Eight spooky movies to add to your Halloween watch-list

Read on as Tristan ranks top picks by Howler staffers
What will win for the top spot? Howler’s Halloween picks for best movie!
What will win for the top spot? Howler’s Halloween picks for best movie!
Tristan Lempka

It’s that time of year again; the weather is getting colder with the spooky breezes of Halloween upon us. It’s the perfect season to cuddle up with a blanket and watch scary movies. The Howler staff has their own list containing the greatest horror movies of all time, so, it’s time to rank them.

The first Disney movie on this list is “Hocus Pocus” from 1993, starring Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as the Sanderson Sisters. This movie is about the chaos that arises after a young boy moves to Salem, M.A., with his family. He accidentally resurrects three evil witch sisters who wreak havoc on the town, inspiring some local kids to band together and defeat the sisters. 

This was surprisingly well done and contains some great writing, especially for a nineties kids’ movie, with the younger sister having some zingers directed at her brother. I was honestly surprised by how good the writing and acting was because I was expecting the movie to be quite campy and cheesy; while it is those things, it’s presented in an enjoyable manner. Overall, I would rank this movie a seven out of ten.

The next and final Disney movie is “Halloweentown” from 1998, starring Debbie Reynolds, Judith Hoag, Joey Zimmerman and Robin Thomas. This movie is about a family of witches that go to a mystic place called Halloweentown. This has outstanding practical effects. When the kids first enter Halloweentown, they see a bunch of monsters and demons, which are all actors in prosthetics and makeup, something that is of rarity now due to the heavy use of CGI in modern filmmaking. Although some of the child actors are not very great and are kind of whiny at times, it’s forgivable because they’re kids. I’d say that it’s a seven and a half out of ten.

WARNING: Below are descriptions of  R-rated movies. Reader’s discretion is advised.

It’s the perfect season to cuddle up with a blanket and watch scary movies.

Starting off the horror train is “Queen of The Damned” from 2002 starring Stuart Townsend, as well as Aaliyah and Rashad Haughton as Akasha. This movie is about the vampire Lestat from Anne Rice’s ‘The Vampire Chronicles’ and his story throughout the years. This whole movie is very weirdly paced and feels rushed at points as the movie is trying to condense two books into one 90-minute movie. Overall, I’d rate this movie a six-point-five out of ten.

Next is “Friday the 13th Part 2” from 1981 starring Adrienne King, as well as Warrington Gillette and Steve Daskewisz as Jason Voorhees. There is not much to say about this film, except that it’s your typical slasher movie of the time. The killer doesn’t even appear in full until there are 20 minutes left in the movie, and most of the characters are very forgettable and bland with little personality given to any of them. I give this movie a five out of ten, even if it is the first appearance of the famous horror character Jason Voorhees.

Third in line is “A Nightmare on Elm Street” from 1984 starring Heather Lagenkamp and Johnny Depp, with Robert Englund as Fred Krueger. This is the first slasher movie that has an explicitly demonic killer because Michael Myers, another horror movie villain that predates Freddy, is never directly stated to be anything other than a human; however, Freddy, the main villain of this movie, is different because he is explicitly a dream demon and a very creepy one at that. Once Freddy leaves the dream world after terrorizing the teenagers of Elm Street, he is incredibly clumsy and not as scary as he was in the dream world. Also, the idea of Freddy having a signature weapon in the form of his razor-claw glove is an interesting idea that had not been done up until the movie’s release. I give this movie a seven and a half out of ten.

Fourth is “Halloween” from 1978 starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis featuring Nick Castle as Michael Myers – credited as ‘The Shape’. This movie is about a killer named Michael Myers who stalks a babysitter named Laurie Strode on Halloween night. This movie has a character named Dr. Loomis who introduces the concept of Michael being an ‘evil incarnate’ and it almost implies that Michael being an evil incarnate is true because he survives being shot in the chest multiple times and then falling out a window, something that a normal human couldn’t do. This is also considered one of the most well-known Halloween movies ever. The tension building in this movie is fantastic due to the camera in a lot of scenes lingering in dark corners that make the viewer think that something is there. I rate this an eight-point-five out of ten.

Fifth is 1996’s “Scream” starring Drew Barrymore, Neve Campbell and David Arquette, as well as featuring Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard and Roger L. Jackson as the Ghostface killers. This shares a director with the aforementioned ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street,’ Wes Craven. Craven’s prowess as a horror director can be depicted in this movie due to the understanding that the movie shows with the tropes of horror and subverting them. 

For example, when we are introduced to the Ghostface Killer, he is portrayed as being somewhat charming and sophisticated in the way that he talks to Drew Barrymore’s character, usually horror movie villains are either mindless forces of nature or malicious. Craven even makes a cameo in the movie as a school janitor wearing a tattered fedora and a red and green jumper, obviously meant to be Freddy Krueger’s outfit that he wears in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. I rate this movie an eight and a half out of ten.

The final movie on this list is technically a TV miniseries, but it’s over three hours long. The miniseries is 1990’s “IT” starring Harry Anderson and Richard Thomas, and with Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. This was actually my favorite movie on this list, and is about seven kids from a small town in Maine that just so happens to also have an evil lovecraftian clown demon as the villain. But, beneath that story is a very good coming-of-age narrative of old friends coming back together after 30 years of no contact with each other. The entire miniseries also has great effects with lots of practical makeup as well as claymation and puppetry. I’d rate this a nine out of ten.

These are my opinions on these movies. I would still recommend watching all of them to make your own judgment. Go watch and rank them yourself if you dare!

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