Say “Halloween movies,” and the first image that often comes to mind is that of white-masked Michael Myers stalking babysitters through two good flicks, five terrible sequels, and a two-film reboot led by Rob Zombie that is best forgotten.
But the actual Halloween movies don’t get to have all the fun with everyone’s favorite holiday — no, no, no. The 31st of October is actually jam-packed with some pretty great flicks that are set on or around the festivities.
Here are the 10 best Myers-less Halloween movies. See if you agree.
Made in 2005 by writer-director Anthony C. Ferrante, who would go on to do the Sharknado trilogy, this is a surprisingly effective supernatural chiller complete with creepy clowns and jack-o-lanterns. The story is pretty cut-and-dry, featuring a handful of college kids getting trapped inside a haunted hospital on Halloween. This one is worth checking out, and it’s been streaming on Hulu Plus for at least a year.
9. Satan’s Little Helper
This horror-slasher is heavy on the laughs, but never forgets what kind of a movie it is. An annoyed and bratty youngster meets and befriends a creepy, devil mask-wearing killer on Halloween. Mayhem ensues.
8. Night of the Demons
The original Night of the Demons may be a C-grade horror film in production values, but it delivers A-list fun as 10 teens decide to go to a party at an abandoned funeral parlor on Halloween night. Not a good idea, especially when you have the titular demons milling around. This is unapologetically ’80s to the core.
7. All Hallows Eve 2
All Hallows Eve 2 is probably equal to its predecessor in terms of the short films featured, but the wraparound isn’t quite as scary. (No unnerving clown this time; still, the pumpkin-masked stand-in isn’t too shabby.) A woman receives a VHS tape filled with more lurid tales on Halloween night. Meanwhile, the killer in the video gets closer and closer to entering the real world.
6. Tales of Halloween
Good creepy moments in this one hindered only by the fact that there are a few too many cooks in the kitchen. This ambitious anthology film features 10 stories woven together by their shared theme of Halloween night in an American suburb, where ghouls, imps, aliens, and axe murderers appear for one night only to terrorize unsuspecting residents. As busy as it is, the talent does a pretty good job of holding it together. It would have probably been better, though, if the number of tales would have been cut in half and their runtimes lengthened. Seriously, save some for the sequel!
5. Mischief Night
This one did not give your humble lover of Halloween movies high hopes, but he watched it anyway. Big surprise to find out that it’s quite a nice little potboiler. A teen and her widower father live together in a big house. He’s going out on Mischief Night (Oct. 30) with a date, leaving her to fend for herself. She lost her eyesight in the accident that killed her mother, but it’s psychologically induced. In other words, there is no real reason why she can’t see, but she can’t. Anyway, it’s Mischief Night, and a homicidal maniac has snuck into her house. Very suspenseful and cat-and-mouse. Worthy of a look.
4. All Hallows Eve
See the synopsis for AHE2 and substitute pumpkin-masked killer for grinning, demonic clown (hence why this is ranked higher).
3. Trick ‘R Treat
Why this anthology film languished so long in distribution hell, we’ll never know, but the short stories featured are all solid gore-fests with hearty senses of humor and loads of talent.
2. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
It may not have Michael Myers, but it remains the third best of the actual Halloween movies. Too bad audiences didn’t go with the premise of a different horror tale every year (as they later would for American Horror Story — see, it could have worked!)
1. Dark Night of the Scarecrow
Made-for-TV, but still the most atmospheric and spooky horror flick set around the holiday that you’ll find. Great story, great performances, phenomenal ending.
So what Halloween movies are your favorites?
[Image via Dark Night of the Scarecrow screen grab]