Top choices for a successful Halloween film marathon

AH, HALLOWEEN. It’s one of my favourite times of the year, largely because it speaks to my inner Horror movie fan. I would bring you a list of ‘100 Halloween Films to watch’ if I could, but instead here is shortlist of my personal and eclectic Halloween film choices to celebrate this spectacularly spooky time of the year. There’s everything from family friendly films to the more adult of fright fests, with a range of horror classics and more left-field choices. Enjoy!

The Fog (1982, dir. John Carpenter)

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This is one of Carpenter’s lesser celebrated horror films, as it’s often overshadowed by the classic Halloween (1978, another must see). The film centres on the fictional fishing town of Antonio Bay, home to a legend that tells of drowned sailors returning from their watery graves in a violent, vengeful quest. The film’s atmosphere is truly eerie, with plenty of lingering shots of rolling sea fog, dark coves and isolated lighthouses. The score, meanwhile, is classic Carpenter – a spine-chilling mix of echoing chimes, screeches and tinkling piano – it strongly recalls the classic scores to The Exorcist (1973) and Halloween. I definitely recommend watching it if you have a good sea view of Aberystwyth, because it truly increases the creepiness of your viewing experience. I still can’t look at those rolling waves the same way.

Hocus Pocus (1993, dir. Kenny Ortega) 

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Hocus Pocus focuses on the Sanderson sisters, a trio of witches accidentally brought back to life on Halloween 300 years after their deaths, allowing them to wreak havoc and mayhem once again. It’s all up to high schooler Max, his sister Dani, his crush Alison and a talking cat called Bynx to save the day. Set in Salem, Massachusetts, the film was no doubt inspired by the history of witchcraft associated with the area. The scenes fully evoke the town’s eerie beauty, one minute filled with autumnal woodlands and the next panning across dark, gothic graveyards. The film also provides a great trip down memory lane for 90’s kids; characters wear plaid, grungy leather and tie-dye, whilst ‘Ice’ is seen as a cool nickname and ‘tubular’ and ‘airhead’ are deemed really hip slang words (oh, what a time to be alive!). A must-see that’s hilarious, heart-warming and enjoyably creepy all at the same time.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975, dir. Jim Sharman)

Camp, kitsch and deliciously perverse, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an absolute classic. There are plenty of memorable musical numbers to get stuck in your head for days and, with the legendary Tim Curry in the lead role, you just know it will be a riot. The best way to describe this film? Part 1950’s Horror B-Movie homage, part rock ‘n’ roll musical and part ‘who the hell knows, let’s just roll with it’. Nearly 40 year after its release, it remains a cult phenomenon; every Halloween I spot several blokes dressed as Dr Frank-N-Furter; basque and stockings included. Let’s just say, if it’s your first time watching, get ready to have your mind blown away by the sheer brilliant bizarreness of it all.

Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995, dir. Mel Brooks)

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What I love about this film is that it combines two of my favourite things; Leslie Nielsen, and Dracula. The film is essentially a satire of earlier Dracula movies, particularly the classic Bela Lugosi versions, those produced by the Hammar Horror studios and 1992’s Dracula. Peter MacNicol as Renfield, Mel Brooks as Van Helsing and Nielsen as Dracula are particularly great in their roles, bringing madness and tongue in cheek humour in spades. Yet the film still manages to evoke the darkly gothic horror of the novel, with misty graveyards, crumbling castles and lots of blood and genuine chills added to proceedings. It’s rare to find horror movies that work simultaneously as comedy, but this one pulls it off fabulously.

An American Werewolf in London (1982, dir. John Landis)

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In my view this is the greatest werewolf film ever produced and a must see for any true horror film fan. The film begins with two American backpackers, seriously out of their depths whilst traveling through the Yorkshire Moors when they encounter a fearsome four legged beast; the consequences for both men are dire – to say the least. The Yorkshire Moors provide a truly desolate and unnerving atmosphere, filled with isolated farms, superstitious locals and a pub aptly named ‘The Slaughtered Lamb’. Meanwhile, later scenes set in London provide a nostalgic trip into 1980’s Britain; punks on the London Underground, red telephone boxes on every corner and Bobbies on the beat. The special effects were incredible for the time and to this day, the primal hideousness and pain evoked by a certain famous transformation scene still has the ability to make you wince.