13 cult classic horror movies to watch on Halloween
If you’re looking for some freaky flicks to fuel your fears tonight, and tired of the same old same old (how many times can you really watch Friday the 13th anyway?), we’ve got some cult horror films that’ll put the haunt back in your Halloween.
In rough order from least scary to most terrifying, here are our 13 favourite cult classic horrors:
13. Puppet Master (1989)
Why exactly this series did achieve true cult status I’ll never know. It has about a million sequels that, to anyone but true Puppet Master nerds, are pretty much indistinguishable from one another.
The original is about a group of 12-inch puppets who go around murdering people in a hotel. There’s a little more to it than that, but it’s just a melting pot of B-movie cliches like zombies, psychics, and spies, that get awkwardly mashed together in absence of an actual plot. There’s even Nazis involved at one point.
This one’s good for a laugh, unless you’re legitimately scared of puppets.
12. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Halloween III is a painfully drawn out lesson in over-acting with a relatively nonsensical plot. But hey, the basic idea is cool. Mass-manufactured Halloween masks that kill the kids who wear them. Think about that next time you put on a rubber mask.
It has the dubious distinction of having literally nothing to do with the rest of the Halloween series. No Michael Myers, no iconic white mask, no escaped psycho killer. And yet the cult following remains.
11. The Lost Boys (1987)
Scary? No. Awesome? Yes.
80s mega classic The Lost Boys is absolute required Hallow’s Eve viewing.
‘Lost Boys stars the two Coreys – Haim and Feldman and features a younger, cooler Kiefer Sutherland as a vampire (before they sparkled). From Kiefer’s bleached blond mullet to the heavy metal punk vampires he rolls with – everything both Halloween and 80s is wrapped up in this one MTV era celluloid time capsule.
10. Children of the Corn (1984)
Sure the whole corn motif gets taken a little too far, and most of the film takes place in broad daylight, but Children of the Corn still has some classic scares left in it after 25 years.
The film follows a young couple who become trapped in a small heartland town full of insane religious children, who kill anyone over the age of 18 – by crucifying them on a corn cross no less. Let this be a lesson to you: never visit Nebraska.
9. Paperhouse (1988)
Though not as celebrated as many on this list, Paperhouse has attracted a small but appreciative cult following. Devoid of axe murderers and supernatural killer puppets, it’s not exactly a “horror” film. More like a strange and eerie dream that meanders somewhere between creepy and frightening. The plot revolves around a very sick young girl whose drawings of a house and boy come to life through her own mind. But are they really just dreams – or is the waking world but a fantasy itself?
Paperhouse is a criminally underrated exploration of the dark side of childhood dreams and imagination, and should not be passed over by anyone with a love for eerie atmosphere and unsettling cinematic landscapes.
8. Hellraiser (1987)
Another film that spawned a long series of progressively worse sequels, the original Hellraiser is a true cult classic of the horror genre. Mixing Lovecraft-type cosmic mystery with buckets of blood and gore, this is one for all you sickos out there who like seeing people torn apart by hooked chains or skinned alive with razor blades. Just kidding – who doesn’t love that stuff?
The special effects are outdated at this point, but it should still satisfy your inner perverse horror flagellant.
7. Pumpkinhead (1988)
This is some obligatory Halloween viewing. If you consider yourself a horror guy or gal, and you’ve never watched Pumpkinhead, stop reading right here.
The movie stars Bishop himself – Lance Henriksen – in a tale of revenge and voodoo witchcraft, culminating in a monster weirdly similar to Henriksen’s earlier foe, the Xenomorph. The Misfits even wrote a song about it - so you know it’s a real cult film.
6.Carnival of Souls (1962)
Influencial and in many ways ahead of its time, Carnival of Souls is like watching an 82-minute Twilight Zone episode, with a little Night of the Living Dead thrown in. The visuals are eerie and unsettling, and the film’s greatest triumph is the feeling of dread it slowly builds and builds to surprise ending.
This movie is where zombies come from people.
5. Pin (1989)
Ever been scared of a mannequin? After Pin, you will be. A Canadian film, this is one of the best in psychological, mind-bending horror. We’re not going to spoil anything for you here, but suffice to say it’s about an outwardly normal, inwardly psychologically damaged man whose best friend is an anatomically correct life size plastic doll with jealousy issues.
You’ll never walk through a department store the same again.
4. Black Christmas (1974)
More classic Canadian horror right here.
Black Christmas is a very effective take on a certain urban legend we all know. With some seriously disturbing scenes involving a mentally deranged killer tormenting and stalking a house of young women,the most frightening thing about this film is that it could actually happen. That, and the plastic bag scenes. *shudder*
3. Session 9 (2001)
This film is proof you can terrify on a low budget. A psychological thriller with a razor-sharp edge set in an old mental hospital, Session 9 keeps you in the dark and running scared. With a disturbing narrative that builds to a violent boil and then bubbles over completely, it’ll have you too creeped out to really decipher exactly what goes on in the finale.
As if you weren’t terrified of abandoned mental facilities already.
2. Audition (1999)
This infamous Japanese psychological horror flick is not for the faint of heart. You have been warned.
Directed by the always controversial Takashi Miike, Audition is a graphic journey into violence, torture and disturbing imagery. Starting off as a dark romantic comedy, it follows a lonely Japanese man, his new lover, and her macabre secrets. As suddenly as the comedy fades, the horror sets in, and the film culminates in a wire torture scene that will make your skin crawl.
1. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
When you think true psychological horror, few films can stand on par with Jacob’s Ladder.
An independent film that quietly influenced some of the biggest horror productions of the next two decades, it follows a tormented Vietnam vet whose waking world is haunted by deamons. As the cracks in his shell of a life begin to deepen, the creatures pull him more and more into a world of pain and horror. If you’re hungry for some serious unconventional horror, and prepared to tread some unknown waters, dim the lights. This is your ticket to nightmare.