Faculty Favorites: Halloween Movie Recommendations


Photo credit: Gracen Hoyle

illustration by Gracen Hoyle

As Halloween is fast-approaching, fall season has brought back spooky classics such as “It” and “Child’s Play.” This autumnal section of films includes movies of true horror, animation and family-friendly flicks for people of all ages to enjoy. Then there’s the whole debated gray area on where exactly Coraline resides. However, this bulk of favorites often overshadow films produced internationally. Here are some unconventional Halloween movie recommendations from professors who specialize in film, communications, and language.

Curtis Swope, Associate Professor in Modern Languages and Literatures

There are definitely a couple of German Expressionist movies that are must-sees around Halloween. One is “The Cabinet” of Dr. Caligari from 1919. It’s about a fairground hypnotist who uses one of his hypnotized subjects to start killing innocent townspeople. The film has a sort of narrator figure and, let me tell you, is there ever a twist about him when you get to the surprise ending.

Another classic is Nosferatu (1922), a very early vampire movie. Warning for viewers in 2020: this vampire doesn’t just bite people, he also spreads a nasty plague.

Finally, I’d recommend Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922). It’s about a criminal mastermind who uses mind control and disguise in his quest for world domination. It’s got stock-market crashes, decadent art collections, seances, crazy nightclubs, and taxi cabs rigged up with traps. Obviously no shortage here of good costume ideas.

Nina Ekstein, Professor of French

Beyond saying that I love the Nightmare Before Christmas, I do not like horror films. I don’t know of any French Halloween films.Halloween is a recent holiday in France. When I lived abroad (1975-76), it simply didn’t exist there at all. Aside from the wonderful, creepy music, Nightmare before Christmas is definitely worth seeing for the remarkable juxtaposition of two beloved, but profoundly dissimilar American holidays. The scene where the creatures of Halloween are let loose in Christmastown is unforgettable.

Rosana Blanco-Cano, Associate Professor of Spanish

I recommend you The Devil’s Backbone, The Orphanage, and The Book of Life. All of them are in the Coates library. All of them are important from a cultural and historical perspective. The first two deal with the Spanish Civil war and the horror associated with that period of history. Both are Guillermo del Toro’s productions. Amazing cinematography and ideas to think about. The Book of Life is a binational production (Mexico/US) that talks about Dia de Los Muertos, also from a binational point of view. I am thinking that another film [I] could recommend would be Coco, also of binational production, that is intended to talk about Day of the dead from a “Greater Mexico” perspective (US/Mexico).

Patrick Keating, Professor of Communication

I recommend two Korean horror movies: The Host (Bong Joon-ho, 2006). From the director of Parasite, this horror film was the top-grossing film in Korea when it was released in 2006. A great mix of action and horror, with several moments of unexpected comedy. Train to Busan (Yeon Sang-ho, 2016). A sharp satire about income inequality in Korea. Also, zombies on a train.