Movies You Need to Watch To Get in the Halloween Mood

Everyone has their own Halloween traditions. Some of us like to dress up in costumes, others like to visit allegedly haunted houses. If there’s one Halloween tradition that is especially popular for those of us who have aged out of middle school, it’s horror movies.

While horror is the genre most commonly associated with Halloween, not every horror movie out there is a very good Halloween movie. Movies like Steven Spielberg’s Jaws or Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes are set in broad daylight in the summer; thus, they don’t embody the nighttime, autumn milieu of Halloween. Here are three movies that are perfect to watch with friends to get in the Halloween mood.

Michael Myers

‘Halloween’

Halloween 1978
Halloween 1978 | Compass International Pictures

Let’s get the most obvious film on this list out of the way first.  No, the film in question is not Rob Zombie’s disappointing Halloween remake from 2007, nor is it the artful sequel with the same title from last year.  It is John Carpenter’s original 1978 film Halloween that has stood the test of time as both a classic Halloween movie and one of the most influential horror films of the 1970s, if not of all time. From its memorable score to its mind-blowing cinematography and its memorable villain, Michael Myers (who became the archetype for numerous masked villains to come), Halloween isn’t just an enjoyable film;  it’s a film that everybody needs to watch if they want to understand the state of modern horror.

‘Trick ‘r Treat’

Source: Warner Bros.

 Trick ‘r Treat is a great movie and also a bit of a cinematic tragedy. It’s not a tragedy in terms of its quality, rather, it’s a tragedy because it was barely released. A direct-to-video production with the budget of a real movie, Trick ‘r Treat is one of the very few films to overcome the stigma of being direct-to-video and take its place as a genre classic. It’s a film with a unique sense of humor that manages to encapsulate the two distinct sides of Halloween: the holiday’s more prominent, scary side as well as the holiday’s childish, mischievous side. 

The film also introduced the world to its own Halloween mascot, a plucky demon named Sam who embodies the holiday’s spirit. Christmas has Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Frosty the Snowman, the Little Drummer Boy, and Santa’s nine reindeer. Easter has the Easter Bunny. How is it that Halloween has been a holiday for so long and yet there is no Halloween mascot? Since our culture is apparently unable to come up with a mascot for the holiday, let’s just use Sam and call it even.

‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Cult movie
The Rocky Horror Picture Show | Michael White Productions

If there’s one experience that can replicate the high-spirited silliness of trick or treating for teenagers and adults, it’s probably watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show in a crowded theater. It’s an experience that everyone should have during the Halloween season at least once in their life. One thing about The Rocky Horror Picture Show is undeniable:  it’s the best science fiction horror movie musical set to 1950s-style rock and roll. If Ed Wood and Little Richard somehow made a movie together, it would probably be something like this.