For enthusiasts of horror films, the month of October is an eagerly anticipated time dedicated to all things Halloween-related. To cater to every aficionado of the genre, we’ve curated a list of four diverse horror movies that unfold on or around October 31st. As is often the case, these picks tend to fall into the category of underappreciated, under-the-radar, or less widely known films.
In this month’s selection of Halloween-themed movies, you can expect encounters with zombies, encounters with witchcraft, encounters with relentless killers, and a range of other spine-tingling scenarios. Each film promises its own unique brand of terror and suspense. So, if you’re on the lookout for a fresh cinematic fright, these hidden gems might just be what you’re seeking.
The Midnight Hour (1985)
“The Midnight Hour” serves as an excellent prelude to the Halloween season, providing a lighter entry point before delving into more intense or frightening films. Originally broadcast on ABC, it later made its way to cable. While it didn’t receive immediate critical acclaim, it has steadily gained a dedicated following over the years. The storyline is fairly straightforward: teenagers dabble in magic and inadvertently resurrect an evil sorceress on Halloween night. As the evening progresses, the town falls under the sway of ghosts and monsters.
Granted, the narrative may not be overly intricate or groundbreaking, but what sets this apart is the remarkably high production values, which are unusually detailed for an ’80s made-for-TV movie. If you find elements of this whimsical thriller reminiscent of a sequel to Michael Jackson’s iconic “Thriller,” it’s worth noting that production designer Charles L. Hughes also contributed to the legendary music video. The ensemble cast features notable names such as Shari Belafonte-Harper, LeVar Burton, and Dick Van Patten.
Regrettably, Anchor Bay’s DVD release of “The Midnight Hour” is no longer in circulation and commands a hefty price on resale platforms. Until a potential re-release emerges, enthusiasts and the merely curious will have to make do with digitized copies.
Scary Movie (1991)
Before the likes of “Dark Ride,” “Haunt,” and “Hell Fest” brought haunts and horror attractions to the big screen, there was “Scary Movie.” This regional production, distinct from the later parody franchise of the 2000s, was filmed with a cast and crew hailing from Austin, Texas. The movie’s very own haunted house was constructed in Driftwood for the production. Notably, the lead role was portrayed by John Hawkes, who would go on to secure larger roles in Hollywood.
In “Scary Movie,” a visitor to a Halloween haunt (played by Hawkes) experiences escalating fear and paranoia as he navigates through the eerie attraction alone. Reports of a serial killer on the loose add to his mounting anxiety, leading him to believe that everyone around him is in peril. While the film’s plot may be somewhat thin, it culminates in a memorably twisted conclusion.
The American Genre Film Archive has since undertaken the task of remastering and restoring “Scary Movie.” It is now available on Blu-ray for audiences to enjoy.
Set against the backdrop of Wales, “Flick” follows an American detective who delves into a peculiar string of murders occurring overseas. However, this is no ordinary criminal case. The eponymous character in the film is a zombie portrayed by Hugh O’Conor, once a young man tragically killed in the 1950s. Now reanimated, he seeks both revenge and a chance to reconnect with a long-lost love.
Rockabilly-themed horror movies are a rarity, and “Flick” stands as a distinctive entry in this subgenre, with the added allure of featuring Faye Dunaway. The film exudes the appearance of a living graphic novel, and it maintains a tongue-in-cheek tone despite the sympathetic yet over-the-top vengeance carried out by the central character. The retro-pastiche style ensures an engaging viewing experience, even when the plot may veer into somewhat familiar territory.
“Flick” is available on DVD and can also be streamed on Prime Video for those interested in this unique blend of horror and rockabilly aesthetics.
Mischief Night (2013)
Among the two 2010s horror films titled “Mischief Night,” this one offers a more direct approach to the genre. Directed by Travis Baker, the movie takes an unexpected turn that is bound to surprise viewers. This iteration of “Mischief Night” caters specifically to enthusiasts of home invasion and slasher subgenres.
Noell Coet takes on the role of a teenager who develops conversion disorder, resulting in her losing her sight after a car accident that tragically claimed her mother’s life. Alone at home on the night before Halloween, known as Mischief Night, she receives an unwelcome visit from a masked assailant donned in a yellow raincoat. The evening transforms into a harrowing game of survival as the protagonist grapples with defending herself against an adversary she cannot see. While “Mischief Night” doesn’t revolutionize the genre, it offers an engaging and adrenaline-pumping hunt-and-kill experience.
Available on home video, “Mischief Night” can also be currently streamed on Tubi, providing audiences with an opportunity to dive into this thrilling tale of suspense and survival.