Whilst most people would go for Shawn of the Dead for classic horror comedy, my recommendation goes to Peter Jackson’s Braindead! As zombies infect a small New Zealand town Lionel just can’t let go of his infected mother. Something close to Evil Dead 2 meets Neighbours; this film is filled with zombies, Oedipus complexes and buckets and buckets of blood. It is a farcical gore fest to settle any boozy Halloween night.
Whilst the premise and fnar-fnar joke title may worry some viewers, this film flirts with crass subject matter but quickly abandons that vein for a tongue in cheek homage to gory, low budget horror films like Friday the 13th and Piranha that’s ten times more fun than higher budget efforts like Tarantino’s Death Proof.
Tim Burton seems to the king of entry level horror with films like Beetlejuice and The Nightmare before Christmas under his belt. His obsession with outsider figures and people who seem small and spindly in their world is perfect for kids looking for an enchanting gothic experience. It’s definitely fitting for Halloween despite its somewhat tame PG rating. People ask a lot why ‘all Tim Burton movies look the same’ but that’s like asking why people have to die in a murder mystery. That’s just how it is.
My favourite John Carpenter film is The Thing, however as it’s Halloween, it would be foolish not to go with John Carpenter’s seminal slasher film Halloween. After Hitchcock invented the genre with Psycho, Carpenter popularised it with this fun and thrilling scare-fest that’s more frightening than a lot of films these days. I mean it just wouldn’t be Halloween without well, Halloween.
This gory siege thriller from wonderful new talent Jeremy Saulnier is very grisly. Patrick Stewart is electrifying and Anton Yelchin is great in one of his last performances. This morbid, darkly funny, nihilistic, action/thriller of a horror film will leave you with such a sense of desperation and hopelessness that you will walk away having had a truly cathartic experience.
Bloody Disgusting released an article recently celebrating Alien as the ultimate haunted house film, the claim being that in the best haunted house films the victims can just leave. To quote the now infamous tag line, “in space, no one can hear you scream”. There’s so much that works about Alien, from the wonderful cinematography, stunning production design by H. R. Giger, to the design of the Alien exploiting the male unwillingness to deal with dangerous sexual topics like rape, to that sequence in the dining room.
This is slightly more edgy than Scissorhands, but this is another choice great for family fun. Many people watch this film as children then go back to it later and are surprised by how edgy it is. Despite director Joe Dante’s flailing career, Gremlins remains the high watermark of family horror comedy Halloween entertainment. Just don’t feed it after midnight.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
A complete send up of all the other types of films on this list + a few more. This sci-fi, horror, musical, comedic send up of b-movies of all kinds is a riot. Get some friends round with a good stash of beers and no film will be more fun. Scream out the lines, sing along to the songs, and dance along to the Time Warp. I can see you shiver with anticipation, let’s do the Time Warp again!
Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox