Halloween Movie Recommendations

Not surprisingly, I often get asked for movie recommendations around this time of year. Of course, it’s completely impossible to narrow it down to just a handful. Each major time period in cinema history has its pleasures and pitfalls, and a genre as wide as horror has so many sub-categories that it really comes down to what fits your mood.

So here’s a bunch of favorites, organized approximately by decade. You pretty much can’t go wrong with any of these. Some are a bit campy, if not outright lovable schlock (indicated with a ~), but by and large I’ve tried to stick to ones that will send a genuine chill up the spine. Any or all ought to be fairly easy to find in this day and age.

I do strongly recommend for those of you who are parents, or have young people to whom you are close, that you take advantage of the opportunity to show them a classic black and white. It’s really important for their cultural well-being and society as a whole that we instill in the next generation an appreciation for the classics, before they become too jaded.

With that in mind, most or all of these recommendations would be fine for growing young minds (well, up to the 60s, anyway…). There’s a Kid-Friendly section added below. I’m putting an asterisk next to ones that are particular favorites in our household. Some are so good, they get two.


SILENTS

THE UNKNOWN (1927)**

THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE (1926)

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)**

THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (1928)

THE HANDS OF ORLAC (1924)*

THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1919)**

NOSFERATU (1922)

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920)


1930s

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1931)*

FRANKENSTEIN (1931)

DRACULA (1931)

DR. X (1932)

FREAKS (1932)**

ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932)**

THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932)*

MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE (1932)

WHITE ZOMBIE (1932)

VAMPYR (1932)*

THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932)**

KING KONG (1933)**

THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933)*

MURDERS IN THE ZOO (1933)

MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1933)*

THE BLACK CAT (1934)**

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)**

MAD LOVE (1935)**

THE RAVEN (1935)*

WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935)

THE DEVIL DOLL (1936)*

THE INVISIBLE RAY (1936)*

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939)*


1940s

THE MUMMY’S HAND (1940)

THE DEVIL COMMANDS (1941)*

KING OF THE ZOMBIES (1941)*~

MAN MADE MONSTER (1941)

THE WOLF MAN (1941)

CAT PEOPLE (1942)*

THE APE MAN (1943)~

THE LEOPARD MAN (1943)*

I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943)

THE SEVENTH VICTIM (1943)

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944)

THE LODGER (1944)**

THE UNINVITED (1944)*

VOODOO MAN (1944)*~

HANGOVER SQUARE (1945)**

DEAD OF NIGHT (1945)**

THE BODY SNATCHER (1945)*

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1945)

THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS (1946)

HOUSE OF HORRORS (1946)~

STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP (1946)*

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1946)*


1950s

THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951)*

THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953)*

INVADERS FROM MARS (1953)**

HOUSE OF WAX (1953)*

THEM! (1954)*

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954)*

DIABOLIQUE (1955)**

IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955)

THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT (1955)

THE BLACK SLEEP (1956)

I VAMPIRI (1956)*

INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956)**

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957)

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957)**

CURSE OF THE DEMON (1957)**

THE VAMPIRE (1957)

THE RETURN OF DRACULA (1958)*

BLACK PIT OF DR. M (1958)**

THE BLOB (1958)~

FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (1958)*

HORROR OF DRACULA (1958)*

THE FLY (1958)*

I BURY THE LIVING (1958)

THE CRAWLING EYE (1958)*

IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958)*

THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON (1959)~

HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM (1959)

HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959)

THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH (1959)

THE HEAD (1959)**

THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS (1959)*

THE TINGLER (1959)*

THE MANSTER (1959)*


1960s

BLACK SUNDAY (1960)**

CITY OF THE DEAD aka HORROR HOTEL (1960)**

EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1960)**

HOUSE OF USHER (1960)*

PSYCHO (1960)**

TORMENTED (1960)

THE INNOCENTS (1961)**

MR. SARDONICUS (1961)

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961)

CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961)

CURSE OF THE DOLL PEOPLE (1961)*~

THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF (1962)*

THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE (1962)*~

THE BRAINIAC (1962)*~

CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962)**

THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK (1962)*

NIGHT OF THE EAGLE aka BURN WITCH BURN (1962)*

TALES OF TERROR (1962)

THE HAUNTING (1963)**

ATOM AGE VAMPIRE (1963)*

AT MIDNIGHT, I’LL TAKE YOUR SOUL (1963)*

BLACK SABBATH (1963)**

THE WHIP AND THE BODY (1963)

THE FLESH EATERS (1964)*

THE GORGON (1964)*

ONIBABA (1964)

DARK INTRUDER (1965)*

DR. TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1965)

PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965)

SECONDS (1966)**

THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z (1966)

THE FROZEN DEAD (1966)*~

KILL, BABY, KILL (1966)*

THE SORCERERS (1967)*

TONIGHT, I WILL POSSESS YOUR CORPSE (1967)**

ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968)**

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)**

FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969)*

HORRORS OF MALFORMED MEN (1969)*


1970s

THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971)**

A REFLECTION OF FEAR (1971)

WILLARD (1971)

DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN (1972)

THE HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE (1972)~

GAMES (1972)**

TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972)*

THE EXORCIST (1973)*

THE VAULT OF HORROR (1973)

SISTERS (1973)

THE WICKER MAN (1973)

SHIVERS aka THEY CAME FROM WITHIN (1975)

THE OMEN (1976)

RABID (1977)

SHOCK WAVES (1977)~

SUSPIRIA (1977)*

MAGIC (1978)

DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

THE BROOD (1979)

NOSFERATU, THE VAMPYRE (1979)

TOURIST TRAP (1979)*

ALIEN (1979)


1980s

INFERNO (1980)

WE’RE GOING TO EAT YOU (1980)

THE SHINING (1980)

AN AMERICAN WERWOLF IN LONDON (1981)

EVIL DEAD (1981)*

POSSESSION (1981)*

GHOST STORY (1981)

BASKET CASE (1982)*~

CAT PEOPLE (1982)*

POLTERGEIST (1982)*

THE THING (1982)**

THE DEADLY SPAWN (1983)**

VIDEODROME (1983)**

MR. VAMPIRE (1985)*~

RE-ANIMATOR (1985)*

THE FLY (1986)

A CHINESE GHOST STORY (1987)**

EVIL DEAD 2 (1987)**

THE HIDDEN (1987)*

BRAIN DAMAGE (1988)*~

TETSUO: THE IRON MAN (1989)*


1990s

BRAIN DEAD aka DEAD ALIVE (1992)**

THE DAY OF THE BEAST (1995)**

MIMIC (1997)*

RINGU (1998)*


2000s

DARK WATER (2002)

THE HOST (2006)*

REC (2007)*

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)**

DRAG ME TO HELL (2009)*

LET ME IN (2010)*


THE CREME DE LA CREEP:

OK, want to REALLY get scared / creeped out?

DIABOLIQUE (1955)**

THE INNOCENTS (1961)**

FREAKS (1932)**

SECONDS (1966)**

GAMES (1972)**

RINGU (1998)*

TOURIST TRAP (1979)*

POSSESSION (1981)*

THE THING (1982)**

REC (2007)*


Best atmosphere / overlooked gems:

THE UNKNOWN (1927)**

THE HANDS OF ORLAC (1924)*

THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932)**

DEAD OF NIGHT (1945)**

EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1960)**

ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932)**

THE BODY SNATCHER (1945)*

CITY OF THE DEAD aka HORROR HOTEL (1960)**

VAMPYR (1932)

THE BLACK CAT (1934)**

MAD LOVE (1935)**

THE RAVEN (1935)*

THE LODGER (1944)**

HANGOVER SQUARE (1945)**

THE DAY OF THE BEAST (1995)**


Kid-Friendly Halloween Films

More chills, less blood & nipples. Maybe a stray splat or nipple here and there, but not so you’d notice…

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)**

KING KONG (1933)**

THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933)*

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)**

MAD LOVE (1935)**

THE MUMMY’S HAND (1940)

MAN MADE MONSTER (1941)

THE WOLF MAN (1941)

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944)

DEAD OF NIGHT (1945)**

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1946)*

THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951)*

THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953)*

INVADERS FROM MARS (1953)**

HOUSE OF WAX (1953)*

THEM! (1954)*

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954)*

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957)**

CURSE OF THE DEMON (1957)**

THE BLOB (1958)~

FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (1958)*

THE CRAWLING EYE (1958)*

IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958)*

THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON (1959)~

THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS (1959)*

THE TINGLER (1959)*

HORROR HOTEL (1960)**

MR. SARDONICUS (1961)

THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE (1962)*~

TALES OF TERROR (1962)

THE HAUNTING (1963)**

ATOM AGE VAMPIRE (1963)*

BLACK SABBATH (1963)**

THE GORGON (1964)*

DR. TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1965)

PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965)

THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971)**

TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972)*

MAGIC (1978)

ALIEN (1979)

AN AMERICAN WERWOLF IN LONDON (1981)

EVIL DEAD (1981)*

THE FLY (1986)

MIMIC (1997)*

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)**

DRAG ME TO HELL (2009)*


Horror movies I HATED:

BLAIR WITCH PROJECT

BLOODSUCKING FREAKS

JU-ON / THE GRUDGE

ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES

THE SINFUL DWARF

ANYTHING BY LUCIO FULCI

Pretty much any slasher flick

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Frank Coleman: Drummer/Arranger/Producer. Actor/Writer. Video/VR Artist. Multimedia OG/SME. ASCAP/AEA. Part-Time Amateur Neurosurgeon.