OTH!'s Top 10 Halloween Picks! (2008)

Author: The Staff
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2008-10-15 09:29

10. Hell Night (1981)

    The slasher classic Hell Night from 1981 is neck deep in Halloween haunts, despite being set on a different date. When Marti (Linda Blair) and three other college pledges are forced to spend the night in Garth Manor, they are unaware that behind the creaking gates, there lives a monster so hideous, it shields itself from humanity in the shadows of the estate. One by one, the teenagers are stalked and killed in grisly manners, while the local party fiends enjoy a drunken Hell Night. What makes Hell Night a Halloween must-watch is the spooky gothic atmosphere of Garth Manor that never leaves you. Some of the villainous teenagers play jokes on Marti and her friends, using holographic ghosts and recorded screaming tapes. All of the teenagers are dressed up in costumes as if it really were Halloween, and the use of monster makeup effects place the finishing touches on our nostalgia to masks from our childhood. It captures an October 31st perfectly. Hell Night is that haunted house you were always too scared to trick or treat at, never realizing how much candy was actually in store for you. (Josh G.)
9. Popcorn (1991)

    Since the golden days of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, slasher movies have been a Halloween staple...but this is NOT your average slasher movie. This post-Elm Street series slasher features a fast-talking, maniacal-laughing burn victim who is obsessed with movies to the point that he creates his own faces out of latex and changes them in and out at will to trick his victims. During an all night horror marathon, he shows up to sabotage and murder the film students who are in charge of the show in a variety of ways mirroring the schlocky horror films being shown. Not the best slasher out there, but this one is such an obvious fan of horror films of the past that I had a lot of fun with it. It's one thing to watch a middle-of-the-road slasher without a heart or soul, but to see one that knows its having fun and wishes to pass the same on to the audience is a special experience indeed. Add some absolutely spot-on parodies of 1950s and 60s B-movies and late 80s scream queen Jill Schoelen to the mix and you've got a film that is indeed worthy of a Halloween viewing. (Wes R.)
8. Terror Train (1980)

    Another slasher movie, Terror Train, is just swell for the Halloween season. But why? It is set in the winter time around New Year’s Eve on a moving train. Ah, but it is also full of Halloween atmosphere. Everybody on the train is dressed up in costumes, and in some cases, masks. The masks hide the identity of the persons wearing them, just like when pranksters egg houses in lizard outfits, or people scare old ladies to death with creepy old man masks. The killer in the film uses this to his advantage, and pretends to be multiple people he is not; people who he has killed off with various weapons. Of course, don’t count out that magician, who uses his hocus pocus to wow passengers on the train, in the spirit of Hallow-...well, okay, New Year’s Eve. Everybody is having an amusing time with each disguised partyer, and the entire film has you rekindling your memory of a time when you were out with friends, not quite sure of what intentions the mysterious new hidden figure next to you has. Terror Train is a fine addition to Hallow’s Eve. (Josh G.)
7. Hellraiser (1987)

    This one might seem like the odd man out on this list, but Hellraiser has been a staple of my personal Halloween night rotation ever since my cousin and I started watching it on that night as kids. Hellraiser might not immediately grab you as a Halloween film, but at its core it's a film that feels steeped in the stylings of the holiday. First of all, the film is essentially about the consequence of summoning some rather unconventional demons in the Cenobites. The film's Euro-gothic styles and Christopher Young's score make this a perfect film for Halloween night. As you settle in for a long night of scary movies, give Pinhead a chance; but beware--he might "tear your soul apart!" (Brett G.)
6. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

    Yes, Halloween III is "the one without Michael Myers"; however, it's also the the entry that is most steeped in Halloween lore. Dripping with gothic, Pagan undertones and a frightening plot--the owner of a Halloween mask company attempts to murder every child wearing one of his masks on Halloween night--Halloween III has been a criminally underrated gem ever since its release in 1982. It seems that many fans haven't given it a fair shake because Myers isn't involved; instead, we have mask-tossing and Miller-drinking extraordinaire Tom Atkins bagging a chick half his age as he attempts to foil the devious plot. The film also features one of the most disturbing and mean death scenes ever filmed. Plus, the Silver Shamrock jingle is now infamous for the way it stays with you long after the film is over. "Happy happy Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. Happy happy Halloween, Silver Shamrock." (Brett G.)
5. Night of the Demons (1988)

    Night of the Demons has more going for it than just being set on Halloween. Once again, all characters are dressed up in costumes, but we are also treated to Halloween decorations everywhere, and a real Halloween party that’s small in number. A tale is associated to the feature: the legend of Hull House, which is said to act as a portal to Hell every Halloween night, gives Satan’s minions the entire area of the property to play with, enclosed by the running water encircling it. The movie is dark in tone and evil in every way. The demons are menacing, the gore is plentiful, the atmosphere is undeniably Halloween and it is an overall fun movie to watch. If you are hanging out with friends during the night of the 31st, then throwing this on will jazz up the life even more. A séance is held, which is ultimately the cause of the demons being released and killing everybody. It’s eerie, and best of all, requires little to no brain power. This is one of the best Halloween horror films of all time. Coffins and a spider-like dance highlight this must-see. (Josh G.)
4. The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

    Halloween is the perfect time to watch a Vincent Price flick, and what better flick to watch than the absolute best of Price's Poe series. Directed by Roger Corman, the film features Price as the ever evil Prince Prospero. Within his castle's walls, Prospero's parties are well known for their grandeur as well as their debauchery and his latest masque aims to be no different. That is, until a mysterious visitor cloaked in red drops in uninvited, bringing death and pain to the partygoers. As stated, the film was adapted from an Edgar Allan Poe short story. To fill out the time, another Poe story, "Hop Frog" was used during one minor sequence of the film. Price is fantastic as the menacing but oblivious Prospero. Corman's use of color adds an amazing technicolor style that may not have been in your mind when you first read the short story, but makes for visually arresting imagery on-screen. You have a creepy old castle, foggy moors, a widespread plague, a rather buxom beauty (even if she is a Satan worshiper), and velvet voiced Vinny being...well, velvet voiced Vinny. What more could you want? Poe's work feels like something that should be read during the Halloween holiday, and Vincent Price movies have that fun, old time horror feel to them that you just don't get with today's films. Combining the two as Corman and Price did quite often, makes for a perfect All Hallows Evening of terror and thrills...but you can do no better than Masque of the Red Death. (Wes R.)
3. Dracula (1931)

    What is Halloween without a good old-fashioned black and white scarefest? A film where giant cobwebs, creaky castles and dank tombs accentuate the being that breeds all things terror. Count Dracula, the king of the heathens. As a kid trick or treating, you always had the choice; take the risk of going to the doorstep of the local “haunted house” and ask for treats or pass right on by the house that seemingly has no business standing in the middle of normal city streets. Like Dracula’s protagonist, Jonathan Harker, we travel into the unknown, ignoring all warnings from around us. Fortunately, it was usually a nice old lady at the door. But on Jonathan Harker’s Transylvanian trip, Bela Lugosi is the one who lurks beyond the castle walls. An underrated actor, Lugosi not only sets the standard for every portrayal of the Count to hit the stage and screen, but proves to be Dracula in every sense of the word. He may not have had fangs, but his rhythmatic, struggling English is iconic and his gripping trance-inducing gaze most likely will never be topped. “Listen to them. Children of the night! What music they make!” (Brett H.)
2. Suspiria (1977)

    When I first obtained internet access about a decade ago, one of the first things I did was check out some horror sites. Having been a veteran of my video stores' horror sections for a very long time, I figured that I'd seen many of the landmarks the genre had to offer. That is, until one title kept popping up at every website: Suspiria. It was a while before I ever tracked it down and watched it, but I was promptly blown away by its perfect marriage of sight and sound. It seems that films are often bogged down by their hype and don't deliver, but this wasn't the case for Suspiria, and it's been a part of my Halloween night rotation ever since that first viewing. The film is absolutely dripping in Halloween motifs and atmosphere, as the film's gothic accents, surreal imagery, and eerie soundtrack make it a damn near perfect film for the holiday. Heck, the film's main villain is a witch, one of the most popular Halloween staples out there. In fact, the film has become inseparable from the holiday for me, and I can't even imagine watching it during any other time of the year. (Brett G.)
1. Halloween (1978)

    For one day each year, John Carpenter’s Halloween is the greatest film ever made and a revolution that any person who has donned a mask and a pillow case can relate to. As instrumental as the characters of Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis have been to the horror genre, the key to Halloween’s success resides much deeper than the faceless white mask, the legendary finale and the poetic tinkling of synth keys. The heart and soul of the film breathes in its autumn breeze as children shuttle down the streets in hopes of tricks and treats. From a child’s craving for carving a pumpkin to the late-night black and white horror epics, Halloween captures its viewers from their days of innocence where candy was worth more than gold and the thrills of monsters and ghouls were of prime importance over that cursed thing of adults – story. In this film like no other, the horror fan sees the best reflection of his or her former self and under the glow of their TVs on Halloween night, how that child still dwells inside each and every one of us. (Brett H.)

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