Best Films to Play at Your Halloween Party When You Don't Necessarily Feel Like Playing Certain Halloween Sequels

On the 31st of October every year, my wife and I have a Halloween “party.” We never invite anybody, but like bats coming out to feed on bugs at dusk, a freakish horde of friends and friends of friends magically arrive around sundown. They block the streets with their filthy cars and come dancing through our front and back doors like they own the place.

By the time the sun has fully set, it’s like being in the house party scene from Teen Wolf. They eat our food, bang on my drum kit, and swill booze. They smoke in my kitchen and snuff the butts in my sink, fawn over each other’s costumes, and frighten the trick-or-treaters. They sneak off to make out or just suck tongue right in front of everyone. They refuse to leave until the sun is almost rising, and some don’t even accomplish that. They just retire to my basement, swaddle themselves in whatever blankets they can find, and rifle through my movies all night, eventually passing out to a film of their choice.

I’ve always felt that a Halloween party’s success depends on the proper balance of chaos and control. Clearly, I cannot control these animals that return to my home year after year. What I can control, however, is the atmosphere these creatures inhabit during their “stay” in the hopes of swaying their behavior towards Appropriately Inappropriate.

Best Films to Play at Your Halloween Party When You Don’t Necessarily Feel Like Playing Certain  Halloween Sequels

It’s all a matter of reminding them why they’re there. I don’t permit drama at these events, so the perfect combination of spooky media is used in each room to remind everyone that it is All Hallow’s Eve, and freakish fun must be had by all. On the first floor, I turn down the lights and blast music so loudly that people can’t see very well and have to shout. Both upstairs and downstairs, the televisions play films for eye candy. This eye candy is crucial and ultimately why we’re here.

Your Halloween party movies playing in the background MUST encompass the spirit of Halloween. This means nothing too disgusting or disturbing. No Salo, no Italian cannibals, no Nekromantiks – save those heavy hitters to lay on people who won’t leave the next day, but only after you make them help you clean up. After a night of hard drinking, their stomachs likely won’t tolerate such cinema and they’ll skeedaddle so you can finally go shower and take a nap.

Music doesn’t really matter as much as the films you play. I’ve seen metalheads dance to Dr. Dre at my parties. As long as it’s loud, nobody seems to mind what music is blaring.

But the films…I fret over the films, especially when it comes to the use of Halloween sequels. Michael Myers can only carry a party so far so here are some good tips on five flicks to pop in if you’re not in the mood to watch Mike cry, be in a cult, or fight Busta Rhymes:

Return of the Living Dead “Do you wanna paaaaaaaaaar-tay?! It’s paaaaaaaaaar-tay time!” The punks provide the color, the ghouls are a trip on an E.C. Comics level, and the graveyard’s set design is like a spectacularly extended rendition of a front-yard Halloween boneyard. When people catch a glimpse of a flare-lit Linnea wriggling on a grave, they’ll take another shot to celebrate their decision to come to your shindig.

Trick 'r Treat – The entire film is so sumptuously Halloween. Playing this film each Halloween shouldn’t be a tradition – it already is a tradition. Woe unto thee who does not screen TrT come All Hallow’s Eve… The only trouble with this one is that it’s so good, you might fall into the trap of grabbing people that pass by and ask “what’s this?” so you can tie them down, force them to watch the whole thing, and write a report once it’s over. Then you’ll be stuck fetching them drinks and snacks all night because you won’t let them move until their report is submitted and graded.

Beetlejuice – Some might not call it horror, but it just feels way too Halloweeny to not include. Admit it – watching the thing any other time of the year makes you wanna start decorating the house with skulls and witches. Plus, Keaton is the man. It’s the closest you can get to having Beetlejuice actually at your party, and who doesn’t want Beetlejuice actually at their party? I’d like to have Beetlejuice actually at my party…

Frankenstein (1931) – This is a good one for three specific reasons: everyone loves the Karloff makeup, the Expressionistic set designs are marvelously October thirty-firsty, and the black and white adds a nice contrasting touch of class to the griminess of the rest of the party.

42nd Street Forever compilations – Any of these lovely DVDs work for any party. The outrageous amusement park of trailers they contain gets everybody going. My father loves these things. My wife loves these things. My friends love these things. I love these things. Parties love these things.

There ya have it, Halloweenies – go and do likewise. Have a Happily Horrible Holiday, and please contribute your thoughts on other perfect party presentations!

- Chris Haberman

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Cinemascribe's picture

Don't forget Creepshow. Gotta have crate-dwelling monsters, pissed off cockroaches and corpses with a dessert obsession filling the screen EC comics style at some point.

Oddly enough, another one from the king repertoire which has proven to be enormously popular at Halloween parties I've either hosted or attended is the original Children of the Corn.

And that's a particularly good call on Beetlejuice.
"I'm saying that I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man...and loved it. But now the dream is over..and the insect is awake." - Seth Brundle

Submitted by Cinemascribe on Sun, 10/10/2010 - 2:35am.
James Coker's picture

Good to see a new article from you Chris...by the way did you ever sit down and watch the two dvds i mailed to you...Night of the Scarecrow(1995) and Necronomicon book of the dead(1993)??

Submitted by James Coker on Sat, 10/09/2010 - 2:46am.
Chainsaw's picture

Good idea with the 42nd Street Forever. And yeah, Trick R Treat should be the second movie you watch after Halloween every year now.

Submitted by Chainsaw on Fri, 10/08/2010 - 9:55pm.

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