5. Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)
© Key Video
This made-for-TV movie is a dark, disturbing tale of revenge from beyond the grave. Bubba, a mentally challenged man in a small town, befriends a little girl named Marylee, and when she's attacked by a dog, four yokels who've apparently read Of Mice and Men one too many times assume Bubba is to blame. They track him down -- he hides disguised as a scarecrow in a field -- and shoot him in cold blood. Only after they kill him do they discover that the girl was attacked by a dog and is in fact alive and well. Later, as Halloween approaches, the culprits notice the scarecrow popping up on their property and one by one suffer deadly "accidents." Oozing with atmosphere, this movie wrecked the sleeping habits of many a child in the early '80s.
Gleefully dark humor marks this story of a delusional boy who befriends a serial killer on Halloween, thinking he's a character from a video game. The killer is dressed as Satan, and the boy gladly signs on as his "helper," aiding in what he thinks are fake deaths but which turn out to be quite real. Kids are so easy.
It's not stated explicitly that this movie takes place on Halloween -- probably because Halloween wasn't celebrated much in 1799 -- but jack-o-lanterns are seen throughout, and the Headless Horseman tale, told with delicious dry wit by Tim Burton, has become synonymous with the October holiday.
© Warner Bros.
This funnyscarycool anthology delves into several Halloween mythologies -- like jack-o-lanterns and trick-or-treating -- while weaving five tales that play like ghost stories you'd tell each other in front of a fireplace on a spooky Halloween night.
© Anchor Bay
Is there any other choice? The preeminent slasher is also the preeminent Halloween horror movie. The babysitter and child-in-peril theme strikes at the heart of the childhood fears that fuel the holiday. Combine that with the thought of a serial killer with an insatiable bloodlust and a soulless visage blending into the masked Halloween crowd, top it off with John Carpenter's creepy score, and Halloween
is a must for any October 31st festivities.