It’s that time of year again, boys and girls! The temperature has dropped, the leaves have turned from green to varying shades of orange and red; children dress in the guise of their favorite characters, and the flickering of candles show the yellow grins of the jack-o-lanterns adorning the porches of your neighborhood. It’s Halloween, folks, and while there’s plenty of people out there that like cute, plastic pumpkins on their doors, we here at Geeks of Doom like our Halloweens a little more horrifying. So, it’s with this, Halloweekend, that I will be bringing to you a series of horror-themed features that showcase the wicked side of geek entertainment.
In the second installment of what I like to call the Halloweekend of Doom, I will be exploring 13 films that will completely fill your Halloween. Don’t want to stop watching horror movies all day? I’ve got your back, sunshine. From midnight to midnight, this list is chock full of frightening elements. Not all are what I personally consider horror, but they’re all perfect for Halloween.
To clarify, I’m going under the generic runtime of 2 hours, but most run short, and that’s just fine because you’re going to need to eat or do whatever else it is that you do in your normal day. Also, the majority of these movies are either airing on television Monday, can be easily found in local stores, or are available streaming online at Netflix or through Amazon’s Instant Video. I’m not going to be cruel to you and list any super obscure horror movies that are awesome that you may not know about. So, marathoning these movies will be easily accomplished.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s get to it!
Midnight: The Rocky Horror Picture Show – When you’re watching movies on Halloween, there are some really important ones that you’ve got to have in your film arsenal. One of those films is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In what can basically be described as a hilariously odd take on the classic Mary Shelley-written Frankenstein, this movie is a showcase of the strange and bizarre. It has the unique cult status to have it play every Halloween weekend in a local theater where fans from all backgrounds show their love for the twisted musical to dress in theme and throw items at the screen. It’s a rare treasure when a film accomplishes something like this, and Rocky Horror has the longevity to be called the greatest cult film of all time. It’s a fun way to start your Halloween that, while doesn’t really have the purpose to scare it’s viewers, it will definitely get you in the Halloween spirit. What better way to kick off the haunted festivities than with a rousing rendition of The Time Warp? I’ll tell you. There’s no better way.
2am: House of 1,000 Corpses – Rob Zombie films can either bring up the worst memories to horror fans, or the best. And in all honestly his name brings both to my mind. While I’m not at all a fan of his interpretations of the Halloween franchise, the movies that tell his own stories are two of my favorites. House of 1,000 Corpses was the answer to the late 90s teen scream flicks, and it was brutal. If Scream was Halloween, the this film was the modern equivalent to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In a story based on four curious friends that are traveling across the country, they get sidetracked by a sideshow attraction and legend of a local killer. When they explore the tall tale, they find answers that they don’t want to know. And unfortunately for them, they also find a demented family that loves Halloween as much as they do torturing and murdering everyone in their paths. Rob Zombie burst onto the horror movie scene with this film that horrified and disgusted its viewers. It’s not the best horror film, but at 2am on Halloween morning, you’ll be terrified.
4am: The Lost Boys – The Lost Boys is a rare find in the horror world. While it’s certainly scary when the vampires change and attack their prey, it’s not entirely a horror movie. More than anything, this film feels like a story of youthful adventure with a vampiric element. The movie is about a family that moves into a new town to live with their grandfather after losing the father. The children are reluctant to accept their changes, but when both get involved with separate groups of local kids, their world starts to expand. While older brother Michael (Jason Patric) gets involved with the bad kids (who just so happen to be vampires), the younger brother Sam (Corey Haim) starts hanging out with those that would hunt the creatures of the night: The Frog Brothers. It’s an amazing story, and one of my favorites. It has everything that anybody reading this site would want to see in a vampire movie including rad music and a dude that looks and dresses kinda like Jim Morrison. All around, this movie is one of the best for the season.
6am: Fright Night (1985) – In the second entrant of vampire films, Fright Night is an excellent way to keep your Halloweenathon rolling. The story is about an unsuspecting teen named Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale) who gets a new neighbor. And his new neighbor is a vampire! Honestly, I have no idea why this kid sticks his nose in his neighbor’s business because he’s not doing anything to bother or hurt the kid, you know what I mean? Nonetheless, the kid is convinced that his neighbor Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) is a vampire and he’s killing multiple innocent women, and Charley is determined to stop the madness. The only problem? No one believes him! A lot of this movie is kind of cheesy, but that’s okay because a lot of the following movies are going to make you cry from fear. So you need a little lighthearted film at this point. And this is the one you need to go with. It’s your classic vampire fiction with all the mythology thrown in, but this movie also has Evil Ed (Stephen Geoffries). Evil Ed is one of my favorite characters in the horror genre because he’s a geeky kid that gets picked on for being into metal, and his interests in horror and metal apparently means that he’s into the occult. Anyway, everything more or less works out in this movie as they hunt down the evil vampire, and defeat him. So, like I said, it’s an easy watch, and the best parts of this movie are whenever Charley says “vampire.” Straight up hilarious.
8am: The Omen (1976) – The Omen is one of the most horrifying movies in history, and if you’ve always wanted children, you might want to change your mind after you watch this one. Featuring the son of the Devil himself, this movie shows the horrors that evil can take out on an unsuspecting family. The lives of the young couple who have been dying to have a child are turned upside down as the young child begins to come of age. Many of the scenes in this movie are truly disturbing, and one in particular is the most horrifyingly awesome moments when a maid who becomes a servant to the spawn of Satan kills herself in his honor. It’s not the typical pop out and scare tactics of horror, and there’s not a lot of mystery here as the majority of the terror is face value, but more than anything The Omen is an exploration of religion, good, and evil. And it does it incredibly well.
10am: The Exorcist – Another movie that looks at morality in culture through a terrifying lens is The Exorcist. Based on a true story, a young girl named Regan (Linda Blair) plays with her Ouija board and inadvertently summons the spirit of Captain Howdy. She considers him a friend for the longest time, but then falls ill. When her actress mother begins to question her daughter’s health after a rather embarrassing (read: terrifying) moment at a party, she makes her way to something that she’s less that comfortable with: Religion. And the priest who decides to aid her in her troubles meets his own demons as every bit of faith that he’s ever had begins to fade into darkness when he comes face to face with what can only be described as pure evil. This movie is directed, acted, and told to perfection, and every moment is either horrifying or disturbing. It’s a great movie to watch at any time, but if you’re looking to get horrified on Halloween, this is one that you must watch.
Noon: The Shining – Wrapping up a short list of what I consider to be the most unsettling/classic horror movies that are easily available to watch, we have The Shining. There’s no way around it, this movie is simply brilliant. In a story by horror icon Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick, one of the gods of film, made a near perfect movie with The Shining. It’s more or the less the concept of the haunted house when Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) takes a job in which he must take his family and move into The Overlook Hotel during the winter season as its overseer. He takes this position because he believes that he will be able to have some peace and quiet so that he can work on his writing. Unfortunately, Jack doesn’t get any of his writing done because the hotel is haunted by the spirits of those murdered by previous overseers who were in the same position that he is. In a story about family, loneliness, and isolation, this film transcends the horror genre, while also solidifying its position as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. The story and shots are both terrifying, and even as a grown man who has seen this film 100 times at the very least, each time I watch it, I find something new, and I remain horrified. It’s haunting, horrifying, a heavy, but it’s amazing. A brilliant film, indeed.
2pm: Idle Hands – The majority of these movies are strictly horror. So, it’s important to take a couple of the hours out of your day to focus on the lighter side of horror. After the incredibly heavy three movies that you just went through, Idle Hands is a perfect palette cleanser. It’s not the best movie, but in my opinion, it’s hilarious. A young, lazy stoner named Anton Tobias (Devon Sawa) gets his hand possessed by an evil spirit because basically he’s a lazy stoner who has no purpose in life, and the demon in this film takes advantage of those less than motivated humans. After the possession, the hand is responsible for the deaths of the young man’s parents and friends, and when he realizes what’s wrong with himself, Anton decides to change his ways and fight the evil spirits. It’s gory, there’s a high body count, lots of stoner humor and Seth Green, Jessica Alba, and Elden Henson. Also, if you’ve ever wanted to see two people making out that are painted up like Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley from KISS, this movie is for you. Like I said, it’s not the best movie, but it’s best for you to take a break from the more disturbing films.
4pm: Shaun of the Dead – Oh man, what can I say about Shaun of the Dead. It’s one of my favorites, easily. Edgar Wright is one of the most talented directors working in film today, and his geek credibility is far beyond what many people would accept as the par for movie directors. And the stars of this film, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, are at their very best. Shaun of the Dead is a hilariously comedic take on the horror genre standard of the zombie film. It’s not so much a spoof or critique as it is a tribute, and I love it for that. This movie was sort of an answer to the remake of Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later as it features the classic, Romero take on the undead that has been missing from recent films. It’s also a romantic comedy. Honestly, it’s incredibly difficult to even explain this movie to someone who hasn’t seen it. But, simply stated, Shaun of the Dead is a horror movie fan’s romantic comedy. It’s wonderful, and a perfect way to laugh and relax before we move into the serial killer movies.
6pm: Scream – To ease your way back into the scary side of this list, I give you Scream. When Scream was released, the teen-style thriller was all but dead. But when Wes Craven placed his genius on to this late 90s love letter to the Halloween franchise, he revitalized the genre. Spawning off four successful films in the franchise, Scream blended the late century self-awareness onto this horror classic with the classic tropes of horror cinema. The majority of this element came from Randy (Jamie Kennedy), a horror film obsessed character who analyzed all of the events going around a serial killer on the loose. With the brand new meta-textual approach in tact, the rest of the movie lined up with the classic slasher film. Killer on the loose, strong female lead, limited survivors. It’s a tried and true approach, but Scream earned its own voice. At this point in time, it’s unpopular to praise this film for all that it contributed to the genre (mainly due to its various copycats movies), but at the time, Scream accomplished a more long lasting influence than anyone could have imagined.
8pm: Psycho – Psycho is one of my favorite movies of all time, and in my opinion is Alfred Hitchcock‘s seminal work. The movie was billed as having Janet Leigh as the star, but her story ends in one of the most amazing twists in cinema history. Sure, maybe you know the story of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) by now, but can you take yourself back to first time you watched it? I can. And when I first saw this film, I was drawn in, much like I suspect you were, by the enthralling story of a young woman who extorts money from her job to escape her less than thrilling life. But after she hits the road and stays at the Bates Motel, the story switches themes almost instantly. It’s the terrifying story of a man with an identity crisis who takes out his confusion through rage towards his innocent victims. It’s one of the first stories written about a mild mannered man who in reality is a cold blooded killer. It’s the theory that anyone out there could murder you because you can’t take a person at face value. It has inspired generations of filmmakers to this day, and there’s a direct correlation between this story and the next two in the list. It’s brilliantly shot, and brilliantly acted, and even the smallest details including Janet Leigh’s driving are done with precision that it captures the essence of a long car trip. A flat-out genius film that must be watched on Halloween.
10pm: Halloween – It’s the most obvious pick for a movie on Halloween, but can you blame me? It’s my favorite movie of all time, and it’s Halloween. On its own, it’s the story of escaped mental convict that murdered his sister when he was small child. A man that returns to his hometown to murder a small group of friends that caught his eye as he made his way through the streets of Haddonfield, Illinois. Taking several cues from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, John Carpenter and Debra Hill set out to make a story of a small town that was wrecked by hometown horror. This movie set the tone of several horror/slasher movies to come with the concept of the sole survivor, the leading lady Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as a quiet, innocent girl who has to fight her way out of murder. There’s so much to love about this movie, there’s the John Carpenter-produced music that completely sells this movie, but what I love the most is the introduction of Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance). Named after a character in Psycho, Loomis is the hunter of the movie that tracks down the vile killer to rid his conscious and the world of what he sees as true evil. Pleasance’s performance is nothing short of brilliant and puts the already incredible film over the top into one of the best horror movies of all time. Now, take into consideration the later added plot elements, this movie sets off the concept of the horror movie franchise. And the Halloween franchise is one of the most successful in history. It became the story of a deranged man who returned home to murder his family. Which we’ll get to in the next and final film on this list.
Midnight: Halloween II: More of The Night He Came Home - This is one of the few sequels that picks up directly after the prior film ends and shows the rest of the horrible Halloween night that will plague the small town until the end of time. It developed the story from Halloween into the franchise that the movies would become by revealing several dark secrets within the mythology of the horror series. In what is one of the best horror sequels, this movie adds in the elements that Laurie Strode is the sister of the killer, Michael Myers. This sets up the rest of the movies through the introduction of the Strode family including Laurie’s daughter in Halloween 4, 5, 6 as well as Laurie’s son in Halloween 7: H20. And not only does the movie set up the rest of the franchise, it also ups the ante on the body count from the original. The first film has very little graphic violence, but the sequel turns Michael Myers from an evil human into a flat-out monster that goes on a murderous, brutal rampage through the rest of the town. If you’re wanting to take your horror movie marathon into November, there’s nothing better than the follow up to the first film. Halloween takes places on Halloween and ends at approximately midnight, and Halloween II takes you into the morning of November 1. It works perfectly, and I highly encourage you to take the extended look into Halloween night in Haddonfield.
So, that’s the list that will take you throughout all of Halloween day. I hope you enjoy this list and if any of you actually go by this list, check out Netflix or other streaming services, the shelf of your friend that’s obsessed with movies, and your local TV listings to see when these movies are coming on. These aren’t the best horror/scary movies out there, but again, it’s just a way to give you an excellent film list for Halloween day. And to leave you, I quote Halloween: “Everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”