We have just over a week left until Halloween, and that means one thing: it’s time for some horror movies!
With October 31st coming up, even viewers who aren’t necessarily into the horror genre for the rest of the year sometimes want to check out some horror films to get into the festive, spooky mood, and there’s plenty out there for them.
But sometimes it’s not good enough to just watch whatever the scariest movies are at the moment. Some movies, like The Shining, are absolutely terrifying, but not necessarily the most fun to watch. Sometimes what you want around this time of year is to gather some friends together, pop some popcorn, and have fun watching some fun, goofy, festive horror spectaculars.
That’s what we’ll be looking at here: the most fun horror movies to watch particularly in a group setting around this time of year. These movies might not be the most high caliber of films – we won’t see any Hitchcock competition in this category – but they’ll still give you your fair share of creepy imagery, fun, gross out gags, and intentional or unintentional humor to make for some perfect Halloween viewing.
10. Evil Dead 2
This movie is just so nonstop and unrelenting. From just a few minutes in, the movie is already so fast paced it feels like it’s on its last act, and that feeling rarely lets up throughout the following 90 minutes.
The original Evil Dead, directed by Sam Raimi, was a pretty good, creepy movie despite its pretty low budget. It took itself rather seriously, and was an honest attempt to scare us and gross us out.
Evil Dead 2, though, is like a parody of the first one, as if Raimi is making fun of himself and taking this legitimate horror idea and making it ridiculously goofy and fun. The opening 10 minutes of the film is essentially a remake of the first movie, ending in the same place but with the events being different. For example in the first movie, Ash and a group of friends go to the cabin. In the opening ofEvil Dead 2, it’s just him and his girlfriend. Because of that, it can easily be thrown on and watched without having seen the original, because there really is not much continuity here.
It’s a delightfully silly movie which is like a horror version of Looney Toons or The Three Stooges, with stop motion skeletons, slapstick comedy, and buckets and buckets of blood to a ridiculous extreme. It’s a movie that’s just here to have a good time, and it’s hard not to smile along with the silliness.
James Gunn directed the biggest film of this year, Guardians of the Galaxy, and is now a massively popular director with a lot of responsibility in the Marvel universe. So it’s hard to imagine that his directorial debut was a movie about killer slugs.
Slither, released in 2006, is like one big tribute to classic monster movies. It doesn’t veer into the realm of parody though. For the most part, it’s an earnest recreation of what one of those movies might look like in modern times, while still throwing in some funny dialogue to reminded us not to take any of this too seriously.
The movie begins when a meteorite falls to Earth and some idiot, Grant, decides to poke it with a stick. It’s the classic setup for an alien invasion film. His brain is soon taken over by a mysterious creature, and he begins to transform into a nasty, slug-like creature which just becomes more and more disgusting throughout the film.
For the rest of the movie the characters, including Grant’s wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks) and police chief Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) have to try to stop the slug from taking over the town. It takes a bit to get going but once it does, the movie is like a best of reel of crazy, gross out effects and moments to make you recoil in your seat. It’s an absolute blast of b-movie goodness.
8. Drag Me to Hell
Drag Me to Hell is like Evil Dead 2, but in modern times and taken a bit more seriously. That makes sense, as both films were directed by Sam Raimi, and Drag Me to Hell is exactly what you’d expect it to be when you keep that in mind.
The film revolves around a bank loan officer, Christine (Alison Lohman), who denies a mysterious old woman a loan. Of course, the old woman puts a curse on her, and the rest of the movie is Christine being tormented by crazy demons as she tries to put a stop to the curse.
A lot of people didn’t know how to react to this movie when it came out. They laughed at how silly it was but not quite realizing that the silliness is intentional and not a fault of the movie. Like Evil Dead 2, there’s tons of slapstick comedy in the form of gross out gags, and it’s hard not to laugh at how ridiculous some of it is.
But while Evil Dead 2 borders on complete parody, Drag Me to Hell mostly takes itself seriously as a horror movie, which in some way makes some of the humor even funnier. It’s completely earnest in presenting you with this insane, over the top film, but Raimi is clearly messing around and just having fun with the genre.
This is another movie in the same vein as Evil Dead 2 in terms of being an absolutely ridiculous gore fest that you can’t help but have a good time with. Released in 1985 and based on the work of HP Lovecraft, the movie revolves around a medical student who starts doing some seriously freaky experiments to reanimate dead tissue.
From there, things just spiral out of control. The film is essentially like a more modern version ofFrankenstein with a good mix of comedy and disgusting practical effects, complete with blood, severed heads, and plenty of guts. It’s a complete mess, but also a pretty fun and silly for horror fans who can stomach some bloodshed and grisly special effects.
6. Freddy vs Jason
Throughout the ‘80s, the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street movies were basically the definition of mindless slasher garbage. Though both franchises started relatively strong, each one descended into a predictable formula of a bunch of teenagers getting killed by the monster who always comes back for a sequel the following year. But like everything else on this list, they were and still are pretty dumb, mindless fun.
Freddy vs. Jason is perfect for anyone who ever liked that kind of movie, and is one of those crossover movies that actually really works. The plot isn’t too important except that it involves Freddy and Jason both terrorizing a bunch of teenagers and fighting with each other too. The characters are dumb, but it works as a cheesy mashup of everything we loved and hated about the ’80s, slasher movies, and seeing the two horror icons fight is a pure dream for any horror fan.
5. Final Destination 3
The Final Destination franchise is a series that knows exactly what it is, and it’s like the closest thing we have in modern times to the mindless slasher garbage of the ‘80s.
Each Final Destination movie opens on a group of teenagers, one of whom receives a vision of an oncoming disaster. In this case, the main character receives a vision of a roller coaster accident right before she and her friends are about to get on it. Because of the vision they get off the ride, and low and behold, it actually does crash.
But they were supposed to die, and you can’t cheat death, so the rest of the movie involves each member of the group being picked off one by one. But unlike a typical slasher movie where a killer comes after the teenagers, in this movie the villain is death itself, and the characters die in random accidents or some ridiculous Rube Goldberg-esque death traps that they’re unlucky enough to walk into.
This movie has just enough horror cheese to be a fun time, but also takes itself just seriously enough to laugh at. It’s never winking at you at how silly it is, but the creators clearly know they’re making trash and have a fun time with it. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s a fun modern take on some of the slasher tropes that the horror genre has gotten so accustomed to.
With a lot of cheesy horror movies, we have to suffer through some pretty bad dialogue and boring scenes before getting to what we really came for. What’s great about V/H/S is that it’s like condensed horror, giving us the best moments of a horror film and ending up feeling like a best of reel with just what we want to see.
V/H/S is a horror anthology in the vein of Creepshow or The Twilight Zone. The setup of the film involves a group of criminals who break into a house to steal a VHS tape but while there, they discover stacks and stacks of tapes that they begin to watch. They soon discover each one of these tapes depicts some sort of grisly murder or supernatural activity. We as an audience watch five of these tapes with them, and so the movie essentially ends up being a series of 20 minute short films.
What’s great about this is that we get a lot of different examples of different types of horror films, and each one offers something unique. The best short is definitely the final one, “10/31/98,” found footage of a group of guys who go out on Halloween night only to encounter some pretty freaky stuff. The movie suffers from bad acting in places and some pretty cheesy dialogue, but it’s actually pretty scary at times and perfect for a low budget horror movie experience around this time of year.
3. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is basically a comedy first and a horror movie second, but it is so downright hilarious that it has to be mentioned. Like the Scream genre, the film takes worn out genre tropes and puts a comedic spin on them, in this case suggesting that maybe he have been looking at those evil hillbillies in the ‘cabin in the woods’ genre all wrong. It’s hard to talk about this movie too much without giving things away, but for anyone remotely interested in the horror genre and looking to have some fun this October, you really can’t go wrong with Tucker and Dale.
2. The Cabin in the Woods
The Cabin in the Woods is both a parody and condemnation of horror films and a celebration of their tropes and how fun the genre can be. It is the ultimate horror movie, and feels like the natural culmination of everything the genre has been doing over the past several decades.
Written by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers) and directed by Drew Goddard, the movie follows a group of teenagers who travel to a cabin in the woods only to be picked off one by one. It sounds like the most cliche horror plot ever, but in actuality, there’s something far more sinister happening behind the scenes.
This is the perfect movie to end a horror binge around this time of year. It’s a fun, well written movie that both revels in the tropes we’re all familiar with, comments on them, and makes us realize why we both love and hate horror. And though I wouldn’t want to spoil it, the last act of this movie is probably the best thing to happen in a horror film in the past 15 years.
1. Trick ‘r Treat
Trick ‘r Treat is to Halloween as A Christmas Story is to Christmas. Since its release in 2009, I have watched the movie every single October. It is an absolute classic of the genre.
What’s great about the movie that makes it so perfect for this time of year is that there are a lot of movies about Christmas, the ideas that Christmas represents and why we celebrate it, but there aren’t a lot of movies about Halloween. There are movies set around Halloween, but usually the holiday is just in the background as a bunch of teenagers are getting killed.
Trick ‘r Treat is about Halloween. It’s about the mythology of the holiday, why we celebrate it, what it represents, and why it’s important. The film takes place on Halloween night and is kind of an anthology, telling a few different stories but having them all collect and take place in the same town. The movie hits us over the head with so much Halloween imagery that it’s impossible not to get swept up in the spirit of the holiday, and it’s the absolute perfect movie for a late night Halloween viewing.