Top Five Horror Classics To Watch This Halloween

Halloween, like most other holidays, carries its fair share of traditions, like baking pumpkin pie, carving jack-o-lanterns, and gorging on candy until you feel bloated. But, one tradition that encapsulates the aura of All Hallow’s Eve is cozying up on the sofa and watching a fright-filled horror movie. Horror movies offer the thrills, chills, and boundless entertainment everyone seems to be scouring for in October, but because there are so many, viewing them all in just thirty-one days would be unachievable. So, compiled below is an eclectic medley of the top five October must-watches, because it’s Halloween, and everyone’s entitled to one good scare.


#5: The Sixth Sense (1999)

One of the most remarkable horror-thriller films of the late nineties, The Sixth Sense was an inevitable success with its spotlight on the illustrious Bruce Willis and virtuoso child actor Haley Joel Osmett in his artistic prime. The storyline follows child psychologist Malcolm as he tries to accommodate evasive, timorous Cole, who has an eerie paranormal faculty: he is able to see ghosts, and they perpetually visit him with unfinished tribulations of their lifetimes on display. With an astounding plot-twist that will have you kicking yourself – the supreme “How did I not see that coming?” moment – and many sublime performances, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense merited the spectacular box office conquest it received. It was also nominated for a whopping six Academy Awards, which happens very seldom for horror movies – the only horror movie that has ever won best picture was The Silence Of The Lambs in 1991 – as the genre is critically repudiated and prematurely judged as sleazy and tasteless. And, oftentimes, horror movies are minimalist guilty pleasures, but The Sixth Sense is an authorized master stroke of cinema. 


#4: Carrie (1974)

It’s not a list of key horror movies without the inclusion of a Stephen King movie, and what better than a rendering of King’s first novel, the unsettling coming-of-age cautionary tale, Carrie. Carrie follows the titular character, a sheepish and awkward teenager who is alienated from her impudent classmates at school and abused by her zealously religious mother at home. When she begins having bizarre experiences, she comes to the realization that she possesses telekinesis. She experiments with and hones her abilities as the night of Senior Prom draws nearer, and, soon enough, what was supposed to be an agreeable evening with a courteous boy turns into a nightmarish ordeal. Carrie was ahead of it’s time when it was released, and still holds the laurels of breathtaking cinematography and camera-work – particularly during the ethereal Prom sequence – as well as being an early Sissy Spacek feat and John Travolta’s first undertaking before his rise to stardom in the seventies. Even Stephen King, who’s notoriously hypercritical of media adaptations of his works, cherishes Carrie. There have been a plethora of ventures at redoing this classic, and while some are half-decent, none can hold a candle to the tour-de-force that is the original. 


#3: Poltergeist (1982)

Even though we all adore Halloween, horror movies are an acquired taste, and while some people have a predilection for them, others certainly don’t. If The Evil Dead is too gruesome and outrageous for you, and you’re scavenging for a movie that’s PG-rated and family friendly, but not Disney-channel adjacent, Poltergeist could be the film for you. The picture follows a nuclear family in California as they weather peculiar episodes from mischievous spirits living in their television set. But, the impish ghouls turn malevolent when they kidnap their youngest daughter, Carol-Anne. Growing increasingly manic, Carol-Anne’s family is all-consumed by their quest to redeem her. It’s a moderately tenebrous plotline, but nothing too daunting. The most formidable part of Poltergeist isn’t even on screen – it’s the series classification as “jinxed,” ascribed to the untimely deaths of four cast and crew members during or after filming, including the beloved Heather O’Rouke, who portrayed Carol-Anne. While the Poltergeist Curse is probably no more than an old wives’ tale, it certainly makes the viewing experience spookier.  


#2: Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

Night Of The Living Dead, George A. Romero’s premiere zombie classic (but certainly not his last) is a groundbreaking picture that is held in very high regard by most who’ve seen it. The 1968 independent film, shot in monochrome (although there are colorized renderings of it) follows a petrified group of neighbors who camp out in an abandoned home when graveyard corpses are reanimated and ravenous for human flesh. When zombies encircle the shelter, the rational Ben leads his fellow townspeople in managing the terrifying situation. Night Of The Living Dead was pivotal for the horror genre, not only because it was one of the first zombie-centric films, but because Duane Jones, an African-American man, portrayed the protagonist – the resourceful, good natured, and clever Ben – which was pretty unorthodox at the time. The film also generated many spin-offs, such as Dawn Of The Dead (1978) and Day Of The Dead (1985). Whether you’re talking to a hardcore horror junkie or a casual scary-movie-viewer, they will likely ticket Night Of The Living Dead as the supreme zombie fright-fest, and an October staple. 


#1: Halloween (1978)

When some people hear the word “Halloween,” the holiday isn’t the first subject that emerges in their minds. For many, the term is assigned to John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic. Originally entitled ‘The Babysitter Murders’, Halloween tells the story of Michael Myers, a masked lunatic who escapes from a mental asylum and returns home to the quaint town of Haddonfield, where he committed sororicide fifteen years earlier. While Michael’s hysterical doctor hunts him down, a clan of oblivious babysitters and their boyfriends are stalked and butchered one-by-one. Halloween garnered implausible success when it was first released in 1978, and it maintains its classic prestige for a myriad of reasons; the ambience is incredible, as almost every shot of the film is iconographic in American pop culture, and the antagonist, Michael Myers, is the most celebrated and genuinely horrifying slasher of the lot. Not to mention, the movie jump started the career of Jamie Lee Curtis, who stands in as Laurie Strode, Halloween’s distinctive Final Girl. However, more than anything else, Halloween is almost always credited for prompting the onslaught of slasher films of the late seventies and early eighties. I’m not overselling it; there were over three-hundred slasher movies produced in the 1980s. Halloween cemented many of the most essential slasher tropes, like the Final Girl, the faceless, cryptic killer, and the sleepy town setting. Numerous future slashers – such as 1980’s Friday The 13th – stockpiled astronomical profit with the sole intent of ripping off Halloween, that’s how influential the picture was. The first Michael Myers slaughter-fest, the little low-budget horror film that kindled it all, is the number one must-watch not only for this Halloween, but every Halloween.