Halloween Horror Movie Lists

The Good and the Bad

by Donato Totaro Volume 1, Issue 9 / November 1997 5 minutes (1069 words)

Not many people take Halloween seriously, so in the spirit of good, frivolous fun what better than an irreverent slew of assorted horror film lists for the occasion.

Best Films Using Christmas as Setting

Silent Partner 1978, Bob Clark. Christopher Plummer plays a psychopath who robs a bank dressed as a shopping mall Santa Claus)
Black Christmas 1975 Bob Clark
Silent Night, Deadly Night 1984 Charles E. Sellier, Jr. (Slasher with killer in Santa Claus garb. Four sequels)
Tales from the Crypt 1973 Freddie Francis (Opening story with husband killer Joan Collins getting her comeuppance at hands of escaped asylum inmate dressed as Santa is a real corker. Moment where Santa’s hand comes through an open door window always gets them out of their seats)
Gremlins 1984 Joe Dante (Fake snow and Christmas season in a fantasy Americana)
The Exorcist 1973 Bill Friedkin (Famous scene where Linda Blair pees on the carpet floor as adults toast in the new year.)
Christmas Evil 1980 Lewis Jackson (Unheralded film about emotionally scarred mama’s boy grows up to be a psychopathic Kris Kringle. Unusually sympathetic portrayal of sociopath loser.)
Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas 1993 Tim Burton (Christmas vs. Halloween, and we know where Burton’s heart lies)
Dead of Night 1945 Several directors (Second story, entitled “The Christmas Story,” about a girl who goes to a holiday party and finds a sad, little ghost girl while playing hide-and-seek.)

Best Jack the Ripper Films

Waxworks 1924 (Paul Leni anthology film Werner (Dr. Caligari) Krauss playing the Ripper in “Veidt Ivan” episode)
Pandora’s Box 1928 Georges W. Pabst (OK, he only appears at the end, but what a great film)
The Lodger 1926 Alfred Hitchcock
The Lodger 1944 John Brahms
Man in the Attic 1953 Hugo Fregonese (Creepy Jack Palance plays the other Jack in this remake of The Lodger)
Hands of the Ripper 1971 Peter Sasdy
3 films pitting the great sleuth Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper
A Study in Terror 1965 James Hill
Murder By Decree 1979 Bob Clark
Time After Time 1979 Nicholas Meyer

Best “eye” Moments in Horror

Un Chien Andalou 1928 (The granddaddy of “eye sore” films. No special effects here kiddies, Bunuel and Dali used a cow’s eye)
Zombie 2 1979 Lucio Fulci (The modern masterpiece of eye carnage by the master of eye carnage, Lucio Fulci. The splintered wood going into the eye still makes me cringe)
The New York Ripper 1982 (Fulci does it with a razor, a la Bunuel/Dali)
The Beyond 1980 (Fulci at it again, this time with tarantulas)
Evil Dead 1982 (Sam Raimi impresses with an extended thumb gouging)
Blade Runner 1982 Ridley Scott (Ok it’s not horror, but Rutger crushing in his creator’s head is pretty horrifying)
Evil Dead 2 1987 Sam Raimi (Great gore-gag. Ash steps on zombie’s head, sending an eye across a room into a screaming woman’s mouth)
Faceless (Jesus Franco changes things up a little by using a hypodermic needle)
Opera 1989 Dario Argento (Murderer uses pins to keep victim’s eyes open so she can witness gruesome killings. A slight reworking of the experiment in A Clockwork Orange 1971)

Best Horror Villain Costumes

Friday the 13th Sean Cunningham (Jason’s hockey mask)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974 Tobe Hooper (Leatherfaces’s human mask)
Blood and Black Lace 1964 Mario Bava (Black cape, mask, gloves and hat)
Tales from the Crypt 1973 F. Francis (The psycho in Santa Claus gear in opening episode)
Stagefright 1987 Michele Soavi (Huge stuffed bird’s head. The incongruity only makes the killer appear creepier and inhuman)
Phantom of the Opera 1925 Rupert Julian (Lon Chaney’s “mask” was not really a mask, but later incarnations of the phantom opted for a less painful process)
Halloween 1978 John Carpenter (Michael Myers surprises a victim by disguising himself with a bed sheet)
The Invisible Man 1933 James Whale (Those dark shades)
Don’t Look Now 1973 Nicolas Roeg & Alice, Sweet Alice 1977 Alfred Sole (Raincoat, red in Don’t Look Now, yellow in Alice, Sweet Alice)

Most Disturbing Horror Films: (Even hardcore horror fans would agree that these are films that go beyond the usual horror film protocol (ie. to scare) by unflinchingly revealing the darkest, vilest aspects of our world. These films are by common consensus, not “fun” to watch. Sick, disgusting, perverse, exploitative, sensational. Well, maybe yes, but disturbing)

Nekromantik 1989 Jörg Buttgereit
Man Behind Sun 1988 T.F. Mous
Untold Story: Bun Man 1992 Danny Lee, Herman Yau
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer 1986 John McNaughton
Cannibal Holocaust 1979 Ruggereo Deodato
In a Glass Cage 1986 Augustin Villaronga
Maniac 1980 William Lustig
Last House on the Left 1972 Wes Craven
Cannibal Ferrox (aka Make Them Die Slowly) 1980 Umberto Lenzi
Shocking Africa 1974 Rolf Olsen

Exceedingly Misogynist Horror Films (Horror genre convention has an obvious bias toward female-as-victim, which in the worst moments produce films that even staunch supporters have no desire to defend)
Bloodsucking Freaks 1977 Joel M. Reed
Maniac 1980 William Lustig
The New York Ripper 1982 Lucio Fulci
Red to Kill 1996 Billy Tang
Nightmare 1980 Romano Scavolini

Worthwhile Sequels

Son of Kong 1933 Ernest B. Schoedsack
The Bride of Frankenstein 1935 J. Whale
Dracula’s Daughter 1936 Lambert Hillyer
Son of Frankenstein 1939 Rowland Lee
Revenge of Frankenstein 1958 Terence Fisher
Dawn of the Dead 1978 George Romero
Evil Dead 2 1987 S. Raimi
Demons 2 1987 Lamberto Bava
Bloodlust: Subspecies 2 1993 Ted Nicolaou
Henry 2: Portrait of a Serial Killer 1997 Chuck Parello

Not-So-Great Sequels (and in some cases awful)

King Kong 1976 John Guillerman
Exorcist 2: The Heretic 1977 John Boorman
Jaws 2 1978 (Jeannot Szwarc)
The Hills Have Eyes 2 1985 Wes Craven
Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf 1985 Philippe Mora (What did you expect with a title like that!)
Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 1988 Clive Barker
Basketcase 2 1990 (Frank Henenlotter
Bird’s 2: The Land’s End 1994
Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh 1995 Bill Condon
Phantasm 3 1994 Don Coscarelli

Great Films With a Color in the Title

The Black Cat 1934 Edgar G. Ulmer
Horrors of the Black Museum 1959 Arthur Crabtree
Black Sunday 1961 Mario Bava
Black Sabbath 1964 M. Bava
Masque of the Red Death 1964 Roger Corman
Blood and Black Lace 1964 M. Bava
Color me Blood Red 1965 H.G. Lewis
Four Flies on Grey Velvet 1971 D. Argento
The Black Belly of the Tarantula 1971 Paolo Cavara
Deep Red 1975 D. Argento

Great Films With an Animal in the Title

The Wolfman 1941 George Waggner
Cat People 1942 Jacques Tourneur, 1982 Paul Schrader
The Fly 1958 Kurt Newmann, 1986 David Cronenberg
Spider Baby 1964 Jack Hill
The Reptile 1966 John Gilling
Bird With the Crystal Plumage 1968 D. Argento
Cat O’nine Tails 1970 D. Argento
Tail of the Scorpion 1971 Sergio Martino
Don’t Torture a Duckling 1972 L. Fulci
Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS 1974 Don Edmonds
The Serpent and the Rainbow 1988 W. Craven

Halloween Horror Movie Lists

Donato Totaro has been the editor of the online film journal Offscreen since its inception in 1997. Totaro received his PhD in Film & Television from the University of Warwick (UK), is a part-time professor in Film Studies at Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) and a longstanding member of AQCC (Association québécoise des critiques de cinéma).

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