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Time to hide behind the couch – the best films to watch this Halloween!

By Rosie Togher

29 October 2021

With the clocks going back for many around the globe on Sunday, what better way to spend this Halloween and that extra hour, then a lazy day watching (very scary) films! And MetFilm School is here to help…

This list was first curated by our London based Senior Post Production tutor Pete Appleyard – who has a huge interest in the genre of Horror – in 2020. Pete, who has wide experience in short films, documentary, music videos and corporate work and specialises in teaching and editing in Adobe Premier and Final Cut X, has very kindly updated this for us for 2021!

Here are Pete’s 2021 top Halloween recommendations, spanning the last 96 years of cinema, with a very special addition at no 11…

The Phantom of the Opera – 1925

This lavish production of Gaston Leroux’s novel marked a few important firsts for the horror genre. It was Universal studios first full blown horror film, a genre they would go on to define in the 30’s. It was a huge break out role for actor Lon Chaney who played the role of the Phantom in terrifying and physically torturous make up. However, the films biggest legacy is probably its Paris opera house set which remained standing on the Universal lot until 2014 and appeared in 100’s of films and TV shows.

Frankenstein– 1931

The first Horror blockbuster and the film that made a star of Boris Karloff. Few films can claim to be as iconic as this classic from universal pictures. From the gothic production design to the incredible Jack Pierce make-up for the Monster, Frankenstein feels like the definitive version of Mary Shelley’s morality tale of man playing god.

Dead of Night – 1945

One of the few Horror films produced at Ealing Studios during its golden era, Dead of Night is one of the earliest examples of the Horror Anthology film. Essentially a collection of short films linked together by a wraparound story, the anthology format became a staple of British horror films through to the 70’s and 80’s but rarely was it done as well as here. The scenes of Michael Redgrave being menaced by an evil ventriloquist dummy remain terrifying to this day.

Dracula – 1958

Whilst Bela Legosi may have defined the role of the count in the 1930’s it was the British studio Hammer Films and star Christopher Lee that would go onto resurrect the iconic vampire for a whole new audience. This was the first colour version of Dracula and whilst audiences were shocked by the level of gore and sex on display it went on to become a huge hit in the US and UK spawning sequels throughout the 60’s and 70’s

Carnival of Souls – 1962

The only feature film from director Herk Harvey, Carnival of Souls is the story of a young woman who finds herself stalked by a ghoulish stranger after she moves to a new town. This horrifying dream-life ghost story was hardly seen by audiences upon release but has subsequently gone onto become a cult hit a its influence can be found in the films of George Romero & David Lynch.

Nightmare on Elm Street – 1984

The horror boom of the 80’s gave birth to a number of new horror icons but king amongst them has to be Wes Craven’s ultimate boogie man Freddy Kruger. A killer who stalks you in your dreams, Kruger was brought to life by the classically trained Robert Englund. Whilst the sequels are imaginative and fun it’s the original film that has all the scares, including a very gory encounter with a young Jonny Depp.

The Ring – 1999

The late 90’s saw and explosion in new Japanese horror cinema and the most terrifying of all has to be The Ring. The set up is simple, once you have watched the cursed VHS tape you have 7 days to live unless you pass the curse onto another. Blending MR James with Japanese folk law, The Ring is a slow burn of a film with an explosive and horrifying final. Forget the watered down American remake and numerous sequels, the original is the real deal.

House of the Devil – 2009

Whilst Hollywood occupied itself during the 2000’s with remaking every 70’s and 80’s horror hit, usually with poor results, a new wave of independent American horror found its way to audiences with some impressive results. One of the strongest is Ti West’s House of the Devil, an incredibly simple story of a babysitter alone in an old house. The films slow, atmospheric storytelling is occasionally broken up with moments of quick violence, keeping the audience on the edge of its seat. Look out for a young Greta Gerwig in a small role.

Raw – 2016

Julia Ducournau’s Raw starts as a coming of age drama about a young woman joining her older sister in a French veterinary school but soon morphs into something more sinister. A strange mix of John Hughes and David Cronenberg, it’s one of the most effective body horror films in recent years and represents a new wave of female directed horror.

Host – 2020

The haunted Zoom call film! A great example of what you can do with very limited recourses, Host was written, shot, edited and released during the Covid-19 lockdown. Drawing its influence from other format bending films such as The Blair Witch Project and Ghostwatch, it has more atmosphere, jokes & scares packed into its lean running time than most horror films made for 10 times its budget.

And a very special addition for 2021…

Censor – 2021

Set in the 80’s during the video nasty scare which saw countless horror films banned and re-cut in the UK, Censor is both a celebration of those forbidden and maligned works whilst telling its own dark parable about censorship and who gets a say in what we watch. Director (and MetFilm School tutor) Prano Bailey-Bond delivers one of the smartest horror movies about horror since Wes Craven’s Scream whilst also delivering enough gore and shocks to make the 80’s proud.

Watch the trailer for Prano Bailey-Bond’s debut feature, Censor