The Manitoban’s staff Halloween movie picks

Prime material for any Halloween viewing party

Scream (1996)

26 years since its release, Scream is hands down one of the most iconic horror movies. With a star-studded cast and many memorable moments, it has remained one of my favourites since the first watch. 

Scream is a true piece of uncanny work, mixing a murder-mystery plot with family dysfunction and the essential slasher characteristics. 

The film, directed by horror legend Wes Craven, is about “final girl” Sidney Prescott and the town of Woodsboro suffering at the hands of killer Ghostface, who taunts and stalks his victims. When Sidney specifically gets targeted she questions everything around her, trying to get to the bottom of who this killer may be. Is it one of her friends, family or just a random psychopath?

Craven uses comedy and self-parody to subvert expectations and play with typical horror movie tropes. He even has characters talk about how to survive a horror movie. 

What makes this movie even better is its long-lasting mark on society. Ghostface continues to be one of the most popular Halloween costumes, and quotes like “oh, please don’t kill me Mr. Ghostface, I wanna be in the sequel!” stay engraved in our brains. 

Once you watch Scream, you can also look back at the movie and pick apart the hints dropped concerning who the killer was, which is one of my favourite things to do post-watch. 

If you enjoyed the film — which I’m sure you will, it’s a classic — watch the sequel. It is a great follow up to the original that simultaneously makes you appreciate Scream even more. 

— Jory Thomas, social media editor


Def by Temptation (1990)

Def by Temptation is a ’90s horror flick that was starring James Bond III, who also wrote, produced and directed the film. The film is set in New York City and features the likes of Kadeem Hardison, Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Nunn and Cynthia Bond. 

The movie is a cautionary tale about the dangerous allure of temptation, and how if you are unlucky, a succubus might wind up in your bed and you might wind up six feet underground. 

This obviously low-budget picture is an oddly charming yet entertaining story, and is absurdly funny in a way that makes you wonder, “how did someone come up with this nonsense?”

With its mystically hazy cinematography by Ernest R. Dickerson and its sultry smooth soundtrack composed by Paul Laurence, Def by Temptation has cemented itself as a notable piece of Black horror. 

Overall, if you love decent horror films, man-eating femmes fatales and developing new irrational fears, this makes for a perfect, fun cult classic to check out.

— Dina Hamid, columnist


I Like Bats (1986)

Winnipeg’s Cinematheque recently screened I Like Bats as part of its “House of Psychotic Women” series of horror films. I Like Bats is 20th century Polish camp and horror — prime material for any Halloween viewing party. 

Izabela is a vampire, but she doesn’t want to be. Every time her thirst reaches its peak, Izabela is compelled to seduce men and drink their blood. She seeks out the help of a psychiatrist, professor Rudolf Jung, in the hopes that he’ll cure her vampirism. 

I Like Bats plays on the femme fatale archetype and imagines what it would really mean for a woman’s sexuality to be fatal to her paramours. It’s cheeky and weird, a little frightening and a little titillating. 

Izabella is also utterly strange and keeps an aviary of, well, bats, as if she isn’t supposed to be hiding her vampirism from the world. 

If you’re itching for a fun group watch this Halloween, stick your neck out for I Like Bats

— Jessie Krahn, arts and culture reporter


Young Frankenstein (1974)

If you don’t watch Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder’s masterpiece Young Frankenstein every year during the hallowed season, you might be doing Halloween wrong.

In fact, this film is so perfect it never tires. 

Teri Garr as Inga literally rolling “in ze hay,” Madeline Kahn as quippy “not on the lips” Elizabeth Lavenza, Marty Feldman as “Eye”-gor fetching Frankenstein “Abby Normal’s” brain, Cloris Leachman as Frau Blücher screaming “he vas my boyfriend” — all are just a few drops in an ocean of laugh-out-loud comedy.

And the slapstick never ages. Feldman biting and shaking Kahn’s fox throw, Gene Hackman repeatedly pouring hot soup into the monster’s lap and Peter Boyle and Wilder dancing and singing to Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” as Frederick Frankenstein and his monster remain hilarious scenes.

The enduring legacy of Wilder wanting to make Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein with a happy ending has propelled itself into pure Halloween canon.

To this day, in my head, I read Shelley’s title phonetically as “Fronk”-enstein.

— Grace Anne Paizen, managing editor


Malignant (2021)

What do you get when you combine the band Pixies, the movie Saw and the colour palette of Italian director Dario Argento? You get Malignant by Saw director James Wan. 

Malignant is a love letter not only to classic horror movies, but to a time in society where horror movies were being produced and banged out like no other: the 2000s. 

Inside the world of Malignant’s bad wigs, dramatic zoom in cuts to remixes of “Where Is My Mind?” and ridiculously gory CGI death scenes, you will giggle and cheer at all of the enthusiastic and charming love it has for its forebearers.

The film follows protagonist Madison Mitchell, who starts having visons of people being murdered only to realize that the murders are happening in real life. 

You’ll visit classic spots like an abandoned hospital, the Seattle, Wash. underground and a ridiculously stylized cop shop that was likely designed and funded by the Seattle government. 

If you find yourself wanting to watch a fun, outrageous and simple film with lots of blood, and a scene where the antagonist full-body-whips a wooden chair at two cops from across a room as they try escaping, look no further.

— Damien Davis, arts and culture reporter