Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, here are 14 great Halloween films to watch over the course of 24 hours, right down to the minute. If you’re looking for a scary movie marathon with your friends, cats or merely a bucket of Sour Patch Kids and deepest regrets, the CDP has you covered. I tend to stick to the classics and prefer psychological horror over gore, so if you’re down, you’re down.
Honorable Mentions go to Seven, Race With The Devil, Rear Window, Poltergeist, Halloween, Psycho, Scream, Nosferatu, The Blair Witch Project and Frankenstein. Feel free to add these films if you ever wish to hold a 48 hour marathon.
NOON – 1:36pmNight Of The Living Dead (1968)
Might as well kick things off with a masterpiece. You’ll soon see that when it comes to scary movies, I tend to stick with the classics, and Night Of The Living Dead takes residence in my Holy Trinity of Horror Movies.
1:36pm – 3:27pmThe Omen (1976)
They don’t make movies about Satan like they used to. Enjoy the Missus’ choice for her favorite scary movie, and one of the only ‘demon possessed kid’ films that matters.
3:27pm – 5:22pmThe Ring (2002)
The newest film on this list by a long shot, I argue that the American remake of The Ring is not only better than the original, but one of the top 10 horror movies of the last 10 years.
5:22pm – 6:46pmThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
By now, the sun should be going down, so what better time to take in Movie #2 in my Holy Trinity of Horror Movies? Endlessly influential, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre spawned countless (for better or worse) knockoffs.
6:46pm – 8:45pmThe Birds (1963)
One of three Hitchcock films I considered for this marathon, The Birds is a perfect example of mixing brilliant direction with suspense, mystery, and everything else that makes Hitchcock one of the greatest of all-time.
Not ‘scary’ per se, but an absolutely essential movie to locate and view, if only because the concept (legit circus freaks murder a scheming trapeze artist and her strongman boyfriend) is guaranteed to never see a camera lens ever again. You’d be thrown out of Hollywood for even pitching it.
9:49pm – 12:13amThe Shining (1980)
The Shining gets a prime timeslot in our marathon, and I consider it more than worthy. One of the most artful films of the genre, and featuring a legendary performance by Jack Nicholson.
12:13am – 1:55amThe Burbs (1989)
After the emotional annihilation of The Shining, watch the criminally-overlooked comedy, The Burbs. I don’t know why; maybe it’s because the movie never quite decides what it wants to be (dark comedy, horror, spoof), but it’s honestly one of my favorite movies ever. Due to the Missus not sharing my sentiments, I only watch it once a year with her, right around Halloween.
1:55am – 3:42amThe Changeling (1980)
I watched The Changeling for the first time a couple of years ago, and it took me completely by surprise. George C. Scott is (predictably) fantastic, and the slow burn of the first half will suck you in and claim your emotions for the twisted climax. A really good, classic paranormal film, and I recommend watching it as I did, with no reservations of what it was supposed to be about.
3:42am – 5:40amThe Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
The influence, legacy and memory of The Silence Of The Lambs cannot be overstated. The only ‘Horror’ movie to ever receive a Best Picture Academy Award, it seemingly does everything perfect, creating a very real, very grimy world of serial murderers, psychological manipulation and the best leading cast in the history of the genre. Not just a must-see; but a must-own.
5:40am – 7:18amThe Eye (2002)
For my money, one the best of the ‘Asian Horror’ films, The Eye takes an interesting concept (woman accidentally goes blind and can now see the dead), and sprinkles all sorts of Asian cinematography dust on each frame. Like The Changeling, The Eye snuck up on me, and if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t need wanton gore to be interested in a scary movie (like me), this should do the trick.
7:18am – 9:34amRosemary’s Baby (1968)
Horror movies from this era did two things I really liked: First, they mentioned Satan a lot. Secondly, movies were allowed to end badly, meaning that main characters were killed, the bad guys got away, and in the case of Rosemary’s Baby, the seed of the Dark Lord was planted in Mia Farrow. If you haven’t seen this one by now, you may want to remedy that. Dark, looming, paranoid and remarkable.
9:34am – 9:58amTrilogy Of Terror – ‘Amelia’ (1975)
So, we’ve almost made it through the 24 hour marathon. Chances are a lot of your friends have fallen asleep, the DVD player is smoldering and you’re almost completely out of Zagnut bars. What better time to watch the iconic final short film from Trilogy Of Terror, where Karen Black is terrorized in her apartment by a Zuni fetish doll come to life? Trust me, it’s awesome.
9:58am – NOONThe Exorcist (1973)
Here we are. The final piece of my Holy Trinity of Horror Movies, and without question the greatest (and arguably scariest) horror film ever made. The Exorcist wins, and most other arguments exist only because said curmudgeon doesn’t want to accept that such a popular movie is also the best. It is. Nothing else comes close. Even at 10am, even upon the 20th viewing, it’ll send you reeling.
Just to be sure, I re-watched The Exorcist shortly before I put this list together, and you know what? It was better than I remembered. If you’ve never seen it (or haven’t seen it in awhile), it’s more than Linda Blair flopping around on a bed (which she does brilliantly, I might add). The real star of the film, Jason Miller, does a masterfully understated job as Damien Karras, a priest losing his faith and wracked with guilt at the recent loss of his mother. An early scene with him visiting his mother at a psych ward was particularly unnerving. Also, Ellen Burstyn plays the role of Regan’s mother with just the right combination of terror and frustration. There are no ‘unbelievable’ characters in this movie, and considering the subject matter, that’s pretty unbelievable in and of itself.
The influence The Exorcist continues to have on horror is undeniable. Moments like listening to Regan’s speech backwards, or the hospital surveillance footage of her mania are surprisingly contemporary. Finally, this movie is, at the end of the day, a huge victory for Catholics. I’m surprised they don’t play this at least once a year during mass (okay, maybe not, but still).
The Exorcist earned a whopping 10 Oscar nominations, winning two. With a gross of over $450 million, it’s also one of the most popular films of all time. Finally, The Exorcist was named ‘Scariest Movie Of All-Time’ by Entertainment Weekly, IMDB, Movies.com and AMC. Not too shabby. It’s also on Netflix streaming in HD right this very instant, so give yourself a couple of hours and watch it tonight.
The marathon is over. Change your pants and get some rest. Sound off in the comments section, let me know what your marathon would look like and enjoy your day.