By William Mayhew
“Halloween III: Season of the Witch” (1982)
The most important thing to understand going in to this movie is that it is not a sequel to the original “Halloween.” It doesn’t even take place in the same universe. When it was made, the “Halloween” franchise was supposed to be an anthology series where each film would be a different story set on Halloween. This one is less of a slasher and more of a thriller mixed with a throwback to ridiculous 1950s horror movies. It’s a movie worth seeing just for its bizarre plot, which involves a doctor (Tom Atkins) stumbling onto a costume company owner’s (Dan O’Herlihy) scheme to unleash magic from Stonehenge. Plus, everything about it is so entrenched in trying to capture the Halloween spirit that this is the perfect month to check it out.
“They Live” (1988)
Do you enjoy conspiracy theories about aliens infiltrating and taking control of our society? Then John Carpenter made the movie for you! Full of memorable lines, clever visuals, and extravagant shootouts, this story about a drifter who stumbles onto the schemes of our capitalist alien overlords is an absolute blast.
“Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” (1994)
Horror movie sequels do not have a great reputation. The longer a franchise goes, the more the quality of its installments usually drops. One excellent exception to this rule is Wes Craven’s return to the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise. He takes the clever concept of nightmare-haunting killer Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) entering the real world to attack the cast of the original film and nails the execution. With superb performances that keep viewers invested in the character’s survival, outstanding visual effects, astute meta-commentary, and surprising twists, it’s one sequel that may outdo the original.
“The Stepfather” (1987)
While many slasher movies opt for killers of the supernatural variety, “The Stepfather” instead features a serial killer whose modus operandi is to marry into a broken family, gain that family’s trust, kill them, change his identity, and do it all again. So out of all the 80s slasher movies, what makes this the one you should choose to watch this Halloween? Terry O’Quinn’s outstanding performance as the killer. His seamless transitions from charming, sitcom-esque father figure one minute to a raging killer the next create a very memorable villain who any horror fan will adore watching.
“Psycho 2” (1983)
Making a sequel to an Alfred Hitchcock film that measures up to the original is nearly impossible. But once you’ve accepted that “Psycho 2” isn’t going to match its predecessor, you can be pleasantly surprised by how engaging and suspenseful it is. Anthony Perkins does a terrific job recapturing his iconic role as Norman Bates and the film keeps audiences not only guessing about whether or not he’s losing his sanity again, but also hoping that he will obtain the normal life that he craves. If you want to spice up your Halloween movie marathon, try this captivating character study about one of cinema’s most memorable villains.