The most wonderful time of the year is upon us and it doesn’t involve Andy Williams singing.
That abomination of corporate-buy ethos begins even before Halloween’s corpse is placed six-feet-under. And that should never be. Let those who don’t celebrate dressing a pine tree in drag, enjoy their own holiday: Halloween.
Regardless of the Yule Tide, fall is the season of dormancy, fecund fragrances and the ashen weather fit for a night of trick-or-treating. Or fleeing in terror from Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Thomas Brown Hewitt.
Now, for me, it’s always been a time of imbibing in great sums of supernatural pop culture. Perhaps throw a copy of the original Suspiria on the tele or maybe pick up a Stephen King book, or two, or three. Depends on your choices and your reading appetite, of course.
Plenty of horror-survival video games get their launch this October too. But we’re not here to play around. No, we’re here to get to the nitty-gritty – to exhume the cinematic bodies from their graves and dump them in front of the gathered masses this fair month.
So, below is our list of horror movies that need to be poured over this festive season.
The Conjuring, 2013
Yes, it’s the Warrens, who tend to make those who are entrenched in horror cinema cringe, but it shows the objective process of their investigations, all without adding Crooked Men and Nuns to the mix. Sure, Annabelle makes an appearance, but frankly, this focuses on the Perron family and their plight while living at that home in Rhode Island.
The Awakening, 2011
This is a slow burn that also highlights the world of debunkers during the early 20th century. What did they go through when they were outing charlatans who rapped on the tables while inflicting emotional trauma on séance attendees? This certainly sheds some candlelight on it.
Grave Encounters, 2011
I admit this one holds a soft spot in the nooks and crevices of my heart. It’s Canadian-made, so being a Canadian website, we need some CanCon to make the CRTC happy. However, this one plays on that ambitious paranormal investigator trope. Even better, it’s set in an abandoned psychiatric hospital. Mix in the Joseph Mengele-esque doctor, and you’ve got the theme all down.
I wouldn’t particularly call a bigger-than-usual Great White a cryptid, but if you want a creature feature that plays on the themes of isolation, vulnerability and man-vs-nature, this would the ideal film. Plus, it’s a classic.
The Descent, 2005
Creature features have that ability to make you claustrophobic, especially if you’re spelunking. Unlike the usual four characters, this one features six young ladies who are exploring a cave. One character is recovering from the loss of her husband and daughter. Now she’s faced with a new challenge, bizarre carnivorous under-dwellers.
Available on Shudder, this found-footage flick follows the sojourn of a young-adult gaggle who decide to visit a cabin belonging to the uncle of one. Along the way, they have a bit of a car accident. They hit something. That something makes horrific cries. Then they’re assailed by something else. Let’s just say this movie illustrates the human emotion of Sasquatch.
Dark Skies, 2013
The Barretts have some uninvited house guests in this film about alien abduction. Keri Russell stars the matriarch, and main protagonist, who tries to keep her family together as the Greys come and take their quarry, her son Jesse.
Fire in the Sky, 1993
The most frightening part of this film is its based on the alleged alien abduction of Arizona logger, Travis Walton. Set in the White Mountains in 1975, Walton is taken when curiosity gets the better of him. His colleagues witness the event and eventually come under investigation by the police. Then Walton returns, and eventually, his colleagues are exonerated.
Let’s have some fun. This British-Irish film has a Lovecraftian alien crash into the sea off the coast of a small island. The alien needs something to eat, and it doesn’t like alcohol. So, of course, the Irish stereotype is at play as the community bands together in a local pub.
This surrealist horror is not for the faint of heart. It’s a Salvador Dali interpretation of Groundhog Day where four Turkish police officers are thrown down a rabbit hole of wretched terror and despair.
Though it may be premature to pooh-pooh on the impending remake, the original’s rich setting design and Giallo tropes make this a vibrant trip through European witchcraft.
The Ritual, 2017
Can we get a WTF for this Netflix original? Five friends go on an annual guys-only adventure, but a serious turn of events cuts out the fifth wheel. The surviving members, clearly harboring unchecked emotions, go on a trip into the depths of northern Sweden. They lose their bearings and enter a world of pain and supernatural horror.
Remember to sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite.
(Yes they will).