Released in 1978, Halloween is famously directed by John Carpenter and is the film which introduced us to masked psychopath and boogeyman, Michael Myers. Throughout the film we witness Michael Myers stalking the townsfolk of Haddonfield and killing them off one-by-one as he gets closer to his ultimate prize: Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis).
As he continues his killing throughout the film he’s followed by Dr Loomis and Detective Brackett and thanks to the acting talents of Donald Pleasance as Loomis, there’s no short supply of memorable moments that comment on the psychological makeup of someone who is pure evil.
During a recent re-watch I started to think what other movies like Halloween are out there which horror fans like myself would enjoy. So I’ve put together the following bucket list. Let me know in the comments how many you’ve seen.
1. Friday the 13th (1980)
Directed by Sean S. Cunningham, Friday the 13th is probably the most famous slasher film (with the exception of Halloween). It stars Betsy Palmer, Kevin Bacon, Adrienne King, Robbi Morgan, and Laurie Batram. In Friday the 13th Part 1, as it’s now known due to many other successful sequels, a group of camp counselors trying to reopen a summer camp called Crystal Lake, which has a grim past, are stalked by a mysterious killer. The killer is eventually revealed to be Mrs Vorhees, the mother of Jason Vorhees, a kid who drowned in the lake while the counsellors were off making out.
Friday the 13th has many memorable kills. The most famous of which is probably the one where Kevin Bacon is lying down on a bed and is stabbed through the mattress and through the throat. Although, an elderly woman would probably lack the strength to do so – it’s still so much fun!
2. Prom Night (1980)
A couple of years after the success of the first Halloween film, Jamie Lee Curtis returned to the Slasher sub-genre of horror in Prom Night. While far from a complicated plot, the film follows a masked killer and the teenagers he’s killing off as revenge for a young girl that died accidentally years before. While the kills aren’t spectacular by today’s horror standards, they are fun, and the movie itself is a time honoured horror classic which everyone must watch at least once in their lifetime.
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Produced and directed by Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was one of the first horror films which took the violence of murder to extremes (at least for the 70s). The Texas Chainsaw Massacre first introduced us to Leatherface and his miserable cannibalistic family. Interestingly, some of the details in this film were inspired by the crimes of serial killer Ed Gein. While Leatherface’s weapon of choice was often a chainsaw, it’s the “meat hook” scene that is still so iconic.
4. Psycho (1960)
Psycho is probably the very first slasher film ever created. In it, Norman Bates, one of the owners of the Bates Motel, seems harmless enough but pretty soon who turns into a savage killer who likes to turn his kitchen knife on his guests while they’re in the shower. There’s also the aspect of his fetish for cross dressing as his dead mother who happens to be just a skeleton looking down at the motel from their house. If you’re looking for that infamous horror scene involving a stabbing in a shower – this is the movie it’s from.
5. Black Christmas (1974)
Directed by Bob Clark, Black Christmas stars Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin, Lynne Griffin and John Saxon. The story follows a group of sorority sisters who receive threatening phone calls and are eventually stalked and murdered by a deranged killer during the Christmas season.
Black Christmas (originally titled Silent Night, Evil Night), followed the fad of taking a well-known holiday and then turning it into a horror film. To this day, Black Christmas is still celebrated and has a rabid cult following.
6. Valentine (2001)
After seeing David Boreanaz as the brooding and heroic Vampire with a soul in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it’s spin-off Angel, it’s hard to imagine David Boreanaz as a relentless killer in a slasher film.
Valentine is a sexy slasher film from the early 00s involving a killer taking out numerous attractive women in ways that can only be described as “101 ways to kill a Hollywood starlet.” The kills, brutal, inventive and sometimes random – but it makes for a better film than you’d expect given the synopsis is about a heart broken killer.
7. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Directed by Wes Craven, The Hills Have Eyes stars Susan Lanier, Michael Berryman and Dee Wallace. The film follows the Carters, a suburban family targeted by a family of cannibal savages after becoming stranded in the Nevada desert. The film was inspired by the legend of the Scottish cannibal Sawney Bean and this imprinted an idea on Wes Craven: what if civilised people could become savage?
Due to the filming in the Mojave Desert, there’s this constant feeling of despair, loneliness and isolation which adds to the fear and terror of being killed and eaten by a group of cannibals. Mmm… nom nom.
8. The Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this horror film probably involves a slumber party and it probably involves a killer looking to take them all out. Right? I mean, it’s all there in the name. The killer in question isn’t like Michael Myers in preferring a kitchen knife with each kill. Oh no, the preferred weapon of choice in this horror flick is a power drill. What’s more 80s than a crazed killer looking to take out hot young women in a sleepover scenario involving power tools? It’s a really fun time if you ask me.
9. Halloween II (1981)
Directed by Rick Rosenthal, Halloween II stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence and Dick Warlock. The plot picks up directly after the cliffhanger ending of the first Halloween film, with Michael Myers following survivor Laurie Strode to the local hospital, while his psychiatrist Dr. Loomis continues his pursuit of him. Interestingly, as much as this film is known and remembered by fans as a John Carpenter film, Carpenter didn’t film the entire thing – only portions of it. Instead, he’s credited as the co-writer, along with Debra Hill.
10. Scream (1996)
Wes Craven’s Scream injected new life into the veins of a very tired and overworked sub-genre. While seen by many as a serious slasher film, Scream has many satirical undertones. Often poking fun at well known horror films like Friday the 13th, Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Scream invented the boogeyman Ghostface and started the franchise involving Sidney Prescott and her friends as they struggle to survive being slaughtered.
11. I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
I Know What You Did Last Summer is quintessentially 90s. With heartthrobs like Freddie Prince Jr, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe and Jennifer Love Hewitt as part of the cast it’s hard not to get swept up the 90s furor of this movie about these teens who run over a fisherman, dump him in a like and then flee in terror as he kills them off one-by-one a year later. While the killer’s outfit is quite ridiculous, there’s something about a raincoat, his face drenched in darkness and armed with nothing but a hook that adds a level of fear to this horror film.
12. Candyman (1992)
Directed by Bernard Rose, Candyman stars Tony Todd, Virginia Madsen, Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons and Vanessa E. Willliams. Candyman is about a Chicago graduate student who is completing a thesis on urban legends and folklore, which leads her to the legend of the “Candyman”, the ghost of an African-American artist and the son of a slave who was murdered in the late 19th century for his relationship with the daughter of a wealthy white man.
Candyman is a fantastic play on the Bloody Mary myth which tells of a phantom or ghost which can be conjured up if you chant her name several times in front of a mirror. Candyman is also a break out role for actor Tony Todd, who had appeared in many films and tv productions prior, but few had highlighted his acting skills until the release of this film.
13. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
There’s no other horror boogeyman quite as terrifying as Freddy Krueger. A Nightmare on Elm Street introduced us to the infamous child molester who was set on fire by the townsfolk and now haunts teenagers in their dream before killing them in their nightmares. Unfortunately, as the lore tells us, killing someone in their dreams also kills them in the real world. While later in the franchise actor Robert Englund took his approach to Freddy in a bit more comedic way, it’s the first film which depicts Freddy Krueger as a supernatural homicidal maniac – complete with metal claw. It’s worth giving this movie a watch to see Johnny Depp’s character die in a spray of blood and guts!
14. My Bloody Valentine (1981)
The original My Bloody Valentine is one of the many horror films in the 80s named after a popular holiday. Like most of those movies, My Bloody Valentine has very little to do with the holiday itself and more to do with the fact that it just so happens to be set on Valentine’s Day during which a party occurs. A party where the teenage partygoers suffer at the hands of a killer in mining gear. If the idea of teens getting killed by an array of mining gear appeals to you then check this movie out.
15. Urban Legend (1998)
Another great 90s horror film, Urban Legend is about a string of murders which occur on a college campus. The absolute kicker is the murders are inspired and styled after popular urban legends. Hence, the name of the film. Like most 90s slasher films, there’s plenty of sex, violence and teenager fuelled drama to keep you distracted enough until the murderer achieves their next kill. If that’s not enough to draw you in then how about this?
Urban Legend is filled from the start to the end credits with an assortment of popular character actors like a young Jared Leto, Robert Englund, Tara Reid and Brad Dourif, to name a few.
16. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Like the name suggests, this horror movie is set at a summer camp and follows a group of kids who are gradually killed off. Sleepaway Camp focuses on Angela and her cousin Ricky and features nonstop gratuitous violence. Not to mention an ending twist rarely seen in 80s horror movies of this type. So many memorable kills are featured in Sleepaway Camp, making it one of the more underrated movies in this list.
17. The Fog (1980)
Directed by John Carpenter, The Fog stars John Houseman, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh and Adrienne Barbeau. The Fog is about a coastal town in Northern California where an ominous fog visits and brings with it a host of vengeful ghosts of the sailors of a ship wreck from 100 years before. The Fog is an interesting watch as it merges elements of ghosts horror with slasher horror as the ghost-like apparitions approach their kills in an almost boogeyman sense.
Besides all of that, the atmosphere of The Fog is incredibly haunting and you’ve just got to applaud a film which brought the acting talents of Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh and Adrienne Barbeau under the one banner. Kudos, JC!
18. The Strangers (2008)
The Strangers definitely brought the home invasion sub-genre of horror into the mainstream. While not necessarily filled with savage kills, it does play a lot with masked boogeymen stalking and lying in wait outside a very expensive looking house. There’s a certain ominous element to The Strangers that I can’t quite put my finger on which fills you with dread. What could be scarier than masked assailants looking to invade your home? Not to mention the question being asked of do they want to kill you or not? For what The Strangers sets out to achieve, it does it really effectively.
19. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Directed by Steve Minor, Friday the 13th Part 2 stars Adrienne King, Amy Steel, John Furey and Peter Stein. In this film we’re formally introduced to Jason Vorhees be a vengeful killer of camp counsellors at Crystal Lake. However, he isn’t adorned the hockey mask just yet, in this movie he’s wearing a burlap sack over his head with eyes poked through – which I feel adds some eeriness to his kills.
There’s also the relationship between Jason and his mother which is explored as the head of Pamela Vorhees is worshipped by Jason like some kind of shrine. It’s here we learn that this is one screwed up family.
20. X (2022)
Set in the 70s, where a group of young adults find a secluded barn to shoot their porn movie. X quickly morphs from a sordid sexy film into a movie filled with horrors as the elderly owners of the barn figure out what the porn film makers are doing and look to kill them off one-by-one. Despite all the carnage that ensues, nothing will prepare you for Mia Goth’s character hiding under the bed while the two elderly killers go at it like a pair of rabbits.
21. Halloween Kills (2021)
Directed by David Gordon Green, Halloween Kills stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton, Thomas Mann and Anthony Michael Hall. While many critics wrote this film off, I would say that it’s one of the better Halloween films as it not only serves to reinforce just how unstoppable Michael Myers is but it also brings back several characters from the franchise spanning multiple films and gives them a bloody good send off.
What did you think of this list of ‘Movies like Halloween’?
What did you think of the original Halloween movie? Have you seen any of these films before?
Let us know what you think on social media.