Halloween on the couch: Our horror movie recommendations

We all know someone who hates horror movies. Maybe you are one of those people. But when it comes to celebrating spooky season, watching a horror movie with your friends is one of the best ways to engage with the Halloween spirit. Luckily for those who may not love a good cinematic scare, horror is one of the most diverse and uniquely approached genres in film, offering something for everyone. For those interested in finding a season-appropriate viewing experience this Halloween, here are our top 10 Halloween movie recommendations, in no particular order.

1. “Halloween” (1978) 

John Carpenter’s first Michael Myers venture helped establish the slasher film, and with it, many of the genre trends that persist in horror to this day. With its iconic score and famous lead performance from Jamie Lee Curtis, it is both a foundational and well-loved horror film.

John Carpenter’s first Michael Myers venture helped establish the slasher film, and with it, many of the genre trends that persist in horror to this day. ”

2. “His House” (2020)

Centered on a Sudanese refugee couple who escape to Britain, this directorial debut from Remi Weekes embodies horror’s unique capability to carry both terrifying entertainment and important social or moral messages. Despite its recent release, it is already shaping up to be a canonized horror beloved for years to come.

3. “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001)

One cannot talk about horror without mention of director Guillermo Del Toro. Del Toro loves to represent goodness in the weird or monstrous, fully dressed in intricate makeup and prosthetics, and this film about a grieving boy who begins encountering the supernatural at a Spanish boarding school is no exception. 

4. “The Thing” (1982)

John Carpenter makes another appearance on this list with his paranoid thriller about a shapeshifting alien uncovered in the Antarctic. Through its combination of top-tier production design, incredible practical effects, intense narrative moments, and a terrific ensemble, Carpenter’s “The Thing” is in many ways the great American horror film.

5. “The Cabin in the Woods” (2012)

Centering on five college friends who begin having strange encounters in a forest, “The Cabin in the Woods” combines years of well-established genre trends to put a unique twist on what we all love about horror. This is one for the well-initiated horror fan, who will encounter new spins on beloved tropes.

6. “Dawn of the Dead” (1978)

George Romero’s classic zombie invasion film is another foundational and influential horror film, one often alluded to in more recent ventures. “Dawn of the Dead” set the standard for zombie horror, from campy acting to heavy makeup and practical effects, all while presenting a subversive societal message. 

7. “Evil Dead II” (1987)

Speaking of campy, Sam Raimi’s independent horror romp fully leans into the outrageousness of the genre. With over-the-top performances, gory practical effects and unique camera techniques, this wild watch centers on a man combatting the evil spirit he accidentally awoke in a remote cabin.

8. “The Shining” (1980)

Based on literary “Master of Horror,” Stephen King’s book, and helmed by cinematic titan Stanley Kubrick, “The Shining” follows a family grappling with the paranormal and psychological threats of wintering in a mountaintop hotel. Visually iconic and featuring an all-time performance from Jack Nicholson, Kubrick’s film is widely considered one of the horror greats. 

9. “Get Out” (2017)

Breaking out of comedy with a powerful and disturbing debut, Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” garnered critical and social attention for both its craft and its commentary, once more reminding us what horror is really capable of as it takes on issues of race and class. At once darkly funny and surreal, “Get Out” is both a gripping watch and an important platform for rich discussion.

At once darkly funny and surreal, ‘Get Out’ is both a gripping watch and an important platform for rich discussion. ”

10. Scream (1996)

After decades of contribution to the slasher subgenre, Wes Craven took a break from serious work to direct “Scream,” a satirical take on the slasher trends Craven himself had established. Following a young woman who fears she is being targeted by a serial killer, “Scream” both embodies the energy of a classic slasher while making fun of it, giving it a unique combination of intensity and comic fun brought to life by a talented ensemble. 

Several of these films were screened for students by the Film Arts Committee, which holds viewings of interesting, notable or important films every Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Bytwerk theater. For more information, reach out to Kipp De Man at [email protected].