Alternative Halloween Horror Film Picks

I’m just going to steer your attention to a couple of films that you may or may not have heard of but are worth your while watching this Halloween. Those of you looking for loads of jumps and scares (what Mark Kermode calls Cattle Prod Cinema) may be a little disappointed while watching this selection, they fall more into the suspense/dread psychological horror category.

horrorfilmDon’t Look Now

‘Don’t Look Now’ tells the story of a married couple whose time in Venice is haunted by the presence of a figure from their past. Its really about the psychological effects of losing a loved one. The quiet, wintery streets and canals of Venice are one of the real stars of the piece.


‘Shutter’ is the only one of this group that falls somewhat in the sudden jump/scare category of horror. It’s a film from Thailand where the main protagonists come to realise that the unusual shapes appearing in their photographs are more than just lens flare!

The Vanishing (Spoorloos)

One of the best films, not just horror films, to be released in the last 25 years. Could be viewed as more of a thriller, but the horrific elements of the film are undeniable. The real horror for me comes from the fact that the premise is so plausible, the perpetrator so mundane, and the act so random. The structure of the film is really inventive and masterfully directed, jumping back and forth in time, giving equal screen time to both victim and perpetrator. It’s a must see.

If jumps and scares are more your thing I would recommend this year’s ‘The Conjuring’ as a good place to start. If you’re more into the gory/slasher type horror then look towards France and films like Inside, Martyrs, Frontier(s) and Haute Tension.

*Huge thanks to David for writing this guest post. I watched all three of these films along with him and agree that The Vanishing is probably the best out of the lot! David is a huge movie buff and web designer. He actually designed the blog for me. You can find him here*
Have you seen any of these movies? What’s your favourite horror films? 

12 thoughts on “Alternative Halloween Horror Film Picks

  1. Definitely agree with you about ‘Don’t Look Now.’ It’s an excellent and intelligent film. A haunting and disturbing (and yes – quite frightening!) film, but also, a very sad film. It’s one of those films that stays with you for years afterwards. Unsettling, but brilliant on so many levels.

    One other truly shocking and even more disturbing film that I’ve seen only recently is a little-known (except by Hammer horror enthusiasts – of which I’m one) called ‘Straight Through Till Morning.’ I won’t say any more about it than that, except to say that it truly gave me the creeps not only while I was watching it, but long after the film had ended. Very scary. Very creepy.

    I’ve never seen I ‘The Vanishing’ but I’m intrigued now – will have to see if I can find it on YouTube or Netflix.

    One of my all-time favourite films – of any genre, not just horror – is ‘The Wicker Man’ (NOT to be confused with the truly awful and ridiculously poor ‘The Wicker Tree’ nor the remake of ‘The Wicker Man’ with Nicolas Cage. No, I mean the original from 1971/72, with the fantastic Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward and Ingrid Pitt and Britt Eckland. Much more than a great horror film, but you will be shocked by the ending if you’ve never read or heard anything about this truly magnificent film.

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  3. Oops! That should have been ‘Straight On Til Morning’! Sorry ’bout that!

    One more quite unsettling and surreal film that scared the bejaysus out of me when I was a kid and saw this on TV one late afternoon is ‘Carnival of Souls,’ from the early 60s, I’m pretty sure. Similar to ‘Don’t Look Now,’ there’s an undercurrent of sadness running throughout this film. Although it’s in black and white, its surreal nature still makes you feel quite trippy during certain segments. And it is scary – especially when I saw it for the first time when I was about 11 or so. I found the DVD in a car boot sale in Dublin last year, and, while I was delighted to have found such an old and rare gem, I couldn’t persuade myself to watch it for some months later, lol. That’s how unsettling an effect it had on me from years ago.

    • I was just thinking of films I can watch today, you have given me some great ones. I really enjoy the older horror films so I’ll check Carnival of Souls! I can imagine seeing it at 11 was shit scary! I’ll check out The Wicker Man too, sounds intriguing! Thanks for your great comments!

      • My pleasure, Nora. You’re more than welcome. I’ve always been a fan of horror films – and by that, I mean *good* horror films (which is a subjective term, I realise), that aren’t just special effects or slice and dice and gore (although if you like that genre of horror film, that’s fine, too – I just mean for me, personally). I like films – horror or otherwise – that have substance to them, that make you think afterwards about the film and what the filmmaker was expressing.

        I’ve always been a huge fan of those brilliant old classic Hammer horror films. Most people, when they hear the word ‘Hammer,’ they think of only the Dracula films – which all have the amazing, wonderful and brilliant and superb Christopher Lee (can you tell I dig him? lol). ‘Straight On Til Morning’ is a Hammer film, and there are no vampires to be found anywhere. There’s also ‘The Gorgon,’ and the excellent ‘The Reptile,’ with Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan from the brilliant ‘Blake’s 7’ series). And ‘Hands of the Ripper’ and ‘Twins of Evil,’ (with the equally brilliant Peter Cushing), ‘Horror Hotel’ (another Christopher Lee gem, but no vampires), ‘Fear in the Night,’ and the absolutely excellent ‘Demons of the Mind’ – all brilliant gems from the Hammer studios well worth checking out.

        There’s another one I just thought of – it’s an American one, and it’s so under-rated that that alone is scary! It’s called ‘Halloween III’ – or, as I refer to it by its proper title, ‘Season of the Witch.’ This is NOT part of the slasher ‘Halloween’ films, though. They used the title ‘Halloween’ in the hope that it would entice fans of the first two ‘Halloween’ films (with Jamie Lee Curtis) to see this film, too. I don’t think it did all that well at the box office, but it should have – it is excellent! And scary! And very, very plausible and possible in terms of how so many millions if not billions of us (especially children) are addicted to television. Even though it’s from 1982, it could easily be applied to 2013.

        I’d love to get your feedback on any or all of these films, once you’ve seen them. Of course, taste is personal preference, so my favourites may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’re looking for something ‘different’ from the norm (the ‘norm’ being the ones with no real story line, the ones with slashing everyone in sight, the ones with sensory overload special effects and little else going for it) – that truly is unsettling and yes, Halloween scary – then check out some of these films I’ve mentioned.

  4. ps – forgive me for being so long-winded with the epic-length comment I just left. I have a tendency to do that when I’m passionate about something. 🙂

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    • ‘The Shining’ is a fantastic film, I agree. Every time I watch it, I get something new out of it. Stanley Kubrick was a genius – in more ways than one. Lots of hidden messages in that film (as well as in ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ – which isn’t really a horror film, but more of a psychological-sexual thriller).

      Ever see ‘Rosemary’s Baby’? Another fantastic film, and defnitely a classic. And if you’re going to watch a classic, I’d put ‘The Exorcist’ way up there near the top of the list. Actually, the more times I see that film, as scary/truly terrifying as some parts of it clearly are, it also comes across as a well-crafted, beautifully expressed story of hope, and a mother’s undying, unconditional love for her child.

      Oh! And another classic is George Romero’s ‘Day of the Dead.’ All his zombie films are excellent, but ‘Day of the Dead,’ which takes place inside a shopping mall, is not only a great horror film, but it’s also a social commentary (if you get my meaning). And if you want a great laugh combined with an excellent take on the zombie genre, you can’t get much better or much funnier than ‘Shaun of the Dead.’ More hilarious and clever than truly scary, but it’s an excellent choice for watching on Hallowe’en…or any other time you need a giggle and a good dose of zombie action. 🙂

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