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10 Classic Horror Films to Watch This Halloween

Horror is perhaps one of the most popular movie genres amongst audiences for quite some time and fans of the genre will agree that there is something about having unlucky soon-to-be-victims thrust into terrifying ordeals that make for a somewhat cathartic experience. So now with Summer long gone and today being Halloween and all that, there’s no better way to get into the spirit of the season by barricading yourselves behind closed doors as you wrap yourself in a comfy duvet whilst you hold your own horror movie marathon.

But in a sea of horror films (both good and bad) fans of the genre are literally spoiled for choice but to save you time and stress of deciding what you should watch we have put together this list of classic horror films that we think you should check out.

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No horror movie marathon is complete without a good slasher film and for us one of the best out there is John Carpenter’s Halloween. Featuring a young Jamie Lee Curtis in her first feature role, Halloween is the story of Michael Myers, a mental patient who after breaking out of the institution where he was kept for 15 years returns to his home town to stalk a teenage girl and her friends whilst his doctor chases him. Nicely directed by Carpenter, Halloween was made on a shoe-string budget but still manages to create a perfect sense of dread with an evil that simply does not die.

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One of the best monster movies out there has to be John Carpenter’s The Thing. Released in 1982 and starring Kurt Russell in the lead, the film takes place in the frozen wasteland of the Antarctic where an expedition carried out by a team of scientists witness a helicopter in pursuit of a dog. After watching the helicopter loose control, the team take in the dog unaware that it is really an alien life-form with the ability to take over other bodies. So if monsters are your thing then you will love this as the effects are largely practical and there is no denying how terrifying this film was for its time.

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Speaking of monsters, our next pick is David Cronenberg‘s re-imagining of the 1958 classic whereby a scientist whose experiments with teleportation leads to a rather nasty genetic mixup. Featuring some of the most disturbing effects sequences ever seen on film combined with stellar performances from Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis as the couple torn apart by the genetic disaster, The Fly is a savage horror movie that will not only gross you out but it will also leave you stunned.

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Our next recommendation comes from genre legend George A Romero who is famous for his series of Zombie movies. Our favourite from the famous undead trilogy is Dawn of the Dead which was released in 1978. Following a zombie outbreak, two SWAT team members, a traffic reporter and his girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall and find that zombies aren’t the only threat they need to face when a group of militant bikers turn up. A slow-burner but very chilling, Romero does a superb job in creating a suspenseful movie that not only serves as a social commentary on the time it was released but it will also stick with you long after you have finished watching it.

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For those looking for a good werewolf movie we strongly recommend An American Werewolf in London. Directed by John Landis the film tells the story of two American college students trekking through the UK. After hearing a terrifying howl in the night and ignoring the warnings from locals the duo find themselves lost in the moors and are attacked leaving one of them dead and the other wounded. After coming round in hospital, David (David Naughton) falls in love with his nurse and the two of them form a tight relationship which is cut tragically short when he realises that the beast that attacked him was really a werewolf and it is a matter of time before he turns. Laced with pitch black humour the film is fantastic and still features one of the best werewolf transformation sequences you will ever see on film.

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If you’re looking for something that goes bump in the night then we strongly recommend Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, a film about a young family who find themselves visited by ghosts in their home. At first the ghosts appear friendly, moving objects around the house to the amusement of everyone, then they turn nasty and start to terrorise the family before they “kidnap” the youngest daughter Carol-Ann. Starring Craig T Nelson, Heather O’Rourke and JoBeth Williams, Poltergeist is one of the best haunted house movies ever made and the movie’s line “They’re here!” was voted as the #69 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).

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Our next selection is the 1987 film The Lost Boys. Directed by Joel Schumacher the film stars Jason Patrick, Keifer Sutherland and Dianne Wiest. The Lost Boys follows Michael Emerson (Jason Patrick) and his younger Brother Sam (Corey Haim) who have moved to the beach community of Santa Carla with their recently divorced mother. As the boys begin to hang-out at the Boardwalk littered with hundreds of flyers of missing people, Michael falls in with a biker gang after trying to impress a girl. During his initiation Michael mistakes a bottle of blood for wine and finds himself turned into a vampire leaving his little brother to team up with a pair of local vampire hunters to save the day. A brilliant ’80s flick packed with impressive visuals and a stunning soundtrack, The Lost Boys is a must for any horror fan.

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Hell Hath no fury like a telepathic teenager in Brian De Palma’s classic Carrie. Based on the Stephen King book, Carrie stars Sissy Spacek as a loner who becomes the target of a group of school bullies who unknowingly unleash her fury during a prank that turns deadly. The last 20 minutes of the film alone are worth your time but this said, De Palma delivers a solid horror and Piper Laurie’s performance as Spacek’s mother is perhaps one of the best performances ever seen in a horror movie.

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Wes Craven gave us all a reason to be scared of going to sleep at night with his 1984 classic A Nightmare on Elm Street. Starring Heather Langencamp in the lead role of Nancy Thompson, the film follows a group of teenagers who are being tormented by a clawed killer in their dreams called Freddy Krueger (played perfectly by Robert Englund). As Freddy begins to kill her friends one by one, Nancy must act quickly to stop him before she becomes his next victim. Simply terrifying with a villain who is plain evil, A Nightmare on Elm Street has since spawned several sequels and has been recently remade but no film has managed to match the ferocity of the original.

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Our next and final recommendation comes in the form of the 1981 classic from Director Sam Raimi. The ultimate cabin in the woods film, The Evil Dead is bloody fantastic. Who can ever forget the image of a possessed Shelly cackling from beneath a chained cellar door? Who didn’t wince in pain when Linda gets stabbed in her ankle with a pencil? These are just a handful of the many horrors that The Evil Dead has for its audience. No wonder why it is a much loved movie by fans worldwide.

So there you have it, ten horror films worth checking out this Halloween season. But before we go, we’d like to speak the immortal words of the Mistress of Dark herself, Elvira, and bid you ‘unpleasant dreams’.

Tags : Halloween
Jon Dickinson

The author Jon Dickinson

[HORROR AND SCI-FI EDITOR] Jon Dickinson graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in 2006 with a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Communication Studies with an emphasis on PR and Multimedia. Since graduating he has contributed to several publications and regularly attends some of the biggest film festivals in the UK including Film4 Frightfest.