13 Best Halloween-themed Horror Films

  1. Tales of Halloween (2015)


Tales of Halloween, an anthology-style horror film, features ten stories that are packed into a tight 92-minute running time.  The stories, all taking place in the same suburban town on Halloween night, run the gamut from the humorous to the horrific.

  • “Sweet Tooth”: A young boy is terrified by his teenage babysitter and her boyfriend who relates to him the tale of Sweet Tooth, who kills those who will not share their candy.  When the teenagers greedily eat the boy’s candy, they learn that Sweet Tooth may be more than an urban legend.
  • “The Night Billy Raised Hell”: Young Billy is caught attempting to egg an old recluse’s home.  The old man, in reality, the Devil himself, decides to teach the boy how to properly cause havoc on Halloween night.
  • “Trick”: Sinister disfigured children terrorize and exact revenge on a group of friends.
  • “The Weak and the Wicked”: A young man exacts revenge on the bullies who killed his parents by summoning a demon.
  • “Grim Grinning Ghost”: A malevolent ghost haunts a young woman returning home from a Halloween party.
  • “Ding Dong”: An updated version of Hansel and Gretel concerning a man who realizes his wife is witch hungry for children.
  • “This Means War”: Two neighbors engage in a vicious and deadly war over Halloween yard displays.
  • “Friday the 31st”: In this parody of Friday the 13th films, a serial killer squares off against a trick-or-treating alien that possesses the body of one of his victims.
  • “The Ransom of Rusty Rex”: Two kidnappers nab a wealthy man’s son and are shocked when the man refuses to pay the ransom.  Their shock turns to terror when they realize what they kidnapped is not a child at all.
  • “Bad Seed”: A genetically altered pumpkin devours a man that carves him and is hunted by the police.

 

  1. Night of the Demons (1988)

A group of stereotypical teenagers, whose primary motivation is to drink and have sex, gather for a Halloween party in an abandoned funeral parlor built on evil ground.  During the festivities, a séance is held which results in one of the participants being possessed by a demon.  As the demon begins to kill and possess the corpses of the revelers, the survivors are forced to find a way to escape from the grounds before it is too late.  This film featured a female wise-cracking villain in the vein of Freddy Krueger and spawned two sequels in the 1990s as well as a remake in 2009.

 

  1. Trick or Treat (1986)

When shock rocker Sammi Curr dies in a hotel fire his biggest fan Eddie Weinbauer, a bullied high school student, is given the only existing demo record of his last album by a mutual friend and local DJ, Nuke.  When Eddie listens to the record, he hears Sammi’s voice speaking to him when it is played backward.  Following Sammi’s advice, Eddie is able to turn the tables on his tormentors, but Sammi has plans of his own.  His death was part of a satanic ritual, and he’s using Eddie to make it possible for him to return to life with supernatural powers.  When Sammi returns on Halloween night at the school dance, it’s up to Eddie to find a way to stop what he started.  Inspired by the wild charges in the 1980s against heavy metal rockers during the so-called “Satanic Panic” in which social do-gooders claimed the rockers were placing satanic subliminal messages on their albums that could be found if the records were played backward.  The charges became serious when two 12-year old fans of Judas Priest attempted suicide with a 12-gauge shotgun (one unfortunately succeeded), and the family filed a lawsuit against the band alleging subliminal messages in their album were to blame for the boys’ act.  When the case finally went to trial five years later, the judge dismissed the charges.  This finding of supposedly hidden messages reached the heights of absurdity in 1986 when two pastors from southern Ohio claimed to have found satanic messages when they played the theme song to the popular 1960s TV show Mr. Ed (which was about a talking horse) backward.  Soon after that, the mania died down.  Appearing in the film are Gene Simmons of Kiss as Nuke and Ozzy Osbourne in a small cameo as a Reverend who bemoans the terrible lyrics in current rock songs.

 

  1. The Houses October Built (2014)

A group of five friends decides to travel all over Texas and Louisiana documenting their visits to local haunted house attractions during the days leading up to Halloween.  Their goal is to find out if the rumors of a secretive and more extreme attraction are real and gain entry to it.  As they make their inquiries at various stops, they soon find themselves being terrorized by members of the attractions who surround their RV, break in during the night to film them, and finally leaving a cryptic invitation to the secretive extreme attraction.  After an intense debate, the five friends decide to travel to Baton Rouge to find the attraction with disastrous results.

 

  1. Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Police Constable Ichabod Crane is sent to the tiny hamlet of Sleepy Hollow to investigate mysterious decapitations in the area.  He soon finds himself embroiled in a sinister plot involving witchcraft, inheritances, and the spectral Headless Horseman, a fallen Hessian mercenary from the Revolutionary War.  Loosely based on Washington Irving’s short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  For those looking for a more faithful adaptation, check out Walt Disney’s animated version narrated by Bing Crosby included in the feature The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.

 

  1. Boo (2005)

 

On Halloween night, a group of friends decides to explore the abandoned Santa Mira hospital that is reputed to be haunted to look for ghosts.  Once inside, the group comes under attack from the spirit of a deranged child molester who desires to leave the hospital and must inhabit a body to do it.  As Jacob begins to spread fear and mistrust amongst the group, they must uncover the secrets of the ghosts inhabiting the abandoned hospital in order to survive.

 

  1. Satan’s Little Helper (2004)

On Halloween, little Dougie Whooley is jealous when his sister, who he’s devoted to, returns from college with her boyfriend.  Upset, he leaves the house wearing his Satan’s Little Helper costume inspired by his favorite video game.  When he spies a silent serial killer dressed in a Satan mask arranging a dead body in a yard, Dougie mistakes him for the real thing and pledges to help Satan with his work in exchange for him killing his sister’s boyfriend.

 

  1. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

In the small Illinois town of Green Town, a mysterious late-autumn carnival, Mr. Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival, arrives and sets up late at night, to the delight of two young boys, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade.  The sinister Mr. Dark begins to tempt the townsfolk with his magical carousel – which increases your age if ridden forward or makes you younger if ridden in reverse – and his hall of mirrors – which can show you your deepest desires.  The only thing Mr. Dark asks in return is your soul.  When Jim begins to fall to Mr. Dark’s temptations, it’s up to Will and his father, the town librarian, to save him.  Based on the classic Ray Bradbury novel.

 

  1. House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

October 30, 1977 – Two young couples traveling around Texas looking to document out of the way oddities and roadside attractions stop at Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Murders and Madmen.  There they learn of the legend of Dr. Satan, a doctor at a local insane asylum who performed unspeakable experiments on his patients and are eager to see the tree where he was lynched by the residents.  While searching for the tree, they run afoul of the murderous Firefly clan and are thrown into a hellish nightmare they may not escape from alive.

 

  1. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

Halloween masks made by Silver Shamrock are flying off the shelves across the nation and children are eagerly awaiting a special broadcast on Halloween night by the company.  Conal Cochran, the owner of Silver Shamrock and a follower of the old Celtic religion, has placed tiny chips from a stone pillar he stole from Stonehenge in the tags affixed to the back of each mask.  During the Halloween broadcast as the children sit watching in their masks, a signal will be sent that will unleash death and destruction across the country in a ritualistic sacrifice for Samhain.  Dr. Challis, investigating the murder of a patient with ties to the company, along with the murdered man’s daughter are all that stand in the way of his deadly plans.

 

  1. Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Bubba, an intellectually disabled adult, plays with his friend, 10-year old Marylee.  When she is viciously mauled by a dog, rumors quickly spread around town that Bubba assaulted and killed her.  Otis Hazelrigg, the local mailman who has sexual designs on the girl, gathers three of his friends to hunt down and kill Bubba.  Finding him in a field dressed as a scarecrow, they gun down the frightened man before learning that Marylee is alive and owes her life to Bubba.  Claiming that Bubba attacked them with a pitchfork, the murderers are acquitted at their trial.  As Halloween approaches, the co-conspirators begin to see the figure of a scarecrow before suffering a horrible death.  The made-for-TV film is highly atmospheric and was so popular upon its initial airing in 1981 that it was shown the following year again.

 

  1. Trick ‘R Treat (2007)

On Halloween night in Warren Valley, Ohio, five terrifying interwoven stories include a woman who despises the holiday doesn’t heed her husband’s warning about blowing out the jack-o-lantern before midnight and pays the price; a murderous high school principal teaches a gluttonous young boy a lesson about Halloween; a young virgin searching for the perfect date to take to a party has a terrifying and surprising encounter with a costumed stalker; a group of teens play a horrible and cruel joke on a classmate and discover to their horror the joke is on them; a grumpy recluse has a terrifying encounter in his home with a demonic trick-or-treater and learns his past has come back to haunt him.  Produced by Brian Singer and written and directed by Michael Dougherty, who also wrote Superman Returns, X-Men 2, and X-Men: Apocalypse.

 

  1. Halloween (1978)

On Halloween night, 1963, in Haddonfield, Illinois, young Michael Myers brutally stabs his older sister to death and is committed to an asylum.  Fifteen years later, Michael escapes from the asylum and returns to Haddonfield where he stalks a group of babysitters and their charges while his obsessed psychiatrist desperately tries to find him to stop him for good.  This extraordinary film is filled with suspense and terror and gave birth to an entirely new horror film genre.  Far superior to any of the eight sequels and remake, most of which fell somewhere between watchable and wretched.

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