I actually got a request this year for my annual Halloween movie guide. Use that link to go back to the last updated version, from 2009. Here I will offer a list of ten very good movies for the grim holiday, in no particular order. I have provided links to reviews that I have posted.
1. Bubba Ho Tep. This is my favorite movie. Bruce Campbell plays an aging Elvis (or Elvis impersonator) stuck in a retirement home. Along with a Black guy who thinks he's JFK (Ozzie Davis) Elvis battles a life-sucking mummy wearing cowboy boots. Trust me on this one: it is superb.
2. The Ring/Ringu. Both the American version of the film and the original Japanese version are examples of high art in the genre. A journalist races time to find the secret of a tape that curses anyone who watches it.
3. Pulse. Avoid the American version and go for the subtitled Japanese original. This is a truly creepy story of a world invaded by gobbling ghosts.
4. The Eye. An exquisitely beautiful, eerie, and sad film from Hong Kong. A women receives a cornea transplant that carries with it the ability to see both ghosts and approaching disasters. Again, avoid the American version.
5. Let The Right One In. A very original interpretation of the vampire tale from Sweden. A bullied young man befriends a girl who is, let us say, a friend indeed. The original is recommended, but the American version, Let Me In, is a slavish copy and for that reason just about as good.
6. Troll Hunter. A very fine, very unexpected movie from Norway.
7. Paranormal Activity. One of the most successful of the recent flood of "found footage" films. Here is a bit from one of the comments: "Holy Shhhhh cow! My wife and I are from Atlanta and we saw this movie tonight. She will not go to sleep or walk through the house without me. She covered her eyes more than 1 time and almost walked out of the movie. I DO NOT get scared easily and found myself almost not wanting to watch in fear of whats going to happen when the lights go out."
8. Demon Knight. A Tales From The Crypt movie. Heroic demon hunter wanders the world with the secret that keeps all of us safe from the darkness. I love this movie.
9. Death Note. Another Japanese masterpiece. This one is several hours long on two DVDs. It is really a mystery in form with a heavy supernatural element. If you have got the time, have I got the film.
10. Absentia. The subtitle to my post says it all: "A Dark and Flawless Modern Fairy Tale.
Any of the above will entertain you this Halloween.
One subgenre of horror that I am very pleased to see growing is that of the short film. The industry hasn't yet figured out how to deliver 12 minute gems in a way that generates a cash flow and so a lot of short films that I have heard about are hard to get.
However, there is a growing access. Fear.net has an excellent offering of short films that you can watch for free on their website. Try Tinglewood. YouTube also has a collection, peppered with trailers.