Hey y’all, it’s Jackie. As Halloween approaches, the horror movie marathons kick into full swing on many channels, making it easy to curl up in front of a fire with a cup of tea and binge watch your favorite classics. I intended to do just that the other evening, but as I was browsing the movie schedules for channels like AMC and FX, I noticed something. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have NOTHING against The Exorcist, the original Evil Dead, the Halloween movies, or any of the other “staples” of horror movie marathons. I’ll watch those all day no problem. But I do think that by watching those same movies every October, folks may miss out on some of the horror movies that I feel deserve to be remembered and enjoyed during the Halloween season. So, for better or for worse…here is a list of the Halloween movies I feel have been forgotten and/or under-appreciated over the years, and deserve to make an resurgence on Halloween movie marathon schedules.
- Don’t Breathe. Don’t Breathe is a 2016 film written by Fede Alverez and starring Jane Levy, Dylan Minette, Daniel Zavotto, and Stephen Lang. The film premiered at South by Southwest film festival and focuses on three Detroit thieves (Levy, Minette, and Zovatto) whose plan to rob a blind Army veteran (Lang) goes horribly wrong. Upon its theatrical release, Don’t Breathe became a sleeper hit and grossed nearly $158 million dollars worldwide. Watch the film for the incredible work by lead actress Jane Levy and the sheer terror invoked by Stephen Lang.
- Oculus. If you are currently getting the shit scared out of you by Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, then here is another horror piece by the same writer/director, Mike Flanagan, guaranteed to give you chills. Oculus, released in 2013 and starring Karen Gillan, tells the story of a young woman (Gillan) who fights to destroy a mirror that she believes is the cause of the death and misfortune plaguing her family. Oculus was filmed in three weeks with a mere budget of only $5 million dollars, so it came as bit of a surprise when the film ended up terrifying audiences and grossing over $43 million dollars worldwide. Whether you are a fan of the current Haunting of Hill House series on Netflix already or you just want a tamer introduction to Flanagan’s work before you brave the Netflix series, check out Oculus and prepare to not look at mirrors the same way again.
- A Tale of Two Sisters. This 2003 Korean psychological horror film is inspired by an old folktale known as Janghwa Hongryjeon jeon, and focuses on a mental patient recently released from the hospital, where she returns home with her sister and sets off a horrifyingly dark chain of events connected to their family’s history. If you’re looking for a lesser known film to show at your Halloween party this month, check out A Tale of Two Sisters, and make sure you intend to not sleep for several nights!
- The Evil Dead (2013). Another Fede Alvarez/Jane Levy film, this 2013 movie had its premiere at South by Southwest film festival as a continuation of the 1981 Evil Dead franchise. This iteration concerns a group of friends who decide to vacation in an isolated cabin in the woods while one member of the group, portrayed by Levy, overcomes her addiction to heroin. What follows is the classic story of why you should never read Latin text from creepy basement books, and the ultimate tale of survival when monsters rise. While this Evil Dead film doesn’t hold all the absurd humor the original did, it more than makes up for it in bloody gore, violence, and sheer terror.
- Insidious (2010). The first in a series of horror films written by Leigh Whannell and directed by James Wan, this terrifying story about a couple whose son falls into a coma where he becomes a vessel for demons from an astral plane. Relying on expertly built suspense and clever characters, this film brings the jump scares and amps up the dread in its own unique way, and makes an even better case than The Walking Dead for how scary of a song “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” is!
- The Wicker Man (1973). No, I’m not talking about the laughably bad Wicker Man remake with Nic Cage, as hilariously bad that film is. I’m talking about the original Wicker Man film, released in 1973 and based on the book Ritual by David Pinner. The film tells the story of a devout Christian detective that travels to the mysterious island of Summerisle in search of a young girl who has gone missing. Upon arriving on the island, the detective soon discovers, much to his horror, that the island’s inhabitants have abandoned Christianity and have resorted to a form of Paganism. What follows after is a deeply chilling, almost “Children of the Corn on steroids” exploration into what happens when logic and reason are lost, and only blind faith remains.
- The Cabin In The Woods. Despite this being an unconventional horror movie, Cabin In The Woods is one of my favorite movies to watch around Halloween. You would think that one movie about friends going to a cabin in the woods and reading out of an old dusty Latin book would deter people doing that…but the premise has been used over and over as the perfect start to many horror stories. However, Cabin In The Woods is less of an all-out horror movie and more of a satire of the horror genre, which makes it both compelling and funny at times.
- Session 9. This 2001 independent psychological horror film concerns a group of asbestos abatement workers who work the most terrifying job of their lives when they begin work at an abandoned mental hospital, and discover not only growing tensions within the group but also the tapes of a former mental patients’ horrifying condition. Directed by Brad Anderson of Fringe fame, this film is rife with the horrors of what happens when the past will not stay buried. If that’s not enough to convince you to watch it, listen to this: Anderson has said the film was inspired by a murder that had taken place in his hometown in the 90’s, in which a man supposedly killed his wife for burning his dinner, then cut out her heart and lungs and put them on a stake in his backyard.