Jesse Bartel: Top 5 Films To Watch Around Halloween

Ah, yes, it is now the time of the year when horror movies finally get their due. All year round, the horror community keeps doing what they love but it isn’t until October that the world of gore is universally accepted. Soon you hear about your Aunt getting scared because she finally saw Insidious or your cousin texts you to see if you want to check out Sinister with them. Scary movies start trending and for one month out of the year, it’s OK to post gory images on your Facebook wall (I do it all year because fuck those people, right?).

I thought it would be fun to briefly talk about five films that I enjoy watching around Halloween, and if you haven’t seen any of these, I hope you check them out. Let me point out that these are not THE TOP 5 HORROR FILMS OF ALL TIME, this is just my list of movies that I consider “fun”. For me, I get more entertainment out of movies that don’t take themselves seriously, but as you will see on my list, there are a couple solemn titles on there. So, don’t look at this as a super-serious thing, this is just me having fun. OK? Cool.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Joseph Zito’s contribution to the slasher series is not only a blast to sit through, it’s also my favorite of the franchise. Parts 2 & 3, while quite enjoyable, feel more like fillers to the original canon than full stories. The Final Chapter pulls the first three parts together, introduces a new, important character (TJ, BABY!), and it kills off Jason. Sure, Jason comes back, but in Jason Lives, he is more of a supernatural character at that point than a menacing, hydrocephalic brute. The kills are creative, Zito has some interesting camera shots (silhouette cast by lightening, anyone?), and it works at a breakneck speed. It’s everything I want from the series.

Also, the deluxe DVD edition contains a fan commentary track by directors Adam Green and Joe Lynch. So, if you get a chance, you should check that out.


Insidious is a divisive film that splits its audience around the halfway mark. I went into the movie knowing that I was going to see two separate films. The first half is a creepy, haunted house/kid film and the second half gets a little more abstract. The problem that many people faced was that they loved the first part but once Pat Wilson’s character started crossing dimensions (The Further), it became a turn off. For me, I loved both parts, even if they were not perfect because the movie was not afraid to get a little weird and create something different compared to other similar type films. Besides, it is one of the few films that genuinely creeps me out, and I want to get spooked around this time of the year. So, THERE!

Trick ‘r Treat

The ultimate Halloween film, in my opinion. While many would argue that Creepshow is the greatest horror-anthology ever made, I would say Trick ‘r Treat is. I also consider it my favorite horror film of all time because it appeals to the comedy and the horror of the genre without losing sight of either side of the argument.

But, I guess the reason why I truly love it, is because of the burlap mask wearing character of Sam. Sam is an icon that the genre has been lacking for years because he is a “villain” that you can root for but you are also terrified of him. If you play by his rules (which are fair), you are able to enjoy the holiday, but if you’re naughty, Sam will come looking for you.

Jacob’s Ladder

Not really a “horror” film per se, but it certainly is one creepy title. Jacob’s Ladder is one of those experiences that you think not much of when it happens, but as the days go by, you find that it begins to penetrate your everyday thoughts. The film is surreal and it begins to work on a subconscious level after its seed has been planted. Weeks after my first viewing, I developed a huge appreciation for it. The biblical subtext, the frightening imagery, and the pensive look at death stuck with me in a profound way. But it also gets under my skin, so I now feel the need to watch it around Halloween. You can’t ignore Tim Robbins‘ excellent performance as he deals with his own death and hell.

Drag Me To Hell

Now, I was going to list Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn as a film that I watch every Halloween (turns out I watch it a few times a year) but that’s a little predicable, I guess.

Drag Me to Hell has as many haters as it does lovers but that only makes the arguments more engaging. Drag Me to Hell was the next Evil Dead for me. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t REPLACE the series, it just provided me with something that took me back to age of goofy, gory horror films. Raimi has a knack for these types of films, but unfortunately, he gets pulled in different directions most of the time. Will he ever return to his throne?

Drag Me to Hell makes me laugh and squirm more than anything, but that’s what I want Halloween to be all about.

So, there you have it. That’s my list of films that I love to check out every October. Sure, I bet you will disagree with me on a majority of the titles, but that’s alright, I challenge you to list your films in the comment section below. Express yourselves!

About Jesse Bartel

I write about stuff.
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