Terror Talent Share Their Go-to Halloween Film Fixes

It’s our favorite season of the year once again, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be scavenging high and low in search of something suitably scary to watch this Halloween.

In the hopes of making life a little easier for you this year, I went in search of film recommendations from talented folk who’ve all proven their skills in the art of scaring us silly. Compiling the suggestions they threw my way resulted in an extensive, well-balanced blend of both familiar fare and very under-the-radar gems, and I’m pretty confident all you readers will find something herein that’s more than worth discovering for the first time or revisiting for the umpteenth viewing this Halloween.


Ben Blaine (Nina Forever)

To be honest, at this time of year our thoughts are as much about Bonfire Night as Halloween. Don’t know about you, but for us as kids in the U.K., the ghosts and monsters were never anything as chilling as the public information films warning about the very real threat of blowing your face off on a firework. Also, every school had at least one kid who spent the night in the burns unit; much more hardcore than Halloween.

As a result, if there’s one film I start to crave round now, it’s actually Paul Tickell’s underrated Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry, which is a bomb enthusiast’s primer on political history. With Trump vs Clinton in the US and an unelected PM in Britain, there’s no better film to get you thinking past the candy and about how to deal with the real monsters.

John Fallon (The Shelter)

Every Halloween, I boogie with the ridiculously fun Trick or Treat (1986). The film is about a dead, Satan-worshiping rocker named Sammy Curr whose specter is summoned back to our realm by a bullied teenage “headbanger.” With its “Carrie gone Metal” elements, its zany late Elm Street-ish horror set pieces and a standout rock soundtrack by Fastway, this bad-boy is an ideal Halloween party watch with friends and beers in tow.


Benni Diez (Stung)

Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners is a perfect Halloween movie for me. It’s like an Amblin movie filtered through the brain of a mad man (who had just made Braindead). The twists and turns, the demon designs, the effects. Everything was groundbreaking at the time and still inspires me when I try to come up with horror movie ideas.

John Ainslie (The Sublet)

The Others with its creepy tone and because it’s such a great lesson on storytelling using both the writing and controlled lensing combined with superb performances.

Alberto Marini (Summer Camp)

My suggestion is The House with Laughing Windows by Pupi Avati because it is an almost unknown horror gem, far from the genre stereotypes. A disturbing mix of giallo and Italian realism, of artistic cinema and B-movies. And it has one of the most shocking, daring and borderline endings of all times.

Can Evrenol (Baskin)

One of my favourite film experiences EVER has to be when I caught a screening of The Exorcist in a beautiful church in East London on Halloween eve, so much so that that has to be my go-to Halloween movie.

Joonas Makkonen (Bunny the Killer Thing)

My recommendation would have to be Antonia Bird’s Ravenous. It’s just such a creepy comedy horror with a great concept and easily one of my all-time favorite films.


Nick Jongerius (The Windmill)

For me there are two that come to mind: The original Nightmare on Elm Street is a must, just because the concept of a killer who gets you in your nightmares and can change the reality of your dreams if needed to catch you is just Oscar-worthy material. And then there’s The Devils Backbone. I don’t exactly know why, but I was just so moved by this story. It’s embedded in an interesting time historically. It looks great, the setting is surreal and is so effective (a bomb is later used in Under the Shadows, if I’m not mistaken), it is seriously spooky and the acting is top-notch!

Colin and Cameron Cairnes (100 Bloody Acres, Scare Campaign)

Halloween isn’t huge in Australia, but it’s getting bigger and is a great time to dig up some rare Aussie gold. Next of Kin is a bit hard to find but worth the effort. It’s a stylish and pretty gory flick. It’s hard to categorize, but let’s go with psychological post-slasher Gothic horror. John Jarratt (Wolf Creek, 100 Bloody Acres) is one of the leads, and it was all shot in our beautiful home state of Victoria.

Pavel Khvaleev (III)

Maybe this is a bit too “pop,” but I really love the movie Constantine with Keanu Reeves and Tilda Swinton. For me, this is pretty much one of the best films that are related to mysticism. It provided an extensive and clear portrayal of the invisible eternal struggle between good and evil, although that struggle is not always invisible…

Alistair Legrand (The Diabolical)

I’d have to go with Frailty. I think the goal of a proper Halloween movie should be to give you chills but also to have a strong fall atmosphere. Frailty feels like a ghost story told over a campfire.

Jason Lei Howden (Deathgasm)

Nightmare on Elm Street 3 is the horror movie I revisit every Halloween. As a kid it was a gateway drug, dragging me deep into the abyss of VHS terror and addicting me to the genre. It contains scares, laughs, underdog teens joining forces, the best art design of the series, awesome practical effects and even a stop-motion skeleton. Most of all, it’s Freddy Krueger at his peak: still disturbing and threatening, but now with a sick sense of humor and a wit sharper than his finger blades (before the slasher from Elm Street became a lunchbox-adorning Looney Tunes character).


André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Trollhunter)

A film that affected me in my childhood was Poltergeist. It was the scariest film I had (of course) ever seen at the time. I think Poltergeist is a great Halloween movie because it has the same tone as the holiday itself – it’s genuinely scary, but still has a lively, friendly vibe. It’s got a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor – typical of the Amblin movies that were soon to come – and is just fun and scary for most of the family – much like the holiday itself. The sense of realism in the way characters are described; the originality of the plot and events taking place; the great scary set pieces; the moments of awe and beauty; the great ideas about life and death. It’s all a perfect combo for a great Halloween movie night. It’s also a quintessential Spielbergian movie – the scariest one.

Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, Beyond the Gates)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre feels like a brutal film but isn’t. There is hardly any blood used. The first time I tried to watch it, though, I couldn’t finish. Even seeing less than half the movie, I couldn’t sleep for three nights. It would take me another five years to get up the courage when I was in my early 20’s to watch the movie in its entirety. Gunnar Hansen wears the ultimate scary mask of all time: human flesh!… and plays, to me, one of the scariest monsters of all time. He doesn’t really speak and is impossible to reason with. Years later, after meeting him in person and becoming friends, I was further shocked to learn what a dear and kind person he was…


Jackson Stewart (Beyond the Gates)

I am not sure why, but my go-to Halloween movie is always Halloween II.  Much has been written about the original but I find that this one is a little more evocative and the hospital setting is untouchable. It provides a very definitive end to Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis, and the explosive finale is one for the ages. Halloween III took the right direction by trying to skew away from the Myers mythos.  Hell, make it a double feature between II and III.

Jason Krawczyk (He Never Died)

It’s hard to beat Evil Dead 2 or Sleepy Hollow, but this year I’m pitching Spooky Encounters. It’s a 1980 horror Kung-Fu comedy starring Sammo Hung. It’s fun, spooky and probably has the best ending in cinematic history.

Michael Steves (Clinger, West of Hell)

My movie of choice is The Nightmare Before Christmas (if I’m with family) – technically a children’s film, but it’s filled with as much malice and dread as any great horror movie, and the evil, bug-filled singing Boogeyman could totally take on Michael Myers and Jason in a fight. And the movie itself is all about how it’s okay to be weird, different and embrace horror, which I think any horror fan can relate to during Halloween celebrations.

Phillip Escott (Cruel Summer)

It’s a tough question, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives. It’s just a crowd-pleaser of a movie and Tom McLoughlin took a brave step when he added humor to the horror. Well, maybe not as brave as Danny Steinmann’s previous entry, A New Beginning, but it was still a bold move given the outcry from the previous installment, which I also dig a lot. It has inventive kills, likeable characters, genuinely funny laughs and, of course, a killer soundtrack featuring Alice Cooper and Felony. Halloween doesn’t get better than that.


Craig Newman (Cruel Summer)

My favourite Halloween film is Evil Dead II. It totally delivers on all the elements that a horror film should have while also utilizing a great pace and sense of humor. For me, Halloween is about having a good time, and this film definitely injects some fun and adrenaline into the spirit of Halloween.

Yoann-Karl Whissell (Turbo Kid)

No Halloween movie marathon is complete without a film from John Carpenter, and this year I’m watching my favorite: The Thing for its perfect use of paranoia, the amazing practical effects, brilliant characters and probably one of the greatest movie endings of all time. This film is REQUIRED viewing for EVERY horror fan.

François Simard (Turbo Kid)

Braindead! Yup, that’s the movie that started the filmmaker fire in me and literally change my life! From the charming love story between endearing characters to the insane pitch perfect, over-the-top gory set pieces that is still unmatched today. That film will always be my go-to movie on Halloween. Or Christmas. Or Easter…

Anouk Whissell (Turbo Kid)

Am I cheating if I recommend a double bill? I’m definitely going for Ti West’s The Innkeepers and The House of the Devil. These two are, without a doubt, two of my favorite horror films of recent years. Ti West was able to perfectly capture the aesthetic, atmosphere and tone of these two stories and made me fall in love with the two main characters. (Maybe the fact I identify a lot with Claire has something to do with my choice – haha.)


Isaac Ezban (The Similars)

I would say Halloween simply because of the temporality – there’s no other film we want to watch – and it is practically one of the films that has inspired independent cinema more. I also have to include The Shining simply because, for me, it’s the greatest horror movie ever!

Gigi Saul Guerrero (El Gigante)

Usually from somebody like me you would think I would say classics like The Exorcist or the Halloween franchise. Honestly, my October film has always been my childhood favorite, Hocus Pocus. I remember ever since the first time I watched this film, I wanted to be a witch. Not only is this film original and extremely well made, but it has many incredible layers to storytelling and, for me, is just absolutely amazing.

Laurence R. Harvey (The Human Centipede 2 & 3, The Editor)

I like to watch an old black and white horror after midnight. Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr or a Tod Slaughter (Sweeney Todd, or Maria Martin).

Chad Archibald (Bite, The Drownsman)

People rip on it, but I love watching The Cabin in the Woods this time of year. I just remember the first time I watched the doors open and all of the classic horror villains (or at least the no-name versions of classic horror villains) erupt into that room. I was in awe. A fantasy bloodbath that ten-year-old me would have pee’d himself to. It’s just a ridiculously fun Halloween film that has a great re-watch value. Where else can you see a horror unicorn and a merman massacre in one movie???


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