Author: Clif Cody|Stephen Nemeth
There are two types of people in this world: those who like scary movies and those who do not.
While some viewers love shivering under blankets on the verge of tears, others favor charming, rather than grotesque, films. To find a film that suits everyone’s preferences, The Weekly selected some of the best Halloween movies, listed in order of scariness. Each movie is given a rating from 0–10 jack-o-lanterns, zero meaning not scary at all and 10 guaranteeing a frightful Halloween experience.
These films are perfect for those trying to get in the Halloween spirit without any nightmares or traumatizing memories.
“Hocus Pocus” (1993), a well-loved childhood throwback, follows the story of three witches resurrected on Halloween night in Salem, Massachusetts. Two teenagers, a young girl and an immortal cat foil their quest to find everlasting youth in a film that is sure to entertain viewers of all ages. One jack-o-lantern.
“Halloweentown” (1998): One jack-o-lantern.
“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966): Half a jack-o-lantern.
Like broccoli and Cheetos, one would never guess that comedy and horror would be such a tasteful combination. Ruben Fleischer’s 2009 movie “Zombieland” is a fitting example.
Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), an introverted and quirky college student, surprisingly holds his own in a zombie apocalypse. He does so by imposing rules on himself to avoid getting into unnecessarily dangerous situations. Although he shows a propensity to survive on his own, he convinces an exuberant and perhaps even slightly unstable Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) to give him a ride and eventually teams up with him. Their travels are interrupted when two women, played by Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, hijack their guns and their vehicle. With a little romantic turn and an ever-encroaching zombie horde, this movie provides a mix of laughter and suspense that will ease the viewer’s nerves about the continuous line of ghouls outside their door on Halloween night. Three jack-o-lanterns.
“Cabin in the Woods” (2011): Five jack-o-lanterns.
“End of the World” (2013): Four-and-a-half jack-o-lanterns.
Low-Budget, Independent Films
For decades, low-budget, independently produced horror films have been notorious for exciting those Halloween fanatics who can not handle the realistic gore of the “Saw” series or the anxiety-inducing plot of “The Strangers.” There is something about the overzealous use of ketchup-colored blood or an obviously fake zombie hand that can put people on the edge of their seats just as well as, if not better than, a multi-million dollar Hollywood production.
“Phantasm” (1979) centers on two boys, played by Michael Baldwin and Bill Thornbury, their concerns about a suspicious mortician (Angus Scrimm) and the continued disappearance of local townspeople. But it was really the murderous flying metal ball in the morgue that most people remember from the movie. The “Phantasm” series exhibits the effects that independently produced films can have on the horror market in Hollywood — that flying metal ball attracted viewers and launched four sequels, one of which is slated to be released either this year or the next. Five jack-o-lanterns.
“The Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984): Eight jack-o-lanterns.
“Friday the 13th” (1980): Seven-and-a-half jack-o-lanterns.
Psychological thrillers are perfect for those who want to get their adrenaline pumping but prefer to be stimulated by intricate plot twists and turns rather than jarring gore scenes and demons.
Hitchcock’s “Psycho” (1960) is a cornerstone in the horror genre and overall is one of the greatest movies of all time. The film focuses on Marion (Janet Leigh), a woman who runs from the law after stealing $40,000 and finds herself at The Bates Motel, which is owned by taxidermist Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). The film is known for its classic shower scene, innovative use of audio production, plot development and shocking finale. Seven jack-o-lanterns.
“Shutter Island” (2010): Seven jack-o-lanterns.
“The Shining” (1980): Eight-and-a-half jack-o-lanterns.
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For scary movie junkies who are willing to increase their risk of heart attack, Anthony Hopkins’s performance in “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) is sure to do the trick.
FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) asks the cannibalistic Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) for help in apprehending another well-known serial killer. The chilling push and pull of their uncomfortable relationship only drives the viewer further back into the folds of their seat. The movie weaves in a little blood to push it over the top. It has become not only an iconic film, but one in which the viewer will wonder for hours after if they will ever be someone’s next meal. Nine jack-o-lanterns.
“Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974): Eight jack-o-lanterns.
“The Exorcist” (1973): 10 jack-o-lanterns.
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