Happy spooky season!
My name is Stephanie, and I live for a movie night. There’s nothing I love more than sitting around with some good friends, some wine, and a nice cheese board (or piles of pizza, depending on the mood of the evening).
I also spent five years of my life working in a video store, followed by many, many years in retail selling DVDs, and I like to think that I’ve perfected the art of curating a movie night for whatever mood you’re in. See, just because you pick three horror films doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all going to go together. For instance, you wouldn’t follow up I Know What You Did Last Summer with The Shining or Hereditary. They’re all completely different vibes, there’s no flow.
So, to make planning your next movie night a breeze, please indulge me as I reprise my role as ‘that chick from the video store’ for a hot minute. I’ve curated some different collections of horror films to watch this Halloween — or anytime, really! — to ensure you have the vibe right, all through the night.
The Scream marathon
This is an obvious one, I know, but what was I supposed to do? Pick a favourite Scream film? They’re a package deal, and you can make quite the night of it. Fun fact: When my friends and I were 15 we marathoned the trilogy (Scream 4 was still many years away). About halfway through the third film, there was a knock at the door, and we were home alone. After freaking ourselves out, we ended up all going to the door. One of my friends was holding the home phone with two zeros dialed, ready to call the police. Another friend was holding a knife. Anyway, it was my mum, coming to pick me up from the movie night. As a hot tip to us back then: predators don’t tend to knock!
All four Scream films are streaming now on Stan.
The Teen Slasher Marathon
I Know What You Did Last Summer / Urban Legend / Halloween H20
If you’re in the mood for 90s teen slashers, but aren’t feeling a Scream marathon, look no further than this trio. Halloween H2O is one of the top three Halloween films and works well as a stand-alone film. I Know What You Did Last Summer is a classic, despite the fact that I still cannot explain the killer’s motivation no matter how many times I’ve watched it. Urban Legend rounds out the trio, and earns its spot because to this very day, I still check the back seat.
Stream Halloween:H20 on Stan
The 00s Remakes Marathon
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre / The Amityville Horror / House of Wax
In the noughties, horror kind of just gave up on original ideas and decided to remake every horror film ever. A lot of them were bad, but these three are great, and not just because, yes, you get to see Paris Hilton in House of Wax. It’s also a genuinely scary movie, serving jump scares, slasher moments and gore. The Amityville Horror not only features a ton of jump scares and Australia’s own Melissa George, but also features Ryan Reynolds’ insane six pack. Enough said. Finally, the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is genuinely terrifying from start to finish, and if we’re going to talk about Ryan’s abs, we’re also going to talk about Jessica Biel’s butt in those jeans, specifically in this creeper shot:
Watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Amazon
The Ghosts of the 00s
Ghost Ship / The Mothman Prophecies / The Others
Ghosts! Ghosts in houses, ghosts in towns, ghosts at sea. What more could you want?
When I saw The Others at the cinema as a teen, my friend straight up SCREAMED in the theatre at one of the reveals. Point is, all teenagers are bad at the cinema. Apologies to anyone who had to endure us at the time. From the bottom of my heart, let me say: “my bad”.
Stream The Others on Stan
The Torture Porn Trio
Saw / Hostel / Martyrs
If what you’re looking for is straight up GORE, like “let’s see what kind of torture I can force my eyeballs to endure as we watch this”, this is the lineup for you. Saw is the film responsible for the 00s boom in gory torture scenes in horror, and aside from that, it’s the best of this sub genre, which tends to lean into gratuitous violence and away from actual plots. But sometimes the heart wants what it wants, and if you’re looking for blood, there’ll be buckets of it here! Hot tip: if you haven’t seen Martyrs before, it made me feel physically ill and swear off horror films until they brought back slashers, not because it was bad — it’s quite good! — but because it’s so violent I felt physically shaky after watching it. Also it’s French, so if you hate subtitles, this isn’t for you.
The East Asian Trio
The Ring / The Grudge / A Tale of Two Sisters
Okay, I was going to make this a trio of Asian remakes, but the remake of A Tale of Two Sisters — American title The Uninvited — was so bad that it left me wondering if the filmmakers had actually understood the original, which is simultaneously terrifying and absolutely beautiful to watch. Meanwhile, the remakes of The Ring and The Grudge are perfectly acceptable for your early 00s angry ghost vibe.
Watch The Grudge on Amazon
Watch A Tale of Two Sisters on Amazon
Friday the 13th / Halloween / The Exorcist
If you’re a horror fan, these three are non-negotiable, mandatory viewing by directors other than Hitchcock. While they might not be as terrifying or violent as some of the modern horror films, they’re all films that had a profound impact on the genre and deserve our respect and gratitude.
Watch Halloween on Amazon
The Stephen King Adaptations
Carrie / The Shining / Misery
Stephen King adaptations tend to either be incredible, or absolutely terrible. These three are in the incredible category, obviously. Fun fact: Carrie was the first R rated film I managed to convince my dad to let me hire from the video store when I was 12, under the condition that he would watch it with me, and he would fast forward the scene where John Travolta gets a BJ in the car. Anyway, the combination of Carrie, Alex Mack and Charmed all coming into my life around the same time meant that I spent many years hoping I would one day wake up with telekinesis. Alas, it has not happened yet.
Watch The Shining on Amazon
Ghosts of the 2010s
Sinister / The Conjuring / Insidious
Okay I’ll be honest, I’ve seen all three of these films but if you asked me right now how they’re different from one another, I would struggle to explain that. But that’s okay! They’re all fun, they all have similar vibes, and thus, they’re a great trio if you’re looking to dive into the supernatural boom of the 2010s.
The Evolution of Found Footage
The Blair Witch Project / Paranormal Activity / Unfriended
Anyone in their 30s now will remember exactly how much of a game changer The Blair Witch Project was. Aside from being one of the biggest box office successes of all time after making USD $250 million on a budget of USD $60,000, it created a boom in shaky, found footage films in years to come. Also? A lot of people thought it was real due to a viral marketing campaign that would never work in 2019. With so many films embracing found footage, Paranormal Activity and Unfriended are the two that stand out as movies that took found footage to the next level as technology has continued to evolve over the years.
~ Prestige horror ~
A Quiet Place / Hereditary / Get Out
Personally I dislike the term “prestige horror” because it implies that all other horror is trash, but I didn’t want to label this trio “films that make you go ‘hmm’”, so here we are. If you’re looking for cerebral scares, this is the trio for you.
Wolf Creek / The Loved Ones / The Babadook
Aside from international gay icon The Babadook, Australia has also delivered some truly horrifying tales in Wolf Creek and The Loved Ones. This is a lineup for when you’re in the mood to tense every muscle in your body as you try to hold your breath in time with the characters in Wolf Creek, to gasp at The Loved Ones, and to be absolutely gripped by the terror of The Babadook.
Stream Wolf Creek on Stan
High Tension (Haute Tension) / Funny Games / The Vanishing (Spoorloos)
Finally, if you’re in the mood for high suspense, absolute terror and violence with a chainsaw, then this collection of European horror films will be right up your alley. The original Funny Games (which you can also watch the shot for shot remake of, if you like) is an absolute nightmare, which will challenge your place in the film as a viewer. High Tension is exactly what it sounds like, you’ll be on the edge of your seat. And The Vanishing will have you searching for all the answers.
Stream High Tension on Stan
Watch The Vanishing on Amazon