The Best Halloween-Inspired horror movies, or set during Samhain
IMAGE: By Frank Frazetta entitled "Devil's Generation" from Frazetta.com
Since the beginning of humankind and when we grew bored at night, huddled by the fire...we watched the firelight dance on the cave walls like spectres and spirits. Winter was long, and to amuse ourselves the shamans, bards, and sages honed their craft of weaving a great tale.
Ancient ancestors wracked their brains to scare the hell out of their tribe whilst sitting around the tribal bonfire, and later hearth, then home...we love a primal scare for the thrill, the fun, and communal closeness we felt in sharing a good "BOO" and surviving in the face of our fears and it's shadowy phantoms; the ghost stories borne out of primal myth became ingrained in our universal memory, our folklore and legend served as a necessary exposure therapy, giving shape to our fears so we could face and conquer them.
We know current Christianized Halloween festivities are a recent Victorian tradition and is based on both the Christian All Saint's Day, or All Soul's as well as combining with other timely season rites. Halloween is bourne out of far older, pagan Celtic traditions, feast, mumming, guising, mischief-making and ancestor worship, but that is a whole other blog...even the Tibetan Buddhist Citipati - Lord of the Cemetery celebrations, Asia's Hungry Ghost Festival, and India's Diwali are the remnants of the primal need to keep the fires burning in the dark half of the year, so children of the night, huddle together and prepare to stare into the firelight, as we face our reaper, the demon of death as a way of easing our fear of it, and celebtrate community, our dearly departed ancestors, family and fearlessness in the face of Jack and the millions of wandering spirits.
Humanity cursed to think and have the self-awareness of our mortality, unlike most mammals, although I belive elephants, apes, chimpanzees, dolphins, and whales share an awareness of death. We are cursed as an over-thinking animal that knows one day it will perish and rot in the ground...forever, never to return again and our religions the magic balm to soothe that bitter wound.
If you are like me and wish every day you could dress up in costume, and go Trick-or-Treating, eating candy and watching scary movies until you pass out in a sugar coma in front of the television...If you are having people over for a Halloween Feast, or Samhain Celebration, any 3 of these, or if you can stay awake, all of these movies will be sure to satisfy your goosebump, graveyard, and ghoul fix.
We have all seen the lists of classic horror movies that everyone watches when they are played endlessly on television: The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist, The Fog, Poltergeist, The Thing, The Omen, The Changeling, Friday the 13th, Sleepy Hollow, Creepshow, The Crow, Flatliners, Pet Sematary, Sinister, etc. While these are all great films, but we have all seen them many, many times and should give the more obscure and newer little gems a chance. I know you want and crave more...so we shall diverge off the well-trodden path and venture to the lesser path, more daring, obscure horror films with a HALLOWEEN, or Samhain theme, or setting.
While HALLOWEEN (1978) by John Carpenter is still "the best" and Jamie-Lee Curtis retains a firm hold of her title as the queen of horror, it remains untouched in a class all by itself. I have seen it 25 times, and still love watching it, but we must all give other movies a chance.
THE 13 BEST HALLOWEEN & SAMHAIN-THEMED FILMS:
PUMPKINHEAD (1988) Stan Winston, stars Lance Henriksen
TRICK 'R TREAT (2007) directed by Michael Doherty, starring Anna Paquin
THE FUNHOUSE (1981) directed by Tobe Hooper, stars Elizabeth Berridge
GINGER SNAPS (2000) John Fawcett, stars Emily Perkins
DONNIE DARKO (2001) Richard Kelly, stars Jake Gylenhaal
MAY (2002) directed by Lucky McKee, stars Angela Bettis
ALL HALLOW'S EVE (2013) by Damien Leone, stars Katie Maguire
SATAN'S LITTLE HELPER (2004) directed by Jeff Leiberman
SAM HELL (2008) Michael Bayouth, stars Asa Wallander
BOO (2005) directed by Anthony C. Ferrante, stars Trish Coren
CLOWNHOUSE (1989) directed by Victor Salva, stars Nathan Forrest Winters
HOUSE OF FEARS (2007) Ryan Little, stars K. Danor Gerald
THE WICKER TREE (2011) Robin Hardy, stars Brittania Nichols
*Although these are in the "So-bad-they-are-almost-funny" - they still garner a mention. You may want to make a game of seeing how far you can get:
HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982),
JACK-O (1995) directed by Steve Latshaw,
THE PUMPKIN CARVER (2006),
HALLOWEEN NIGHT (2006),
MR. HALLOWEEN (2007),
TRICK OR TREATS (1982),
HOLLOW GATE (1988),
JACK O'LANTERN (2004) directed by Ron McLellen,
SUMMER'S END: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN (2002), and
TRICK OR TREAT (1986) released by Code Red, stars David Carradine
By Carmen Zavislake