20 Great Horror Films For This Halloween

NosferatuWith Halloween coming up it only seems right to snuggle up and get some screams coming out of the TV screen. But if you’re like me you get a little tired of watching the same slasher sequels year after year.  I wanted to make a list of Halloween films that are not only more obscure but also better than almost everything you’ll find playing on TV this year. I also wanted to make a list of films that had something for everyone. So, whether you like sick and twisted films that make you look away from the screen or atmospheric horror with no gore at all, we have got something for you.

Antichrist – 2009 (seriously sick/art-house)


Antichrist is one of the most visually beautiful and yet challenging horror films I have ever seen. In this Lars von Trier drama we watch a therapist (Willem Dafoe) and his wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) get pushed to the brink of insanity while dealing with the guilt of their son’s death. They retreat to a cabin in the woods to get a change of scenery and, because of their unstable state, get a whole lot more than what they bargained for.

Aside from being one of the best acted and visually stunning movies out there, Antichrist contains moments of graphic violence and mutilation that put Hostel and Saw to shame. Fortunately, it also boasts some of the best, if not the best, directing behind a horror film in the last decade and stands, not just a gore flick, but as an extremely emotional work of art.

Cemetery Man – 1994 (existential zombie)


Existential zombie films are few and far between. This is a zombie film for people who hate zombie films. It’s thought provoking, funny, and has a few genuine chills in it. It asks the important questions that other more mainstream zombie films are afraid to ask, like: Would you still date you’re girlfriend if she was undead? Is it okay to sleep with a zombie? And is it ethical to kill a non violent zombie?

Well, ok, it’s not brilliantly deep or anything, but if you like the bizarre and the undead it’s not something to pass up.

Evil Dead II – 1987 (over the top gore fest comedy)


The Evil Dead is a film about some youth in a cabin that are haunted by an evil in the woods. Evil Dead II is The Evil Dead on steroids and hallucinogens. It’s without a doubt the best comedy-horror film ever made. Forget about CGI, Evil Dead II uses makeup, puppets, and trick shots to create an insane world where evil hands run wild and dead ballerinas twirl into the night. It’s hard to sum up Evil Dead II, it’s something you just have to see.

The Exorcist – 1973 (classic)


The Exorcist is a throwback to when Hollywood horror films were made well enough to win Oscars. The story of a little girl being possessed by Satin and the Priest who is trying to save her has arguably the greatest atmosphere of any horror film in history. It owes its atmosphere to its outstanding cinematography, disturbing makeup, and chilling visual effects. Make sure you get the directors cut of this film, as the original theatrical version leaves out many of the most chilling scenes.

Eyes Without A Face – 1960 (ghastly drama)


This film walks the line between a mad scientist horror film and a demented drama. It might be pretty tame by today’s standards but the imagery in this film sticks. There’s something really creepy about a young woman walking around in a featureless white mask, especially when her dad is trying to steal her a new face.

Hour Of The Wolf – 1968 (nightmare psychological drama)


I first saw this film at 23 and all of my dreams instantly became nightmares. Hour of the Wolf is a bleak horrific trip down a psychological rabbit hole. An artist is being haunted by his memories. On a small windy island he confesses his most painful experiences to his wife and as he delves deeper into his mind reality starts to blur. The film’s drama slowly builds and is released in one of the most chilling scenes in cinematic history.

Hour Of The Wolf wont make you jump or shriek, but unlike many modern horror films, it will chill you to the bone. If you’re a fan of atmosphere, imagery, and the abstract, Hour of the Wolf is a must see.

House – 1977 (over the top Japanese school girl acid trip)


This Japanese horror/comedy is what I was hoping for when I watched The BeatlesYellow Submarine. It is absolutely bat-shit crazy and never apologizes for it. If anything, House is proof that the hippy epidemic even reached Japan. If you were an expert filmmaker with a bad case of ADD that took entirely too much acid you might be able to on some level relate to this film’s director Nobuhiko Ohbayashi. I won’t even tell you the plot because it would be the equivalent of stating what color nail polish a swimsuit model is wearing. All I can say is that the fun never stops and if you don’t watch this film you are missing out on one of the most unusual movies out there.

Let The Right One In – 2008 (vampire drama)


Let the Right One In was the first horror masterpiece of the new millennium. Dramatic, atmospheric, and original, it brought some much needed serious drama back into the horror genre. Not to mention some much needed credibility back to the vampire genre.

Night Of The Hunter – 1955 (chilling children’s story)


Robert Mitchum‘s Preacher is one of the most memorable characters of all time and the film that featured him was clearly ahead of its time. The Night of the Hunter was a complete failure upon initial release which is something I still can’t wrap my head around. The dark fairy tale of a preacher-step-father hunting down his two children is not only stunningly beautiful but also a precursor to modern fairy tale horror such as Pan’s Labyrinth.

Nosferatu The Vampyre – 1979 (the best Dracula film)


Werner Herzog‘s re-imagining of the first ever vampire film takes us on an atmospheric journey to a time before vampires were sex symbols. I tend to hate vampire films for being generic, melodramatic, romantic, and just plain dumb, but this is none of these. Klaus Kinski is fantastic as the sickly title character and Elizabeth Adjani is hugely memorable as the ghost white maiden of the vampire’s obsession.

Onibaba – 1964 (samurai era twisted fairy tale)


Feudal Japan is the setting of the stunningly beautiful horror gem Onibaba. A desperate young widow and her mother-in-law, who rob and kill samurai to scrounge out a living, have their relationship tested when the widow falls for a should-be victim. A fairy tale of sorts, Onibaba is a primal story of rage, lust, and jealousy. Its drama is escalated by hypnotic shots and gorgeous photography.

Possession – 1981 (bizarre possession)


Over the top tour de force performances by both Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani make Possession stand out in a world now saturated with possession themed films. In fact, I consider Adjani’s performance as one of the best ever, horror or not, and Cannes seems to agree as they handed her the Best Actress award. The film starts as a simple domestic dispute but quickly spirals into one of the most bizarre tales of possession ever put on screen.

Repulsion – 1965 (psychosexual horror)


This is a slow moving character study of someone losing their mind, it’s not plot driven and definitely does not give people all the answers. In fact, even when the film ends, everything, including Carole, is still shrouded in mystery.

Repulsion might be the best of Polanski’s pre-U.S. films. The world which Polanski has crafted inside the small apartment feels alive and dangerous, something many other directors have attempted to do with much less success. Even with its dated special effects Repulsion is an extremely disturbing film that packs a few genuine scares and a handful of images that are not easily forgotten.

Rosemary’s Baby – 1968 (classic)


This is just an absolute classic. What would be scarier than thinking you have the spawn of Satan growing in your womb? Not much. It has also just received a Criterion Collection restoration and Blu-ray release that looks impeccable. It’s a great time to revisit this staple in horror cinema.

Suspiria – 1977 (art-house supernatural slasher)


One of the last films shot in Technicolor, Suspiria is an art house film gone wrong. The story of an American ballet dancer who ships off to a prestigious European school. Unfortunately for her, the school is haunted by a witch.

Amazing reds, yellows, and blues take you into a dream like state, making Suspiria one of the most visually stunning films ever made. Dario Argento’s fun and gun directing style is unmatched. His creative camera work, mixed with Goblin’s horror-rock soundtrack engages viewers like few films can.

The Tenant – 1976 (urban paranoia)


Many horror fans have seen Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby but surprisingly few have seen The Tenant, which I consider Polanski’s true horror masterpiece. The film follows a man who has just moved into an apartment that belonged to a woman who tried to commit suicide. When strange occurrences start to take place it becomes clear that the reasons for her death wish are going to trouble the apartment’s new tenant as well.

The Tenant is the ultimate tale of urban paranoia, and Polanski captures this with masterful camera work and a brilliant story telling ability. The film’s unique plot and aesthetics make it one of the most creepy, obscure horror films to ever hit the silver screen.

The Vanishing – 1988 (a haunting thriller)


The Vanishing is a gripping horror-thriller about a man whose girlfriend is abducted while on vacation. The film uses non-chronological editing to draw every last bit of creepiness from the story, but what really makes it so horrifying is how realistic the characters are. The villain in this film is one of the best ever written and becomes someone you will love and hate at the same time. Infused with dark humor, he almost seems like a character from a Coen Brothers’ film, but when he is thrown into a story told so realistically he becomes the people’s worse nightmare. With this, you combine The Vanishing’s haunting soundtrack and perfect pace to get one of the best horror films ever made.

* DO NOT GET THE AMERICAN REMAKE!  (it is just plain awful)

We Are What We Are – 2010 (cannibal drama)


This little gem from Mexico has a US remake hot on its heels. It’s a pretty straight forward story of children having to take over their fathers responsibilities after he passes away, you know, provide for the family and all that stuff. They also happen to be cannibals, so those responsibilities turn out to be just a little bit violent and serial killery.

Who Can Kill A Child – 1976 (ass-kicking killer-kid-killing awesomeness)


One of the best “killer kid” films, Who Can Kill A Child isn’t the most horrifying film ever, but it’s fun as hell. A couple vacationing to a small, off-the-beaten-path island, and soon discovers there are no adults present. The town is completely deserted except for a group of mischievous kids. You can imagine where it goes from there.

Although the acting can be corny, the great western style cinematography and amazing movie moments more than make up for it. You will cheer, yell, and laugh because Who Can Kill A Child is just plain awesome.

The Wicker Man – 1973 (mysterious cult drama)


The Wicker Man has been stolen from over and over, directly and indirectly remade, but it still outshines all the copycats. It’s one of the only creepy horror films I know of that feels extremely dated and still pulls it off. Seventies cults just don’t lose their charm. If you haven’t seen this classic yet you’re missing out.


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Categories: Best Of Lists

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