To get in the Halloween mood, here are some spooky movies to watch with friends. From horror classics to slapstick comedies, here are 10 of my top horror movies of all time.
“The Shining” (1980)
A horror masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick stars Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, and Danny Lloyd as a family who has agreed to watch over a picturesque hotel in Colorado for several months. Isolation and supernatural occurrences fuel a descent into madness, featuring some of the most recognizable scenes in horror. There are no cheap jumpscares, only a two and a half hour thrill that will keep your nerves on end that’s driven in a large part by disturbing, beautiful visuals, and a sharp, unnerving, and unrelenting soundtrack that will make even the calm scenes unbearably suspenseful.
“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978)
Public Health workers in San Francisco begin to uncover an alien conspiracy as friends and coworkers start acting strangely. Though they may seem just like people, they are clone replicas, created to replace them by alien pods while people sleep. A remake of the original 1956 version, this larger scale 1978 classic stars Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, and Leonard Nimoy as they try to determine who they can trust and who has already been replaced. This sci-fi thriller will keep you on your toes and will make you a little more suspicious of those quiet, emotionless people you know in real life.
As a sociopathic child, Michael Myers,kills his older sister on Halloween night and is put in an insane asylum. 15 years later, he escapes to don the iconic white mask and jumpsuit, accompanied by the movie’s haunting score, as he terrorizes a small town,on Halloween. His psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, described him as the personification of evil and accompanies the local sheriff as they try to stop Michael’s grisly murder spree. A horrifyingly deliberate killing machine, Michael Myers became a staple of horror movies and an inspiration to slasher movies and also the Halloween franchise, with a new installation that came out this year.
“ZombieLand” (2009)/”Shaun Of the Dead” (2004)
For a lighter note on Halloween, try one of these zombie comedy flicks. Both of these are charming in their own way, featuring ragtag doofuses as they attempt to survive the zombie apocalypse, or, you know, just find a twinkie instead. Shaun of the Dead stars Simon Pegg and friends as they try to get back to their favorite pub after (slowly) realizing that zombies have taken over, while ZombieLand stars Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Emma Stone as they make their way across the United States of Zombieland trying to all at once follow zombie survival rules, reach an amusement park, and eat one last Twinkie.
A hauntingly realistic suspense thriller sees two victims, played by Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannell (Lawrence Gordon and Adam Faulkner respectively), who, chained by the ankles to the walls, have fallen prey to the Jigsaw killer’s latest game. One must kill the other by 6 o’clock or his family will die. They must solve the puzzle around them in order to have any hope for survival. Flashbacks show other traps set by Jigsaw, who, instead of killing his victims, finds ways for them to kill themselves or each other as they attempt to escape.
“The Fly” (1986)
Another horror remake starring Jeff Goldblum sees him as a brilliant scientist Dr. Seth Brundle, who has finally perfected his teleportation machine. He attempts to woo an investigative journalist, Veronica Quaife, played by Geena Davis, by showing her his new invention. Unfortunately, as he tests the machine himself, a fly enters with him, and their genes become spliced as he mutates into a horrifying creature. Jeff Goldblum gets weirder than usual in this 1980’s monster movie.
“The Conjuring 1 and 2” (2013, 2016)
The Conjuring series follows real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren as they try to help families plagued by malignant spirits. Surprises and horrendous demons will keep you on edge, screaming both at the families on screen and in terror.
A crew aboard a space vessel receives what they presume to be a distress call from a small moon. Upon investigation, one of their crew is attacked by a strange creature and they find out the message was not a distress call, it was a warning. Featuring famous scenes and brilliant practical effects, this 1979 movie still looks fantastically realistic, holding up against even modern effects. Sigourney Weaver stars as Ellen Ripley in a claustrophobic horror-sci-fi classic as she struggles alongside the rest of the crew to survive against the greatest killing machine in the known universe.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho stands the test of time as a horror masterpiece. From iconic scenes that have been parodied and referenced a thousand times, to the instantly recognizable sound of the shower scene, Psycho is a staple of pop culture. One of the most well-developed antagonists, Norman Bates, played by Tony Perkins, will even prompt sympathy from viewers, which is rarely seen from most one-dimensional horror monsters. Perkins gives a fantastic performance in this simple but effective horror thriller.
The 1990 adaptation of Stephen King’s novel sees children of a small town in Maine battle against a demonic clown in one of the weirdest coming of age movies ever. Like “Stand By Me”, another film adaptation of a Stephen King story, this movie centers around “the Losers’ club”, a close group of friends who have to deal with their bullies as well as their innermost fears, personified by the terrifyingly hilarious Pennywise the Clown. After defeating him as children, the Losers club vows to come back if Pennywise ever does, and so thirty years later, the Losers club must reunite as adults against the demon clown. With the second part of the remake coming out soon, this cheesier version will still have you hating clowns more than you thought possible.