Your Mag's Definitive Halloween Roundup
No Halloween-themed festivities would be complete without the requisite viewing of John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 slasher flick Halloween. It remains, to this day, arguably the most famous, and influential, “dead teenager” film of all time. Though the film’s reputation has been somewhat tarnished by the series’ subsequent (and lesser) entries, don't be fooled: the original is as scary, stylish and suspenseful as you could ever hope. Its iconic set pieces (masked villain Michael Meyers standing amidst wind-blown hanging sheets and a terrified Jamie Lee Curtis in the confines of a claustrophobic, dimly lit closet) remain supremely terrifying to this day. Turn the lights off and enjoy.
Don't Look Now (1973)
Though beloved by horror fans and cult film lovers alike, Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now remains a dispiritingly under-seen and under-appreciated classic of supernatural fright. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie star as grieving parents living in Venice after the death of their daughter. The movie slowly builds suspense as the couple believes they see the red raincoat-clad spirit of their dead daughter weaving in and out of the streets of Venice. The film is gorgeously shot and powerfully acted, but it’s the film’s final, fatal twist that has become its most famous feature.
Juju by Siouxsie & the Banshees (1981)
With titles like “Halloween.” “Night Shift,” and “Voodoo Dolly,” Juju was perhaps always destined to become something of a horror-crowd cult classic. It is also, however, probably Siouxsie & the Banshees’ most singular musical achievement, a perfect fusion of the band’s post-punk sensibilities and their impressive ear for eerily addictive pop hooks. The aforementioned “Halloween,” a deliciously odd love letter to the titular day of dread, more than delivers on the promise of its name. Songs like “Spellbound” and “Sin In My Heart” are perfect examples of the kind of fright and fearlessness that became the band’s trademark. Also check out standout tracks “Into The Light” and “Arabian Knights” for good, eerie fun.
The Dreaming by Kate Bush (1982)
Perhaps still her most controversial album to date, 1982’s The Dreaming provides a fascinating insight into Kate Bush’s rather extreme musical persona. On the album, she adopts every character from a disillusioned Vietnam War vet (“Pull Out The Pin”) to the grieving wife of history's greatest escape artist (“Houdini”). It’s a heady, frankly frightening descent into almost unparalleled madness, with tracks like “Leave It Open” and the title track “The Dreaming” offering up chilling narratives of dread and evil couched in occasionally muddy and always eerie musical production. On “Get Out of My House,” the album's closing track and its pièce de résistance, Bush reaps influence from the 1980 film version of Stephen King’s The Shining to fashion a disorienting and epic five-minute acid rock classic, complete with anguished yelps, whispered French dialogue, and donkey cries to boot. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Pet Sematary by Stephen King (1983)
Though not nearly as famous or as immediately recognizable as King's horror classics The Shining and Carrie, Pet Semetary is perhaps King's purest, most purely terrifying creation. A story of grieving parents hoping to resurrect their recently deceased son from the grave, the book masterfully escalates a mounting sense of dread through suggestion and King's powerfully honed writing chops.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)
Arguably the definitive ghost novel of the past century, Shirley Jackson's masterfully creepy The Haunting of Hill House remains a remarkably effective shocker even to this day. Narrated by Eleanor, an embittered and lonely woman coming coming completely untethered from reality, the novel powerfully mines horror from the novel's central tension: is Hill House haunted or is it all in Eleanor's head? Don't read right before going to sleep.
The Returned (2012 – present)
A French zombie show with a twist, The Returned asks the question: what would happen if your dearly departed loved ones came back from the grave, only they didn't know they had been dead? Wonderfully creepy and completely addictive, this quietly suspenseful though occasionally quite gruesome new horror classic is perfect for the Halloween season. Future fans who lament its one season run, fret not: it has already been renewed for a sure-to-be gloriously spooky second season.
The X-Files (1993 – 2002)
One of the best, most iconic series of all time, The X-Files is the namesake to some of television’s most enduring horrors. “Home,” about an inbred family of murderers, is still one of the most shocking hours of television to air ever on network TV (it was banned from commercial circulation at the time of its original broadcast). Fan favorite “Squeeze” introduced the world to one of TV history’s most repulsive villains, Eugene Victor Tooms, who can squeeze his way into anything. The truth is indeed out there, and it's creepy as hell.