October 19, 2013 at 2:28 AM CDT - Updated July 11 at 1:47 PM
By Jacob O'Gara
More and more October has become defined by Halloween. It permeates through the month and has become everyone's favorite non-holiday, holiday. So to help get you in the mood, here's a list of ten horror movies to put you in the festive, and frightened, spirit.
You have to watch Halloween on Halloween. This little indie film about a masked psycho stalking babysitters in suburbia was a huge hit, and ushered in the slasher-movie boom of the 1980s. That said, Halloween is more spooky than gory. Michael Myers, capital-E Evil incarnate, has a phantom-like presence in every frame of this feature, and your quaint childhood neighborhood as never looked scarier.
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
This is one of the best horror movies ever made about a cabin in the woods. Maybe not better than Evil Dead, but certainly better than Cabin Fever or On Golden Pond. As the poster illustrates, The Cabin in the Woods is about way more than just that. It's a puzzle that twists its way to a delirious and blood-drenched conclusion. Oh, and it's super funny, too.
Friday the 13th (1980)
We're still stuck in the woods, readers. Despite an absurd string of sequels, the original Friday the 13th is actually pretty good. Well, it's not like good good – but still, watch it because it's fascinating to see the humble beginnings of a (former) powerhouse franchise. Friday the 13th might not be much of a box-office powerhouse anymore, but the series left a huge, bloody mark on pop culture and film history. Also, Mrs. Voorhees is one bad mother.
Phantasm is a goofy little movie about a kid and his brother who think the town's mortician is reviving the dead to serve as his slaves on another planet. Ya know, one of those stories. The movie's villain, the Tall Man, is iconic in the horror genre, and so is his weapon of choice: a metallic sphere that impales victims and sucks out their blood (see above). As the tagline says, if this film doesn't scare you, you're already dead, so watch out.
This is a bloody and beautiful work of art. Is that a weird thing to say about a cheesy-at-times horror movie about a coven of witches that secretly controls a dance academy? Probably. Dario Argento, a famed Italian horror director, approached Suspiria with the craftsmanship of a master Renaissance painter, and it shows. The plot doesn't make much sense and the English dubbing is atrocious–none of that matters. Just look at it.
The Descent (2005)
The claustrophobic and creepy story of six women who explore an unmapped cave – which itself is unsettling – who then get attacked by humanoid monsters. As you can tell from the poster, the filmmakers made sure to include plenty of red-dyed corn syrup.
Like The Cabin in the Woods, Scream gets meta with its horror. With its introduction of the movie-loving Ghostface killer (not to be confused with Ghostface Killah), Screamrevitalized the slasher genre in the mid-'90s. It also turns into a surprisingly good mystery.
The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick was one of the most acclaimed filmmakers who ever lived, so there's no wonder that he made one of the best horror film of all time. The sense of isolation conveyed by the wintry setting and Jack Nicholson's performance as a crazed, homicidal family man are perfect. Watch it with the recent documentary Room 237 to hear about all the insane fan conspiracy theories and interpretations.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Now, everybody should respect George Romero. He basically singlehandedly created a new kind of movie genre: the zombie movie. But, the original Dawn of the Dead is really boring and cheesy. The remake, the debut of Zack Snyder, is better made, more fast-paced and more terrifying. The first fifteen minutes alone are ridiculously intense, and – after our protagonists seek refuge from the zombie horde in a shopping mall – so is the rest.
Black Christmas (1974)
This proto-slasher about a foul-mouthed prank caller who terrorizes a sorority house on Christmas is the perfect transition from one holiday season to another. Have a very scary Christmas!