Whether you’re planning a solo movie marathon or a Halloween watch party, we’ve got you covered with picks for the perfect night of horror programming.
Editor’s Note: I asked several of my writers to program the perfect Halloween movie marathon, each selecting five horror films they consider essential viewing. Over the next several days, we’ll be sharing their picks…and we hope these recommendations can help you plan your own Halloween Horror-thon.
Watching horror movies in October, especially on Halloween, is as traditional as pumpkin spice lattes in Autumn. I watch horror movies all year long, but there really is something special about watching them in October as the temperature begins to fall into cooler temperatures, night comes earlier in the evening and the leaves begin to change color.
Ever since I got my first video store membership back in 1987, I have created an October and Halloween viewing schedule for myself. While there are constants, I do try and change it up each year especially with new movies being released. I have often dreamed of owning my own theater and programming a night of terror for fans.
In that spirit, the following trailers and films are what I would include for a Halloween night program at a theater, preferably a drive-in, of my own. Additionally, this entire program will be shown in 35mm.
I’m including trailers in this program because they are so damn fun to watch. I’ve picked up an appreciation for old trailers by going to movie events at local drive-ins or events hosted by groups like Exhumed Films out of Philadelphia. I will list the trailers shown before each main movie first, then the title of the movie. The listing is in order of how I would show all trailers and movies throughout the night.
PATRICK’S HALLOWEEN NIGHT MOVIE MARATHON
Trailer 1: PSYCHO (1960) *Note: I would not show the usual theatrical PSYCHO trailer, but the one hosted by Alfred Hitchcock as he gives a tour of the murder locations in the film. Chilling and tongue-in-cheek, which perfectly sums up Hitchcock.
Trailer 2: HALLOWEEN (1978)
Trailer 3: MANIAC (1980)
First Film: PSYCHO (1960)
Start the night off with a classic, and something familiar. I want to set the mood for the night and get the audience comfortable in their seats. My choice was between this and a classic Universal monster movie. I love Universal monsters, and everyone knows this. Hitchcock is a favorite of mine too, but those who know me might be thrown off by my starting off with this shocking slasher from the master of suspense.
Trailer 4: SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM (1973)
Trailer 5: NEAR DARK (1987)
Trailer 6: TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA (1970)
Second Film: BLACULA (1972)
A night of Halloween movies just isn’t complete without a vampire flick. Personally, BLACULA is a favorite movie of mine. Campy? Certainly, but the performance of William Marshall in the title role is so powerful that it raises the film beyond campiness into an effective and very good vampire movie.
Trailer 7: BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR (2003)
Trailer 8: CEMETERY MAN (1994)
Trailer 9: BAD TASTE (1987)
Third Film: BRAINDEAD (aka DEAD-ALIVE) 
Peter Jackson’s slapstick gore-a-rama is my selection for the third film. The previous two were light on the blood, violence and gore, but now it’s time to hit the audience with the goriest movie ever made. But, I’m not showing the U.S. release DEAD-ALIVE, this showing is the uncut overseas version with the original/intended title – BRAINDEAD.
Trailer 10: BLACK SUNDAY (1960)
Trailer 11: THE WITCHES (1990)
Trailer 12: MARK OF THE WITCH (1970)
Fourth Film: THE LORDS OF SALEM (2012)
There is no grey area with a Rob Zombie movie — horror fans either love it or hate it. While most fans discuss HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and its sequel THE DEVILS REJECTS, the one Rob Zombie film that seems to escape discussion is his witch movie, THE LORDS OF SALEM. This movie may be Rob’s finest in his catalog, and a personal favorite of mine.
Trailer 13: THE EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC (1977)
Trailer 14: BEYOND THE DOOR (1974)
Trailer 15: ABBY (1974)
Trailer 16: THE EXORCIST (1973)
Fifth and Final Film: THE EXORCIST
Hands down my favorite horror movie and the best horror movie ever made. THE EXORCIST, in my humble opinion, is the pinnacle of horror movie making because William Friedkin** wasn’t intent on making a horror movie. He still insists, when questioned, that THE EXORCIST is a family drama that happens to involve a demon. Make no mistake though, this movie is a flat-out keep you up at night, turn all the lights on, nightmares for weeks, horror movie. Every Halloween I end the night with one movie, THE EXORCIST, and that won’t change as long as I’m in charge of planning a Halloween movie night.
** My son’s mother, Amy, has asked that I mention that Friedkin was the reason Peter Gabriel began to plot his exit from the band Genesis. Amy, as you may have guessed, is a big Genesis fan and has never recovered from Peter Gabriel leaving the band for a solo career.