Halloween is just around the corner, and in addition to trick-or-treating and costumes, one of the most important parts of the season is the watching of horror movies.
Of course, with so many choices out there (and of wildly varying quality no less), one might feel a bit overwhelmed in picking which flick will tingle their spines.
To that end, I’ve happily compiled a list of some of the best movies I feel should be watched by any fan of the genre to help get your October off to a proper spooky start.
1. Zombie (aka Zombi 2)
Helmed by legendary giallo film director Lucio Fulchi, Zombie encompasses everything great about Italian horror.
Originally conceived as a sequel to the European re-edit of Dawn of the Dead — or Zombi as it was known overseas — though eventually released in America under the singular Zombie, this undead pick is one of, if not the best, zombie movies of all time.
Featuring tons of gore, a completely dubbed cast, and a confusing plot with no clear direction – and did I mention tons of gore? – Zombie is chock full of all the classic low-budget shlock the genre is known for.
It also features one of arguably the most iconic kills across all of horror – without giving away too much, those who are squeamish about their eyes would do best to avert them during this scene.
Thanks to the restoration masters at Blue Underground, you can enjoy the film in 4K via home video release.
A rather loose adaptation of the classic HP Lovecraft story, Re-Animator is a fantastic mix of horror, dark comedy and practical effects.
The film’s plot revolves around mad scientist Herbert West (as portrayed by the criminally underrated Jeffery Combs) as he experiments with a special formula to bring the dead back to life, often to hilarious and/or horrific results.
Re-Animator is currently available in physical form courtesy of independent British horror distibutor Arrow, while those who prefer a streaming option can catch it on such platforms as Tubi, Shudder, and Midnight Pulp.
Nothing makes for a better horror night than a more Italian excellence.
Produced by legendary horror producer Dario Argento, Demons sees a group of random movie fans all given a ticket to a mysterious theater screening, which they readily and happily attend.
However, upon their arrival, the patrons discover that the entire ploy was nothing more than an elaborate trap.Source: Demons (1985), Blue Underground
Soon thereafter, the moviegoers find themselves hunted within the theater’s walls by a siege of demonic activity, all of which revolves a mysterious silver mask.
Pure chaos and demon fun powered by a surprising soundtrack that includes Billy Joel, Mötley Crüe and Accept, Synapse Films has released both Demons and its sequel on home video in beautiful 4K.
4. City of the Living Dead
Last Italian movie, I swear, but this one is another doozy.
Once again directed by Lucio Fulchi, though this time fueled by the success of Zombie/Zombi 2 to go even crazier, City of the Living Dead – or Gates of Hell depending on the release – is a story of mediums, zombies and the opening of the gates of hell themselves.
Fully indulging itself in the tropes that form the base of many audiences’ notions of Italian horror, City of the Living Dead is a can’t miss for anyone who is in the mood for something a little different than the typical slasher fair.
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Thanks to the Blue Underground, City of the Living Dead can be snagged in 4K via home video release.
5. One Cut of The Dead
I can’t talk about this movie.
That is to say, One Cut of the Dead is not a movie that can be discussed with anyone who hasn’t seen it.
However, what I can say to the uninitiated is that the film is Japanese and it involves zombies (though, to be fair, that can be gleaned just from looking at its cover).
But trust me when I say that if you keep clear of spoilers and go into this movie as blind as a bat, you are gonna have a good time this Halloween season.
The film is available on physical release, and if you can find it, I implore you to grab a copy. However, if you can’t, the film is currently streaming to the West exclusively on Shudder.
6. Prince of Darkness
Our next entry is the ultimate warning against messing with both forces that you don’t understand and weird cylinders filled with mysterious liquids.
Directed by the legendary John Carpenter and starring such greats as Donald Pleasence (Dr. Loomis in Halloween) and Victor Wong (Egg Shen in Big Trouble in Little China), Prince of Darkness may not be as well known as his other works, but it definitely deserves that same level of recognition.
Presently, the film can be seen at its absolute best thanks to the good people at Shout Factory, who recently released this film on home video with a new 4K restoration.
Want to see the origin of the infamous internet insult? Then it’s time to check out C.H.U.D.
Standing for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers, C.H.U.D. sees a horde of mutated former-humans terrorize New York City and its residents.
Part creature feature, part ‘how do we defeat them’ mystery, it’s a film that can’t be missed – at the very least to understand why you may have been called that.
RELATED: 10 Most Powerful Horror Villians
C.H.U.D. is currently available on Blu-ray through Arrow or on streaming through such widely-used options as Tubi, Pluto TV, Plex, and Prime Video.
Every horror marathon or double feature needs a good ‘When Animals Attack’ movie, andlet me tell you, you will not find a better one then Alligator.
The premise is simple: a baby gator is flushed down a Chicago toilet, and after surviving on a slew of animal carcasses that were part of a bothed experiment involving a livestock growth formula, becomes a 36-foot beast who takes to stalking the streets for more prey.
Incredible puppetry and practical effects work in tandem to bring the title creature to life as it rampages through a variety of different locations – most notably a fancy, rich upper-class party.
RELATED: 10 Most Iconic Horror Movie Villains
Thanks to a new physical release from Shout Factory, you can enjoy this film in all its gory, 4K glory from the comfort of your own home.
This is the best anthology movie of all time.
Inspired by the classic EC Comics like Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror, Creepshow bundles 5 quality horror shorts in one terrifying package.
The shorts directed by horror icon George Romero, written by Stephen King in his screenwriting debut, and starring a number of quality actors including Leslie Nelson, Ed Harris, Ted Danson, and even the aforementioned author himself, each entry will leave you screaming for more by the time they end.
A required watching for all horror enthusiasts, fans of the genre may have already seen this one, but there’s no harm in buying another ticket to this particular show.
Creepshow has a definitive physical release from the ever-delivering Shout Factory – and while you’re at it, check out the Creepshow TV series on Shudder, now in it’s third season.
I don’t need to tell you about Halloween – in fact, you may think that having this movie on a list of must watch Halloween movies is a bit redundant.
But still, Halloween is a film that should absolutely be watched during this time of year
Personally, I make it a tradition to do so – along with a few other franchise entries – as I consider it to be not just one of my top five horror films, but the perfect Slasher.
Say what you will about future sequels, reboots, and cameos from famous rappers, but this first Halloween is so good, so perfect, that it even won over stanch genre haters Siskel and Ebert.
If you’ve yet to take a trip to Haddonfield, then you just may be a bit too young to be watching horror movies, but if you can sneak it past your parents, it’s available to stream on such platforms as Sling, Prime Video, and Roku.
However, I would be remiss not to recommend the film’s perfect 4K blu-ray release from the masters at Shout Factory – a company I’ve mentioned so much throughout this list that one would be a fool to not at least check them out.
Further, for those – like me – who are looking for any excuse to make a trip to the theater, the film will be making its annual screenings on October 7th, 10th and 13th.