It’s Halloween and chances are you’ll be out partying tonight.
But if you’re thinking of staying close to home to avoid the anxiety-inducing crowds and murderous cover charges, here’s a list of our favorite fright night flicks to help keep you company when things go bump in the night.
• Halloween (R) 1978 91 minutes — It wouldn’t be Halloween without “Halloween,” starring a young Jamie Lee Curtis. This cult classic has it all: blood, guts, a masked psychopath, teen drug use and nudity, plus a killer score that still brings chills. Directed and written by the master of horror John Carpenter. Starring Curtis and classically trained actor Donald Pleasence, whose screen presence is undeniable.
• Hocus Pocus (PG) 1993 96 minutes — After three centuries, three witch sisters are resurrected in Salem, Mass. on Halloween night, and it is up to two teenagers, a young girl and an immortal cat to put an end to the witches’ reign of terror. Starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy.
• The Nightmare Before Christmas (PG) 1993 76 minutes — Jack Skellington, king of Halloween, discovers Christmas Town, but doesn’t quite understand the concept. Written by Tim Burton.
• Casper (PG) 1995 100 minutes — A paranormal expert and his daughter bunk in an abandoned house populated by 3 mischievous ghosts and one friendly one. Starring Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci.
• Fright Night (R) 1985 106 minutes — While the remake wasn’t all that bad, the original is a must-see. Chris Sarandon is stellar as the charming, but oh so sinister next-door neighbor with a taste for blood. William Ragsdale plays a perfectly awkward teen in love while Stephen Geoffreys’ manic energy and high-pitched voice are unforgettable.
• Texas Chainsaw Massacre (R) 1974 83 minutes — One of the originators of the slasher genre, this spine-tingling flick didn’t have to rely on the supernatural, but rather realistic, backwoods insanity bread by isolation and poverty. Leatherface, the films’ hulky, faceless protagonist, became the inspiration for future faceless killers, most notably Jason and Michael Myers. This is not for the faint of heart, but is a must-see if you love horror.
• Friday the 13th (R) 1980 95 minutes — The one that started them all. Camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp that was the site of a child’s drowning. While many are familiar with Jason and his hockey mask, this film features neither (well, there is a brief cameo, but the mask doesn’t come into play until part 3). A great film to watch in the dark, with just enough humor to stop viewers from biting their nails.
• Blair Witch Project (R) 1999 81 minutes — Sold as a true story and marketed mainly through word-of-mouth thanks to screenings on college campuses, this film and its use of hand-held cameras scared plenty. Directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez brilliantly used sound, the environment and kept their audiences in the dark about its villain to produce lasting anxiety, palpable fear and a sense of helplessness. While it has lost some of its fright power, still a great flick, especially when watching with someone who has never seen it.
• Psycho (NR) 1960 109 minutes — Demented, twisted, but filmed with tact, grace and an artistic eye, this Hitchcock classic helped define the genre of horror. Starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh.
• The Shining (R) 1980 144 minutes — Jack Nicholson’s haunting stare and Stanley Kubrick’s expert direction make this horror flick one of the best. The isolation and lack of contact with the outside world, plus Danny’s horrific visions, keep viewers on edge. “Redrum! Redrum!””