fright night  | 

Top 11 spooky films to watch this Halloween

Close-up of three teenagers in a dark room, with frightened impressions on their faces while watching a movie

Close-up of three teenagers in a dark room, with frightened impressions on their faces while watching a movie

Esther McCarthy

Fright night is coming and from classics to newer releases there are many great horror movies to choose from this Halloween.

Which one spooks you the most - the terrifying killers in classics Psycho and Halloween? Or the fearsome creatures in more contemporary frightfests like Us or A Quiet Place?

Whether you’re in the mood for full-on scares in the Overlook Hotel or frights laced with nervous laughter at the hands of the horror masters, Esther McCarthy’s selection will get the shoulders shuddering.

Us (2019)

US director Jordan Peele’s follow up to the excellent Get Out is more of a straight-up horror - a twisted, graphic and violent tale with some big memorable scenes. It tells of The Wilsons, who are looking forward to downtime at their holiday home, though a series of coincidences have left them anxious. It turns out they have every right to be when four masked strangers descend upon the house. Lupita Nyong’o and Elizabeth Moss star.

Psycho (1960)

Often mimicked but never equalled, Psycho sees horror maestro Alfred Hitchcock at the top of his game. It tells the story of a young secretary (Janet Leigh), on the run with her boyfriend who check into the rundown Bates Motel. Big mistake - there they meet Norman (Anthony Perkins) who has an interest in (EEK!) taxidermy and a difficult relationship with his mother.

Hereditary (2018)

Toni Collette was sorely overlooked for her brilliant performance in this suspenseful and unnerving horror thriller. When the mother of the Graham family passes away, their daughter and grandchildren unravel a series of strange and scary secrets, discovering a sinister fate. Don’t even start me on the doll’s house.

A Quiet Place (2018)

John Krasinski directs himself - and wife Emily Blunt - in this modern classic that doesn’t miss a beat. Set in a post-apocalyptic near future, a family must live in silence to stay safe from creatures that hunt by sound. A terrifying early scene brings home why. Who knew a nail on the stairs could be a creepy horror character?

The Babadook (2014)

Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent makes a terrific debut with this movie that’s all the more scary and profound because it’s grounded in reality. It tells the story of a troubled widow whose son is convinced a monster has entered their home through the pictures of a book.

The Birds (1963)

The Birds is a very different creature to Psycho but Hitchcock again makes the terror seem real and visceral. A couple strike up a romance in a Californian pet shop and buy two lovebirds. But things take a sinister turn when large attacking birds start to invade the town in which they live. What follows is part horror, part disaster movie that will creep you out.

Halloween (1978)

Horror maestro John Carpenter uses sound and visual effects to striking effect in this classic of the genre. It also introduced us to one of the most iconic characters in horror history - Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode. Incarcerated as a child for the death of his older sister, Michael Myers returns to his home town as a young adult after escaping during a prison transfer. As the town celebrates Halloween, he stalks his next victims.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

If you like your zombie movies laced with a wicked sense of humour, you’ve come to the right place. Simon Pegg is great as Shaun, a 30-something loser living outside London. But when his community comes under attack from hundreds of zombies, Shaun has the opportunity to shine at last. Scares and satire go hand in hand in this cult classic with a great finale.

The Shining (1980)

A young Jack Nicholson grinning savagely through a broken doorway has become one of the most famous movie moments of all time. Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s eerie novel also managed to make us jittery about identical twins and oddly patterned hotel carpets. Nicholson, playing a writer turned caretaker at the eerie Overlook Hotel, is sensational.

28 Days Later (2003)

By setting a zombie movie in a contemporary London and setting it around an accident in a research lab, director

Danny Boyle makes the story feel plausible and frighteningly real. When animal rights activists release a chimp infected with the Rage virus, a London courier (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma a month later to find the city decimated. He and a small group of survivors make a run for safety, fending off those affected by the virus.

Scream (1996)

Wes Craven reinvents the slasher movie for a new generation in this scary movie peppered with wit and featuring one of the greatest opening scenes. Craven and his cast are having a blast here, sending up the horror movie genre, referencing other films while delivering properly earned frights of their own.

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