I have always been a cinephile and I enjoy watching movies according to the current season; since I am a huge fan of Halloween, I watched John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween movie when I was fifteen years old and every October I like to discover new horror movies or rewatch my favorite ones.
While I usually prefer horror movies that veer towards the thriller genre, I find it cathartic to be able to observe from a distance some of humanity’s ancestral fears.
I tend to watch all kinds of horror movies but I generally stay away from the ones that are too disturbing (even though I have come to appreciate a few slasher movies among the classics, like the Scream series).
I have rounded up five favorite movies to watch for Halloween; most of them are available on DVD/Blu-Ray or on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
1) In Fabric (Peter Strickland, 2018): I recently watched this underrated horror gem on Prime Video and I enjoyed it beyond my expectations. The story revolves around a cursed red dress as it switches from owner to owner, with devastating consequences for the people who purchase and wear it.
The movie is set at the beginning of the 90s but its atmospheres and set designs are very reminiscent of the 1970s; it is a satyrical horror that serves as a critique of extreme consumerism and self-image obsession, also touching on the subject of our bosses’ excessive and sometimes ridiculous analysis of our workplace. The vivid color palette and overall atmosphere reminded me of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, a masterpiece of the horror genre which I included on this list as well and whose electronic score by Goblins is very similar to the In Fabric soundtrack by Cavern of Anti-Matter. Some critics have also stated that it would be a great watching experience for people who enjoy filmmaker Ari Aster’s movies.
I work in the fashion industry so I really enjoyed watching a horror movie about fashion, and I think many people will appreciate the narrative and symbolism of a movie that has humorous notes in it as well.
2) Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987): this was Kathryn Bigelow’s first movie and I think it was masterfully directed, to the point that I didn’t notice this was her directorial debut. Not only is this a movie with vampires as main characters, but also it is a road movie that has excellent cinematography and gothic vibes; it was mainly shot in Arizona and the wonderful desert landscapes contribute to making it a horror western, something very unique in its genre.
The story follows Caleb, a young man who one night comes across a very fascinating woman named Mae; he is unaware of the fact that Mae is a vampire traveling around the nation with a group of other predator vampires. As Caleb gets turned into a vampire, he has no choice but to follow them and obey a new set of rules befitting the vampire species. Near Dark is an absolutely riveting film and one of the best directed by Bigelow so far. There are a couple of violent scenes and if you are not a fan of the genre this might be a deterrent, but I watched it with my mother, who doesn’t really enjoy horror movies, and she nevertheless appreciated the narrative structure and the thread of a story worth following until the end.
3) Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977): Dario Argento’s Suspiria is probably one of the best horror classics ever made. I have watched it several times over the years but it never ceases to be something that is one-of-a-kind, especially on a creative level. It tells the story of Suzy Bannion, a young American girl who enrolls at the prestigious Tanz Dance Academy in Freiburg, Germany, but once she gets there, something far more sinister and dangerous is awaiting her… The film would not be the same without the Goblin original score, with its electronic sounds that give it a very dark and suspenseful tone. The highly artificial color palette makes this a very surreal movie, to the point that some of the first critics back in the day perceived it as campy, due to the extremely bright color scheme. Suspiria got a remake in 2018, which was directed by Luca Guadagnino, and received critical acclaim. I enjoyed it and I recommend you check it out as well, even though it is quite different from Dario Argento’s 1977 version, as Guadagnino’s movie is set in 1960s Berlin, it deals with the aftermath of the Nazi rule over Germany and it is characterized by a desaturated color palette, very distinct from Dario Argento’s bright, lush colors.
4) Vampires vs. The Bronx (Oz Rodriguez, 2020): I discovered this movie on Netflix while searching for something new to watch during the weeks leading up to Halloween.It is a horror comedy that focuses on the lives of three kids growing up in the Bronx that find themselves fighting against a group of vampires that, through Murnau Properties, a real estate agency, wants to take over the entire district. This story succeeds in shedding light on the problem of urban gentrification, using the metaphor of rich, white vampires who want to erase the identity of the Bronx by taking over the neighborhood’s independent businesses and sucking blood from property owners. At the same time, the movie also suggests that the Bronx is the ideal place for the vampires to carry out their evil plan because it is considered a forgotten place (one of the vampires describes it as “somewhere where no one cares when people disappear”). Although it deals with these kind of insightful themes, the movie also has many hilarious moments and will probably entertain the whole family, as it is definitely less scary than most of the movies on this Halloween list.
5) A Quiet Place Part II (John Krasinski, 2020): I watched the first movie in this thriller/horror series when it came out in 2018 and I loved it because of its originality and the way it kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole time. The story centers around the life of the Abbott family in a sort of post-apocalyptic world where horrible creatures are taking over the planet by killing off every living being they come across. The only way to elude them is being quiet and avoid speaking because they can detect noises very easily. The first movie was written and directed by John Krasinski and so is the second one, which in my opinion has even greater acting performances by Emily Blunt, who reprises her role as the mother, and deaf actress Millicent Simmonds who plays one of the kids and whose role has done a lot for the Deaf community in terms of representation, as she’s received award nominations for other film roles as well.
In this movie, the surviving members of the Abbott family have left their destroyed farm house and are embarking on a difficult journey to find civilization. They venture into a very hostile territory, where dangers are around the corner, and they will have to fight in order to stay alive; it is a suspenseful movie with many jump scares and the monsters look extremely scary. It may not be as great a movie as the first one, but it is indeed a solid sequel and it is masterfully constructed. Cillian Murphy is one of the sequel’s main characters and I think he is the perfect addition to an already great cast. I have heard there will probably be a third installment in the series by 2025 so in the meantime you may enjoy watching this one (or catching up with the first movie in the series before doing so, if you haven’t seen it yet).
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