If you are all partied out for Halloween this year, why not gather your friends and have a scary night in on Wednesday? Grab the popcorn, spooky sweets, crisps and chocolate and prepare yourselves for a night of fright. You can still dress up in blood and gore if you want to in order to make the night even freakier, and follow this guide to the films, music, and TV shows to make sure you don’t get a wink of sleep this Halloween.
Rasha Touqan has a more in-depth guide of films to watch here. However, I am still going to share with you some of the classics (which I actually had to study during A Level Film Studies).
It seems an obvious choice with the name of the film having the same name of the holiday and all, but it is a classic horror movie. Michael Myers is sent to a mental home at the tender age of six after slaughtering his own sister on Halloween 1963 in Haddonfield, IL. Fifteen years later, he escapes and makes his way back home. His psychiatrist, Dr Loomis, rushes ahead to Haddonfield to warn the police of his return, whilst Myers comes across a teenage studious girl, Laurie Strode. He starts following her and her two friends around the town. As her two best friends make Halloween party plans, Laurie takes on two babysitting jobs for All Hallows Eve – one of them being her friends – and attempts to study. It is obvious who will survive in this story, but be prepared for some old school frights with a twisted ending that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
With the unlikely kill of a famous actress (Drew Barrymore) at the beginning of the film, you know you are in for a roller-coaster ride with this one. It is the start of a new sub-genre for horror: the slasher. A new killer is on the loose in Woodsboro with the nickname ‘Ghost Face’ due to that iconic mask and black cloak for an outfit. The media circulates throughout the town, and everybody is a suspect, especially in the local high school. A teenager girl, Sidney Prescott is at the centre of this story with the back story of having experienced somebody murdering her mother. This story is also intertwined in the ongoings of the ‘Ghost Face’ murders. With comic scenes combined with a lot of blood, it is a game of Guess Who? along with that familiar gruesome question: “What’s your favourite scary movie?” This film also brings in the conventions of the horror genre, as the teenagers try to beat the outcome of this murder spree.
The Exorcist (1973)
Everybody has heard of this film. My cousin first watched it when she was nine. Safe to say, she had nightmares for weeks. I’d always avoided watching this one, until Year 13 when, in Film class, I had to study it. I was horrified. I didn’t think I could watch it. It turned out, it was more the suspense part, and not actually seeing the little girl twisting her head in a full 360 degree circle, that was the worst. Some of the actual exorcism parts were quite funny. When the film first came out, it was banned, for obvious reasons. A little girl becomes possessed by a demonic force, and her mother tries everything to get rid of this demon. Regan, the young girl, suffers a lot of horrific injuries because of the demon living inside of her, and the priest does too. Prepare yourselves for a series of creepy scenes with a demonic voice coming out of Regan’s mouth swearing profusely, It still gives me the shivers, and I will never be watching it again.
This film is not the conventional horror, but the horror of what humans are capable of. The story opens with a husband and wife having sex in the bathroom (very visual!) whilst their young son climbs out of his crib and falls out of his bedroom window. The woman is beside herself with grief, and after spending a substantial amount of time in the hospital, her husband, a psychiatrist (like her) decides they should take a trip to their cabin in the woods named ‘Eden’. Here is where the darkness of nature is unleashed. This is a psychological horror with plenty of bloodshed. Some parts you will not want to watch as things turn sour between the couple.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This is a classic Tim Burton film, one which combines two of the best times of the year: Halloween and Christmas. In this film there are towns for different times of the year. Jack Skellington is the king of Halloweentown, where everything is gruesome and scary. He has all he ever wanted, or so he thought. Unlike his people, Jack wishes for more than just darkness, witches and pumpkins. He wants to celebrate something else for a change. This is when he stumbles across Santa and Christmastown. He doesn’t understand the concept of snow, elves, constant happy faces and a fat man dressed in red. He tries to become Santa himself. Enjoy the ride with musical classics such as ‘This Is Halloween’ and ‘Kidnap Mr Sandy Claws’.
The Corpse Bride (2005)
Starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, this Tim Burton classic tells the tale of a shy groom who messes up his vows during the practise of his wedding to a woman who he immediately falls in love with. Full of shame, he runs out into the woods to try and practice. He says everything perfectly but, by accident, puts the wedding ring on the finger of a corpse bride who was robbed and left for dead. All she ever wanted was the perfect wedding, and to be a perfect bride. Victor (Depp) tries to explain that it was all a mistake, but the bride does not listen and drags him to the land of the dead. Victor agrees to marry the bride as he sees no other option after his true love has been told to marry another. The dead come to the land of the living for the biggest wedding ever. Funny, heartfelt, loving moments make up this film, and one not to be missed.
The last two are for those of you out there who are wimps when it comes to horror movies like me!
The Vampire Diaries (2009 – present)
Based on the books by L.J. Smith, this American show is about Elena, a human girl, torn between two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvitore. Mystic Falls attracts all kinds of supernatural attention including vampires, werewolves, witches, doppelgangers, hybrids and slayers of all kinds. At some point, all the human protagonist turn into something more, whether it’s a hybrid, or a human blood bank. If you loved Twilight, you’ll love this even more! If I am honest, it was a lot scarier during the first season when Damon was a threat. The fright factor has died down a bit now, but I still love it, and it has all the ingredients for the perfect recipe for Halloween television.
True Blood (2008 – present)
I would say this is probably the vampire TV show for grown ups. The fright factor, blood gushing and the like with sex. I have never seen this programme myself (or read the books!) but both are highly recommended by friends. In this series – unlike others – it is a time where vampires have been integrated into the land of the living. The story centres on waitress, Stookie Stackhouse, who knows what is like to be an outcast as she has been gifted (or cursed?) with the ability of listening to people’s thoughts. She is open-minded when it comes to this new integration, especially when that involves a 173 year old vampire named Bill Compton. This, surely, will be the scarier edition of The Vampire Diaries.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003)
Take a trip back in time to your childhood. Do you remember watching mini Sarah Michelle Gellar kick ass of roaming vampires? I never did. I dipped in and out of watching this show, never really ‘getting it’. Buffy is the ‘Chosen One’, forced to slay vampires and other demonic creatures instead of living the normal American high school life of homework, boys, and cheer-leading. Buffy’s close friends become powerful in some way or another and are able to aid Buffy in killing each seasons ‘Big Baddy’. There is even a musical episode. What other television show about vampires is offering that?
The Walking Dead (2010 – present)
This centres on Rick Grimes, a former police officer who has been in a coma for several months after being shot whilst on duty. When he wakes, he finds a world that has been taken over by zombies. This is not only the typical ‘must kill all the zombies’ telly; his wife and son are missing, and the only thing he wants to do, is find them, and somehow save them. He finds various humans on the way. They help each other, and try to fight off the zombies as best as they can. Prepare for jumpy scenes, horrific faces and stomach-clenching moments right from the first episode.
Supernatural (2005 – present)
A hit TV show starring two very sexy men. Girls, surely this is a good enough reason to watch it! Sam and Dean are brothers whose father raised them to hunt and banish every demon they come across. When the brothers were young, their mother was killed by a demon; something Sam and Dean’s father never got over. After 22 years, the brothers set out on a journey, ultimately to find their lost father, and get rid of all things demonic. A show about ghosts, demons, ghosts of demons, and in later seasons, things become even more twisted.
Dexter (2006 – present)
This centres on a man named Dexter, who is seemingly a normal criminalist for the police: a blood spatter pattern expert for the Miami Metropolitan Police. He should be an expert on blood considering that after hours, he is a serial killer. This is an excellent example of leading a double life. However, Dexter doesn’t just kill anybody because that would go against moral code. Instead, he kills specific people who live in certain ways aka, in his eyes, they do not deserve to live at all. This is something for people who love a good murder, and solving it.
CSI (2000 – present)
CSI is one of my favourite shows. It always has been since I started watching it with my Mum some years ago. I love the way all the CSI’s intricately tear apart the evidence and put it all together to point at one person. It is always interesting to know the reason why somebody murders the victim in cold blood. That is the great thing about CSI; every episode, there is an explanation as to why ‘x’ person was killed. There are three CSI programmes; the original, Las Vegas, and two others: Miami and New York. Solving murders is not only these persons job, but their passion in life. They crave the knowledge of knowing how and why. An easy watch and, if you’re like me, you’ll be guessing the murderer from the beginning.
Pretty Little Liars (2010 – present)
I have become obsessed with this programme! Centered in the small, manicured town of Roosevelt, don’t believe a girl with a pretty face: they all lie. There was a ring of five best friends with Alison DeLaurentis as the ring leader aka biggest bitch ever at the age of fifteen. Alison liked to know everyone’s dirty little secrets, especially those of her friends: Aria, Hanna, Emily and Spencer. Alison goes missing and a year later she turns up dead, murdered. After a year apart, the four girls are thrown back together by ‘A’, a mysterious person who keeps messaging the four girls. ‘A’ knows all their dirty secrets and promises to out them unless they do everything A says. The girls need to know who ‘A’ is, and they need to know who Alison’s killer is. It is nail biting, and it certainly keeps you at the edge of your seat.
Michael Jackson: Thriller. This classic from the King of Pop himself must be at the top of your playlist!
Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. Especially the song ‘This is Halloween’.
Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack is enough to put good feeling shivers down the back of your spine. It is one of those films that you love even though you don’t know why. The wacky song ‘Time Warp’ will be played at some point during the day.
Ray Parker, Jr: Ghostbusters. A song that every adult and child knows by heart. This gives the fun factor at your Halloween party.
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: I Put A Spell On You. I prefer the Hocus Pocus soundtrack myself.
AC/DC: Highway To Hell. A classic rock anthem to get the air guitars going later on during the night.
The Rolling Stones: Sympathy for the Devil. Another rock classic.
Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers: Monster Mash. I don’t really know what to say about this one.
Metallica: Enter Sandman. Keep the air guitars out for this one too.
Warren Zevon: Werewolves of London. A song about werewolves is enough to put on your Halloween playlist.
Rihanna: Disturbia. A wacky song by the pop star herself. She’s in a mental prison of some kind in the video, and it has spooky noises in the background.