Fear comes packaged differently for different people.
For many, it’s death. For some, it’s clowns. It can sometimes be something you can touch like a monster or a possessed object. In other times, it’s internal like trust or the unknown. Because of this, I have always found horror as one of the most intriguing genres in cinema. In what other genre can you find the audience rooting for the bad guys? What other genre can get away with making over ten films and getting fans to come back even when they venture to da hood or space?
It takes a very powerful genre to unite an audience to see if the killer reigns or the final girl survives. It takes a powerful film to play on everyone’s fears and watch as people find the motivation and strength to survive.
I have 23 Halloween and horror films you can binge during your stay-at-home Halloween this year. Because even though trick or treating is cancelled, the Halloween spirit lives on.
Most Quotable Horror Film: Scream
Filled with subpar sequels and unoriginal concepts, the 90’s was the place where horror films went to die. Director Wes Craven understood the metaphors living in horror films and decided to one-up them and make them “meta films.” Thank you Wes for walking in New Nightmare, so you could later run in Scream.
A film boasting excellent writing, Scream’s script feels like how I would actually talk to a slasher if he was attacking me in high school. “I’m feeling a little woozy here” for when I get the first stab wound, instead of automatically being invincible. “No please don’t kill me Mr. Ghostface. I wanna be in the sequel” because no one remembers any other girl except the final girl. When we’re all alone watching a horror flick, you always have that one friend who jokes, “I’ll be right back”, and you actually wonder what happens if they don’t return. Oh and the most iconic line and one we spent hours prank calling to all of our friends with the best Ghostface voice, “What’s your favorite scary movie?”
Best Comedy Horror Movie: Shaun of the Dead
Thanks largely to the popularity of the Dawn of the Dead remake and 28 Days Later, new life was breathed into the zombie genre. Shaun of the Dead took it one step further by making a believable take on how society would react to the living dead roaming around their neighborhood. People can deny it all they want, but I imagine many of us would seek shelter in our local pub with a few friends (and pints) and wait for all of this to blow over.
Halloween Movie You Can Watch on Repeat: Hocus Pocus
Could you make this list and not include Hocus Pocus!?
Due to poor decision making by Disney, this movie was a box office flop due to its untimely July 1993 release and was forgotten for many years. But thanks to consistent Halloween marathons by Disney Channel and Freeform, Hocus Pocus has gained cult status and is a staple for the Halloween season. “I Put a Spell on You” is such a jam that I dare you not to dance or sing along when Bette Midler grabs the mic.
Best SYFY Original Horror Film: Ice Spiders
I can't ignore a network that celebrates “31 Days of Halloween.” Plus, it just doesn’t feel like Halloween unless we are getting some B-list scares. The obvious choice would be Sharknado and while I am a fan, I feel one movie is so insane that I need to meet the person who greenlighted its production.
Ice Spiders is about the government creating giant spiders and them attacking, killing, and eating everyone. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it seems. Yes, I need to see Vanessa Williams’ contract to figure out how she ended up in this film. Yes, I also need to meet the person who created it so I can shake their hand.
. Best Horror Remake The Thing (1982)
Is anything scarier than not knowing if you are sick? Seems like a very realistic fear especially today. John Carpenter beautifully masters how easily you can trust someone or something without knowing they are the monster in the room. Another movie way before it’s time, The Thing creates some of the most terrifying body deformities through insane make-up and special effects.
Best Christmas Theme Horror Film: Black Christmas (1974)
I know a few people who surpass Halloween (how dare they) and move right to Christmas. So here is a special movie to get in the Christmas spirit. Expect it won’t actually get you in the Christmas spirit because it is one of the scariest films ever made.
Black Christmas tells the story of sorority sisters leaving for the holidays and an escaped psychopath unknowingly living in their attic. The sisters are unaware of one of their own going missing as they assume they’ve just gone home. Unique kills, an excellent storyline, and a killer with no background, makes for one of the best horror films you will ever see. Kudos to Bob Clark for mastering a Christmas horror movie and then the most beloved Christmas film of all time, A Christmas Story.
Best Family Halloween Movie: Hotel Transylvania
Where else can you get all of our favorite monsters dancing and partying?
Join Dracula (Adam Sandler), Frankenstein (Kevin James), The Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), The Invisible Man (David Spade), The Mummy (CeeLo Green), and The Blob (Jonny Solomon) as they try to vacation all while hiding their true monster forms from a human backpacker. Even adults will have a hard time not laughing out loud at the monster hijinks.
Best Netflix Original Horror Film: The Babysitter
Looking to watch 30 minutes straight of shirtless Robbie Amell? Yeah, me too and that’s why I originally tuned in for this fun horror comedy. When a boy wakes up in the middle of night to his babysitter and friends sacrificing other students, he is on the run as they need his virgin blood to finish their satanic sacrifice. I was pleasantly surprised by the laugh out loud moments and impressive cast. The sequel dropped in September and features even more shirtless Robbie Amell, so don’t miss that either.
Most Underrated Horror Film: Clown
Are you afraid of clowns? No. Okay, well how about turning into one and trying to stop yourself from eating your own child? Yeah, let’s just add that to the list.
After a dad tries on a clown suit from a house he is trying to sell, he realizes he is unable to take it off. He then finds himself turning into a child eating clown. This is for advanced horror fans as I did not sleep the entire night after viewing this flick alone in the middle of the night.
Weirdest A-List Horror Cameo: Zombeavers
All you need to know is the tagline is, “They’ll dam you to Hell” and John Mayer is in this movie. I’m still unsure why. Also fun fact, beavers are monogamous their entire lives. That isn’t mentioned in the movie, but I feel the title really sells the movie for you and maybe some zombeavers ended up finding their true love on set.
Best Possession Film: The Exorcist
Again, pretty hard to have a list and not include what our parents consider the scariest movie ever made.The Exorcist features a girl who uses a Ouija board and then gets possessed by the devil. With incredible performances by Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, and Max von Sydow I still can’t believe the studio thought to release this movie the day after Christmas. But it looks like I was wrong because it paid off for them - becoming one of the highest grossing horror films of all time. I still recommend not watching this alone even after over 40 years.
Best Animated Halloween Movie: A Nightmare Before Christmas
What’s this? What’s this? A second Christmas movie has made the list?
Yes, it’s really hard to ignore the fantastic directorial and animated achievement of Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas. Oh and we can’t also forget the iconic songs, unique characters, and how we all get a little scared when Oogie Boogie is no longer singing and is just plain terrifying.
Best Horror Movie of the Last Decade: I Saw the Devil
Anytime someone asks for an international thriller, I spend ten minutes raving about the plot and originality of I Saw the Devil. It’s a different take on a gruesome cat and mouse game, as a man hunts down the serial killer who killed his wife. Get ready for a twisted storyline, non-stop gory action, and a perfect introduction to how dark Korean horror can go.
Best Found Footage Film: The Poughkeepsie Tapes(tie)
It took over ten years to even distribute this film. The trailer was released and then the movie disappeared after premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. After a short stint on VOD in 2014, it didn’t receive a DVD release until 2017. The Poughkeepsie Tapes is a found-footage mockumentary style film about a serial killer who records all of his killings and kidnappings. When he is wearing a playlike mask and walking on all four legs towards a person facing the camera, is when I felt it was time to turn this one off.
Best Found Footage Film: Rec (tie)
A journalist is writing a feature about a fire department and goes on a ride-along to an apartment building with infected residents. Most often mistaken as a zombie flick, this possession film features residents forced to go into quarantine as they are unable to stop the spread. As a journalist, she does finally get the story of why this is all happening and the film’s final moments will leave you breathless.
A Sequel that Surpasses the Original: Friday the 13th Part 2
This is the first official film featuring Jason Voorhees out there protecting his lake. (Do your thang boo). On the heels of his mom’s death avenging his death (confusing I know), Jason then avenges his mom’s death and punishes the new counselors of Camp Crystal Lake. This is all before he decides to take a cruise to NYC, go to space, and battle Freddy on Elm Street. This is the scariest version of Jason out of his 12 appearances, as he dons a burlap sack instead of his iconic hockey mask.
Best Make-Up: The Fly (1986)
Could it really even be a competition when this film is considered one of the greatest achievements in make-up and has an Oscar to prove it?
Jeff Goldbum plays a scientist who believes he has cracked the code on teleportation. What he doesn’t realize is a fly has snuck into his pod thus altering his particles through the jump. While at first he seems invincible, the truth is slowly uncovered through hard-to-watch transformation scenes and incredible performances.
Aged the Best: Candyman
“Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Candyman. Ca...No one ever gets past four.”
While a woman is researching an Urban Legend about a man with a hook-hand ripping apart people who dare say his name five times, she finds herself framed for murder. Jammed packed with metaphors, Candyman takes a deeper look at racism, social injustice, poverty, and gentrification. I can’t wait to see an even deeper look with the spiritual sequel hopefully dropping in 2021.
Best Ending Payoff: Noroi: The Curse
To be warned, Noroi is difficult to sit through for its complex storyline and 2 ½ hour run time. Set up as a found footage pseudo-documentary, a paranormal researcher investigates mysterious happenings and strange coincidences. Once things are connected, the storyline really gets moving and the final scene will have you reach for something to cover your eyes.
Best Badass Female Feature: Revenge
After being assaulted, Jen (Matilda Lutz) falls off a cliff and is left for the dead. But thanks to some drugs and a thirst for revenge, she finds herself in a cat and mouse game to take out those who wronged her. Director Coralie Fargeat does a great job showing how Jen develops her own strength and the struggles she goes through to get the revenge she deserves.
Best Halloween Icon: Michael Myers in Halloween
Could we include a list and forget one of the most iconic slashers of all time?
Michael Myers is locked up after murdering his sister on Halloween night. Years later, he escapes from the mental institution and comes home to once again stalk and kill babysitters. John Carpenter and Debra Hill create a killer who is unemotional, unsympathetic, and somehow feels invincible. And I guess he kinda is invincible because then he shows up in nine more movies (minus that awful third one).
Best Film You’ve Never Heard of: Super Dark Times
Get ready for a slow-burning film with some of the most daunting performances to date. After a horrible accident involving four friends, the teenage boys’ lives begin to unravel due to the circumstances around them. As they become products of their environments, the boys are on edge, trying to hide the accident they were involved in.
Best LGBTQ Representation: Bit
When a transgendered teenage girl meets four femnisit vampires, they welcome her into their group, set on killing predatory men. Don’t let the IMDb score mislead you, this is a breakout film filled with awesome kills, rad costume design, and a really good message. It isn’t afraid to embrace what needs to be said and then take it just another step further.