Best of Halloween-Themed Horror Movies — II

Sleepy Hollow (1999)


Tim Burton’s adaptation of classic short story by Washington Irving is a crackling Gothic yarn. Although the movie doesn’t blatantly shows it Halloween connection, the galloping of headless horseman and pumpkins makes it a perfect Halloween treat. The tale takes place in 1799. An avid New York city constable, Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) is sent to investigate about a headless horseman who is murdering the villagers of Sleepy Hollow. Burton’s visual team including cinematographer Lubezki makes this film a feast for eyes, even though leaves a hollow spot in the place of substance. Enjoy it for its gothic delight.


The Nightmare before Christmas (1993)


What list does Henry Selick’s path-breaking stop-motion picture belong? Christmas or Halloween? I would say that it belongs to both. The story unfolds in Halloween town on October 31. The elegant jack Skellington – the Pumpkin King – has arranged another devilish Halloween, but feels that he needs to do something different on his life. His quest takes him to far more cheery place called ‘Christmas Town.’ The film’s initial macabre sketching is done by Tim Burton. This film is not exactly a Halloween-horror but has its share twisted, freakish moments. The young children might enjoy the movie without becoming lost or bored, but its deft humor and quirkiness works better with adults.


Lady in White (1988)


Frank LaLoggia’s mild Pg-13 movie is like a campfire ghost story. The hero is a 9-year old boy, Frankie, who sees the ghost of a murdered 10-year-old girl. On the Halloween night 1962, the bullies of Frankie’s school lure him out and lock him in the school cloak room. There he precisely witnesses, how the girl became a ghost. The story is blend of folk legend and director Frank’s recreation of childhood nightmares. “Lady in White” is not particularly original but a solid mini-chiller, which creates a strange, effective child’s-eye-view of a sinister wide world and a restless afterlife.


Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)

Dark Night of the Scarecrow 1

Frank De Felitta’s well-made TV movie is an average horror flick with a certain amount of charm. The story takes place in a small country town and is about Bubba Ritter, who has the mentality of a child. A lynching group kills the innocent Bubba, who is suspected of killing a young girl. The perpetrators soon begin to see a scarecrow and get dropped one by one. The low-budget production design manages to bring out some good Halloween atmosphere, using the dry cornfields and even a holiday costume party for mood. The pop horror lovers might feel that this movie is outdated, but it’s lot better Halloween-horror than the bloody overkills and remake/sequel hells.


Halloween (1978)


John Carpenter’s 91 minute, minor masterpiece is one of the most economically successful independent movie (made for about $300,000, it grossed some $70 million in theaters) and an undefeated Halloween Classic. On 1963, Halloween night, a young child murders his own sister. He was locked up the next 15 years in a mental institution until the Halloween night of 1978. He returns to his home town and inflicts mayhem and terror.  There are plentiful moments of chills, where the killer Michael Myers lingers in the corner of the frame. The fundamental strength of a horror movie is that it makes us witness all the horrible things without the ability to intervene. And so, the POV shots in “Halloween” constantly play with our sense of security. This is a classic Halloween tale and the best of the best in horror genre.


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