For this third (and last) article of this Halloween Special edition, I figured we could focus on something more “controversial” than family-friendly and guilty pleasure horror movies. This time, I came up with a list of the five best (and worst) horror movies released on Halloween.
Obviously, this list might be controversial because it’s purely based on my opinion: you might like some of the movies that I describe as terrible, and you might hate some of the ones that I list amongst the great releases. This article took a lot of time and effort to write, because I included only movies that were released in the month of October: I had to go through the release dates of more than 1000 horror movies to come up with this list, so please forgive me if I missed some notable Halloween releases!
Lastly, unlike the previous Halloween Specials, these two lists (BEST and WORST) follow a bottom-up logic, instead of being made in chronological order. Are we all set? Good! Let’s delve into the five best (and worst) Halloween releases of all-time!
Continue reading and check the lists below…
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HERE’S THE FIVE BEST HORROR MOVIES RELEASED FOR HALLOWEEN 😊
- Trick ‘r Treat (2007) – Michael Dougherty’s debut film is a good one. Trick ‘r Treat is an exhilarating horror anthology that intertwines five stories. Every anthology film is a mixed-bag, but what makes this one stand out is that the same writer/director made each one of the short movies, so narrative thread and visual style don’t change massively from one to the other. Even though it’s Rated R, Trick ‘r Treat feels very entertaining and enjoyable without ever being really scary or disturbing. It’s just a great, fun watch that will lighten up your Halloween.
- Night of the Demons (1988) – This popular and beloved horror-comedy about teenagers having a party and being assaulted by demons is just a lot of fun. The film originally received an X Rating, but the producers cut some scenes to make sure Night of the Demons would be Rated R. This is, actually, a shame because some gory moments in the movie could’ve been even more out there. Still, this is a very cheesy and campy horror film that perfectly encapsulates late 80s horror cinema: it’s entertaining, exciting, violent and hilarious in both intentional and unintentional ways!
- Housebound (2014) – Way less popular and well-known than the previous two titles, Housebound is one of the best Halloween releases ever, at least for me. It’s a horror-comedy that succeeds at combining cartoonish, lowbrow humour with genuine suspense and squeamish violence. This movie follows a young woman who is forced to return to her childhood home after being placed under house arrest: on top of the already uncomfortable situation, she suspects that something evil may be lurking in the basement… I don’t want to say much more about this film, because I believe it’s best experienced going in blind – don’t look up any trailer either, please. That said, this is not just a great Halloween release, it’s also one of my favourite horror films of 2014, one of the best years for horror in cinema history, for me.
- Saw (2004) – James Wan’s directorial debut needs no introduction. Aside from spawning seven sequels (!) that managed to be quite entertaining and hilariously convoluted, Saw is a great film onto its own. Most people love it for the twist – which is, indeed, awesome – and the bloody sequences, but I personally adore the sense of mystery and dread behind this movie. Saw isn’t really graphic or ultra-violent either, since its strength lies in suggesting the torture by showing the aftermath of it. Whilst every Saw sequel is bloody and gory, which makes them quite enjoyable, the first Saw is suspenseful and scary due to how well-written and original the script is. Despite the low production values, this film looks great because Leigh Whannell and James Wan chose a great score, presented it in a visually engaging way and utilised a perfect colour-palette. Saw is my favourite horror movie of 2004 (alongside Shaun of the Dead) and one of the finest films ever released on Halloween!
- Halloween (1978) – Predictable, right? I know, but what other movie that came out around Halloween has influenced the genre like John Carpenter’s Halloween? Besides its impact on cinema, Halloween is just a fantastic horror film: it’s suspenseful, eerie, well-acted, beautifully shot and perfectly scored. What else can you ask from a horror movie?
HERE’S THE FIVE WORST HORROR MOVIES RELEASED FOR HALLOWEEN ☹
- Deadly Friend (1986) – I think there’s no doubt the late Wes Craven was a fantastic horror filmmaker. However, he made a couple of stinkers in his career: one of them is Deadly Friend, which shockingly came out only two years after A Nightmare on Elm Street, which is Craven’s magnum opus, according to many fans. The movie follows Paul, who has a crush on his next-door neighbour Samantha Pringle, who is constantly abused by her father. When the father kills Samantha, Paul decides to bring the girl back to life by implanting robotic microchips into her brain. This, obviously, doesn’t end well… Deadly Friend is, mainly, bogged down by an atrociously bad script that causes the film to be dull and boring from beginning to end. On top of that, Craven must have not cared at all, because the movie looks visually flat and the acting is either wooden as hell or comically over-the-top. While not unwatchable, Deadly Friend is just the epitome of mid-80s horror schlock: it’s not bad enough to get a kick out of it, it’s not good enough to be interesting and memorable.
- Jack-O (1995) – The 90s hadn’t been a great decade for American horror, and Jack-O managed to be one of the most atrocious titles to have been released in those years. On Halloween, three friends remove a cross from the tomb where Jack-O – an evil wizard – was buried many years ago by farmer Arthur Kelly. The evil creature is unleashed, kills the trio and seeks the descendants of the Kelly family for revenge: doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, this movie has no budget nor talent behind (and in front of) the camera, which makes the viewing experience excruciatingly painful and unbelievably boring. Why is this movie not at the bottom of my list? Well… at times it’s so unintentionally funny that I couldn’t stop laughing! Still, how Jack-O was released in theatres is a mystery I don’t have answers to.
- The Clown Murders (1976) – Some faithful readers of this website might know I love 70s horror movies – great ones and charmingly cheap ones alike. I, also, consider the 70s to be the best decade ever for cinema. However, The Clown Murders is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. The story centres on four men who kidnap a girl on Halloween night as a joke to ruin a real estate deal, only to have a very real clown-masked killer stalk them seeking revenge. The Clown Murders is so dumb it could be funny and entertaining: unfortunately, every character is beyond annoying, the effects look as fake as possible, the production values are non-existent and, most of all, nothing happens from beginning to end. This Canadian flick has to be the most boring Halloween releases of all-time!
- Troll 2 (1990) – I’m well-aware Troll 2 is considered the pinnacle of “so bad it’s good” horror cinema. Don’t get me wrong, I love horror movies that are truly bad in an unintentionally hilarious way, such as Robot Monster (1953), Humanoids from the Deep (1980), Rawhead Rex (1986), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994), The Lawnmower 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996), Lake Alice (2016), The Bye Bye Man (2017) and Nereus (2019). Troll 2 doesn’t even come close to the movies I just mentioned in terms of entertainment value: it’s boring shlock. Spoken in English but made in Italy (with an entirely Italian crew), this pathetic excuse for a movie is cheap, dull, uneventful, nonsensical and just unwatchable.
- Halloween Night and The Pumpkin Karver (2006) – Yes, I’m cheating a little bit by picking two movies as the worst Halloween releases ever. However, these two horrible flicks came out the same year and are equally abysmal. 2006, you did a great job ruining Halloween! Produced by the infamous Asylum, Halloween Night is a complete rip-off of John Carpenter’s Halloween, since it shares the same story, character types and plot points. While Halloween is a masterpiece, though, Halloween Night feels like it was made by a person who suffered from short memory loss: characters say one thing and do the exact opposite in the next scene; the script sets up some “rules” and immediately breaks them; the movie leads to one direction and, in the blink of an eye, changes it for no apparent reason. Aside from that, Halloween Night also looks like crap and features some of worst dialogue delivery ever! The Pumpkin Karver might even be worse in terms of script and execution: this clumsy attempt at a movie follows two siblings who, on Halloween, are being haunted by the spirit of the sister’s boyfriend, who they killed one year before by mistake. Cheaply made and shockingly not scary, The Pumpkin Karver makes so little sense that watching it feels like being on acids. It might not be as awful as Troll 2 or Halloween Night, but it’s still so dreadful it hurts watching it!
What do you guys think about my picks? What are your choices for best and worst Halloween release of all time? Let me know in the comments and have a spooky Halloween!
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