The Best Horror Movies to Watch This Halloween

Story posted October 12, 2020 in Arts & Entertainment by CommRadio Arts & Entertainment Staff.

In an October devoid of new horror movies, it’s easy to feel like there is something missing from this year’s Halloween festivities.

To make up for that, here are the CommRadio Arts & Entertainment staff’s recommendations of horror classics for the scariest time of the year.

“Evil Dead II” (1987)

“Evil Dead II” is the perfect example of the horror comedy genre. One second the movie has viewers doubled over in laughter and the next screaming in terror.

The story of Ashley “Ash” Williams and his attempt to survive against the “deadites,” which are ancient demons that possess human hosts, may be a little standard fare, but this movie is not. Bruce Campbell brings his dynamic energy to Ash, a character that you can’t help but root for despite all his flaws.

Director Sam Raimi used the most of his limited budget to create awesome special effects with several point-of-view shots from the camera, as it chases Ash and his companions around the cabin and woods.

One of the best scenes involves Ash’s hand becoming possessed and its attempt to kill him. It’s funny, bloody, and features everything that makes “Evil Dead II” fantastic.  —David Fortunato

“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992)

“Dracula” is one of the most iconic movie monsters, and no one plays him better than Gary Oldman. Released in 1992, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” breathes new life into the Gothic horror genre.

With a fantastic cast, featuring Keanu Reeves, Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder and, of course, Gary Oldman as Count Dracula, as well as amazing effects and sets, the movie surpasses any other “Dracula” film that came before or after it.

“Bram Stoker’s Dracula” updates the original story by adding a romantic subplot between Dracula and Mina Harker that enhances the story by making Dracula a sympathetic character. Oldman succeeds in making Dracula terrifying and relatable at the same time, as viewers are likely to be horrified by his actions but still see him as someone who is just searching for love in a lonely existence.

Almost all of the effects are practical and still hold up to this day. Dracula’s werewolf and bat creature forms are downright terrifying and must be commended.

This isn’t grandma and grandpa’s Dracula.  —David Fortunato

“The Thing” (1982)

Directly from one of the greatest visionaries of the horror genre, John Carpenter, “The Thing” brings audiences on a thrilling science-fiction creature feature unlike any other.

Taking place in a frigid tundra, a team of researchers soon discover they are trapped with a shape-shifting alien monster. Able to perfectly imitate human beings, the monster picks off members of the group one by one.

The survival of the group rests in the hands of R.J. MacReady, played by legendary actor Kurt Russell. A tense watch until the very end, the paranoia-fueled clash between the monster and researchers offers limitless rewatchability.

Supported by a fantastic cast of characters, played by iconic actors such as Keith David, Wilford Brimley and Richard Masur, “The Thing” still remains revolutionary today. Using very little music, incredible practical effects, and tight, tense script writing, this film brought a sophistication to its execution, which challenged the previously considered limits of the horror genre.

One of the strongest horror releases of all time, “The Thing” is a chilling thrill ride that both horror lovers and newcomers to the genre will never forget.  —Scott Perdue

“Halloween” (1978)

With Halloween just a couple weeks away, there is no better movie to watch than “Halloween” itself, starring Jamie Lee Curtis.

Directed by John Carpenter, this cult classic horror film still haunts people today, not only because of the gory nature but because it is the first of 13 movies in the series.

“Halloween,” inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s slasher film “Psycho,” follows high school babysitter Laurie Strode, a long lost relative of villain Michael Myers, on a Halloween night that takes a turn for the worst.

Myers, who killed his sister at the young age of 6, escapes from the asylum 15 years later in pursuit of Strode. He returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, and plots to murder anyone in sight.

Myers’ claim to fame is his infamous navy blue jumpsuit, butcher knife and rubber face mask, a look that has become synonymous with the horror genre.

While this film may not be as gruesome as the rest of the “Halloween” franchise, Carpenter does an exemplary job of creating a thrilling atmosphere. In 2006, this film was selected in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.”  —Courtney McGinley

“Halloween” (2018)

“Halloween,” the most recent film in the eponymous horror series, is a chilling return to form for a franchise that had been floundering for decades. “Halloween” only acknowledges the events of the original movie and skips over the series’ many sequels and remakes.

The notorious serial killer Michael Myers has been institutionalized for over 40 years since his murderous rampage on Halloween night in Haddonfield, Illinois. Laurie Strode, played by returning actress Jamie Lee Curtis, has fortified her home in anticipation of Myers’ return and has become estranged from her family due to her paranoia and instability.

Strode’s fears are not without merit, though. When Myers breaks free and dons his iconic mask and jumpsuit once again, she is the only one who can stop him.

“Halloween” is backed by legendary composer and director John Carpenter’s masterful soundtrack and is filled to the brim with the pulse-pounding violence and energy that many of its predecessors lacked. This movie is not for the faint of heart, but it is essential viewing for anyone who enjoys the horror genre.  —Adam Babetski

“The Sixth Sense” (1999)

1999’s “The Sixth Sense,” starring Bruce Willis, is a great thriller to watch this Halloween.

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, this film was nominated for six Academy Awards and is revered for its spooky plot twist that leaves viewers blindsided.

The film is about a young boy named Cole Sear who claims he sees ghosts and is too afraid to tell anyone, especially his mother. Sear’s “I see dead people” is one of the most iconic lines in cinema history.

Willis’ Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist, helps Sear uncover the truth about his supernatural abilities. The two help each other overcome the trauma that they have endured in order to uncover the truth.

So, what is the truth? You’ll have to watch to find out. Be prepared to have chills when you discover the shocking revelation.  —Courtney McGinley

“Scream” (1996)

“Scream” is the quintessential slasher film. This movie expertly mixes horror and comedy. Wes Craven is the most iconic horror director of all time, and “Scream” perfectly showcases Craven’s amazing suspense and horrific kills.

The characters in this movie are iconic, and they all do a great job portraying high school stereotypes: the nerd, the jock, the popular girl, the best friend, and so on. Neve Campbell, in particular, delivers an excellent performance, playing a likeable character that viewers are rooting for to survive the night.

As a film, “Scream” is very campy, but the humor is always welcome. It adds an interesting layer depth. There is a ton of self-referential humor, as the characters often reference other slasher films and scary movies. They also discuss popular horror tropes, which makes it even funnier when those tropes finally appear.

As for the villain, Ghostface is an iconic killer. His mask has become a Halloween staple, and the reveal of who the killer is is sure to shock audiences.

In short, “Scream” is not like every other slasher. There are unexpected twists and turns, and the humor found all throughout makes for a unique viewing experience. If you’re looking for something a little different to watch this Halloween, then “Scream” is the way to go.  —Jack Freiser

“Psycho” (1960)

“Psycho” is one of the most well known horror films of all time, and it might be the greatest too. This is a spectacular movie filled with great performances, a ton of suspenseful scenes and superb directing.

Alfred Hitchcock is the king of suspense, and this film is a masterclass in that category. Viewers will be at the edge of their seats throughout the entire thing.

Hitchcock choice of setting in the creepy Bates Motel and his use of camera angles create very haunting imagery. There are some very iconic scenes in this film that are enhanced by the directing, such as the infamous shower scene.

Anthony Perkins gives an incredible performance as Norman Bates, the owner of the motel, and Janet Lee stars as the protagonist.

As good as the acting is, it’s the writing that really shines in this movie loaded with turns and twists. It is hard for one not to freak out at some point during the film.

“Psycho” is one of the best movies of all time, and it’s the perfect choice for a Halloween night watching experience.  —Jack Freiser

“The Conjuring” (2013)

“The Conjuring” has become a modern classic among horror movies, directed by the master of horror himself, James Wan. The movie would eventually lead to a series spin-off and one sequel, but the first one remains the scariest of them all.

The film follows real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren as they discover the horrors of the Perron family in Rhode Island.

There are many aspects of the film that make it such a standout in the sea of modern horror movies. The art and set design instantly bring the audience back to the ‘70s, reminiscent of the horror movies during that time such as “The Exorcist.” 

The film also focuses more on its characters, as it is a story about family. There is heart and warmth all throughout, which is not something you expect from a horror movie. By the end of the film, the audience will fall in love with the Warren family. 

James Wan’s masterful directing and intriguing camera work are the biggest highlights of “The Conjuring.” The lingering shots play with the audiences’ expectations, especially the famous “hide and clap” scene.

The subtle jump scares, chilling score and the outstanding performances from the cast, especially Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren, make “The Conjuring” a must-watch for Halloween.  —Jimmy Lu

“Get Out” (2017)

“Get Out” shattered audience’s expectations when it was released in 2017.

Jordan Peele’s directorial debut already solidifies him as a serious auteur in the industry. Not only did the film receive critical acclaim upon its release and broke numerous records, but it also won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

The film follows a young African American man (actor Daniel Kaluuya) on a trip to meet his white girlfriend Rose (actress Allison Williams) and her family.

What makes the film feel so fresh is Peele’s sharp writing and how he is able to balance suspense and thrill with comedy.

The themes that “Get Out” deal with are also what make the film such a unique horror entry. It poignantly displays the racial stereotypes and microaggressions that the Black community faces and turns the film into a horror satire.

The performances by the cast elevate the film as well, specifically Kaluuya, Williams and Catherine Keener.

Not only is “Get Out” scary, it is also funny and thought-provoking. Peele’s top-notch script and subtle hints throughout the whole film are what make “Get Out” one of the most unique horror films in recent years.  —Jimmy Lu

 

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu is a senior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email jfl5603@psu.edu.

David Fortunato is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email dforch2344@gmail.com.

Jack Freiser is a freshman majoring in either media studies or telecommunications. To contact him, email jef5614@psu.edu.

Adam Babetski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email aqb6023@psu.edu.

Scott Perdue is a senior majoring in secondary education. To contact him, email rsp5246@psu.edu.

Courtney McGinley is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email cbm5861@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

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Adam Babetski

Sophomore / Communications

Adam Babetski is a sophomore from Sterling, Virginia majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Scott Perdue

Senior / Secondary Education

Scott Perdue is a student studying secondary education at Penn State University. He is passionate about voice and conversation mediums. He believes that music and film are an important form of communication and enjoys constructively criticizing an artist’s work.

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David Fortunato

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

David Fortunato is an aspiring broadcast journalist with a passion for both sports and the arts at Penn State. Along with being one of the directors for the CommRadio arts & entertainment department, he has written articles, participated in podcasts and even done a live show for the CommRadio sports department. In addition to his work for CommRadio, David is also involved in PSNTV’s Penn State Sports Night. David was also an intern for the Penn State men’s club hockey team, where he did player interviews, produced live streams, did camerawork and even did some play-by-play. He can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu's photo

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu

Senior / Telecommunications

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu is a senior from Taiwan majoring in telecommunications at Penn State. He is a contributing writer for the CommRadio arts & entertainment department. If you’d like to contact him, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Courtney McGinley

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Jack Freiser

Freshman / Telecommunications

Jack Freiser is a caring and creative people-person who loves music and film. He aspires to impact the music business as a successful A+R by signing artists who will be culturally relevant and will leave an impact on the world, and through keeping a strong relationship with the artist and their team. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).