Entertainment Column: What to watch this Halloween season

September 24, 2022

There’s no time quite like the beginning of fall. The early gusts of cold air, the cozy clothes and especially the start of Halloween festivities: decorations, costume parties, hayrides, and not being able to go three feet without running into something with pumpkin spice in it. 

But easily my favorite part of every October is getting an excuse to watch all the horror movies I’ve been putting off watching or revisiting. Not just any old horror movies will do though, the best are those that have an especially autumnal atmosphere. No disrespect to films like “Friday the 13th” but they don’t quite fit the season. 

If you’re struggling to pick which movies to watch or have no idea where to start, here’s a select few to get the ball rolling. What better film to start with than the most obvious classic?

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Halloween: Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, nothing quite beats John Carpenter’s 1978 classic “Halloween.” Even under its strict budgetary limitations and being shot in California, it pulls off the perfect Illinois Fall atmosphere. 

A masterclass of camerawork, lighting, score and minimalism all packaged into one of the most iconic films of the season. While the original will always reign superior, it ties in perfectly with what can be a mini marathon. 

Director David Gordon Green’s new trilogy of “Halloween” films function as direct sequels to the 1978 film, including “Halloween” (2018), “Halloween Kills” and concluding with “Halloween Ends” which releases this October 14. 

These can be the perfect start to the season and leave you with something to look forward to once the new film releases in theaters and, if you’re really dedicated, there’s nine other sequels to unpack. 

Barbarian: If you’re looking for a terrifying theatrical experience for the season, then look no further. “Barbarian” released in theaters on September 9 and has been making waves among horror fans since. The directorial feature debut from comedian Zach Cregger is one of the most intense horror films to see in a theater in years. 

While the less that’s said about the plot the better, the film is expertly crafted in almost every way and delivers something that is becoming increasingly hard to come by within the genre: genuine tension. 

Grab a group of friends and watch this with a crowd, as I promise you have no idea where it will take you.

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It Follows: Another film that serves to feel as equally cozy as it is terrifying is 2014’s “It Follows.” Serving up immaculate autumn imagery as well as centering around a group of friends working together to defeat an unknown force. 

Our main character Jay finds herself being stalked by a shapeshifting entity that never stops its pursuit. This film’s scares also hinge on its mystery, so it’s best viewed blind. The film serves up some amazing and tense camerawork that elevates the horror as well as an unforgettable score that I find myself throwing on every October. 

While this film may not literally take place during Halloween, it serves up the vibe better than most.

X/Pearl: Earlier this year “X” was released by A24 and has since become a fan favorite slasher. “X” is a brutal, subversive and hilarious film that simultaneously pays great homage to films like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” while still feeling fresh and original. The film falls more into a summer feel in terms of atmosphere, but with the release of Pearl this month on September 16, the rules can be bent a little. 

“Pearl” serves as a prequel to “X” taking place nearly 60 years beforehand, showing the origins of the previous film’s villain. “Pearl” is unprecedented in that it’s a prequel that’s releasing within the same year as the film before it. “Pearl” is equally as subversive and is a horror film that begs to be seen on the big screen. 

Even more surprisingly, a third film, “MaXXXine” was just announced and will follow the events of “X.” If you haven’t caught these yet, there’s never been a better time to catch up. 

The Evil Dead: Director Sam Raimi has seen no shortage of media coverage in the last year, with his first film in ten years being released this summer, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” He also saw some attention last December with the release of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” with his version of the character, starring Tobey Maguire, making a surprise return to the role. 

Raimi’s influence on the film industry is at its height with his “Spider-Man” trilogy in the early 2000s, but he was making waves far earlier in his career within the horror genre. 1981’s “The Evil Dead” is arguably one of the most influential horror films of all time as well as a huge moment for independent filmmaking.

Made for basically nothing, with a bunch of friends in the middle of the woods in Tennessee, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more effective horror picture, even today. Cutting-edge special effects, unprecedented camera wizardry and the birth of many horror tropes with a wholly unique autumn atmosphere to boot. 

This is another film best experienced with a group of friends in the middle of the night, preferably with a cool fall breeze coming through an open window. And if you’re looking for another marathon, “The Evil Dead” franchise is by far the most consistently excellent out of its contemporaries. With two direct sequels in “Evil Dead 2” and “Army of Darkness” as well as a 2013 reboot that is surprisingly just as great, and a new film “Evil Dead Rise” hitting theaters next March.

Staff reporter Zaden Dennis can be reached at [email protected] and you can find his other reviews at letterboxd.com/Zadenator.

 

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