Halloween Picks

By Nick Anstett
Elm Staff Writer

Next to Christmas there is likely no holiday more saturated with seasonal movies than Halloween. Whether it be family friendly adventures, dramas, or classic horror, Halloween makes a certain atmosphere for film that is unlike any other. Between parties, costumes, candies, and ghost walks, sitting down to watch a good Halloween movie is a must.

Here are a few of the essentials from a wide variety of genres.

“Psycho” (1960)

One of the very best of Alfred Hitchcock’s works, “Psycho” would shock audiences at the time with its twists and moments of intense violence. “Psycho” has brilliant direction and acting that make it a classic for a good reason.

“Night of the Living Dead” (1968)

Before “The Walking Dead” was the highest rated drama on television, George Romero was defining a subgenre of horror with his classic “Night of the Living Dead.” This eerie and gory black and white horror film birthed the modern zombie.

“The Exorcist” (1973)

Considered by many to be the best horror film ever made, “The Exoricst” is still as eerie and unsettling today as it was when it was first released. Like “Night of the Living Dead” it would spawn a whole subgenre of horror but also go on to be one of the most critically recognized movies of its decade.


John Carpenter’s “Halloween” is arguably the most successful independent film of all time. The first ever screen appearance of pop culture icon Michael Meyers is a suspenseful horror classic and would become one of the defining films of the burgeoning slasher genre.

“The Shining” (1980)

What happens when you mix one of the most visionary directors of all time, Stanley Kubrick, a novel by Stephen King, and Jack Nicholson? You get “The Shining,” one of the most haunting, creative, and artistic horror films ever made. It’s meticulously made and phenomenally acted “The Shining” is a definite must see.

“Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)

Henry Selick’s stop motion holiday musical is a cult phenomenon and for a good reason. It’s unique look and festive atmosphere make it a great choice for more good natured and fun holiday movie watching.

“Hocus Pocus” (1993)

This direct to TV Halloween film starring three witches is pretty much a staple of our generation’s Halloween season. It’s light scares and quirky sense of humor make for another good substitute for those more adverse to the horror genre.

“Scream” (1996)

After decades of knives and gore, director and writer Wes Craven would turn the slasher genre on its head with “Scream.” Playing off audience expectations and filled with winking self-aware humor, “Scream” balances horror and comedy to great effect.

“Donnie Darko” (2001)

“Donnie Darko” is a tough nut to crack. It’s part coming of age ‘80s nostalgia, part psychological drama, and part science fiction horror. All the same, it’s still a film worth watching, and it’s eerie atmosphere alongside the seasonal plotpoints make for a great Halloween watch.

“Cabin in the Woods” (2012)

The ultimate deconstruction of the horror genre, Joss Whedon’s and Drew Goddard’s bloody horror comedy flips the entire pantheon on its head. It’s a smart and creative meta achievement  that will have horror movie fans cheering and laughing.

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