The Edge’s 13 Essential Halloween Horrors


1. The Cabin in the Woods

Part of that very rare breed; a modern horror film that actually has an original idea, The Cabin in the Woods has succeeded in developing a huge cult following in the couple of years since it’s 2012 release. Perfect for repeat viewings and filled with quotable dialouge and a heap of nerdy film references to boot, Drew Goddard’s film manages to surpass 1996’s Scream in the process taking it’s crown as the best postmodern horror film of all time. And yet, even if you irgnore all of the film’s meta-humour and subversive wit (which would be criminal to spoil for those who haven’t seen it) there should be enough to please mainstream audiences as well. Seemingly breaking all the tropes of contemporary horror films (most notably that they have to be kind of rubbish), The Cabin in the Woods should still satiate genre fans with it’s playful gore, variety of immaginitve creatures and an ending that really does turn things up to 11 in the best possible way. Plus, there’s a bit where a unicorn impales someone with its horn so you know it’s gotta be awesome.

Words by Harrison Abbott 

2. 1408

By no means the most celebrated of the many, many Stephen King adaptations out there, 1408 finds an on-form John Cusack as Mike Enslin, a celebrated non-fiction writer obsessed with debunking America’s craziest paranormal myths. But whilst on his latest 1408bassignment at the infamous Dolphin Hotel, Enslin finds himself suddenly trapped inside a haunted hotel room bearing the exact same number as the film’s title (surprise surprise). What ensues is an insanely freaky evening of lavish and unpredictable scares, building a modern horror film that never sells itself short and piles on the madness at every opportunity.

Whereas most contemporary horrors look towards cheap jump-scares and wobbly make-up to inject their terror, 1408 gradually builds a tone of total uncertainty. All the fear (and the fun) lies in the film’s deeply ingrained ability to simply shock without question. Throw in an unreliable narrative and a smooth-as-ever Samuel L. Jackson as the creepy hotel proprietor and you have yourself a really rather original and well-strung horror film. After all, it really is “an evil fucking room”.

Words by Ben Robins 

3. Poltergiest 

Apparently there was a time in the 1980s when horror film’s were actually immaginitve and fun. That REALLY isn’t the case anymore (bar a few exceptional…exceptions) but that’s ok, we still have Tobe Hooper’s wonderful Poltergiest. Far more tame than Hooper’s194tvn6u6kw0gjpg other entries in the genre (The Texas Chainsaw Masacre, Salem’s Lot etc.) this is probably the closest you’ll ever get to a family friendly horror film. Somehwat reminiscent of a ride on a ghost train, the film is also much less moody and grim than others of its type and instead  takes pleasure and glee in delivering its ghoulish scares. Perfect viewing for Halloween; Demon Trees! Killer Clown Dolls! Huge Monster things! Poltergiest also has a warmth and heart that is surprisingly endearing. The whole thing is encapsulated pretty much perfectly in Jerry Goldsmith’s iconic score, which mirrors the film’s charming blend of creepiness and naïvety. Watch it now before the impending remake arrives to fuck it all up!

Words by Harrison Abbot 

4. Evil Dead II 

The first Evil Dead is equally worthy of a mention here and, don’t freak out, but so is the 2013 remake. Hell despite its problems Army of Darkness is still pretty good in its own right too. But none of these films have the same ludicrous appeal as the ridiculously OTT henriettasequel/ kind of remake, that’s mantra seems to have been “anything goes”. From the Looney Tunes esque slapstick to the LAUGHING DEER HEAD! the film embraces its own insanity in the best possible way. This type of indulgent attitude can often result in a film being a lot more fun to make than it is to watch. With Evil Dead II though it pays off brilliantly, culminating in one of the most enjoyable horror films… no … most enjoyable films, ever made.

Words by Harrison Abbott

5. Cat People

The original Cat People, released back in 1942, is a horror in its purest form, looking at the animalism within humanity; an insecurity that horrifies us. Focusing on a woman that is
cat-people-1942-1-1fearful that when she becomes intimate with her partner she will manifest into a cat, the film explores a woman’s sexual awakening as well as examining society at the time and its patriarchal tendency to suppress women’s sexual pleasure. Bridging horror, thriller and film noir genres, Cat People isn’t a screaming and jumping horror, but plays on creepy nights, the sound of the invisible enigma, the air of the unknown, the notion of “the other” and the monster within humankind. It doesn’t slip into becoming overt, but is tantalising and playful in its approach. Unlike many contemporary horrors, Cat People has depth and knows exactly what it is doing.

Words by Lewis Taplin

6. Ju-on: The Grudge

“The curse of one who dies in the grip of powerful rage (…) takes effect in  the places that person was alive. Those who encounter it die, (…)” With this sinister opening, Japanese the-grudge-593x360horror The Grudge does not leave much to imagination. The story focuses upon a house in which a gruesome murder takes place and subsequently, as per the Japanese beliefs, curse is created, embodied by a woman Kayako, and proceeds to consume anyone who dares to enter. As the plot progresses, we discover the mystery behind the grudge as well as extremely creative means of turning you into a shivering wreck. Highly recommended for people who seek a thrill that a constant feeling of agitation provides.

Words by Martyna Posluszna 

7. The Grudge: American remake 

And as expected, a successful Japanese horror must have its remake. American version of Ju-on: The Grudge makes the plot revolve around an american student who moves in to Tokyo with her boyfriend. Working as a nurse, she ends up taking care after a woman imagesliving in the cursed house. Shortly after being exposed to the supernatural powers, is haunted by the spirit, and wants to investigate the mystery on her own. This remake is quite poor in terms of being faithful to the original; it does not create atmosphere unsettling enough for the audience to be immersed by it throughout the whole film. It does, however, contain several scenes that generate a subtle sense of unease and dread. Also, Sarah Michelle Gellar’s performance is definitely solid and convincing. If you are not specifically a J-horror fan, you might just enjoy the remake.

Words by Martyna Posluszna 

8. The Birds

There is no denying the significance of Hitchcock’s mastery in creating a suspense so heavy, you will not realize you stopped breathing and are now being resuscitated. The The Birds 1Birds is no exception. A wealthy socialite comes down to a small city in pursuit of a potential well-to-do and incredibly handsome lover. Shortly thereafter, a bizarre phenomenon occurs – birds start viciously attacking people. Even though the movie was made in 1963, in terms of special effects it is perfect and extremely believable. Birds act mercilessly, gouging people’s eyes out and pinning them to the ground using just their beaks. Throughout the whole movie, tension is continually building up which makes it memorably captivating. Needless to say, once you watch it, you might start flinching at the sight of a conspicuous flock of birds.

Words by Martyna Posluszna 

9. Texas Chainsaw Massacre

You cannot have a proper Halloween celebration without watching at least one good ol’ slasher film. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, released in 1974, tells the story about a group of images-2teenagers who fall victim to a sadistic family when trustfully asking for direction. The movie is filled with raw torture scenes, that were considered the unthinkable back then. The antagonists are deeply twisted and purely evil. The main one, Leatherface, loosely inspired by a serial killer Ed Gein, with his signature weapon – a chainsaw sledgehammer, has since become, along with Freddy Kreuger (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Micheal Myers (Halloween) and Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th),  one of the most recognizable and memorable killers in the contemporary cinema. It is a must-see film for every respectable horror fan.

Words by Martyna Posluszna 

10. Oculus

Oculus is probably the nicest surprise the horror film industry had to offer over the best 10 years. Having expected yet another badly edited with piteously bad acting and poorly Katie-Sackhoff-Oculusdeveloped ideas, I owe Mike Flanagan, the director, personal apologies. The movie is perfect for those who seek intelectual stimulation and want to be scared stiff at the same time. The film tells the story of a sister who is desperate to prove that her parents death was not a result of a murder per se, but was hugely impacted by supernatural phenomenon. It is the kind of movie that will keep you wondering, what is real and what is not. If you decide it is something you might be interested in, I would advised hiding your mirrors for the night…

Words by Martyna Posluszna 

11. Scream (1996)

The year is 1996 – the horror genre is a complete mess, with unoriginal plotlines and clichéd motifs leaving audiences bored out of their minds. Not a moment too soon, Wes scream-ghostfaceCraven’s Scream came along and breathed new life into the field, bringing with it fresh concepts, self-aware characters and satire of familiar elements made popular by classic films such as Friday the Thirteenth and Halloween.

Scream follows the story of Sidney Prescott – a teenage girl being targeted by a mysterious masked killer by the name of “Ghostface”. As more and more people around town fall victim to the murderer, Sidney, her friends, news reporter Gale Weathers and newbie-cop Dewey will have to make use of a set of rules, laid out by film-buff Randy, in order to make sure they aren’t next.

Perhaps the reason I love this film so much is the “whodunit” factor: the first time I saw it I was so drawn in by my desire to find out who would live, who would die, and who the killer was. So much so that a week later I made a bunch of my friends watch it, just so I could watch them try to decipher the mystery for themselves. For me, it’s an essential viewing, whether it’s Halloween or not. With an engaging plot, fresh outlook and adrenaline rushes galore, just remember: “everyone’s a suspect.”

Words by Lucy Webb

12. The Thing (1982) 

A critical and commercial failure upon its release, John Carpenter’s passion project; a remake of his childhood favourite The Thing from Another World (itself an adaptation of the novella Who Goes There?) has since joined the ranks of the most revered horror films of all time. More than just a standard alien invasion story the film is packed with Cold War thething1982-1era paranoia and anxieties. But political allegory and social commentary aren’t exactly what you’re looking for on Halloween right? Luckily, The Thing also works exceedingly well as tense, twisted, gory fun . With memorable one liners, an obligatorily cool Kurt Russel and a fantastic synthesizer led Ennio Morricone score, the film has plenty to offer. And that’s without even mentioning the dizzying imagination on display in Rob Bottin’s  peerless creature designs and practical effects.

Words by Harrison Abbott

13. The Fog

Another one from the Carpenter canon, this time in the form of an under appreciated chiller released in 1980 (yes this is the original not the abhorrent CGI saturated remake). the-fog-movieThe Fog may not quite have the same iconic legacy as Halloween or The Thing and perhaps there’s a reason for that. However regardless of whether or not it deserves a privileged place in the horror hall of fame, it still delivers on scares. The set-up is simple but effective: A fishing town is cursed with a supernatural fog which brings with it the zombie-like ghosts of murdered sailors, who are intent on killing 6 people to avenge their own deaths. The premise is hardly revolutionary but what stands out here is the fantastic craftsmanship and prevailing sense of dread. Some aspects may seem dated now, but you can’t fault Carpenters excellent direction.

Words by Harrison Abbott 


About Author

I have the enviable skill of making TV watching, Video-game playing and ranting about films appear to be a legitimate form of work. It's exhausting. Oh and I am the Culture Editor now... that too!

Film & English student, Deputy Editor of The Edge and President of FilmSoc. Likes FKA twigs, BANKS and other capitalised artists.

Former Film Editor, Film graduate and general supporter of all things moving-picture related. Accidentally obsessed with Taylor Swift. Long-time Ellen Page fanboy.

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