October is by far my favourite season of the year. Here are just a few of the reasons why…Walking my dog is much more enjoyable with colourful fall leaves fluttering all around, I can wear cozy sweaters and boots once again, I can get away with wearing my little bat necklace and nobody thinks I’m weird (well…they still kind of do), I can talk about Horror movies and my Non-Horror friends join in the conversation, Toronto Zombie Walk is right around the corner, Starbucks is serving their Pumpkin Spice Lattes again (Yummy!), and Halloween decorations fill all my favourite stores and take over every square inch of my house.
However the absolute best part about October is watching all my favourite Horror movies with friends leading up to Halloween night. Long evenings spent with a glass of red wine and scary movies fill my weekends. Not all of these films are truly Horror but I do have a special place in my heart for all of them. I don’t necessarily have an order in which to enjoy these films, I just try to squeeze them all in every October as best I can.
15- Halloween Tree (1993)-
I have a love affair going on with Ray Bradbury right now. I just finished watching his anthology TV show The Ray Bradbury Theatre a few weeks ago, if you haven’t seen it yet I highly recommend it! All his stories are fantastic, a nice Scifi and Horror mix to the series. Halloween Tree was a made for TV animated special that is narrated by Bradbury and stars Leonard Nimoy. I love how the origins of Halloween are explained by the characters.
14- Satan’s Little Helper (2004)-
A low budget black comedy about a serial killer wearing a mask that befriends a small boy obsessed with a video game called Satan’s Little Helper. The boy thinks that his favourite character has come to life and that all the murders are make believe. It takes him a while to realize that Satan is actually killing people, but by then it is too late to stop him.
13- Night of the Demons (1988)-
Late on All Hallow’s Eve, a group of rowdy teenagers get together for an all night party at the local abandoned funeral parlour. However during the course of the evening all the girls start to turn into Demons. This 80s movie is best known for the scene involving Linnea Quigley and a tube of lipstick. However my favourite scene is the one where Angela is dancing in front of the fireplace.
12- Ginger Snaps (2000)-
A very unique take on the Werewolf tale about two outcast teenage Gothy Girls going through puberty. The two girls have a morbid fascination with all things death including artsy photography depicting their own violent demise. Ginger is accidentally bitten by a Werewolf on the night of her first period that coincides with the Full Moon. She soon starts to slowly evolve into a terrifying Werewolf that is bloodthirsty for Human flesh. The movie ends with a Halloween dance at the High School.
11- Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)-
A mentally challenged man named Bubba is wrongly accused of a small girl’s death. Hiding from the angry small town mob, he dresses as a scarecrow in the field to avoid them but the lynch mob finds him finds and kills him anyway. Realizing too late that Bubba was actually trying to save the girl, the mob try to cover up his death. That isn’t the end of this tragic tale because his spirit returns to seek revenge on those who wronged him. Dark Night of the Scarecrow is one of the better made for TV Horror movies of the 80s.
10- Pumpkinhead (1988)-
Pumpkinhead stars Lance Henriksen as a grieving Father, Ed Harley, that wants revenge for the death of his young son. Ed Harley’s need for Revenge sends him to consult a Witch that can conjure up a Demon that will kill anyone who had a part in his son’s death. However, Ed soon realizes he has made a terrible mistake conjuring Pumpkinhead and now he will pay for his mistake dearly. Pumpkinhead is a very dark and Gothic tale, but what makes this Revenge Slasher stand out from other movies of the time is the excellent performance by Lance Henriksen as a grieving father and the amazing Creature design by Stan Winston.
9- May (2002)-
May is a shy and introspective girl that had a tragic childhood because of her over bearing and suffocating Mother. May has grown into a very strange woman who is extremely lonely and seeking the perfect companion. Every person that she meets never quite lives up to her expectations, even though she finds at least one thing special about them. In the end, May is determined to find a perfect friend even if she has to make one for herself!
8- The Crow (1994)-
On Devil’s Night Eric Draven, played by Brandon Lee to perfection, and his fiancé are celebrating their upcoming wedding when they are viciously attacked and killed by a local gang. One year later a Crow taps on Draven’s tombstone and he is awakened to exact his revenge on the men that killed him and his fiancé. Deliciously Gothic and beautiful to watch, The Crow is one of my go to favourites for the Halloween season.
7- The Lady in White (1988)-
On Halloween night a young boy witnesses a murder of a young girl that happened many years before. The Girl’s Ghost and the boy become fast friends while he helps her search for her long lost mother. The Lady in White is filled with tragedy and is a classic Ghost story filled loads of atmosphere. It seems like a simple children’s film at first but there is so much more to it than that.
6- Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)-
Ray Bradbury’s classic tale of an evil man named Mr. Dark and his Carnival that can make your fondest wishes come true but usually with a terrible price attached to it. Disney might have thought they were making a children’s film, However Something Wicked This Way Comes is decidedly dark and filled with the usual Bradbury symbolism and allegory. I read somewhere that Bradbury had wanted Mr. Dark to be played by Christopher Lee, but Disney rejected the idea because of budget concerns. No offense to Jonathan Pryce, but oh how I would have loved Lee in that role!
5- Sleepy Hollow (1999)-
Tim Burton’s version of the classic tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. I love everything about this film… It’s Gothic scenery and fashion, The typical cast of Burton characters, How terrifying it is when the Horseman is chasing someone, and of course the way Johnny Depp portrays the timid and often frightened Ichabod Crane. If you are not a Burton fan like I am, you might also appreciate the Disney version…The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)
4- Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)-
The third movie in the Halloween franchise is very unique in that there is no sign of Michael Myers in it. Instead, it is actually a thriller about a Halloween Mask factory that is secretely run by an evil male Witch that wishes to kill all the children he can. Why does this movie get such a bad rap? So what if Michael Myers is not in it? it is still an excellent 80s thriller starring Tom Atkins in one of his best roles! (I loved him Night of the Creeps also). And it even has it’s own catchy little theme song!
3- Trick R Treat (2007)-
A fantastic anthology of Halloween related stories all set on the same Halloween night in a small town. I love how well all the stories are woven together with only Sam being the common denominator. It is the perfect Horror movie to watch on Halloween, and then I dare you to go take down your decorations on Halloween night after watching it… My only wish is that they would make a sequel and turn Sam into a Horror Icon!
2- Dracula (1931)-
“Listen to them, Children of the Night…What Music they make” Dracula is directed by Tod Browning and stars the iconic Bela Lugosi as Dracula. What better way to spend a Halloween night than with Dracula? Hmm…. maybe follow it with Frankenstein? No other film is as classically Gothic and true Horror than Dracula. Before Lugosi, Vampires were fiendishly scary monsters (Max Schreck in Nosferatu). He was the first gentleman Vampire that made the ladies swoon in fear and lust. However Lugosi is not my favourite actor to portray Dracula, that place is held for Christopher Lee in Horror of Dracula.
1- Halloween (1978)-
What Halloween night would be complete without a viewing of this classic Horror film while handing out candy to the Trick or Treaters! John Carpenter’s Halloween is about Michael Myers, a Psychotic killer, that is institutionalized at the age of six on Halloween night for killing his older sister. At the age of 23, he escapes the Mental Hospital and returns to the hometown where he killed his family long ago. Donald Pleasance plays Michael’s Psychiatrist that is trying frantically to save any innocent people he can from Michael and his knife. Halloween is full of suspense and has one of the most iconic Horror characters of all time.
I should also mention a few Fall favorites that are not Horror movies but I always watch them this time of year none the less…Practical Magic, Beetlejuice, Hocus Pocus, and Nightmare Before Christmas are always a must watch in the Fall!