The ’Toban staff’s spooktacular Halloween media picks

Creepy content to curl up with for Halloween

The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is a masterwork of horror filmmaking. The oppressive, cold atmosphere evokes an extreme paranoia in the audience from the start of the movie to the appearance of the eponymous “Thing.” 

The fact that part of the movie was filmed in refrigerated sets and on real glaciers does a lot of work to build this atmosphere. When the creature is not in frame, it feels as though it is just out of sight or stalking the cast themselves.

The makeup and practical effects in the film are disturbing, gross and lovingly crafted. Watching some nasty little creature pop out and tear someone’s arm off is something that cannot be replicated with computer graphics.

Somewhat akin to a slasher film with a masked killer, the film never allows the viewer to be quite sure who has been infected with the Thing. This sense of unease and mistrust infects the characters and the audience. 

While The Thing is more of an icy winter horror, it’s dark and cold atmosphere is certainly fitting for a chilly Winnipeg night. When you sit down to watch John Carpenter’s masterpiece, just make sure the person next to you is who they appear to be…


— Braden Bristow, columnist

Hellraiser (1987)

To be honest, I am an absolute freak who watches this movie year–round, not JUST for Halloween. However, for the non-freaks out there, Hellraiser, directed by Clive Barker should be your ’80s horror movie pick for the remainder of the Halloween season simply because, in my opinion, modern horror movies hardly catch the gory campiness and eroticism of the time Hellraiser was released. 

The film centres around the parents of protagonist Kirsty moving into a house previously owned by her uncle who mysteriously disappeared, but as the story progresses, the audience realizes he never really left.

Viewers can expect blood sacrifices and other-dimensional demons known as Cenobites who, in leather gear, torture anyone who summons them via an ancient puzzle box, as well as a lot of glorious practical body horror effects rather than CGI. With all its absurdity and unquenchable thirst for hedonistic torture, Hellraiser will absolutely get under your skin and hook into you for days after your first viewing. 

After all, what’s more terrifying than sadomasochistic demons from another dimension who desire nothing more than to torture you, rip you to shreds and hang your flesh off meat hooks that spin on wooden blocks? Horrific, unholy and horny, I cannot recommend Hellraiser enough. 

What are you waiting for? “We have such sights to show you…”


— Jacob Davis, arts & culture editor

Frankenhooker (1990)

The full title of Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein harkens back to the story’s tragic Greek inspiration. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus ruminates on — or portends, really — the horrific outcomes awaiting humanity as science enables us to twist the world to fit our own snarled imaginations. The 1990 dark comedy Frankenhooker invites audiences to zoom in on the question of playing God and think specifically about what inexcusably fetid things straight dudes will do with science to satiate their unrelenting horniness. 

The film shows a sleazy sad sap plotting to kill and dismember sex workers to use their body parts in a Frankensteinian project to revive his dead fiancée. The Frankenhooker monster he creates is out of his control and poses a risk to horny dudes everywhere. Frankenhooker is peak camp and gratuitously cheesy. One slimy character explodes after trying to go down on the Frankenhooker because her vagina zaps him.

A politically necessary film for a foul epoch, Frankenhooker anticipated and came armed to the teeth with electrifying answers to incels’ questions about what happens when you try to make your girlfriend into a sex doll — or vice versa.


— Jessie Krahn, comment editor

The Addams Family (1991)

Barry Sonnenfeld’s brilliant 1991 film, The Addams Family, is a Halloween classic. It is almost too well-known to put on this list. We have all seen the gif-sets. Some of us have dressed up as Wednesday Addams for Halloween at the last minute when all we could find was a black wig, a dress that we last wore to our grandfather’s funeral and a dour expression — or maybe that’s just me. 

The Addams Family is more than just the sum of its pop-cultural reference points, though. The members of the titular Addams family are famously creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky and “all together ooky,” and they love to hurt and be hurt by each other. They show that they love each other with elaborate games involving sword-fighting and electrocution. They embrace what many of us fear most — endangering their loved ones. 

In this way, a delightful PG romp acts as an entry point for some thorny questions about pain and pleasure. It is a gateway drug for one of my other favourite films, BloodSisters, a documentary about the San Francisco leatherdyke community in the 1990s, by Michelle Handelman. Around Halloween, when we start to think about goop and gore and things that go bump in the night, it is the perfect time to consider how love and pain might be tied up together.


— Simon Pensato, copy editor 

Stranger Things (2016)

What better way to get into a spooky vibe than with Stranger Things? I was recently introduced to the series through one of my film studies classes, and I have to say, I like it a lot more than I anticipated. I’m not typically a person who enjoys the scary or horror genre, but this show quickly captured my attention. 

What made it different, palatable and in truth, “good” to me were the non-horror sequences that focused on the show’s friendships, relationships, quips, the quirks and the budding romances. 

I sped through the first season in a matter of days, and though I had to for school work, that is not to say I did not enjoy it. The series had me on my toes and left me wanting to know more and more with each episode. 

Set design, wardrobe choices and the very genuine feel of the acting are some major points of the show that stood out to me. The chemistry between the characters was palpable. I’m currently on season two and trying to make it last. 

If you’re up for it, give Stranger Things a try. There’s even a Halloween episode that gets some of the characters dressing up like the Ghostbusters


— Kelsey Chin, arts & culture reporter