Ah, Halloween! The Octoberest holiday. The only major holiday that doesn’t have a whole bunch of annoying-ass rules about how you can celebrate it, but much like “Rick and Morty” is really ruined by the people who enjoy it the most.
But there’s a lot to do on Halloween. Maybe you wanna carve some pumpkins. Maybe you wanna eat yourself into a diabetic coma thanks to all the candy. Maybe you wanna open a hell-mouth. There’s a charming one in upstate New York. Or maybe you just wanna invite some friends over for a movie night and watch somethin’ spooooooky.
But you’re not like all the others. No. You have class, you have taste, you have sophistication. You have a film degree, student debt, and probably – just probably – a million excuses about why the female orgasm is “unnecessary.” If that sounds like you, then we have a list for you. So put the blow-up doll away, quit drinking yourself to death (at least until Christmas) and call your friends over for a movie marathon. And once those sweet Janes and Johns are over at your place… give ‘em a nasty surprise with some of these arthouse horror flicks. If all goes well, they’ll probably never let you host movie night again.
50. Multiple Maniacs (1970)
Let’s start off with good ol’ Mr. J himself, Pope of Trash John Waters. “Multiple Maniacs” may truly be Waters’ masterpiece, superior at times even to “Pink Flamingos” and “Desperate Living” (both films that would rank negative numbers on this list). But this film is fun… with the right crowd. There is the type of person who would thrill at watching Divine fornicate with a giant lobster. There is a type of person who considers a chill-hang sesh to include graphic sex scenes intercut with images of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. These people are few and far between and should be treasured. But alas… as stated, they are few.
49. Suspiria (1977)
“Suspiria” is awesome. The colors are more colorful than any other colors have ever been. The soundtrack, oh my God, it’s so loud. And it is CON-STANT! To be fair, with the right crowd, “Suspiria” is loads of fun. It’s exciting, the kills are creative, and there it influenced later horror films like “Saw,” but don’t watch it with the squeamish. There’s a scene in this where you see a close up of a knife go into someone’s beating heart.
48. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Here’s the thing, your friends will piss and moan and complain about you putting on a silent film. That’s why you should never tell them what you’re putting on in advance. Once they adjust, though, they’re gonna have a wonderful time. Truly. “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” makes for a perfect introduction to silent films. It’s fast, it’s genuinely scary and the dream-like atmosphere leant by the silent aspect actually helps the film’s overall effect. Make your friends watch it. We guarantee they’ll give it five big, wet, sloppy kisses on the mouth out of five.
47. Hausu (House) (1977)
What’s fascinating about this film isn’t just that it exists, but rather that it exists as the Japanese answer to “Jaws.” This film follows a group of school girls who go to stay with one of their aunts, a reclusive old pianist who lives in the mountains. Based on childhood fears and blatantly artificial, this film is a darkly comedic acid trip that your friends may not want to take at first. But as it chips away at them, they’ll be glad they did.
46. Hereditary (2018)
Oh, what a lovely horror film. It’s like if Wes Anderson directed “Don’t Look Now,” my God, the colors are impeccable, Toni Collette, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne, why… HOLY SHIT HER HEAD’S GONE! And from that point on, this is not a film that makes for a pleasant evening in. The most uncomfortable scene of all is not even related to the horror elements, but in simply watching a grieving mother wail and scream: “I JUST WANNA DIIIIIIE!” It’s a gutting film. And while friends may help to cut the tension, it’s not something that leaves a good taste in the mouth. Maybe watch “Dream Warriors” instead.
45. It Follows (2014)
This is another one that can be hit or miss. If you have a more intellectual group of viewers, “It Follows” hits just right, as a paean to classic slashers and a meditation on aging, maturity and the sexualization of women. With the wrong people, though, this reads as an abstinence lecture. And that’s what we recommend. Showing this to your sluttiest friends and chastising them. We all practice abstinence here at The Hard Times. Not a popped cherry in the house. When we see naughty-muffins in the magazines, we have to go home and spray ourselves with the hose.
44. The VVitch (2015)
So you’ve decided to vvatch “The VVitch.” How wonderful for you and yours. Your friends are excited by this one. It’s the film that more or less put A24 on the map. You tell them it’s scary. One of the scariest films you’ve ever seen. And it is. What you don’t tell them is that it’s a slow-burner that moves, often at glacial speed, and that all the dialogue is written faithfully to the style of the 1690s. That realization will dawn on them slowly, as they watch the extended opening scene, all shot in close-ups, in which the main characters are banished from their home.
43. Midsommar (2019)
So you managed to get them on board with you after “Hereditary?” They tasted a little Ari Aster and now they want more. So you put this on. “Midsommar” is the perfect movie for brunch day with the girlies. You say that it’s a “feel-good break-up, road-trip rom-com” about a young woman getting her groove back. And then, you let it play. Bonus points if you put on the three-hour director’s cut. It’s really the superior version, anyway.
42. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)
The fact that this entry is so high up on the list should be a pretty good indication of where we’re headed moving forward. There is not one second of this film that’s comforting. It’s dark, stilted, blisteringly amoral and strangely funny. All hallmarks of Yorgos Lanthimos and good absurdist filmmaking. But this one is especially unsettling, especially to your friends who are hypochondriacs. So whether it’s the opening shot of open-heart-surgery that bothers you, the scene in which Alicia Silverstone messily tries to seduce Colin Farrell or the scene in which Nicole Kidman tries to convince her husband to murder one of their kids because “we can have another,” your friends are guaranteed to have a terrible and off-putting time.
41. The Wicker Man (1973)
Listen, by this point you should’ve gathered that we’re trolls. The thought of duping your friends into watching these ponderous, pretentious pieces of art thrills us. And if you’re looking to trick your friends, look no further than “The Wicker Man,” Robin Hardy’s 1973 folk-horror film about an uptight Christian fundamentalist cop searching for a missing girl on a pagan island. It’s the kind of film that will truly have your friends saying: “Oh God… it’s a fucking musical?”
40. The Black Cat (1934)
The last gasp of pre-code Hollywood, made right before Will Hays decided that American film should deep-throat his censorship code, “The Black Cat” by Edgar G. Ulmer is one of the most interesting and risqué of the classic horror, poverty-row canon, and a real showcase for Lugosi and Karloff. There are a lot of really great moments in here that are simultaneously scary and cringey. For instance, Béla Lugosi sniffing a sleeping woman’s hair, Boris Karloff inspecting a collection of murdered wives and (in the movie’s most iconic scene) Lugosi skinning Karloff alive. It’s that rare combination of just campy enough to be fun and just weird enough to be scary. And just old enough for your friends to not want to watch it.
39. Only Lovers Left Alive (2012)
Without question, this is one of the sexiest movies ever made. The fact that Jim Jarmusch made it definitely makes that odd, but let’s not judge the Musch. This film stars Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as Adam and Eve, two ageless vampires (him a pretentious, drone-rock musician, her an itinerant traveler) traveling the world, shacking up in Detroit and pretty much just being “that couple.” This movie is slow, not very scary and a really pretentious person’s idea of sexy. It’s an absolute 10/10, and an absolute 0/10 for a chill night in with the buds.
38. Infinity Pool (2023)
Without question, this is one of the sexiest movies ever made and this time I mean that as a threat. The basic concept of this film is: What would happen if the most “should be divorced” couple you know met the most “my wife and I noticed you across the bar” couple you know hooked up on vacation? There’s a lot in this movie, brutal and graphic nudity, full-frontal violence and semen from the most passive-aggressive handjob ever put to film. It truly is “A Clockwork Orange” for the 2020s and if you would show “A Clockwork Orange” to your pals I think I might run away from you.
37. Moon Garden (2022)
Do you ever find yourself wishing that “Pan’s Labyrinth” made you feel like getting a tetanus booster? Or that “Skinamarink” was scored by Trent Reznor? Well look no further. It’s “Moon Garden!” This film follows a young girl rendered comatose after falling down the stairs navigating an industrial dream world, trying to make her way back to consciousness while being stalked by a rancid tooth monster, and encountering all sorts of weird little guys. Who can forget the iconic character of: Guy who plays that weird piano? Or: “That dinner table guy that looks like Gerard Way in the 1800s?” Or my favorite: “The non-sequitur princess?” This is the kind of film to put on when you need to make people ask: “Wait, what just happened… go back… no wait, I said go back! Fuck you!” Bonus points if you show this to your anxious friends so they can recoil watching the domestic argument scenes.
36. Videodrome (1983)
Without question, this is one of the sexiest movies ever made and I mean that in the most hellish way possible. Let’s face it, David Cronenberg, for all his talents, is a weird fucking freak. Especially about sexuality. His movies make it seem like he views sex the same way you might view a dead squirrel by the side of the road. Taking a stick and poking at it just to see what’s going on. Relishing in the freakishness. This movie is about an adult film channel programmer, a radio psychiatrist (played by Debbie Harry, in a performance that can be described as Sadomasochist Frasier Crane) and an underground resistance movement. There’s really nothing like it, especially when it treats its viewer to “surprise BDSM.”
35. The Lighthouse (2019)
This is the kind of film you should put on if you want to piss off that friend of yours that has like… fifty, really trashy Chucky tattoos and thinks that horror isn’t good unless someone is getting impaled with a machete. This is the slow-burning story of two men stuck in a lighthouse, sitting around, drinking, masturbating to scrimshaws (and each other), having mermaid sex dreams, and slowly going out of their minds. There is one really excellent scene that involves the bludgeoning of a seagull. And you know us. Just the mere thought of a dead animal is hilarious.
34. Nosferatu (1922)
One of the greatest (and least legally made) “Dracula” adaptations of all time. “Nosferatu” is a film about love, life, death and real estate. Surprisingly a lot about real estate. And that brings me to my main point. We love silent films here at The Hard Times. We love going to those shows where acne-scarred bands play instrumental doom-metal with silent films in the background. But “Nosferatu,” for all its beauty and grotesque imagery is… well, it’s a bit boring, isn’t it? I mean, just a little bit. We all can admit that, right? Like, your friends will be bored watching this. They’re probably not going to have fun unless they are H-I-G-H, stoned.
33. Carnival of Souls (1963)
Speaking of getting high, if you’re looking for an adorable trick to play on someone you’ve fallen out with, then invite them over, give them a live-resin gummy. You know, the kind that makes you think you’re gonna die, and then pop this bad boy on. “Carnival of Souls” is one of the most existentially gutting films of any genre, a film that makes you question reality, life, death, and the space in between them. Bonus points if, after the film is done, you pretend you can’t hear them for a bit when they start talking to you.
32. The White Reindeer (1952)
Because “Cat People” is just too fun. “The White Reindeer” is, among other things, an anthropologically fascinating film. For one thing, it is, to date, the only Finnish film to win a Golden Globe Award and the first Finnish film to compete at Cannes. What’s that you say? Finnish? You mean there’s… s-s-s-subtitles? Why yes. Yes, there are. But relax, this film is actually quite easy to get into (once you get past a little bit of animal cruelty). Just sit back, relax, enjoy the beautiful snow-scape of pre-Christian Lapland, and squint hard at those white, white subtitles on that white, white snow.
31. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
I’m all out of hope. One more bad embrace. Could bring a fall. When I’m far from home, don’t call me on the phone to tell me you’re alone… “Eyes Without a Face” is one of those films that influenced a thousand others, from the mask of Michael Myers to the fairy tale films of Guillermo Del Toro to the music of… well, Billy Idol. Now, you can tempt and tantalize your “Saw” loving friends with promises of graphic face-removal surgery, only to drop the bomb that it’s really a slow-moving meditation on the obsessive quest for perfection. And worse… iT’s FrEnCh.
30. Huesera: The Bone Woman (2022)
There are some genuinely terrifying moments in Michelle Garza Cervera’s “Huesera: The Bone Woman.” That staircase scene for instance. But more than that, “Huesera” is a fascinating look at queerness, motherhood, belief, and freedom that’s also deeply invested in telling a story rich in Latin culture and heritage. It’s honestly a masterpiece and if you give it time to work its magic trick, it’s a brilliantly unnerving film. You know who’d really like it, though? Your friend who has misophonia. Especially if they’re bothered by the sound of bones clicking together. They’ll love this film. You should show it to them.