[Reel Watchers] Charlie’s Top 5 Halloween Movie Picks

By: Charlie Daffron

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

It doesn’t get much scarier than the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The original is gritty, grimy, and downright terrifying. It accomplishes all of this without overdoing it on violence and gore, something all its sequels, prequels, remakes and remakes of prequels could never match. The movie follows a group of college students on what quickly becomes the road trip from hell after they encounter the sadistic Sawyer family. With so many unforgettable scenes like Leatherface’s first appearance, the family dinner, and the final chase scene, Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one hell of a ride. Even after almost 45 years it still holds up, a movie often emulated but never duplicated.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

NoES 3 is easily one of my favorite horror sequels. It’s the perfect mix of funny and scary, making it an enjoyable watch even when it’s not Halloween. It ditches the formula established by the first two movies, instead going for more of a Goonies style approach. The movie follows a group of teens in a mental hospital who are all being plagued by nightmares about Freddy Kruger. They eventually team up with series heroine, Nancy Thompson, to try to defeat the titular dream demon once and for all. One of the things that makes Dream Warriors so great is that it not only introduces us to a colorful cast of new characters, but it also brings back characters from the first movie and gives us more insight into Freddy’s origin. Any Nightmare on Elm Street fan who hasn’t watched this movie is making a big mistake!

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The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead is one of those movies I would consider a “perfect horror movie.” It’s creepy, unpredictable, and excellently paced. The movie follows a group of college students who stumble across the Necronomicon while staying at a secluded cabin in the woods. As it tends to happen in these situations, they accidentally unleash a terrifying demon, leaving it up to Ash Williams, the hero of this story (and one of my favorite movie characters of all time), to destroy the evil forces and save his friends. At times gruesome and other times surprisingly humorous, this groundbreaking horror masterpiece gave birth to one of my favorite horror franchises, spawning 2 sequels, a T.V. series and even a pretty decent reboot. Halloween wouldn’t be complete without at least one rewatch of The Evil Dead.

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1408 (2007)

When you think of ghost stories written by Stephen King that take place in a haunted hotel what comes to mind? The Shinning, right? Well, what you may not know is that Stephen King also wrote another story about a hotel housing a sinister presence. 1408 is based on a short story of the same name and follows a paranormal author and skeptic named Mike Enslin. When Enslin pays a visit to the supposedly haunted room 1408 of the Dolphin Hotel to try and debunk the stories surrounding the room, he gets a little more than he bargained for. By compressing all the haunting to one room, 1408 effectively sets itself apart from The Shinning and delivers a surprisingly chilling ghost story. In a genre saturated with movies that follow thinly written characters through bland and generic stories filled with cheap jump scares, it’s refreshing to see a paranormal horror movie like 1408. 1408’s story is multi-layered and complex, its twists are unexpected and its pretty damn creepy (don’t even get me started on that Carpenters song…), not to mention the fact that it features an excellent performance from John Cusack. All this together makes 1408 not only a great movie, but also a must watch for any horror fan.

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Halloween II (2009)

This one is a controversial pick to say the least but hear me out. Topping John Carpenter’s original Halloween movie is basically impossible. However, Rob Zombie’s take on Halloween II stands out as my favorite Halloween sequel to date. While it’s not without its flaws, its unique take on the characters and mythology of the series should make it a must watch for horror fans. Instead of choosing to focus on Michael Myers’ bloody rampages like many of the other Halloween sequels (and Zombie’s first remake), Halloween II focuses on how the trauma inflicted on Laurie Strode during the events of the first Halloween remake has affected her day-to-day life and her relationships with friends and loved ones. It’s much darker and more psychological than the first remake, filled with dream sequences and heavy symbolism. If you’re watching the movie for the first time, I highly recommend watching the director’s cut instead of the regular theatrical version. It’s about 15 minutes longer and gives the movie a little more room to breathe. It also has an alternate ending that fits the tone of the movie a lot better. Overall, Halloween II’s flaws may stop it from being just short of great, but it’s still one of the strongest entries in the franchise and one of Zombie’s best movies. Hopefully the new Halloween movie that came out this month will be even better!

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