Features 31c

Published on October 1st, 2013 | by Staff

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31 Supernatural Horror Films to Watch This October

Halloween is fast approaching, and for many people there is no better time than October to watch horror films. To help out choosing what to watch, we here at Critically Sane have compiled a list of 31 supernatural horror films to watch in October. Why supernatural horror? Well, 2013 has been something of a year of the supernatural with a number of films releasing in the sub-genre (some of which are on this list) and with the remake of Carrie coming this month, supernatural horror made perfect sense.

1408

Stephen King is one of the great American storytellers. Many of King’s more recent works that have been adapted for film have left a lot to be desired. There are exceptions though, like 1408. Based on one of King’s short stories, 1408 sees John Cusack acting as a paranormal investigator attempting to debunk the supposed haunting of room 1408 in an old hotel. What makes 1408 stand out is that it becomes such a personal tale of a man’s grief over his daughter’s death and is able to visualize that grief and horror in a meaningful way on screen. -Chris

The Amityville Horror (1979)

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I really like the remake of Amityville Horror, but the original was such a classic in the genre that it’s impossible to ignore. One of many “based on a true story” movies to come out involving a haunted house, the original had such a rich character progression as viewers watched James Brolin put on a great performance as a man sinking further into insanity. Really, I enjoy all of the Amityville movies, with the original, the 2005 remake and Amityville 3-D standing out as my favorites. You should just make a triple-feature and watch all three of those in one night. -Don

The Blair Witch Project

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There are films that people say came out before their time and then there are films that actually come out at the exact right  time. 1999 saw The Blair Witch Project captivate audiences with its unique, at the time, approach of faux documentary via found footage. The film and its subsequent success have been the inspiration of a generation of horror filmmakers and it deserves to be watched to see how it all started. -Chris

Carrie (1976)

With all the adaptations of Stephen King’s novels that have turned into ripe garbage, it is often easy to forget that there are actually some fantastic ones out there. Carrie was the first one, and it still resonates today. Directed by Brian DePalma, Carrie tells the tale of a haunted and abused girl that discovers she has telekinetic powers that erupt horrifically on the night of her prom. Featuring iconic performances from Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, Carrie remains one of the best all-around horror films ever made. -Chris

Children of the Corn (1984)

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Children of the Corn is a classic 80’s horror movie. A Stephen King movie adaptation of his short story about a village of children who slaughter their parents, it becomes more horrifying the older you get. Malachi is one of the most evil kids I have seen in a movie, probably more-so than another kid antagonist in this list. Not only does it have rebellious children, every parents nightmare, but there is something inherently creepy about corn fields. This is a sure-fire movie to still give me the chills. -Don

Child’s Play (1988)

Like The Fog, Child’s Play traumatized me, only to a much stronger degree. All it took was one commercial of the brought-to-life, possessed doll and I was scarred for years to come. The first three entries in the series were all really good, but the original is still the best. When Andy first gets Chucky, he’s so happy and excited. As the movie progresses he goes on this terrible downward spiral that the other movies just can’t match. Curse of Chucky comes out soon, and after watching the trailer, I know I’ll be watching that at the first chance I get. -Don

The Conjuring

Taking a page from the marketing effort of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring is a film that proclaimed itself to be the scariest thing ever. While it might not be that, it is a damn good horror film. I’ve long held to the belief that effectively building tension is a better way to manipulate the audience than cheap-jump scares. The Conjuring’s use of tension is masterful and because of that, the film is genuinely scary. With the film, director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) once again proved that he is one of the few masters of the genre working today and one of the best at telling ghost stories. – Chris

Drag Me to Hell

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After spending years working on the original Spider-Man trilogy, Sam Rami returned to the genre that made him famous with Drag Me to Hell. Telling a simple story of a woman whose soul has been cursed, Drag me to Hell was smart, funny and scary at times. The film showed that Rami still had it when it came to horror but it also showed a director far more comfortable behind the camera and with more artistic vision than in his early horror endeavors. It might not have been Army of Darkness 2 but it was a film that hit a lot of the notes that Rami fans wanted. -Chris

Evil Dead (1981)

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Simple at its core, with tomes made of flesh and evil lurking in the dark, Evil Dead is a film that embraces what it is and runs all out with it. Director Sam Rami didn’t just tell a great horror story with Evil Dead: he created a horror icon with Bruce Campbell and his portrayal of Ash. While Evil Dead II is really just a larger budget remake of the this film, its more comedic approach works against the horror. Evil Dead is low-budget classic horror filmmaking at its finest and still shines as one of horror’s high points. -Chris

The Exorcist

There are films on this list that are horror classics but few have reached the legendary status of 1973’s The Exorcist. Regan MacNeil’s exorcism features some of the most iconic moments in horror history and even being 40 years old, it holds up as an effective piece of genre filmmaking. Religious horror films of all sorts look to The Exorcist for inspiration and horror fans of all sorts owe it to themselves to watch this piece of film history to learn how it is done. -Chris

Final Destination

Death, being an unknown, is one of man’s greatest fears. Final Destination took that concept and presented it as something that our fate ultimately decides. And everyone knows you can’t cheat fate. Borrowing heavily from the slasher genre, Final Destination puts the proverbial knife in the hands of fate, allowing for some truly original death sequences. The film spawned a series of sequels but, sometimes, it is the first one that really stands out and that is the case here. -Chris

The Fog (1980)

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This is one of the few movies that just completely and utterly terrified me as a kid. The day after watching The Fog for the first time, when I was about 10 years old, I walked out the back door to go to the bus stop and I was greeted by the thickest fog I had ever seen. Since then, I have seen the original John Carpenter movie a dozen times or so. Jamie Lee Curtis co-stars in The Fog, but it was really Adrienne Barbeau who headlined and did s fantastic job playing Stevie Wayne, a late-night DJ in Antonio Bay. When the thick fog rolls in and starts taking its revenge for being wronged, the turn and explanation at the end is unforgettable. I cannot recommend this movie enough, as it sits at the top of my horror watch list. Also, be sure to stay away from the horrible 2005 remake. That was garbage. -Don

Ghost Ship

Ghost stories aren’t generally known for their gore, but horror films in the early 2000s looked to remedy that with a series of violent ghost stories that pushed gore effects to the max at the time. Ghost Ship is one of those films.Starring Julianna Marguilies and Gabriel Bryne, the film isn’t very memorable from a narrative standpoint but it does feature one of the most gory openings to a horror film I’ve ever seen and is worth a viewing just for that alone. -Chris

Halloween III

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Halloween and Halloween 2 remain as my favorite horror movies, but Halloween 3: Season of the Witch deserves a little credit. It ditched the Michael Myers character to feature an evil corporation, Silver Shamrock, and a plot to massacre children wearing their masks during Halloween. It’s rather slow, sure, but it was a fun change during the era of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees and a little more original for horror movies of the time. Like the original Halloween, it also has one of my favorite scores in the genre. Like most, I was a little shocked, even angered that it didn’t feature my favorite, white-masked antagonist, but over the years, I have grown to enjoy it and try to watch it every year or so.-Don

Insidious

Director James Wan is often left holding the blame of the torture porn movement due to his creation of the Saw franchise. Sadly this is an unfortunate label because arguably Wan’s biggest impact in the genre has come in the form of the supernatural. After Saw, it took Wan some time before he was able to hit it big again, but when he did, with Insidious, it reinvigorated the supernatural side of the genre. With Insidious, Wan explored the spirit world bringing to life the very real fear of going to sleep and not ever waking up because your dreams actually killed you. -Chris

It

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I often forget that It was not a theatrical film but rather a TV mini-series that adapted Stephen King’s epic horror novel of the same name. I don’t forget though that it was 192 minutes of well-crafted horror and I think that is why it belongs on this list. Chronicling the tale of a group of kids that defeated a demonic clown in their childhood and are called on to do it again, It is a piece of horror history. Tim Curry as the creepy clown Pennywise still haunts my dreams. – Chris

The Last Exorcism

After the downgrade of torture porn as king of horror, found footage films took over as the king of the genre and few were as well done as the Eli Roth produced The Last Exorcism. Following a preacher who wants to prove that exorcisms are a fraud, a camera crew heads to a remote area of Louisiana to film the last one he is going to perform. Things don’t go as planned as the girl is really possessed but what works about The Last Exorcism is that it buys and sells the exorcism-as-fake aspect of it so well. Its not until the final act that the preacher and his crew begin to believe that something supernatural may be going on and because it is done so convincingly, the audience buys it too. -Chris

Mama

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As one would expect from something bearing Guillermo del Toro’s name, Mama is a fantastic looking piece of horror cinema. Good looks though aren’t the only thing Mama has going for it though, its story of two girls left in the woods to fend for themselves over five years only to be found and reintegrated into society. Except how do two young girls survive by themselves for that long? Well obviously there was a malevolent spirit in there somewhere and as the girls become more and more acclimated to society, the spirit gets angrier and angrier. There are some scares in the film, enough to keep horror fans engaged, but it is really the darkly bittersweet ending that sells the film and makes it well worth a watch. -Chris

Nightmare on Elm Street

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This list would be incomplete without Nightmare on Elm Street. Freddy Krueger personifies supernatural horror more than any of the great 70s or 80s icons. Dealing in dreams and the tenuous grip teenagers have on reality, Nightmare on Elm Street was a film that immediately captured the hearts and minds of horror fans and the general public. Freddy would go on to become an iconic Halloween costume, but it all started here in a great geyser of Johnny Depp’s blood. -Chris

The Ninth Gate

Say what you will about director Roman Polanski but the man has a knack for telling disturbing stories in the horror genre. While not as iconic as his film Rosemary’s Baby, The Ninth Gate takes the simple tale of a skeptical bookseller tracking down an ancient text and makes it into a supernatural jaunt where the endgame is the devil being summoned. The Ninth Gate features Johnny Depp at his most engaging and reminds us that before he was Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka and Tonto, he was a great actor that had some major range. -Chris

The Omen (1976)

One of my favorite movies from the 70’s, The Omen explores a religious fear; the anti-christ. A couple has an illegitimate son, and strange things start happening afterwards. One of the first notable scenes is the kid screaming bloody murder as they drive up to a church to go to a Sunday service. Things continue to go awry, with people dying in odd fashion. This was another movie where music really played a serious and memorable role . This is also one of my first horror movies, so I’m rather attached to it from a nostalgic standpoint, but I don’t condemn the remake like I do most. The last Omen reboot was actually very good as well. -Don

The Orphanage

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While English horror often dominates audiences attention, international horror has been making more and more of an impact. The Orphanage is a Spanish horror film produced by Guillermo del Toro and features some great visual flashes and a well-conceived story. Taking place in an old orphanage, it is revealed that multiple spirits haunt the building and are doing harm to the family that now lives there. The film boasts some truly scary moments that are sure to leave you creeped out. -Chris

Pan’s Labyrinth

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Being as it is more of a fantasy film than anything, I struggled with including Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro’s greatest directing achievement, as part of this list. However, it’s one of the most visually magnificent films of all-time, let alone the horror genre and its content is so dark and disturbing that it truly does belong  -Chris

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

I’ve seen all but the newest Paranormal Activity movies, and I love them all (so far) on an equal level. What Paranormal Activity 2 had that the others didn’t was the baby. The first and third movies are both great, but after having a baby and then watching Paranormal Activity 2 in theaters a few months later  leaves a lingering memory of a few sleepless nights. There is another memorable scene involving the dog, too, but really I like how all of the movies tie together in a weird way. I’ve probably seen this movie a few times, and it was on Netflix last time I looked so there is no excuse not to watch this movie this Halloween. – Don

Poltergeist

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As a kid, I was interested in the paranormal but I wasn’t generally scared by it. However, the one film that terrified me on all fronts when it came to paranormal activities was Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist. Teaming with a young but successful, Steven Spielberg, Hooper put out one of the most terrifying paranormal films ever. At the time it was a special effects masterpiece but even by today’s standards it works because the underlying narrative is so strong. – Chris

Possession (1981)

Sam Neil has had a long and storied career. While everyone remembers him for his more commercially successful appearances, one film that many forget, but stands out to me, is his 1981 supernatural horror film, Possession. Most of the film is an intricate study of a long term relationship falling apart but it also features a creepy supernatural undertone that culminates with one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve ever seen in a live action film. -Chris

The Ring

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If there are two things that can be said about American filmmakers and filmgoers, it is, first, that we love to steal the ideas of other cultures and repackage them as our own, and, second, we hate subtitles. Sometimes though, despite our blatant Americanization of things, things turn out for the best. The Ring, based on the Japanese Ringu and directed by now blockbuster director, Gore Verbinski, is a film that fired on all cylinders. The killer VHS tape angle was something that captivated audiences at the time and while now it feels a slight bit dated, it still works at effectively creating tension making for an enjoyable experience. -Chris

The Shining (1980)

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Featuring directorial work from one of the most revered directors of all time, Stanley Kubrick, acting from one of the all-time greats in Jack Nicholson, and a story written by one of America’s premier author’s, Stephen King, The Shining was something truly special. Nicholson’s performance is one for the ages and has permeated into pop culture like few others have. But it is the masterful and liberal adaptation of the source material that makes The Shining worth watching as it stands as one of the better book-to-film turns in film history. -Chris

Sinister

There are many strong similarities between The Ring and Sinister, including the watching of a film that damns you to be haunted but the latter’s ability to play with the viewers perception of reality is much stronger. Ethan Hawke’s performance as writer Ellison Oswalt is engaging throughout and while the film does falter a bit in the closing moments, the tension throughout the rest of the film is well worth experiencing for fans of that type of film. – Chris

The Sixth Sense

Once upon a time M. Night Shyamalan was the biggest name in Hollywood and it was all because of The Sixth Sense. A simple story of a man who helps a small boy come to terms with his power to “see dead people” and help put their restless spirits at ease, The Sixth Sense is most well known for its, at the time, shocking twist that fully captured audiences. The twist became Shyamalan’s signature but he never again reached the heights thathe did in this film. His career has been on a downslide ever since. Still, once upon a time, the guy made a great horror film and we can’t take that away from him. -Chris

Stigmata

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1999 saw a ton of films proclaiming the end of the world or dealing with religious issues. The two I remember most were the Arnold Schwarzenegger supernatural action film, End of Days, and the priest-losing-his-faith film, Stigmata. Stigmata, the phenomenon, is the spontaneous appearance of wounds similar to the crucifixion of Jesus. That phenomenon is the crux of this film as it mysteriously inflicts itself on an American woman played by Patricia Arquette. A priest played by Gabriel Byrne (who plays the devil in End of Days) is perplexed by why his God would do something so sinister to one of his flock (and an atheistic to boot). Dealing with all sorts of religious history and iconography, this supernatural film held me engaged throughout. – Chris

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  • Joshua Weikel

    I’d put the originals House on Haunted Hill and The Haunted, both/either of the 13 Ghosts movies, and Orphan on this list.

    • Chris Scott

      House on Haunted Hill was pretty good but I could never get into either of the 13 Ghosts films. I remember really liking Orphan but I don’t remember the supernatural twist though.

  • Frank Bauer

    friday the 13th and saw… duh!

    • Napoleon1066

      There’s no supernatural element to those movies. Great horror, sure, but not eligible for this list.

      • Chris Scott

        You could make an argument for the Friday the 13th series I suppose. It’s never really revealed as to what Jason actually is, although Jason X and Freddy vs. Jason touch on this a bit, and it seems to be implied that Jason’s restless spirit resides in the massive hulking body that kills all the dirty teenagers.

        Saw though, has no supernatural elements to it and certainly doesn’t belong on this list. Jigsaw is just a crazy dude crusading to teach people to respect their lives while attempting to take it from them via torturous devices.

        • Napoleon1066

          I think the supernatural element only applies to Friday the 13th movies after the first one. By itself, there isn’t really a whole lot there.

          • Chris Scott

            Agreed, it is implied that the killer is supernatural when it is really just Jason’s crazy mom. I suppose someone could make the argument that Jason comes up out of the lake at the end of the film and grabs the lone survivor but its certainly not a central point of the film and I like to view it as a hallucination rather than something that actually happened.

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