It’s halfway through October and Halloween is inching closer by the day, but that still leaves plenty of nights filled with haunted house attractions and horror movies. For some people, like me, horror is something present on the TV year round, but for others, this month is reserved for some old school scares.


TV networks also celebrate the holiday by bringing back some of the most popular horror programs such as “The Walking Dead” and “American Horror Story.” AMC showcases their FearFest with toned down versions of popular horror movies that resonates with younger viewers who might not be ready to watch a harder R-rated gore fest.
What might be slightly more difficult to find are movies that actually have a Halloween theme to it. It’s easy to scroll through the horror section on Netflix, but those that celebrate the holiday help put viewers into the holiday spirit. Here are my essential movies to watch in October in no particular order:

NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (1988)

Angela is having a party at Hull House on Halloween night and awaken a demon after participating in a séance. Who knew!? Great stock characters and cheesy dialogue make this a fun watch, along with some great gore gags. One scene involving lipstick and nipples is one that everyone talks about. Not as well known as other horror movies, but it spawned two sequels (the second one is great!) and a remake not too long ago starring Monica Keena and Edward Furlong.

HALLOWEEN (1978)


An obvious choice, but kids today can recognize the music without ever watching any Michael Myers movie. Why not introduce them to the original classic? It has funny characters and some scary moments, but nothing too graphic compared to what plays on network television today.

HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)


When I first saw this as a kid, I hated it. I didn’t know what it was, except that I had made someone older in my family rent a bunch of the “Halloween” movies on VHS. I kept waiting and waiting for Michael to show and vented to all the kids at school the next week about what I just saw. They just looked at me and had no idea what I was talking about. Several years later, I watched it again and find that it works great on its own. It has a Twilight Zone like plot with a mad scientist planning on killing every child wearing a Silver Shamrock mask on Halloween night. Random killer androids definitely adds to its 80s appeal.

DONNIE DARKO (2001)


It’s October 2, 1988 and a young Jake Gyllenhaal is told by a mysterious man in a rabbit suit that the world is going to end in 28 days. Is this simply a schizophrenic hallucination or a deadly warning from something much bigger than him? I remember seeing previews of this on TV when I was in high school and it was marketed on the TV spot as a teen slasher flick that starred Drew Barrymore. It wasn’t showing anywhere near me so I had to wait to rent it and was stunned on my first viewing. I was completely unprepared and wasn’t sure what exactly what I just saw. It’s one of my all time favorites and has plenty of themes to bring to the conversation, but quite the experience to watch with someone who has never seen it or, even better, never heard of it.

HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2003)


Rob Zombie made his film debut with this long delayed 70s throwback that finds four teens researching urban legends coming across the deranged Firefly family in a house of horrors. There are plenty of crazy costumes and gross out gags that provide some great Halloween ideas and memorable dialogue that keeps fans talking about this movie to this day.

HOCUS POCUS (1993)


This has been a staple for my brothers and I since we were kids and can quote every line. “Hocus Pocus” focuses a teen who awakens three witches on Halloween night. The witches have until the end of the night to take the life force of a child or else they die. The witches (who are sisters) each have their own unique personalities, brought to life by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker. The film was marketed to younger viewers, but was panned upon its initial release. Years later, it has gained a cult following and its older audience can now understand the inappropriate humor that flew over our heads as kids.

TRICK ‘R TREAT (2007)


Four tales, all set on Halloween night, all connecting in ways you didn’t expect or might not have even realized until after the third viewing. This film is perfect in every way that a movie about Halloween should be and made an icon out of Sam, our mysterious little trick or treater who shows up in all the stories. If you haven’t seen this, then watch it on Halloween night!

GINGER SNAPS (2000)


Two sisters, who love the darker side of nature, get attacked by a werewolf, leading to one of them being bitten. Lots of metaphors for puberty and feminist undertones ensue in a funny and bloody mess that every one that felt just a little different in high school. This all happens in October and a recent blu-ray release from Scream Factory makes this a must see if you haven’t already.

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