With Halloween finally here, SciFiNow counts down the 10 best films set on Halloween night. With ghouls and witches, killers and werewolves, vortexes and Michael Wincott, here are the 10 best Halloween films. Silver Shamrock!
10. Night Of The Demons (1988)
“What’s the matter, Judy? Don’t you like your blind date?”
Kevin S Tenney’s schlocky late-80s cult classic finds a group of eminently killable youths going to a party at the notorious Hull House and conducting an ill-advised seance, at which point they’re possessed by an evil force and do some horrible tricks with a lipstick. There are some great practical effects and a stunning soundtrack, but we’d recommend Night Of The Demons for fans of cheesy horror only. An inferior remake starring Shannon Elizabeth should also be avoided.
You can buy Night Of The Demons on DVD for £8.52 at Amazon.co.uk.
9. Satan’s Little Helper (2004)
“When you were trick-or-treating, did Satan kill Alex’s father?”
This little-seen darkly funny horror from Jeff Libersman is deserving of rediscovery. When a video-game-obsessed young boy sees a man in a Satan mask committing a murder, he assumes he’s found Satan and asks him to take care of his big sister’s new boyfriend. The second half struggles to maintain the tone but the first strikes a great balance between comedy and some genuinely unsettling horror. Satan’s Little Helper also wins points for starring the perenially brilliant Amanda Plummer as the bohemian mum.
You can buy Satan’s Little Helper on DVD for £1.46 at Amazon.co.uk.
8. Donnie Darko (2001)
“I don’t recall him ever having mentioned a rabbit.”
After the disappointment of Southland Tales and The Box, why not go back to the reason we all heralded Richard Kelly in the first place with his magnificent debut. Donnie Darko remains one of the most interesting indies of the early 00s; fizzing with ideas, perfectly cast, and a wonderful air of melancholy to go with its dark humour and existential musing. The crucial events of the film all take place on Halloween night, as Donnie figures out why the cellar door is important and finally meets Frank properly.
You can buy Donnie Darko on DVD for £2.86 at Amazon.co.uk.
7. The Crow (1994)
“So you’re him, huh? The Avenger. The Killer of Killers. Nice outfit. I’m not sure about the face, though.”
Alex Proyas’ gloriously gothy adaptation of James Barr’s none-more-bleak comic is drenched in rain and the Halloweeen spirit. As Eric Draven (the much-missed Brandon Lee) makes his way through the crooks who killed his beloved Shelly to the sounds of Nine Inch Nails and Black Flag, it’s impossible to overlook the fact that he is the quinessential Halloween character: a mournful spirit given a short time to remind everyone that their wicked deeds haven’t gone unnoticed. And Michael Wincott gives one of the best ever comic-book bad guy performances.
You can buy The Crow on DVD for £3.98 at Amazon.co.uk.
6. Hocus Pocus (1994)
“Sisters, All Hallow’s Eve has become a night of frolic, where children wear costumes and run amok!”
A Disney film might look a bit out of place on this list, if it wasn’t one of the darkest Disney films ever made. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy play a trio of witches awoken by Omri Katz touching an embarrassing virgin candle, at which point they realise they need to kill children to stay alive. If you’re in any doubt about how scary Hocus Pocus is, let’s just remind ourselves that it stars Doug Jones as Sarah Jessica Parker’s zombiefied ex who has his mouth sewn shut.
You can buy Hocus Pocus on DVD for £3 at Amazon.co.uk.
5. Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)
“The world’s going to change tonight, doctor, I’m glad you’ll be able to watch it. And… happy Halloween.”
Ignored on its release, Tommy Lee Wallace’s stand-alone Halloween sequel has stood the test of time and is now enjoying a much-deserved rediscovery. The script (from an idea by Quatermass‘ Nigel Kneale) ignores Michael Myers altogether, focusing instead on an evil toy comany that has big plans for any kids that watch its halloween special. Combining Kneale’s trademark bleakness and fascination with ancient mythology with a twisted Charlie And The Chocolate Factory structure, it’s creepy, dark, and it has one hell of an ending as Tom Atkins bellows into the telephone. The film was also heavily referenced in Maury & Bustillo’s excellent Livide, which just missed out on this list but you should watch it anyway.
You can buy Halloween III: Season Of The Witch on DVD for £4.48 at Amazon.co.uk.
4. May (2002)
“Sweet costume! Hey, you got any cold ones in there?”
Lucky McKee’s debut is a twisted, affecting tale of a lonely young woman who is gradually pushed into making her own friends when she can’t find any of her own. Ostracised and misunderstood throughout the film as she struggles to connect with Jeremy Sisto, who claims to “like weird” bur really doesn’t, May finally sets out to create the perfect friend on Halloween night. For all the dark comedy and visceral shocks, May has a raw, beating heart and a stunning central turn from Angela Bettis that makes it one of the best horrors of the 00s.
You can buy May on DVD for £28.98 at Amazon.co.uk.
3. Ginger Snaps (2000)
“A girl can only be a slut, a bitch, a tease, or the virgin next door.”
A perfect companion piece to May, Ginger Snaps is a savagely funny and heartbreaking horror that gave new life to the werewolf genre. Sisters Brigitte and Ginger Fitzgerald are proud to separate themselves from hormonal toilet of high school, but when Ginger is bitten by a werewolf she starts to go through some alarming changes. Can Brigitte step out of her sister’s shadow and save them both? Karen Walton’s superb script is brought to life by director Jon Fawcett and the two fantastic performances by Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins as Ginger and Brigitte respectively. Hilarious, clever and moving, this is one of the finest horror movies in recent memory.
You can buy Ginger Snaps on DVD for £7.28 at Amazon.co.uk.
2. Halloween (1978)
“It’s Halloween. Everyone’s entitled to one good scare.”
John Carpenter’s classic defined a subgenre and launched a franchise, leaving an impossibly high watermark for future slashers and final girls. The faceless menace of Michael Myers, the fragile strength of Laurie Strode, the chilling soundtrack and those unmistakable long takes would make Halloween one of the defining films of the horror genre. Often imitated but never bettered, it’s stood the test of time and remains a chilling and hypnotic masterpiece. Subsequent sequels would vary in quality (and kept Donald Pleasence busy) and Rob Zombie’s remake is actually rather underrated (although his sequel is diabolically bad), but the original is unbeatable.
You can buy Halloween on Blu-ray for £14.25 at Amazon.co.uk.
1. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
“You know, there are rules, you should be more careful. You might upset someone.”
Arguably a controversial choice for the number one spot but, if you really want to get in the Halloween spirit, Michael Dougherty’s anthology is the perfect choice. It’s brimming with the seasonal spirit: the wicked are punished, false faces are revealed, and long-buried secrets come bubbling to the surface. The film is perfectly cast, with Dylan Baker as a murderous principal, Brian Cox as a bitter recluse and Anna Paquin as an innocent teen with a dark secret, while pumpkin-head-ed Halloween rule-keeper Sam is a fantastic creation. Trick ‘r Treat was cruelly kept in limbo for a long time but was more than worth the wait. We can’t recommend it highly enough. Happy Halloween!
You can buy Trick ‘r Treat on DVD for £5.73 at Amazon.co.uk.