Uncle Wade’s 5 Favorite Scary Movies for Your Halloween Party
Planning your own Horror Movie Marathon is no easy feat. There are some great films that will lay a big ol’ egg when presented in a group, party setting. And just like a solid mix tape, it’s about the playlist, and the show order. You’re not just hosting a party, you’re programming an evening of entertainment. Rule of Thumb – a party is only a success if your guests have a good time. If you’re too much of a hipster and only want to show artsy-fartsy stuff, or films that 1% of the population enjoys, you shouldn’t be hosting a party, you should be sitting by yourself in front of your laptop.
The other rule of thumb is, your guests have no patience. They want to laugh, they want to scream, and they want both of those things – right now! The hard truth is, the group mentality and party guests’attention span is that of an 8 year old child. Dazzle them with bright shiny objects.
It’s also a good idea to alternate your program between B&W and Color films (remember: 8 year old child) as well as splatter films vs less gratuitous offerings. Remember: This is about appealing to a diverse crowd. Even if they’re all your friends, your guests still have eclectic tastes – believe it or not.
Start things off with a comedy classic, and none is better than this one! Whether you’re an A & C fan or not, their 22nd film appeals to a wide cross section of movie lovers. And as the film to play as partygoers first arrive, it serves as great background, as images of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman feature prominently throughout.
It’s still early, and you want something that’s going to grab your guests’ attention, get them in their seats and get them watching. The Thing, with its easy to follow plot, gratuitous blood spattering effects and tongue-in-cheek gags will stop conversations, focus the room and offer enough thrills and chills that force even the late stragglers to hush up and join the party.
2A. Before moving onto your third feature, it’s time for a break. Whether you play the Thriller Music Video or The Three Stooges’ only 3D short Spooks! (1953) it’s time to mix with your guests, bob for apples or just force yourself to be even a wee bit social. Keep something playing on the screen, ’cause if you turn it off, it may never get turned back on, and the point of this party is to cultivate that group movie going experience of laughing and shrieking together.
3 The Exorcist (1974) or The Shining (1980)
It’s time for the main attraction, and choosing the right film for your third slot will make or break your evening. This is the one film that actually needs to not only be good, but good and scary. It’s your only chance to screen something of substance, and you don’t want to waste it. This is also usually the time when the lightweights leave, and the stalwarts dig in for a night of terrific terror. I can’t recommend two better horror films. The Exorcist doesn’t demand patience, as the chills begin right from the first frame. It’s relentless and won’t let you go. Part of Director William Friedkin’s gift is making even the scenes of exposition entrance and hold the group’s attention. The Shining, while asking for a little more focus, is so masterfully directed that even Jack Nicholson’s tour of the old hotel demands rapt attention.
4 Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987)
Now go in for the one-two punch. Just as guests are stretching and discussing how freaked out the main attraction made them, up pops the most insane and hilarious freakshow ever made. The manic energy and insane pace will distract even those tired and weary souls who half an hour earlier were talking about heading home. By the blood spraying, psychotronic conclusion, those same friends will be splayed about your living room laughing, snorting and segueing into their party food induced comas. Once this is over, if half your guests are still assembled, you’ve done your job.
This is the film that will help your remaining guests ease into the dawn. You should pull something out that will offer some low-key chills as well as arouse the interest of that one guest you’ve had your eye on and is basically the reason you put this party together in the first place. It’s your chance to show you have an eclectic but sophisticated movie palate. It’s also your chance to illustrate to the select few friends remaining the real down-deep misunderstood artist that you are. The Haunting is just the right mixture of good storytelling, classic filmmaking, solid direction and surprising shocks to deliver that message loud and clear.
Alternate: Carnival of Souls (1962)
And now your work is done. The few who have fallen asleep or moved into the other room for deep, meaningful ”conversation” will need to be rousted, caffeinated and sent on their way.
Follow this movie list, dear friends, and you will send a chill down the spine of your guests, as well as warm the heart of that special someone.