Movies to watch on Halloween – The TWABM Guide (updated for 2016)

Given my love of all things horror I’m often asked at this time of year by numerous people – sometimes upwards of three – which scary movies are worth watching.

Rather than go through the minor inconvenience of advising this tiny handful of friends, I’ve instead decided to put myself through a significantly larger inconvenience in the hope it helps out many others with a similar quandary.

Naturally, the issue here is that there’s no catch-all “good horror movie” – everyone likes different things, and one man’s Scream is another man’s Scream 3.

With that in mind, this feature takes the form of thirteen different themed sections, each featuring three movies. A bunch of triple-bills, if you will, ideal for your Halloween evening’s viewing.

If you have other suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments below.


Horror Classics

For some, Halloween should be spent watching the very best the horror genre has to offer. No pissing around, just the good shit. So, if you haven’t watched any of these three must-sees, now’s the perfect time.

The Exorcist (1973)

(Read the full review here)
Very few movies have had an impact on cinema like The Exorcist did when it was first released in 1973, and more than 40 years later it still has the power to shock. If you’ve managed to go this long without seeing it, prepare for a real emotional challenge. If you can, try to get hold of The Version You’ve Never Seen, a 2000 re-release with new scenes including the infamous ‘spider walk’.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Amazon Prime Video, pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

"What do you mean you forgot to buy my fucking Clearasil? It's the one bloody thing I wanted from the shop"
“I’m telling you, it’s just a bit of a nosebleed. No need to over-react”

Dawn Of The Dead (1978)

(Read the full review here)
George Romero may have laid down the rules for the zombie genre as we know it in Night Of The Living Dead (more on that later), but he perfected it with its follow-up. Dawn Of The Dead is many things – a biting commentary on the problems with society in 1970s America, a study of the way the human race acts when forced to survive – but it’s also, quite simply, a bloody good zombie film.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Not available
How to stream it (US): Not available

You've got to give Tesco credit. Their new line of novelty head-shaped birthday cakes is startlingly realistic
Tesco’s new line of novelty head-shaped birthday cakes unsettled its customers

Alien (1979)

(Read the full review here)
Ridley Scott’s masterpiece still has the power to terrify 35 years after its original release. Whereas the sequel is a balls-out gung-ho action film, the original is as beautifully subtle as it is utterly petrifying. Sigourney Weaver puts in an incredible performance as the protagonist and Scott’s refusal to show too much of the titular monster mastered the ‘less is more’ concept introduced by Jaws a few years prior.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

I don't know, facial piercings are just getting ridiculous these days
I don’t know, facial piercings are just getting ridiculous these days

Black-and-White Vintage

Halloween is often a time where the classics are dug out and given a chance to shine once more. Stick your Technicolor up your arse and give these monochrome masterpieces an airing.

Psycho (1960)

Hitchcock’s classic celebrates its 55th birthday this year, so what better time to watch it than now if you’ve never seen it before? The tale of Marion Crane, her spontaneous decision to rob money from her boss and her escape from the law takes a wild diversion when she meets Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins in one of the greatest performances in cinema history. Everyone knows it for the shower scene but Psycho is so much more.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): NOW TV, Sky Go, pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

Sue was blown away by the fact her hand was the same size as Danny DeVito's. This Planet Hollywood was something else
Sue was blown away by the fact her hand was the same size as Danny DeVito’s. This Planet Hollywood was something else

Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

(Read the full review here)
There were zombie movies before Night Of The Living Dead, just like there were spoofs before Airplane. But George Romero’s first tale of ‘ghouls’ (they aren’t actually called zombies in the film) single-handedly wrote most of the entire zombie movie rulebook. Crucially though, what Night realised – and almost every shit modern zombie film these days fails to – is that the zombies aren’t the stars of the movie, it’s the group of survivors hiding out in the small farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Romero’s film is more about the human race’s inability to work together in a time of crisis than it is about flesh-eating ghouls: it might as well be a pack of dogs or a raging storm out there. It’s this focus on human interaction that makes Night far better than most of the imitators 40+ years its junior.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Hulu, Yahoo! View, Tubi TV, Epix, Starz, Fandor, pay-to-rent services

The KFC in Hull wasn't quite up to the franchise's normal high standards
The KFC in Hull wasn’t quite up to the franchise’s normal high standards

Dracula (1931)

Bela Lugosi was so iconic as Dracula that when he died he was dressed in his famous black cloak. Try to imagine Harrison Ford agreeing to be buried in his Indiana Jones costume and you’ll see how big a deal this was. There is no film character as hypnotic as Lugosi’s Dracula, and even though the film is soon celebrating its incredible 75th anniversary the performance is still engrossing, even if the scares have long disappeared over time. Many horror films from the ’30s can be difficult to get into and engage with because of the countless advances in technology and filmmaking trickery that have evolved over the years, but Lugosi’s stunning performance here ensures Dracula will continue to be loved for decades to come.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

"My daughter's getting a bit too old for this Tooth Fairy lark now," Nigel thought to himself
“My daughter’s getting a bit too old for this Tooth Fairy lark now,” Nigel thought to himself

Halloween Hijinks

Surprisingly, given what the holiday is all about, there actually aren’t too many truly great horror films set on or around Halloween. However, if it’s a timely triple-bill you’re after, these three beauties will ensure you feel in the holiday spirit. And by spirit I mean ghost, naturally.

Halloween (1978)

(Read the full review here)
Well, obviously. If you’ve somehow managed to go this far without seeing John Carpenter’s seminal slasher then you realy owe it to yourself to get hold of the Blu-ray release and enjoy one of the most beautifully simple yet effective films ever released. Made on a shoestring budget of around $300,000 (the cast had to go to charity shops to buy their own outfits), Halloween‘s ‘normal’ look only makes its events all the more believable. Throw in a genuinely chilling killer – Michael Myers’ emotionless white mask is perfect for unnerving viewers as it’s spotted hiding in the shadows – and some brilliant scenery-chewing by Donald Pleasence as the doctor trying to stop him and you’ve got a film that’s one of the earliest slashers, but still one of the best.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

"I really need to get this wardrobe fixed"
“I really need to get this wardrobe fixed”

Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982)

(Read the full review here)
If Michael Myers isn’t your thing, why not try the only Halloween film that didn’t have him in it? Wanting to try something different with the series after Halloween II, Carpenter decided every new Halloween film would be a completely different story with brand new characters. The fans revolted and Myers returned (minus Carpenter’s involvement) in Halloween 4, but though Halloween III was the ginger stepchild fans of the series didn’t want it’s actually a brilliantly cheesy ’80s horror starring the legendary Tom Atkins. If I tell you the plot consists of a mad toy manufacturer who wants to use the power of Stonehenge to simultaneously kill every child in America with booby-trapped Halloween masks, I feel that should be enough to get your attention.
How to buy it: UK DVD, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

Ashley Olsen's eating disorder wasn't getting any better
Chris Moyles’ weight loss routine was going a bit too far

Trick ‘R Treat (2007)

I’m a sucker for horror anthologies and Trick ‘R Treat is a brilliant example. Consisting of four stories all taking place on Halloween night, its short tales keep the pace nippy. It’s also a surprisingly beautiful film, with expert filmography and compositions throughout. Roll on the sequel next year!
How to buy it: UK DVD, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

Terrorist hostage videos were looking faker by the month
Terrorist hostage videos were looking faker each month

Genuinely Terrifying

Over the years I’ve been desensitised to a lot of horror movies (having seen so many of them) so friends looking for a scary film tend to ask me “which films scare you?”. After all, they reckon if a film can creep me out after all the shite I’ve seen it must be pretty bloody effective. Here, then, are three films that genuinely scared me.

[Rec] (2007)

Google ‘scariest horror film ever’ and before too long you’ll encounter this Spanish gem, because everyone who’s seen it immediately sticks it at the top of their list. The best way I’d describe [Rec] is like this: Imagine if The Blair Witch Project was set in a block of flats instead of a forest, and imagine if instead of watching a bunch of teens fannying around with nothing going on you actually saw dodgy stuff. Lots of dodgy stuff. To say any more would be wrong – just watch it. With the sound up and the lights off, if you can handle that. Its US remake Quarantine does a decent job too, but the original is the real deal.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

Julie's boyfriend had a real sneezing problem
Julie’s boyfriend had a real sneezing problem

The Eye (2002)

(Read the full review here)
Nothing describes ‘bitter-sweet’ better than the fate that’s befallen poor Mun, the protagonist of Hong Kong / Singaporean horror film The Eye. Having been blind since birth, she’s delighted when a cornea implant lets her see for the first time. Trouble is, she’s been given the eyes of a girl who committed suicide due to her ability to see ghosts. Guess what happens next. The Eye is paced with scares of all kinds, from typical ‘boo’ efforts (that bloody calligraphy lesson scene) to tense, lenghty affairs (that bloody elevator scene), keeping you constantly on edge. Incidentally, do not under any circumstances get the US remake starring Jessica Alba instead: that’s about as scary as only getting two numbers on your lottery ticket.
How to buy it: UK DVD, US DVD
How to stream it (UK): Not available
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

Mere seconds later in this scene something happens that makes you shit yourself.
Mere seconds later in this scene something happens that makes you shit yourself

Paranormal Activity (2007)

(Read the full review here)
Look, laugh it up all you want but given the right circumstances (home alone, pitch black, sound up as loud as it’ll go) Paranormal Activity will have you sleeping with the lights on for months after you’ve seen it. Its use of handheld footage and unknown actors gives it that elusive ‘this might be real’ feel the likes of Halloween achieve, and this makes the scares all the more unsettling. It’s very much a one-shot affair – watching it a second time has a greatly diminished effect – but if you’ve never seen it before then pretend the countless sequels don’t exist and give it a go.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Netflix, pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

Well, that's what you get when you take so long to "slip into something more comfortable"
Well, that’s what you get when you take so long to “slip into something more comfortable”

Slasher Gold

There is no horror subgenre greater suited to a party atmosphere than the humble slasher film. It lets the audience switch off and chat amongst themselves if they want without having to worry too much about missing any pesky plot details. These three diamonds, however, may just be interesting enough to get the room’s undivided attention.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

(Read the full review here)
I’m a little biased here because A Nightmare On Elm Street is my favourite horror film, but whose list is this anyway? Robert Englund plays the iconic Freddy Krueger for the first time: a former child abuser burnt to death by an angry mob of parents, he returns in their children’s dreams to punish them. This is no dodgy cheese-fuelled nightmare, however: if Freddy kills you in your dream, you’re dead in real life. Taking the slasher genre and turning it on it head by giving it a paranormal edge, A Nightmare On Elm Street is a brilliant film that still scares from time to time (well, the original does, at least).
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

A product recall for Marks & Spencer's new line of bath mitts was inevitable
A product recall for Marks & Spencer’s new line of bath mitts was inevitable

Friday The 13th Part 3 (1982)

(Read the full review here)
The first film may have been what kicked off the summer camp slasher craze, and the second may have introduced Jason for the first time, but it was Part 3 where the Friday The 13th series finally started to get into the swing of things. With a number of inventive deaths and the debut of that iconic hockey mask, there are plenty of gleefully cheesy moments to enjoy here.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Now TV, pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

"Two grand a month for THIS shitehole? I knew I shouldn't have moved to London"
“Two grand a month for THIS shitehole? I knew I shouldn’t have moved to London”

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

(Read the full review here)
About as low budget as it gets (its budget was a fifth the size of Halloween‘s), Tobe Hooper’s indie classic remains an effective movie in a world now saturated with ‘torture porn’ like Hostel, Saw and even the crimson-heavy Texas Chainsaw remake. Part of this is because of Hooper’s expert editing that ensures we never see any of the truly gruesome moments – the meathook scene, the poor chap being smacked in the head with a hammer, even though we’re sure we did. Our minds are capable of painting a picture far more disturbing than anything the screen could show, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre lets them run wild.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Showtime, pay-to-rent services

The final scene is almost hypnotic to watch. It's both terrifying and oddly beautiful at the same time
You know what they say: red sky at morning, fucking maniac with a chainsaw warning

Gore Galore

If ‘horror movies’ to you means lashings of the red stuff, these offerings will ensure you’re served sufficient helpings of blood and guts. Just make sure your fellow attendees are up for it, otherwise things could get a wee bit awkward.

Hellraiser (1987)

Clive Barker’s tale of a puzzle box that leads to a doorway to Hell is considered something of a masterpiece among the sado-masochistic community. Or so I’m told. It’s little wonder: the film’s main antagonists (or protagonists, depending on your tastes), the Cenobites, promise to take their victims to the heights of ecstasy by subjecting them to the extreme limits of pain. Considering the lead Cenobite is the infamous Pinhead, I think that says it all. Gory but gorgeous at the same time, you’ll struggle to take your eyes off the screen no matter how desperate you are to do so.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Netflix, pay-to-rent services

"Hello Billy, I'm your new maths tutor. Try to plot a cosine graph on my face"
“Hello Billy, I’m your new maths tutor. Try to plot a cosine graph on my face”

Braindead / Dead Alive (1992)

Before there was The Lord Of The Rings, there was Peter Jackson: indie horror film-maker. Braindead is one of his most famously, hilariously disgusting little low-budget offerings. It’s your typical ‘boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy tries to keep girl away from his mother who’s been bitten by a Sumatran rat monkey, died and come back to life as a zombie’ film. By the time the film reaches its climax and there’s a house full of zombies being introduced to the choppy end of a lawnmower, the gore count’s gone through the roof.
How to buy it: UK DVD, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services

"Well Mr Wilkins, from my initial diagnosis it would appear you've skinned your knees"
“Well Mr Wilkins, from my initial diagnosis it would appear you’ve skinned your knees”

Blood Feast (1963)

(Read the full review here)
Considered by many to be the first ever gory film, Herschell Gordon Lewis (or the ‘Godfather of Gore’, as he’s known) really pushed the boat out with his first offering with some truly gruesome scenes, including a poor lady getting her tongue cut out. Considering it’s over 50 years old now the blood effects are a bit cheesy, but the combination of its historical importance in horror cinema and the fact it’s hilariously bad mean you’ll definitely have fun watching it.
How to buy it: UK DVD, US DVD, US Blu-ray trilogy set
How to stream it (UK): Tubi TV, pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Tubi TV, Fandor

That's no way to do your lipstick, you daft mare.
That’s no way to do your lipstick, you daft mare

Ghostly goings-on

When most people think of Halloween, they think of one thing. Okay, one other thing, not counting pumpkins. What I’m getting at is ghosts going “wooooo”. That’s what you think of. Trust me. Either way, ghosts are a great way to put the willies up people (not like that, you pervert), so here are three spooktacular (HAHAHAHA OH CHRIST) examples.

Poltergeist (1982)

Intending to make a horror film for children, Steven Spielberg perhaps made the wrong move by putting Tobe ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘ Hooper at the helm. Still, his poor judgement was horror’s gain because Poltergeist is easily one of the greatest ghost movies ever made. Everyone who’s seen it has its set-pieces ingrained in their mind for life – the clown, the tree, the little midget woman with the squeaky voice – and Jerry Goldsmith’s beautiful score ensured it would retain classic status for decades to follow.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Amazon Prime Video, pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): HBO Now, pay-to-rent services

"Those Ikea instructions get more confusing every year"
“Those Ikea instructions get more confusing every year”

Ghostwatch (1992)

(Read the full review here)
Try to imagine a time when reality TV and ghost-hunting programmes like Most Haunted didn’t exist. Imagine a show being broadcast on BBC on Halloween night offering both: TV presenter Sarah Greene spending a night in a haunted house, with straight-laced host Michael Parkinson taking calls from the public in a studio. Then imagine what happened when a ghost appeared and the UK public, convinced what they were watching was real, lost their mind. This was Ghostwatch, and it was incredible.
How to buy it: UK DVD
How to stream it (UK): Not available
How to stream it (US): Not available

Can you spot the ghostly figure of Pipes?
After Bob the pervert died, his ghost could be seen in shit amateur porn worldwide

Ju-On (2002)

Asian cinema has had the whole ‘creepy ghost’ thing nailed for years (see Ringu, Dark Water, The Eye, Shutter etc). Ju-On (later remade in the US as The Grudge) is easily one of the best examples of this because it tends not to bother with something most western audiences struggle with in Asian horror: the plot. For the most part it’s just a load of people getting terrorised by ghosts, and for that reason it’s awesome. Bonus points for featuring a creepy kid and creepy cats too.
How to buy it: UK DVD, US DVD
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Amazon Prime Video, Tubi TV, pay-to-rent services

"Any chance you could spare some room in that bed? We're going blue with the cold here"
“Any chance you could spare some room in that bed? We’re going blue with cold here”

Hidden gems

Okay, so you reckon you’re a bit of a horror hotshot and you’ve seen all the important films that need to be seen. Once you’re done measuring your genitals why not give some of these lesser-known gems a go? Because you’re too scared, that’s why not. Don’t know why I’m being so hostile, actually. Sorry.

Dead Heat (1988)

(Read the full review here)
The buddy cop movie is nothing new, but the buddy zombie cop movie? Now that’s unique. Dead Heat tells the tale of Roger Mortis (groan), a cop who finds himself on the wrong end of a criminal beatdown and ends up turning himself into a zombie in the process (as you do). Genuinely funny at times and with a brilliant cameo from Vincent Price at the end, it’s a scandal that Dead Heat doesn’t get the love it deserves.
How to buy it: US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Not available
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

"I'm here to return this Clearasil. It just doesn't agree with my complexion."
“I’m here to return this Clearasil. It just doesn’t agree with my complexion”

The Company Of Wolves (1984)

(Read the full review here)
Neil ‘The Crying Game‘ Jordan’s bizarre anthology of fantastical stories has something of a cult following and it’s not that hard to see why. The Company Of Wolves is an impressive film rife with sexual metaphor and masterful imagery, and there isn’t really much like it out there. It’s so rich in metaphor that its ideas and themes are still heavily discussed more than 25 years after it was originally released. Not by me, mind, I’m too busy watching films where folk get their faces ripped off.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Not available

"I know you said the bridesmaids were a bunch of dogs but I didn't really expect this if I'm honest"
“I know you said the bridesmaids were a bunch of dogs but I didn’t really expect this if I’m being completely honest”

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

(Read the full review here)
Friday The 13th may have been responsible for a slew of imitation summer camp slasher films, but none were as effective as Sleepaway Camp. The first 80 minutes of this no-budget cheesefest consist of brilliantly bad acting, inventively gory deaths and occasionally memorable dialogue (“Eat shit and die, Ricky!” “Eat shit and live, Bill”). Then the final few minutes kick in and suddenly shit goes down at explosive diahorrea levels. The bizarre twist ending kicks the legs out from under you and leaves you with a final image that I guarantee will never leave your head.
How to buy it: UK DVD, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Not available
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

The new series of Bullseye had started horribly wrong
The new series of Bullseye had started horribly wrong

For the kids

Got young ones at home? Don’t think your six-year-old will be able to handle Hellraiser? Tell the wee prick to man up. Alternatively, here are some child-friendly films that will get them in the Halloween mood.

Monster House (2006)

(Read the full review here)
Many films try to replicate the ‘Toy Story effect’ by appealing to both children and adults at the same time, but not all manage to pull it off. Monster House does. This is partly thanks to its brilliantly rude jokes that will pass over many a youngster’s innocent head (“that must be the uvula” says one boy, pointing at a massive throat inside the titular demonic domain, to which his friend replies “oh, so it’s a girl house”) and partly thanks to the surprisingly dark reveal of the house’s backstory. It’s also home (ahem) to some brilliant voice acting from the likes of Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kathleen Turner, Jason Lee, Kevin James and Jon ‘Napoleon Dynamite‘ Heder.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Sky Go, pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

They tried to hide upstairs but it was too late - Gary Glitter was at the front door
They tried to hide upstairs but it was too late – Gary Glitter was at the front door

Paranorman (2012)

Another so-called kids’ film that all ages will get something out of, Paranorman is a fantastic little stop-motion gem about a young lad who can speak to the dead. Throw zombies, a witch’s curse and an angry mob into the mix and there’s certainly plenty going on here. Make no mistake though: this is definitely a horror film so if you’ve got really young sprogs you might want to give it a miss because it does get dark at times.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services

"Well, that's five hours of my life I'll never get back," Bob said, closing his Twilight book
“Well, that’s five hours of my life I’ll never get back,” Bob said, closing his Twilight book

The Monster Squad (1987)

(Read the full review here)
God, how I wish more kids’ films today were like The Monster Squad. Nowadays the mollycoddle brigade would never allow something like this to be made, but back in the carefree ’80s the idea of a bunch of children hunting Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolfman, the Mummy and the Creature From The Black Lagoon was fair game. It’s delightfully sweary too, refusing to pretend that kids didn’t drop the odd word-bomb and talk about women’s boobs when among their friends and thereby creating an honest, loveable group of young heroes. It’s very much the horror equivalent of The Goonies: it’s a shame it never quite gained the same following.
How to buy it: US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): NOW TV, Sky Go
How to stream it (US): Tubi TV, pay-to-rent services

It'll never work, the age gap is too large
It’ll never work, the age gap is far too large

Anthologies of terror

Don’t have the patience to sit through an entire 90-minute film? Does your audience have the attention span of a genetically super-powered goldfish that can actually remember things for about 20 minutes rather than a few seconds? Then anthology films are the solution. Each of these features five short stories, cutting out all the shite to keep things travelling at a healthy pace.

Creepshow (1982)

(Read the full review here)
What do you get when you take master of horror movies George Romero and team him up with master of horror novels Stephen King, and get them to work on five short stories together? Obviously the answer is Creepshow, otherwise that question would have been completely pointless. Each of the five tales here has a charm all of its own, from the dimwitted farmer (King himself) who is exposed to a plantlike alien substance, to the blatantly ’80s effort in which Leslie Nielsen (playing a bad guy!) buries Ten Danson on a beach as the tide comes in to punish him for sleeping with his wife. It’s all tied together with a great comic book-themed design, giving it a unique look and feel that its sequels (particularly the atrocious third one) couldn’t quite live up to.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): NOW TV, Sky Go, pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

"This hotel really needs to clean its pool"
“This hotel really needs to clean its pool”

The Vault Of Horror (1973)

(Read the full review here)
British film studio Amicus Productions specialised in horror anthology films, offering 20-minute tastes of terror all bundled up nicely. The Vault Of Horror is arguably the best of the bunch, in which five men stuck in what they believe is a gentleman’s club recall dreams they had in which they all died. The ‘twist’ may be blatant (you can probably already guess it based on the limited info you have) but the five stories are brilliant anyway, with the likes of Tom Baker and Terry-Thomas starring. One to go for if you fancy giving your Halloween night a British flavour.
How to buy it: UK DVD, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Not available
How to stream it (US): Not available

"I don't know why you're upset dear, I told you I was going out to get hammered tonight"
“I don’t know why you’re upset dear, I told you I was going out to get hammered tonight”

V/H/S (2012)

The found footage genre is the zombie movie of the 2010’s: they’re cheap as fuck to make and 98% of them somehow manage to all be the worst film you’ve ever seen. V/H/S bucks the trend by managing to be genuinely scary, offering a collection of five separate tales (each helmed by a different director) found on on a bunch of video tapes, wrapped around an overarching story of a bunch of criminals tasked with breaking into a house to steal a single tape. Watch this one and you’ll be glad the VHS format is dead.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, pay-to-rent services

Nigel's wife was usually waiting angrily for him when he came home after a night out with his mates but he'd never seen her like this
Nigel’s wife was usually waiting angrily for him when he came home after a night out with his mates but he’d never seen her like this

Just plain wrong

Okay, I’ll level with you. There are some people who see Halloween as an excuse to watch the most depraved, fucked-up films they can get their trembling hands on. These people should not be feared, they should not be shunned from society. They’re just a bit different. If you are one of those who seeks the extreme side of things this Halloween, make sure you have an empty stomach and give these a go. You’ve been warned, though.

Cannibal Holocaust (1979)

(Read the full review here)
Though the absurdly insulting title and shopping list of depravity contained within (which I’ll get to later) may suggest that Cannibal Holocaust is little more than a tacky little dollop of grindhouse grot, it’s actually a very accomplished and provocative film, albeit one that’s intensely difficult to watch. With real animal killings and a horrendous rape scene with a stone phallus in the uncut version, you’ll need an incredibly strong stomach to digest what is actually a profound commentary on the ethics of documentary journalism. Yes, seriously.
How to buy it: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream it (US): Pay-to-rent services

These are (of course) fake remains, but the real animal slaughters seen up to this point are enough to put doubt in the viewer's mind.
These are (of course) fake human remains, but the real animal slaughters seen up to this point are enough to put doubt in the viewer’s mind.

Faces Of Death (1978)

(Read the full review here)
The internet makes it easy now for people to find gruesome footage of people who have suffered gory deaths, if that’s really your sort of thing. Back in the ’70s such grot was not readily accessible, hence this nasty little bastard. It’s since been admitted that around 40% of the footage featured here was faked (made more obvious thanks to the post-VHS days), but that of course means around 60% – including an illegal dog fight, a cow being cut open, Holocaust footage and plane crash corpses – was real, and that’s just macabre.
How to buy it: UK DVD, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream it (UK): Not a fucking chance
How to stream it (US): Nope

Footage of a San Diego plane crash is followed with horrendous shots of mangled, unidentifiable corpses scattered through the town where the plane landed
Footage of a San Diego plane crash is followed with horrendous shots of mangled, unidentifiable corpses scattered through the town where the plane landed

The Human Centipede II: Full Sequence (2011)

On one hand, there’s something commendable about this sequel’s very meta plot, in which a depraved chap – inspired by watching the ‘fictional’ first film – decides to make his own massive human centipede in real life while using the movie as a manual. On the other hand, its 91-minute runtime contains graphic depictions of rape, defecation, a baby’s head being crushed and someone having their teeth smashed out with a hammer (and that’s just for starters), so the bit that’s ‘commendable’ is about a fraction of a percentage. Seriously, don’t watch this one unless you just want to test your limits. Note: the UK version is cut by about three minutes, which is just as well, really.
How to buy: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream (UK): Netflixpay-to-rent services
How to stream (US): Netflixpay-to-rent services

The cleaner at Brixton Academy always hated working late shifts after Lady Gaga gigs had ended
The cleaner at Brixton Academy always hated working shifts after Lady Gaga gigs had ended

New for 2015

This article was originally written in 2014 but I’ve since seen a bunch of new films, three of which are definitely worth a watch. So if you want your triple-bill to consist of the most up-to-date horror offerings, here’s my recommendation.

It Follows (2014)

(Read the full review here)
Very rarely these days do I see a new horror film that entertains me so much that I want to watch it again. I’ve already watched It Follows four times and am keen to watch it a fifth. Its main concept – a ghost that constantly walks towards you and will never stop – is as simple as it is chilling, and the beautiful cinematography and outstanding soundtrack combine to make what for me is undoubtedly a modern classic.
How to buy: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream (UK): Amazon Prime Videopay-to-rent services
How to stream (UK): Showtimepay-to-rent services

It Follows featured pic
“And yet the rent’s still £1200 a month. Well, that’s London for you”

The Babadook (2014)

(Read the full review here)
When The Exorcist director William Friedkin says “I’ve never seen a film more terrifying than The Babadook“, it stands to reason that you should pay attention to what it has to offer. This tale of a creepy children’s book that threatens to summon an evil demon is an effective little indie gem that was met with great critical acclaim at the end of 2014. I enjoyed it, though I wasn’t blown away: despite this, it would appear I’m in the minority so chances are you’ll love it.
How to buy: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream (UK): Netflix, pay-to-rent services
How to stream (US): Netflix, pay-to-rent services

"I'm up here, ya horse's ass"
“I’m up here, ya horse’s ass”

Unfriended (2014)

(Read the full review here)
So many films use the handheld ‘found footage’ gimmick these days that it’s hard to do something novel with it. Unfriended does just that by presenting the entire film from someone’s Mac desktop. As her group Skype chat is invaded by an unwelcome presence, things get progressively creepier until the group is forced to face up to some hidden secrets or risk losing their lives. A bloody clever film.
How to buy: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream (UK): NOW TV, Sky Go, pay-to-rent services
How to stream (US): Pay-to-rent services

Things got awkward when the Black Panthers Reddit group had their first video chat
Things got awkward when the Black Panthers Reddit group had their first video chat

New for 2016

Another year has passed since this article was first published, and another batch of interesting horror movies has made its way past my delicate eyes. Here’s my pick of the last twelve months’ offerings.

We Are Still Here (2015)

You may not get films in the ’80s Lucio Fulci style these days but We Are Still Here comes as close as possible. Gently easing you in with a surprisingly tame opening third, all hell eventually breaks loose and the gore starts flying all over the place. Anyone who’s a fan of the grindhouse movies of the ’70s and ’80s will be in heaven here.
How to buy: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream (UK): Amazon Prime Videopay-to-rent services
How to stream (US): Netflixpay-to-rent services

"I suppose you're right dear, maybe it wasn't just a little nosebleed after all"
“I suppose you’re right dear, maybe it wasn’t just a little nosebleed after all”

The Witch (2015)

When I tell you much of The Witch’s dialogue is directly taken from 17th century documents of Puritan folklore you’d be forgiven for sounding a little bored. After all, things that were scary in the 1960s are tame today, let alone 1630. But writer/director Robert Eggers creates such a believable portyral of the period that you completely buy into the characters’ religious fears and when rumblings start occurring in the woods around them, you’re in no doubt that witches exist and they’re fucking terrifying.
How to buy: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream (US): Amazon Prime Video, pay-to-rent services

Dawn breaks in Hull as the last of the late night clubbers make their way home
Dawn breaks in Hull as the last of the late night clubbers make their way home

Green Room (2016)

Proof that the real world can be scarier than fantasy, Green Room is a chilling tale of a punk rock band trapped in a neo-Nazi hell as an evil chief (played by Patrick Stewart of all people) holds them hostage to prevent them reporting a murder they witnessed. This could so easily have become torture porn but it’s so expertly handled that, while extremely violent and intense, it never becomes gratuitous.
How to buy: UK DVD, UK Blu-ray, US DVD, US Blu-ray
How to stream (UK): Pay-to-rent services
How to stream (US): Pay-to-rent services

It would take a brave man to eat the M&Ms in that green room
It would take a brave man to eat the M&Ms in that green room

So there you have it, 39 films guaranteed to liven up any Halloween party. If you have other suggestions feel free to post them in the comments below. Otherwise, if you found this list useful, please do share it with your friends, post it on Reddit, stick it on your social network of choice, or what have you.

If you want more suggestions, check out the That Was A Bit Mental Hall Of Fame for more gems, the Hall Of Shame for some real stinkers, and the Proper Mental List section for the films that are truly bizarre.

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One thought on “Movies to watch on Halloween – The TWABM Guide (updated for 2016)

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