Trick 'r Treat
Trick 'r Treat perhaps predictably carries a lot of Halloween spirit! This is an anthology film consisting of four stories cleverly tied together all revolving around Halloween night.
A celebration of the holiday and all types of horror films, especially John Carpenter's Halloween. Through four loosely connected vignettes, it offers a darkly comic and aesthetically appealing tour of the Halloween spirit. Including such charming ideas as a little pumpkin kids who will kill you if you don't like Halloween.
Each little vignette is enjoyable and usually has a twist, though it's the variety and pace that makes this such a fun Halloween effort, as well as looking exactly how you'd want a film so unabashedly celebratory of the Halloween season would look.
This Japanese horror classic House or Hausu is surely one of the most visually creative film's ever made. There's really not many immediate points of comparison for a film like this, but it's not like it's particularly inaccessible or hard to appreciate despite its uniqueness.
Unashamedly different and in its own little universe, House carries a simple premise of a group of girls on a trip to visit her strange old Aunt, where of course things start to go awry.
At just under 90 minutes this is packed with so many creative visuals and set-pieces that truly are unlike any other film. The atmosphere is darkly funny, but the stakes are real and you'll be rooting for the girl's to escape the increasingly insane scenarios they find themselves in.
It also has a great, bonkers soundtrack and the general campy tone is often genuinely hilarious. This is just so much fun and impossibly imaginative as well.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
I don't think anybody could've expected this wacky cheese-fest to be the sequel to one of the most influential, visceral and grounded slasher flicks ever made. Surprisingly, or perhaps not given the other entries in his filmography, Tobe Hooper is directing here as well. He takes the ideas on offer from the first film and blows them up to a new level that's infinitely more crazy and comical than its predecessor.
I can't even imagine how they even decided on making further sequels after this film because let's face it, how can this even be topped? Having the film end with Leatherface engaging in a chainsaw duel with Dennis Hopper is some next level insanity. By the end of the film it pretty much becomes a parody of the original and it's glorious, right down to mimicking the classic end shot in a hilarious way.
There's some questionably silly moments which often remove any semblance of horror from the iconic Leatherface character, but it's kept in line with other villains who're enjoyable with their scenery chewing performances, joined also by Dennis Hopper who manages to outdo them with his manic turn as the protagonist.
On the whole it's a ton of fun and even somewhat ahead of its time with the whole idea of parodying slasher films (which were at their peak around when this was released). The only sequel we ever needed for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Jennifer's Body is by all accounts a vastly underrated film and one that's a great pick to revisit during the Halloween season. This film was let down by its marketing which aimed to hype up the sex appeal of star Megan Fox and position the movie as more of a slasher/horror film than it really was.
This is a really well made and smartly written dark teen comedy. A great female focused coming of age story with a dark twist, definitely feels a little ahead of its time, like this would kill in the age of movies like Ladybird or Booksmart, but also it's extremely 2009 in a fun way with the lame haircuts and soundtrack featuring a fun Panic! at the Disco song. Soundtrack also containing All Time Low, Hayley Williams, Cobra Starship and Dashboard Confessional, absolutely the most 2009 soundtrack possible and I love it.
Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried nail their roles here, a fun and complex friendship that doesn't resort to clichés. Diablo Cody's writing was really sharp I thought, in my brain I remember Juno being a bit of a cringe-fest at times but maybe I'm an idiot because this is pretty good! Lots of funny moments, but also director Karyn Kusama knows how to turn up the atmosphere with some great visuals and slasher-esque set-pieces.
It's probably already happened but for sure in the future this will be heralded as a cult-classic '00s high-school teen horror comedy hybrid. The prestigious Criterion Collection even picked this up recently!
I'd like to highlight the original 1977 Dario Argento version of Suspiria as an excellent Halloween pick. While this film got a very interesting and worthwhile remake in 2018, the original has a certain quality to it that makes it wonderful.
There's not much plot to Suspiria but it doesn't matter because this movie is an absolute visual and audible feast. The use of colours in the movie makes it immediately striking, pronounced and hugely memorable. Similarly the soundtrack by the band Goblin is a really cool and interesting in its abrasive qualities and occasional breathy vocals.
This film is an absolute blast with a good mix of effective atmosphere building and weird almost comical situations. It's like a fairy-tale turned dark. The dreamy aesthetic clashes with the stark violence to create a strange, but very effective horror film that also just happens to be one of the most visually striking movies ever made.
Evil Dead (2013)
This remake of Sam Raimi's legendary horror classic The Evil Dead manages to carve out its own reasonably different path to take, balancing flattery of the original film with some great attempts to modernise the material.
The film takes the basic premise and ideas from The Evil Dead and treats it with a more gritty atmosphere. I actually think it succeeds as a remake, since it departs far enough from the original and never feels pandering or samey. It's not as good as the original of course, but it never really needed to be unless it was copying things beat for beat.
Almost comical amounts of gore is called on for this film. Practical effects are in use for some gut-wrenching injuries sustained to the cast of characters. The characters themselves aren't too great, but there's an interesting (if obvious) subtext about drug use and how it can affect people close to you. I was actually quite impressed with how much thought they put into that aspect of the plot. This wasn't the sort of film I'd expect to have worthwhile narrative substance.
While inheriting a lot from Sam Raimi's original, this film achieves a distinct personality with an absolutely insane final act. The climax of the film is hugely entertaining and even unique to a degree, calling for maybe the most blood of any movie ever made! As such it's very gory and has some twisted ideas. While it might not quite usurp Sam Raimi's original, this is still a really great horror film that easily stands on its own.