Top Alternative Halloween Movies I Remember Halloween's top recommendations for lesser known horror to watch at Halloween time

You’ve seen Halloween so many times you can recite it front to back. Same with Trick r Treat, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and maybe Hocus Pocus. These are undisputed Halloween classics, and tradition dictates that you watch them annually every September or October. But the older you get, the more viewings you rack up, and pretty soon you find that playing these movies puts your brain on autopilot – the film playing more inside your head than in front of your eyes.

Does this sound like you? The good news is, there are nearly as many Halloween movies out there as Christmas movies (indeed, some will argue that any horror movie is a Halloween movie. I disagree.). Everyone’s got their particular poison, but this here is my personally curated selection of the best “alternate” movies to watch at Halloween time.

Tales of Halloween

There’s nothing like a good horror anthology. The format just naturally lends itself to goofy fun more so than conventional features. Trick r Treat is the king of Halloween-centric anthologies, but Tales of Halloween is a great companion piece. Each segment is by a different director and stands apart from the others, unlike the interwoven stories of Trick r Treat. And the quality runs the gamut from great to (frankly) skippable. Fortunately it’s bookended by the two best segments. Watching it feels just like emptying out your sack of trick or treat candy at the end of Halloween night and observing the spoils within. A bounty of goodies mixed with a few stinkers, but you appreciate the whole bag.
(Read my full review here)

Murder Party

The more cynical among you will eat this one up. The directorial debut of nihilist filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Green Room), Murder Party has a more overtly dark comic tone than his other features. It follows a lonely loser who, in lieu of another night spent hanging out with his cat, decides to attend a Halloween party from a discarded flyer he finds in the street earlier that day. The party turns out to be quite a bummer. Tons of comic gore and potshots at pretentious LA hipsters ensue, along with a very healthy dose of classic Halloween imagery.
(Read my full review here)

Night of the Demons

Another Halloween party-gone-bad movie, Night of the Demons (1988) is a cheesy, low budget monster flick with a thick 80’s sheen. It’s got it all – a “party” consisting of about 6 people, one of them dancing, nerds hanging out with obnoxious bullies for no reason, and gratuitous boob shots. The punk rock soundtrack is legendary, as are the gooey practical effects and corny dialogue. Avoid the 2009 remake…

Halloween 3

The third Halloween movie is the only living vestige of what would have been a splendid idea: The Halloween movie series as an ongoing anthology of unrelated stories centering around the holiday. It could have been great, but unfortunately they made the blunder of releasing two Halloween movies about Michael Myers first, leading to severe audience confusion and outrage over this Myers-free movie, which is about a costume company making Halloween masks that kill children for the sake of Pagan sacrifice, honoring the origins of Samhain. Ignore the infamy and just enjoy the movie for what it is – a decent story about Halloween.

We Are Still Here

It’s not about Halloween, but in my opinion the haunted house movie is the purest distillation of the Halloween spirit (pun not intended) that horror has to offer. This is a more recent indie film that’s currently, as of this writing, available on Netflix. After the death of their adult son an older couple moves into an old, rural fixer upper to mourn and rebuild – does this setup sound familiar? Sure enough, it isn’t long before bumps in the night, split second spooky sightings and an unexplained burning smell start to pester the pair. Things get frighteningly, violently real.
(Read my full review here)

The Guest

For most of Adam Wingard’s The Guest, you’ll swear you’re watching a “thriller” instead of a proper horror movie. And it pretty much is that. But the various twists and turns of the story lead to a third act that’s straight up horror, and more importantly, involves a tense cat and mouse game inside a school haunted house on Halloween. So maybe it’s a Halloween movie on a technicality, but it’s a really solid, well-made movie all around and you won’t regret watching it at any time of the year.

It Follows

If a remake of the original Halloween were to exist that did not include rednecks and grindhouse qualities, a la the Rob Zombie ones, it would probably look a lot like It Follows. John Carpenter’s classic is a huge, obvious influence on this modern unstoppable killer movie, from the music to the camera work to the filming locations, and unless I’m mistaken I think you can even spot a jack o’ lantern or two in the background of some shots. If you’re not familiar with the premise, it’s essentially about a sexually transmitted curse that sets a shape-shifting, silent killer on your tail – that can only be shaken by passing it on to another poor soul.
(Read my full review here)

The American Scream

This documentary about the people who make DIY haunted attractions at their houses hits close to home for anyone who’s ever been accused of taking Halloween too seriously (me), and especially to those who’ve actually done that very thing (also me). The people profiled in the documentary are all fairly pathetic in one way or another – for getting way too carried away and driving their families crazy, or for just plain sucking at building haunted houses – but their enthusiasm for Halloween is infectious. And the footage of throngs of neighbors enjoying the results of the effort on the big night brings a tear to my eye.

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