There’s nothing quite like a Halloween film. After all, Michael Jackson’s epic dance-floor classic, Thriller, is basically a celebration of the excitement of watching a scary movie in the cinema. That creepy last line – ‘for no mere mortal can resist the evil of the thriller’ – perfectly captures the thin line between excitement and fear that sends a delicious shiver down the spine of most horror enthusiasts.
Something in our human nature enjoys being frightened. That little adrenaline jolt you get when Norman Bates appears from nowhere at the top of the stairs; that sickeningly satisfying wave of dread whenever the phone rings in Scream; the unique combination of repulsion and fascination when Regan’s head grinds through a complete 360-degree turn. We’re scared, and yet we can’t look away. We don’t want to, because we like it. There’s nothing else in cinema that recreates that feeling.
I remember being mildly obsessed with the Disney animated version of Sleepy Hollow when I was a kid, consistently choosing it whenever we went to Blockbuster. Yes, I assure you that it does exist, and re-watching some of the scenes on YouTube recently, I realised just how sinister it actually was, but I absolutely loved it. I always did have a taste for the macabre.
So what’s my favourite movie to watch during this spooky season? Good question. I’ve always had an affection for Tim Burton’s early films, especially Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Edward Scissorhands, and I vividly remember being terrified the first time I saw Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds as a teenager. After seeing it for the first time at our Now Showing event in August, Dario Argento’s Suspiria has become a new favourite – the music alone is disturbingly compelling. And of course, every Halloween I indulge myself with as many Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simpsons as I can handle. There’s two sides to every coin…
Now I’ve seen a good few horror classics, but I’m by no means an aficionado (though I’m working on it!) so I rounded up some of the ghastly ghouls here at Front Page to find out what their go-to films are for All Hallow’s Eve. Read on, if you dare…
REC – the hand held camera effect avoids having too much CGI or prosthetics, so it is almost believable.
I always thought The Mothman Prophecies was pretty freaky.
I won Psycho on DVD at my school Halloween disco. It was a donut eating competition, where you have to eat the donut from a string without using your hands. I didn’t waste a crumb. And it’s the only scary film I’ve seen so I guess it’s my favourite!
Mine is Practical Magic because it’s full of girl-power and it’s not that scary!
I think I’ll always be a bit traumatised by The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, because I watched it when I was a kid thinking it was a wholesome family movie but I soon realised it wasn’t. I had to sleep over at my friend’s house because I was too scared to walk home!
Beetlejuice! I even dressed up as Miss Argentina once for Halloween – it took me ages to get the blue paint off…
For sick gore – Grotesque. For sheer scariness – Ring or Carrie
I second the Japanese version of Ring. Do TV Shows count? Some X-Files episodes were pretty scary from what I recall!
I have Halloween traditions when it comes to movies, and I have to watch Sleepy Hollow, Poltergeist (original version), The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I LOVE that film!
I’d say Sleepy Hollow because I love Tim Burton films for his style of characters, costumes and set.