Suspiria movie image

I will be featuring a project over these coming weeks of October on GuysNation that has been a couple years in the making. Let me start with a background story.

First off, I love Halloween. I love horror, gore, scaring people, getting scared, all that stuff. It is quite possibly the greatest holiday we have. You’re welcome to argue with me, but that will only end in one of us being sent to the ER (more October gore)!

So, not having a life, a couple years ago I decided I was going to watch one horror movie per day for all of October. When I was at home, when I was on the road, whenever. It didn’t matter. One movie, every day.

That’s when you begin to look up the classics. Rosemary’s Baby, Psycho, Friday the 13th, so on and so forth. But there’s a problem when you’re just winging it: 31 days goes by far too fast. There are easily twice as many terrific horror films as there are days in October.

Thus, the next year (still not having a life), I planned it all out. All of it! October 1st to Halloween night itself. There was gore, there were thrills, there was — well, there was a lot of sleepless nights thinking I was moments away from dying.

And I continued this tradition. Every October, a Halloween Horror Movie Marathon Month! However, in watching all these horror movies I had a brilliant if not all too simple epiphany: not every horror movie is right for Halloween.

The first example that came to mind was The Thing. A great horror movie, yes, but in getting lost in the season I don’t want to watch a movie that takes place on the Antarctic Tundra. We’re practically one step away from watching a Christmas slasher, and, sorry Black Christmas (and Black X-Mas), you don’t belong in October, either.

That’s when I laid out a set of criteria for what makes a good horror movie leading up to Halloween. And that is how this project was born.

The Criteria

Cabin In The WoodsSo what makes a great October horror flick? Well, first and foremost, it has to be good. If you’re going to sacrifice your weeknights and weekends alike for a marathon, there’s not going to be any business of watching Snoop Dogg’s Hood of Horror (seriously, it’s a thing, look it up). So Film Rating, with a maximum of 10 points is our first criteria.

From there, Seasonalness is an equally-important qualifier. Like I said, I want my October horror flicks to be about Fall! No snow, nothing overly-flaunting hot weather (sorry, Piranha, but you didn’t really have a chance any way), none of that business. I want the leaves as red as the blood spilt! And for that, I once again give a maximum of 10 points.

The third criteria may seem a bit redundant with the second already in place, but there is a need for it: Halloween Spirit. Take ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ for example. There’s nothing very fall-like about the hot Texas plains. And yet, it just wouldn’t feel like Halloween without a dash of Leatherface. So Halloween Spirit is all about the go-to, iconic themes we bring out for Halloween. If you’ve got Leatherface, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, witches, werewolves, etc. in your film, chances are you’re going to get most of the 5 points offered here.

Also getting as much weight on this second tier of criteria is a very, very important one: Scare factor. The Bride of Frankenstein is a decent flick, but scary? No way. I can probably get more creeped out watching Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler try and sell us another rom-com. No thanks. Everyone is entitled to a good scare during October, and the more there are in the 31 movies you watch, the better. That’s why scariness is also worth a solid 5 points.

PsychoThere is one more criteria on this level and it’s there to ensure as many of the classics as possible make the cut. Everyone knows some obscure horror flick they just absolutely love. You discovered it by chance in a discount DVD bin or maybe it’s instant on Netflix and now you sound like a horror snob trying to explain to everyone how you love this movie they’ve probably never heard of. There’s a time and place for that but it’s not necessarily October. Halloween should be about the classics! The Exorcist, The Ring, Frankenstein, all that jazz. That is what this season is about. And, if nothing else, it may help settle that nostalgia of Halloweens past for you. That is why Pop Culture Value is also worth 5 points.

Last, and, well, okay, least is the tiniest of criteria intended to tip the scales ever so slightly. If things like Seasonalness are the main course, think of Rewatch Value as the garnish. It’s basically here to make sure that you see movies you WANT to see again. Not for nothing, but some horror flicks lose their edge after you’ve seen them once or twice. Once you know Bruce Willis is really a ghost in The Sixth Sense (oops, SPOILER ALERT!) the movie just sort of loses some of its luster. We get it, Haley Joel Osment, you see dead people, your acting career probably being among them. So the better you can entertain us the fourth or fifth time through, the more of the 3 points offered here you’re likely to get.

And that, my friends, are how we are going to quantify what makes a great movie for this time of the year. Again, there are just not enough days in the month to get to everything. And, yes, you’re favorite horror movie is probably not on here. And this one is probably way too high and that one is probably way too low. Anytime you attempt to rank films, you essentially turn yourself into a punching bag. I get it.

But this project is all about trying to find an objective way to qualify movies for the Halloween season. And I’ve talked long enough (hell, you probably just skimmed over the paragraphs wondering where the list begins) so we’re not going to send you home empty handed this week. Here are the first FIVE horror flicks perfect for Halloween:

#31: Poltergeist (1982)


Poltergeist has that sort of ’80’s cheekiness — see: neighbors with dueling TV remotes, “cool” pot-smoking parents even though Craig T. Nelson looks 60 already — but it does bring enough fear that you take it seriously. Before there was Paranormal Activity (and ad nauseam sequels), Poltergeist was the original “there’s some effed up ish going on in our house” flick. Poltergeist carries its own with its film rating and does well with seasonalness (Craig T. Nelson’s pals wanting to watch the football game places the story in the right time of year), but it’s highest marks are for pop culture value. Love it or hate it, Poltergeist is a classic. It’s not the best horror film, but it’s a great way to start our list.

Film Rating: 7.7/10
Seasonalness: 7.0/10
Halloween Spirit: 2.0/5
Scare Factor: 1.5/5
Pop Culture Value: 5.0/5
Rewatch Value: 1.5/3
TOTAL INDEX SCORE: 24.7/38 (65.00 %)

#30: Carrie (1976)


The original movie that convinced you to be nice to the weird kid at school (or perhaps that you could hone telekinesis), Carrie is a different take on the teen scream slasher. We know that, for whatever reason, teens make great horror victims. But you usually it’s some scarred, scary, knife-wielding older individual that has decided pedophilia isn’t far enough for him. Enter ‘Carrie’, where the lines between victim and predator are blurred, and the only thing that is for sure is her mother is bona fide bonkers. While Carrie gets murdered (poor word choice) for seasonalness (fall is not prom season, we all know this), it draws an expected perfect score in Pop Culture Value and brings enough legitimate fear to even itself out with Poltergeist.

Film Rating: 7.7/10
Seasonalness: 3.0/10
Halloween Spirit: 3.5/5
Scare Factor: 3.0/5
Pop Culture Value: 5.0/5
Rewatch Value: 2.5/3
TOTAL INDEX SCORE: 24.7/38 (65.00 %)

#29: Scream 3 (2000)

Scream 3

Let’s preface this with the following fact: the Scream franchise is nothing short of terrific. There’s a guy with a knife and he wants to kill you, but only after he sorely trolls you. Simple, elegant, and sustainable. Now that we got that out of the way, I can say this: Scream 3 is the weakest of the films. It just is. For better or for worse, this is where Wes Craven decided he was going to balance horror and comedy in more even doses, but this recipe isn’t quite as good as the one he concocted 11 years later with his fourth installment. Still, Scream 3 deserves to be on here. Being the weakest guy on an all-star team doesn’t change the fact that you’re on an all-star team. This third installment — “Scream Goes To Hollywood” if you will — doesn’t do anything exceptionally well but doesn’t do anything exceptionally poorly ever. Of course, having the “ghost face” mask, unnecessarily large knife, and voice changer will always get you the points you deserve in Pop Culture Value and Halloween Spirit.

Film Rating: 7.4/10
Seasonalness: 6.0/10
Halloween Spirit: 3.0/10
Scare Factor: 2.0/10
Pop Culture Value: 4.5/10
Rewatch Value: 2.0/10
TOTAL INDEX SCORE: 24.9/38 (65.53 %)

#28: Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dea d2013

Spoiler alert: There are going to be a few remakes on this list. If you’re one of those film snobs that are against giving remakes any kind of credit just on principle, now would probably be a good time to leave. Besides, Evil Dead, much like the Scream movies, sticks to a plot you just can’t go wrong with. A group of young friends head up to a remote cabin in the woods and stuff gets weird. Right off the bat you buy it! I won’t compare Evil Dead to the original in an effort to keep you guessing whether said original will show up later in this countdown or not, so I’ll just say this: Evil Dead does what a remake should: stay true to the plot while making yourself different enough that it doesn’t feel like you’re watching the same movie over again. Being a great movie in its own right plus a solid Seasonalness score goes a long way to getting this remake on the list, but a perfect Rewatch Value score pushes it even further.

Film Rating: 8.3/10
Seasonalness: 7.0/10
Halloween Spirit: 3.0/5
Scare Factor: 3.0/5
Pop Culture Value: 1.0/5
Rewatch Value: 3.0/3
TOTAL INDEX SCORE: 25.3/38 (66.58 %)

#27: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Released forty years ago today, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has probably done more to promote the cutting power of chainsaws and demote the tourism value of rural Texas than anything else. Because the only thing scarier than a guy who wants to slice and dice you is a guy who wants to slice and dice you into a four course meal. Enter Leatherface, the most lethal and deranged of an already incredibly lethal and deranged family. And when five young friends cross paths with them, well, let’s just the bloody, disemboweled carcass hits the fan. One of the most iconic slashers of all time, Texas Chainsaw Massacre naturally nails Pop Culture Value and Halloween Spirit and is really only held back by the lack of anything Autumn. Except, I guess, the fact that it hit theaters during the season.

 Film Rating: 8.0/10
Seasonalness: 2.0/10
Halloween Spirit: 5.0/5
Scare Factor: 3.0/5
Pop Culture Value: 5.0/5
Rewatch Value 2.5/3
TOTAL INDEX SCORE: 25.5/38 (67.11 %)

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