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What Horror Movie Must You Watch During Halloween?

We all have horror movies that are immediate go-tos during the Halloween season. Flicks that get us in the mood for our favorite holiday (just going to assume Halloween is your favorite holiday), that add to the already-wonderful atmosphere of October. I was curious about which movies scratch that itch for the AITH staff, just as I'm curious about which flicks you can't live without this time of year. Scroll below to see all of our picks and let us know yours!

One condition: John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN doesn't count. Sorry, just too obvious.

The Arrow's Pick: Trick Or Treat (1986)

The horror party movie Trick or Treat (1986) is a Halloween tradition at Casa de Arrow on Halloween night, one that I just can't break year after year! The one-line is: A picked-on “metal-head” resurrects his recently dead rock idol Sammy Curr by playing his last record backwards. The undead head-banger goes on a killing spree (using electricity as his conduit (Horace Pinker owes this guy props) while sporting tighter than tight leather pants and one hell of a shaggy doo! Moreover the flick pimps a tongue-wagging baddie with Freddy Krueger "one-line" tendencies, bold horror bits (like rape by a Walk-Man), a rubber monster that pops up at the oddest times, a beyond rocking soundtrack by Fastway, a full on 80's vibe (big hair included) and a cheesy attitude that never fails to win me over! Oh, and rock icons Ozzy Osbourne (when he was coherent) and Gene Simmons (when he was cool) have slick cameos too! In my sad-sack world, no Halloween horror marathon is complete without the Horror Metal gift that is Trick or Treat! It's a perfect night topper! - The Arrow

Eric W's Pick: The Innocents (1961)

Nowadays we take creepy kids in horror movies for granted. Just seems like any ghostly tale worth its salt has at least one adorable little moppet whose pleasant facade barely hides a chilling aura of malevolence. And while plenty of horror movies from the past have utilized children in such a capacity, none of them are quite as unsettling and haunting as THE INNOCENTS, which is a movie I absolutely make sure to give a look every October. The two ostensibly lovely children in this movie, Miles and Flora, are unnerving right off the bat, as they creep about their mansion while nervous governess Miss Giddens (the radiant Deborah Kerr) suspects they're under a supernatural spell. Miles (Martin Stephens), in particular, is one of cinema's most eerie kiddos.

It's just an overall mood of dread and disquiet that makes THE INNOCENTS work so well. Every line of dialogue is delivered with an ominous whisper, the wind is always making its presence known, each shadow seems to hide a phantom. And there is indeed a phantom lurking about, and he's terrifying. (This movie has an honest-to-goodness jump scare that is outrageous.) Also, THE INNOCENTS takes some bold chances. There's a kiss that seems quite scandalous even now; I can't imagine how it played 55 years ago. And the ending... well, it's as dark and somber as anything else in the film.

I can't recall when or how THE INNOCENTS became a Halloween tradition for me, but I know I caught it on TCM late one night several years ago, and the experience so moved me that I knew then and there that it would become an annual must-watch during my favorite time of year. You owe it to yourself to catch it if you never have. - Eric Walkuski

Mike's Pick: Hocus Pocus (1993)

I know, I know. But this is a flick I first saw as a nine-year-old (in theaters) back in 1993. There aren't many films I need to go out of my way to watch this time of year but if there was one, HOCUS POCUS is it. Why? Because for all of the horror I watch throughout the year, HOCUS POCUS - like Michael Dougherty's TRICK 'R TREAT - reminds me of how much fun the holiday was as a kid. And since I don't trick or treat anymore, this film fills my fun quota during Halloween. Get over yourself and watch it (again) already! - Mike Sprague

Jake's Pick: The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Not too proud of the redundancy so soon after our last Test of Time piece, but honesty reigns supreme, and to that end I can confidently say the one movie I must watch around Halloween time is Dan O’Bannon’s THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. This is a tradition that started around 15 years ago, back when my boys used to fire-up the five footer, crack a sixer or two and pound ungodly amounts of candy, turning a night of the ghastly macabre into quite a blast of undying laughs. And it’s all centered on ROLD. Damn I miss those days. Not only has RETURN become my all-time favorite zombie film during this annual custom, the prevalent party atmosphere, punk rock spirit and obvious celebratory-horror tone has made the near perfect movie experience a must watch every single All Hallows Eve.

This flick does everything right, and has everything you want in a Halloween horror-show. We’ve got a gang of dressed-up misfits, a grip of gruesome goodies, glorious gore for days, a foggy graveyard setting, brain-chomping zombies, a wicked soundtrack, Linnea Quigley’s supple bosom, and underpinning it all, a hilariously black-humored sense of self awareness that never takes itself too seriously, nor too cheekily. It’s the optimal movie for a holiday that’s all about having a truly fun-filled good time while still being genuinely frightened. More than a decade and a half and counting, no bullshit, I must witness THE RETURN OF THE LIVING every October 31st! - Jake Dee

Cody's Pick: Murder Party (2007)

There are a lot of movies I like to make sure I watch during the Halloween season, some of them very obvious choices, but one more obscure pick I try to fit in every year is Jeremy Saulnier's feature debut MURDER PARTY. While Saulnier's BLUE RUIN and GREEN ROOM get more attention, MURDER PARTY remains my favorite of his films. Set on Halloween, it's about a meek, anxiety-ridden man who decides on a whim to attend a party he found an invitation to on the street. When he arrives at the venue, a remote warehouse, he discovers that it's occupied by a group of costumed art students who believe his murder will be their masterpiece. More hilarious than horrific, MURDER PARTY is packed with fun characters and great dialogue, and by the time this twisted scenario has reached its resolution walls have been painted with blood. This is a movie that provides me with 79 minutes of entertainment at least once a year. - Cody Hamman

Jimmy's Pick: Prince of Darkness (1987)

When it comes to Halloween, there are certain movies that I make sure to catch in celebration of my favorite holiday. And while I love Carpenter's HALLOWEEN - I watch it every year as well - there is another one on his resume that is regular viewing this time of year. PRINCE OF DARKNESS is a haunting and creepy feature, one that offers a ton of that Carpenter suspense, but it also has an intriguing religious aspect. When I caught this late one night on television, that image of the shadowy figure in the church literally gave me nightmares. The final half hour gives us some pretty spectacular, and very scary, villains. The cast is terrific and, once again, Donald Pleasence makes for a wonderful addition to the spooky happenings. If you've never experienced this strange little flick, I suggest you check it out. While rarely regarded as one of John Carpenter's best, for me it is certainly up there. - James Oster
Tags: Hollywood

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