10. Dead Alive/Braindead (Peter Jackson, 1992)
This classic horror-comedy still represents Peter Jackson’s best work, in my opinion.
9. Invaders from Mars (Tobe Hooper, 1986)
For one thing, I love Karen Black. For another, I grew up loving this movie, so I am more or less blind to how cheesy it is. It still stands as a nice metaphor for peer pressure, though — “Come on kid, go over the hill, everyone’s doing it!” Still creepy after all these years.
8. Cabin Fever (Eli Roth, 2002)
It’s not a perfect film, but there is such a handmade quality about this movie — you can tell Eli Roth put love into it. Plus, “Professor of being a dog” will never stop being funny, never!
7. Freddy Vs. Jason (Ronny Yu, 2003)
Yeah, it’s a pure marketing movie, an honest-to-goodness piece of crap that’s badly made and even more badly written. But it’s the perfect Halloween two-for-one, and I would even argue that this movie falls into the so-bad-it’s-good category. Just barely. Oh, and I rooted for Freddy, all the way.
6. Final Destination (James Wong, 2000)
The third movie wasn’t all that, and the second one was a little convoluted, despite its awesome opening car crash, so I’d say your best bet is good old Final Destination. For clever scares and attractive young actors, you needn’t look any further, plus it’s by the guys who did the best X-Files episodes, and I like to support them whenever possible.
5. Dellamorte Dellamore/Cemetery Man (Michele Soavi, 1994)
This Italian film features a strange mixture of comedy, horror and melodrama, with a good dash of surrealism to round it all out. It stars Rupert Everett in the best role of his life, as a jaded undertaker. Definitely worth seeing.
4. Jeepers Creepers (Victor Salva, 2001)
I love this series, I don’t care what anybody says. Yeah, OK, the director is a pedophile, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good artist. People forgave Woody Allen. Sometimes the films take themselves a little too seriously, but there are plenty of thrills to make up for it, and the scripts are very well written, by horror standards.
3. Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975)
I’m a big Dario Argento fan, and I could make a whole Halloween countdown using just his movies, but Deep Red is probably my favorite. His movies can be a little off-putting at first, because they’re not realistic, they’re exaggerated and colorful and bizarre, but once you get used to his style, you keep coming back for more. Best horror director ever.
2. 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002)
This is still one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen, and not just because of the scenes that make me jump. The post-apocalyptic nightmare aspect is what really makes this movie follow you around for days and nervous nights. The best scary movies are all about the mood, that “safety and comfort and society are only an illusion” realization that makes you think about your own life and how vulnerable it is.
1. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick, 1993)
What says Halloween more than a movie that opens with a song called “This is Halloween”? Answer: nothing.