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The Dreadful Ten: Top 10 Essential Films for Halloween Viewing!

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Can you feel it in the air yet? With little over one week until Halloween is upon us, horror fans around the world begin to get giddy for our terrifying traditions and frightening festivities. And with the perfect excuse to indulge in a macabre movie binge, FANGORIA is willing to shine a guiding light for you creatures of the night as this week’s Dreadful Ten offers the essential horror titles to prepare yourself for All Hallow’s Eve…

 

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  1. PHANTASM

Don Coscarelli’s fright film is fueled with dream logic and nightmarish fantasy, both of which are fundamental for the Halloween season. Plus, what can get horror hounds more ready for Halloween than the Tall Man, floating death spheres and his hooded, miniscule minions?

 

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  1. FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)

Bringing the vampire mythos into the suburbs, FRIGHT NIGHT is one of those FX-heavy horror films that feels perfectly in tune with the horror of Halloween. Fun, funny and flamboyant with a bit of old school charm, Tom Holland’s FRIGHT NIGHT is the perfect movie to kick off one’s Halloween Eve.

 

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  1. HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959)

There’s few Halloween MVP’s more deserving than Vincent Price, having been the face and voice of many cult classics in the flavor of Halloween. Yet no Price vehicle is more fitting for the holiday than HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, a legitimately scary experience that also offers many tricks and treats of its own.

 

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  1. PRINCE OF DARKNESS

Halloween just isn’t Halloween without John Carpenter, and as much as one might automatically assume HALLOWEEN is his go-to film for the holiday, you might want to reconsider PRINCE OF DARKNESS for the spot. Alice Cooper, Donald Pleasance and some top notch optical illusions make for one of the more intense and fun films for the season.

 

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  1. THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD

A no-brainer (pun definitely intended), Dan O’Bannon’s zombie comedy has the mischievous spirit so missing from contemporary fright fare. Mixed with an overall colorful take on terror tropes and THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD should be a trademark of any respectable Halloween party.

 

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  1. TRICK ‘R TREAT

While many might put this flick towards the top of a Halloween viewing list, TRICK ‘R TREAT gains a lot of love for capturing the festive spirit of the holiday in a way few films can. Yet the film doesn’t quite hit horror hounds in the emotional sweet spot that evokes Halloween nostalgia as well as October’s seasonal spirit.

 

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  1. CREEPSHOW

From John Harrison’s unforgettable score to the dark humor to the Comic Book-esque visual design, CREEPSHOW perfectly encapsulates the fun, occasionally wicked atmosphere of Halloween. And perhaps it’s the mischevious and macabre stories aimed towards adults that reminds us all just why we love this holiday even years after we gave up the trick ‘r treat game.

 

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  1. EVIL DEAD II

A choice that really needs no justification, this title could tie with the entire EVIL DEAD franchise as films perfect for Halloween viewing. Yet if one had to make the choice, EVIL DEAD II is the most fitting for our favorite horror holiday, as the out-of-control imagination and splattery action on display make for a chaotic combination.

 

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  1. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH

Okay, now you must be wondering why I’ve skipped over HALLOWEEN twice on this list, and I must admit that not only is HALLOWEEN not the most essential John Carpenter film to the holiday, but of the HALLOWEEN franchise as well! HALLOWEEN III actively celebrates the holiday whilst crafting an original horror tale that’s as bizarre as it is brutal; a true tale of Halloween horror!

 

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  1. SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES

While this may be a bit of an unusual choice, it only would seem that way to those who haven’t seen the film. There’s no film that captures everything spooky, fun and haunting about Halloween better than SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, and it’s guaranteed to keep you sleeping with the lights on on Halloween night.

And now, here are some honorable mentions that unfortunately didn’t make the cut…

HalloWest: Ti West’s HOUSE OF THE DEVIL & THE INNKEEPERS

HalloWolves: John Landis’ AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON & Joe Dante’s THE HOWLING

HallowSteve: Mary Lambert’s PET SEMATARY & Tom McLoughlin’s SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK

HalloWes: Wes Craven’s SCREAM & Robert Kurtzman’s WISHMASTER

HalloWeird: Glenn McQuaid’s I SELL THE DEAD & Clive Barker’s NIGHTBREED: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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