deconstruct the horror genre by turning the standard horror movie formula upside down. 

“The Cabin in the Woods” is clever without sacrificing the typical thrills of a scary movie, which in this case includes effective jump scares and monsters galore. 

“Halloween” (1978, 2018) 

Still from ‘Halloween’ (2018). Credit: BFA/Universal Pictures/Alamy

John Carpenter set the standard for modern horror films with his classic “Halloween”. From Jamie Lee Curtis’ chilling screams to the iconic horror villain that is Michael Myers, “Halloween” is the perfect movie to watch to get into the Halloween spirit.

This addition to the list is a double feature since I’m including both the original 1978 version and the 2018 sequel. There have been plenty of disappointing sequels over the years, but the 2018 version finally wiped the slate clean and gave fans a simple yet effective follow-up to the original.

“Halloweentown” (1998)

Credit to The Walt Disney Company

This one is for the nostalgia lovers who may be looking for something a bit more light-hearted to watch for Halloween. It captures the spirit of the holiday in a way that appeals to both children and adults, especially if you’re an adult who enjoys watching childhood favorites every once in a while. 

There is a lot to love about “Halloweentown”, but if we’re being honest, Debbie Reynolds as a sweet old witch is really what makes the entire movie. 

“Hereditary” (2018)

This movie uses the classic framework of many other horror movies, but does so in an unconventional way that causes it to linger with you long after the credits have rolled. It takes family drama to an entirely new level, to say the least.

The plethora of disturbing elements and shocking imagery in “Hereditary” may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely worth the watch if you’re into movies that aim to revolutionize the modern horror genre.

“Hocus Pocus” (1993)

As soon as spooky season is in full swing, my social media feed always seems to be filled with references to this movie. Our modern Halloween aesthetic has been heavily influenced by the aesthetics of this movie in the sense that it gives off a sense of whimsical nostalgia, which seems to be what many people enjoy about the holiday. 

“Hocus Pocus” is by no means a masterpiece and some might say it’s too cheesy, but perhaps that’s what makes it such a charming cult classic to watch during this time of year.  

“Psycho” (1960)

There’s no such thing as a proper Halloween watchlist without this Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece. Whether you’ve seen it or not, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered a reference or two from it. It’s a movie that has not only had a significant impact within the horror genre, but within pop culture as a whole. 

“Psycho” is a thrill ride of suspense and twists, and the iconic shower scene alone is enough to make just about anyone appreciate the horror genre. 

“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)

Credit to Paramount/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

This movie succeeds less in shock and terror, and more in a mood of paranoia and uncertainty that is created by the creeping dread surrounding the protagonist’s pregnancy. 

Some of the elements haven’t aged well since its release in 1968, but the cinematography, score, and acting of “Rosemary’s Baby” all combine into one of the best supernatural thrillers ever made.

“Scream” (1996)

“Scream” was the first mainstream horror movie to attempt to deconstruct the horror genre by subverting certain horror movie tropes of the past while also paying homage to them. The attempt was sly and surprisingly effective. 

Similarly to “The Cabin in the Woods”, this movie doesn’t sacrifice all of those classic horror elements for the sake of being clever. “Scream” managed to reinvent the genre while also giving fans all of the thrills, gore, suspense, twists, etc. that one expects from a quality slasher film.

“The Shining” (1980)

The Shining, credits to Rex Features

This movie succeeds by creating a sense of unease from the minute it starts. Jack Nicholson gives a chilling performance at the direction of Stanley Kubrick, and it’s a performance that sets the tone of the entire movie. 

There’s nothing quite like witnessing a man spiral into complete madness within the confines of a haunted hotel, and hoping that his wife and son somehow make it out alive in the end. That’s essentially what “The Shining” is. It’s a slow burn that promises to have you on the edge of your seat, even after the end credits have rolled. 

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