Six scary films for Halloween night

Jack
Jack wasn't too happy when he had his innards removed...
"The Shining drives the audience to the end of its wits - a ball bouncing against a wall will never sound the same again"
  • | by Emily Bater

After Christmas and New Year, Halloween is arguably the next biggest social event in the calendar.

This is a fairly recent development - most of us can remember a time when big Halloween festivities were the preserve of our American cousins and we just sat at home with a few sad Granny Smiths bobbing around in a bucket.

First it was the children. Now, adults actually ask each other "What are you doing for Halloween?" with no sense of embarrassment, planning their elaborate and inappropriate outfits with a glee usually reserved for seven-year-olds with the prospect of a Haribo binge in front of them.

And when it comes to Halloween, the opposing factions of British culture are never more apparent.

You're either up for a laugh, fun-loving and own a dressing-up box complete with a bottle of fake blood for that last-minute costume rush, or you're the stay-indoors type, ignoring the 2-4-1 drink offers piling up by the door.

So, what films should you watch if you're indoors, avoiding the costumed masses who are attacking your high street with all the charm of a zombie horde?

Here are a few suggestions…

Beetlejuice

After a sequel was recently rumoured, there's never been a better time to re-watch Michael Keaton be all disgusting.

Before Tim Burton became too Tim Burton-y, Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin played a recently deceased young couple who hire the eponymous Beetlejuice to scare away the obnoxious new owners of their home.

Michael Keaton's sleazy ghoul is a joy to behold and remains an influential pop culture character.

The Shining

Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's novel is beloved of critics, and for good reason.

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is a struggling writer and recovering alcoholic who takes a job as winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel in an attempt to kick-start his career, bringing his son Danny and wife Wendy (Shelly Duvall) along for the ride.

Stephen King has been vocal in his criticism of the film, which removed a lot of the supernatural elements of the original story and instead made Jack a psychopath-in-waiting. This psycho-horror drives the audience to the end of their wits - a ball bouncing against a wall will never sound the same again.

Let The Right One In

This Swedish film is a typical boy-meets-girl love story. Oh, except that the girl in question is a vampire, but that doesn't stop the pair forming a bond in this brutal yet somehow heart-warming story - a real masterpiece of modern horror. Pick the 2008 original over the American remake.

Psycho

No list of Halloween films would be complete without a mention of the master of suspense himself.

On its release in 1960, Psycho was like nothing cinemagoers had ever seen before, and gave the viewing public an appetite for the shocking.

Bernard Herrmann's screeching score and Hitchcock's pacing make the famed shower scene one of the most terrifying murder scenes ever seen, spawning a whole generation of copycats in the form of Michael Myers and Freddie Kruger.

But it's Norman Bates who still strikes fear into the hearts of so many - after all, he looks just like you or me.

Pan's Labyrinth

This isn't strictly a Halloween film, and it isn't even strictly a horror - more the most violent children's fantasy you're likely to come across.

The story of Ofelia and her journey through Pan's Labyrinth, set amidst the bloodshed of fascist Spain, is Guillermo Del Toro's masterpiece. Frightening creatures and an even scarier stepfather all terrorise Ofelia as she journeys to save her dying mother. Watch as a double bill with Del Toro's Hellboy for a fantastical evening.

The Cabin In The Woods

Instead of watching any of the above, you could just watch 2011's the Cabin In The Woods, a homage to every horror film of the past 40-odd years.

The deceptively simple premise of a group of teens heading out to a cabin in the woods hides one of the best twists in recent horror history - to write about it is to spoil it, so just go watch it. 

What's YOUR must-see film for Halloween? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.