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31 best horror movies to watch this Halloween

30 September, 2016 — by Christopher Ratcliff0

trick r treat

Welcome all monsters, ghouls and weirdos to our list of the very best horror movies to watch during the Halloween season.

Last year, Methods Unsound celebrated the most horrible time of year by embarking on a ’31 Days of Horror’ challenge, where every day in October we watched a scary movie and wrote about each one. This is an updated version of that list, featuring a few new discoveries from the last 12 months.

31 days of horror movies

Some of the films are much loved classics, some of them are brand new, but hopefully many of them are weird little treasures you haven’t heard of before. This list is a rundown of every film we featured in excerpted form, so please click the links provided for full reviews. We hope you find something to enjoy and endure. Happy October gang!

With huge thanks to the following people who all keep Methods Unsound seriously spooky in October: The Ape, Leon Barton, John Hayward, Matt Owen, Catherine Thompson, Lauren Ward and Ted Wilkes.

1) The Wicker Man

It’s the mixture of absurdity and bleakness that makes The Wicker Man such a satisfyingly complex film. The contrasting performances of Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward, the intertwining of organised religion with ancient custom and modern pragmatism, the evocation of idyllic folksiness interspersed with savagery and an ending that is essentially a blackly comic rug-pulling, all make The Wicker Man the greatest and most quintessential British film of all time. [Christopher]

the wicker man
Wicker-wicker-wild-wild-Woodward

2) Invasion of the Body Snatchers

The 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers features great performances throughout, a subtle but incredibly effective sense of fear and oddness, and a take on a story that both reveres the original but creates something entirely new of it’s own. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is not only a superior remake but a fantastically spine-chilling horror that still feels unsettling today. [Catherine]

invasion of the body snatchers veronica cartwright screaming
“Please tell me when The 1975 have left the stage”

3) You’re Next

You’re Next is the most imaginative slasher movie made in the last few years. Its sharp-tongued, family-based dialogue playfully subverts its outlandish horror and brutality. Also with Erin, Sharni Vinson gives us the greatest horror film hero since Ash. [Christopher]

you're next
“If you can find a better way to open a window, I don’t want to hear about it”

4) The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods is a merciless postmodern deconstruction of the horror genre. A two-way mirror exposing the very soul of the slasher flick and the audiences that consume them. Both celebrating and rejecting the very structure that holds such films together. Lampooning the executives that commission them, critiquing the writers that pen them and exposing those in the cinema who watch them. It’s also a rip-roaringly brilliant laugh. [Ted]

cabin in the woods stoner
First day of rounders practice was tough but some important cuts were made

5) The Witch

The Witch is a startlingly unique horror from first time director Robert Eggers, and perhaps more than any other film, has you stepping out from the dark thinking “thank goodness I live in the modern world”. The Witch is short on hope, heavy on dread, and with period-realistic dialogue and minimal plotting it does an awful lot to cause you discomfort. A phenomenal achievement. [Christopher]

the-witch-thomasin
“What? I thought the Blair Witch had gone out to buy some fags and a Take a Break”

6) Peeping Tom

Peeping Tom is a bold, beautifully shot film, that was also an act of bravery for director Michael Powell. For much of the 40s, he and his partner Emerich Pressburger made some of Britain’s greatest and most beloved films (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes), however 10 years later in 1960, Powell would go it alone and make Peeping Tom, his most personal film yet. But in doing so, it would effectively end his career. Thankfully Peeping Tom has rightfully been reappraised as a masterpiece and not just a precursor to the slasher movie before Psycho got around to it, but also a fascinatingly complex portrayal of a killer whose ‘evil’ isn’t quite as easy to revile as other movie monsters. [Christopher]

peeping tom 1960 soho street
“Nobody’s going to believe I walked down this street by accident”

7) Witchfinder General

Horror doesn’t have to centre around the supernatural. Sometimes the fact that something is just horrific is enough to include it in the genre. What if it’s also loosely based on true events? What if it stars the greatest horror actor of the time? Then you probably have the way-ahead-of-its-time precursor to torture porn, Witchfinder General. The very presence of Vincent Price in a horror is the mark of quality for lovers of older horror movies. The man was the living embodiment of the word creepy. The weird voice, campy ghoulish demeanour and larger than life stage presence meant that he was the most sought after genre actor of his time. He also considers this to be one of his best performances. [John]

witchfinder-general vincent price
“I will do the ‘bunny emerging from my stomach’ trick one more time, but then I will murder you”

8) The Visit

The Visit came out of nowhere in 2015 and it had at least two things going against it. Firstly, it’s yet another found-footage horror film. Secondly, it’s written and directed by everyone’s favourite butt-of-all-cinematic jokes, M. Night Shyamalan. It’s a wonder ANYBODY saw this thing. But The Visit is seriously excellent. All the things that may have initially worried you, only add to its effectiveness. [Christopher]

the visit's becca and grandma
“You can stand there but DON’T GET ANY OLD ON ME!”

9) It Follows

It Follows is like an M.R. James ghost story rewritten by Tinto Brass, but with the deadpan teen realism as Dazed and Confused. It’s taught, frightening stuff with a brilliantly original conceit. And goddamn if it isn’t one of the best looking horrors of recent years with a killer soundtrack to match. [Christopher]

it follows maika monroe outside house
Turns out it was a camera crew the whole time.

10) Pan’s Labyrinth

As Pan’s Labyrinth progresses it manages to weave in and out of fantasy and reality with supreme grace and confidence, each element complimenting the other. Guillermo Del Toro is a master of violent fantasy and in Pan’s Labyrinth has constructed the most beautiful and terrifying fairy tale you’ll ever experience. After you watch it, just see if the Pale Man doesn’t haunt your dreams from then on. [Catherine]

the pale man pan's labyrinth
“We have a good time don’t we? Why would you want to get a television? Let’s play peekaboo again”

11) Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI

I’m not trying to convince anybody that the Friday The 13th movies are good movies because they’re not. Jason Lives: Friday 13th Part VI with its knowing post modern winks and fourth-wall-breaking shenanigans stands as one of the best of the series but it’s still only a couple of notches above shit. The hulking figure of Jason Vorhees, however, is an undeniably beguiling one. A personification of everybody’s greatest horror, both intriguing and repulsive, I could happily watch him cut swathes through any number of minor soap opera characters. In fact over the years I’ve happily watched him senselessly destroy more than 150 lives. He’s nothing if not prolific. [The Ape]

jason lives friday 13th paintball
“No I will not look down, I’ve fallen for that trick before and I shan’t be fooled twice!”

12) Creep

Creep is a super low-budget, independent horror film made by first-time director Patrick Brice, and it stars Brice himself along with co-writer and indie-comedy stalwart Mark Duplass. Despite its comedy credentials, by the end of your experience you’ll learn what a deeply unsettling, black-hearted, mean-spirited little film this is. [Christopher]

peachfuzz creep 2014
“My children’s party rates are £25 for the first hour, and then I get to keep one first-born child for every subsequent hour”

13) The Gate

A conversation between myself and my teenage daughter having just watched Scream and 1981 ‘kids in peril’ horror The Gate:

“So which is scarier, Scream or The Gate?”
“Definitely The Gate”
“So next time you want a scary move at a sleepover you could watch The Gate, right?”
“No way Dad, we would like to get some sleep on a sleepover, the Scream films were just murder mysteries they wouldn’t give us bad dreams like The Gate.”
“Yeah, The Gate rules.”
[The Ape]

Monsters form hell
I told you meeting A-ha in person would be disappointing.

14) Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In is not necessarily your traditional vampire movie (I think they only use the ‘V’ word once) but is a much needed shot in the neck for the genre. Vampires (more than any other folk monster) have been made, remade and rehashed over the years, but they’ve never looked like this before. Let the Right One In is a beautiful meditation on childhood, sexuality and our propensity for violence. [Catherine]

Let the Right One In - scene in the woods
“Probably just having a nap. Yeah, that’s right. Best not to disturb”

15) Re-Animator

Re-Animator wasn’t the first extreme-gore film I saw as a teenager, but it was definitely the most fun. There is a streak of wild entertainment running through the visceral mayhem that sets it apart from its more difficult-to-watch, serious minded peers. I would even go so far to say this is easily the equal to Evil Dead II in the way it perfectly blends comedy and intensely inventive gore. This is body horror with a GSOH. A film that cured me of my obsession with the exhaustingly pompous David Cronenberg. [Christopher]

re-animator west and headless carl hill
“No I will not look behind me, I’ve fallen for that trick before and I shan’t be fooled twice!”

16) Unfriended

Unfriended may be another in a long-line of Blumhouse commercial horrors full of good-looking teens despatched one-by-one, but this is by far the most ingenious of the bunch. One for watching while lying on your back in the dark with your laptop resting on your chest. And then afterwards you will never do that again. [Christopher]

unfriended skype call
Welcome to douche-chat, where you can connect with fellow douchebags around the world.

17) The Burning

The Burning stands out among other 80s slasher movies (well the ones set in a summer camp anyway) by making you care very deeply for its well-rounded characters. It also totally out-disembowels Friday the 13th in terms of quality and creativity. A top class video nasty. [Christopher]

the burning raft scene
“This will end well. I can feel it!”

18) The Invitation

This may sound like a joke as the movie is set in a single location with a limited cast, but The Invitation is one of the most taught, edge-of-you-seat, hand-raised-to-your-mouth thrillers you’ll ever watch. I feel by including it in this list of best horrors, I’m maybe giving the game away, but goddamn this is a film you’ll want to make your friends watch and see how much they squirm. [Christopher]

the invitation dinner party
It’ll bug you for the entire movie, so I’ll help you out… he’s in Game of Thrones.

19) The Ones Below

I’m cheating a bit here as this isn’t strictly a horror film, but The Ones Below is a calculatedly cruel puzzle-box that more people should definitely watch as it’s one of favourites of 2016. The London-set thriller has the grimly black-comic slant of a Roald Dahl short story or a Ruth Rendell novel, while tapping into genuine fears about the chilling randomness of life. Gripping, terrifying stuff. [Christopher]

the ones below therese and jon
To David Morrissey, this is casual wear

20) Frankenhooker

Balls out insane exploitation fare that takes on the thorny issue of rampant misogyny via exploding prostitutes. Frankenhooker is pure genius mixed with Dickensian levels of social commentary. No really. [The Ape]

frankenhooker subway train
And yet still preferable to the Central Line at 8:20am, amirite?

21) Psycho

When you think of Psycho it’s more than likely that your mind conjures up two images. One is of a haunting final face of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, twisting into his Mother’s, accompanied by a sinister monologue about flies that finally confirms the depths of his broken psyche. The other is Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, enjoying her final moments on Earth before being stabbed to death. Hitchcock was a genius, of that there can be no argument. He truly understood what makes us tick and how to best shock, thrill and scare us. Sometimes all at once. The greatest culmination of this is Psycho. [Ted]

psycho shower scene norman bates mother
“You forgot your shower knife! Here you go, I’ll pass it to you”

22) The House of the Devil

That House of the Devil works at all is testament to the resilience of the themes it explores, using the 80s ‘satanic panic’ epidemic as a backdrop, the film may rely on clichés, but it ignores the crutch of irony completely, instead delivering a sharp shocker that will grumble away in the back of your head, replete with jouissant ending for true 80s compatibility. [Matt]

“As you can see, I’m perfectly normal and definitely not a mental Satanist or anything like that”

23) American Werewolf in London

Celebrated critic Roger Ebert gave An American Werewolf in London a two star review upon its release, writing “Landis never seems very sure whether he’s making a comedy or a horror film”, which seems a strange observation to me considering he made the perfect amalgamation of both those genres. [Leon]

An-American-Werewolf-in-London jack and david walking
“It’s fine. You can admit you’ve peed yourself too. It doesn’t have to be weird”

24) Suicide Circle

Suicide Circle sets its low-brow plate far from his high-brow plate but doesn’t break a sweat running between the two to keep them spinning. For every head in the oven there’s a wry observation on the influence of the internet, for every glib stabbing in the neck there’s the insidious permeation of J-Pop and for every grinning housewife hacking into her hands as she chops vegetables, there’s a weird coughing child forcing a policeman to question his very need to exist. Suicide Circle makes us question who we are, what we are and why we are. To move from the Grand Guignol excesses that open the film to such deep profundity is a masterstroke and it’s what makes Suicide Club a very special movie. [The Ape]

suicide circle underground school children
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

25) The Hunger

It’s always refreshing to see a new take on the vampire genre and The Hunger‘s bloodsuckers are unlike any others. They wander around in daylight, they don’t have fangs, and their existence is eventually explained (via the medium of cod-science, naturally) as the result of an invasive strain of blood that transforms its human hosts. The most interesting thing about The Hunger though, is that it isn’t a movie about vampires at all. It’s about style. And billowing curtains. Actually mainly billowing curtains. [Matt]

the hunger 1983
This is the most unsatisfying tile game I’ve ever completed.

26) Nadja

When you sit down to watch a movie and David Lynch is the most normal person in it, you know you’re in for an interesting ride. Michael Almereyda is a weird director, making weird, minutely-observed character-study flicks about oddballs, but few are as odd as the dysfunctional family of vampires in Nadja. On the surface, it’s a re-imagining of the Dracula mythos, and its contemporary New York setting and arch black and white style mean it shares some genes with The Hunger, but this is a far weirder affair and should be on more people’s radars. [Matt]

nadja film
Dour: pour femme.

27) We Are Still Here

We Are Still Here is a solid, old school horror movie, with a strong premise, phenomenal editing, buckets of sloppy gore and features a refreshing take on horror movie protagonists, as a nice, middle-aged married couple have to deal with the ashen demons hanging out in their cellar rather then the usual slew of vile teenagers. It’s definitely one to be treasured. [Christopher]

we are still here barbara crampton
“Oh Christ, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has really lost it this time”

28) Paranormal Activity 3

Paranormal Activity 3 is great. Seriously. I think it’s my favourite sequel of the bunch. And you know what else? I actually love them all. Even the fourth one. And that Latin American spin-off. AND the unofficial sequel set in Tokyo. However of the series, Paranormal Activity 3 best exemplifies the sense of macabre fun and inventive playfulness the PA films use to scare the shit out of its audience. Plus its set in the 80s and all the hair and cameras are really big and cool. [Christopher]

paranormal-activity-3 ghost sheet scene
“This is going to scare her sooooo much! She is deadly allergic to sheets”

29) Dark Was the Night (aka Monster Hunter)

Monster Hunter (or Dark Was The Night as it is known around the rest of the world) is a tense, well-directed horror set in the snowy Northern United States. Using washed out filter effects, lots of drawn out silences and utilizing the hard terrain of upstate New York, the film oozes bleakness. It made me love creature features again. [John]

dark-was-the-night footprints
“I told you we’d regret hiring Big Foot to walk our dogs”

30) Dead Snow

Scandinavia has been responsible for a lot of cool shit. Hot tubs, bleak thrillers, chemically sweet ciders, Let the Right One In and slightly less auspiciously, a Norwegian zombie movie called Dead Snow. A film that on its own promo poster proclaims itself as one of the 25 best zombie films ever made. A lofty claim sure, but I freaking love it all the same. [Lauren]

Dead-snow-nazi zombies
I’d go for a Nazi zombie pun here, but the film used them all up already.

31) Trick ‘r Treat

As if you could watch any other film on Halloween night. Trick ‘r Treat is a fantastical, scary and funny update of 70s and 80s horror anthology flicks that provides laughs and chills aplenty. The four tales are interwoven in a style strongly reminiscent of 80s flicks like Cat’s Eyes, each section neatly dovetailing the last, and while it’s certainly slick with high production values, Trick ‘r Treat retains the gritty edge that made those movies so much fun. [Matt]

trick r treat pumpkin
YOU HAD TO GET THE CHEAP TEALIGHTS DIDN’T YOU?

If that’s not enough terror for one month, check out these 10 banned horror movies you can watch on YouTube.

Summary
Title:
31 best horror movies to watch this Halloween
Description:
Welcome all monsters, ghouls and weirdos to our list of the very best horror movies to watch during the Halloween season.
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