10 Historical Horror Movies For Halloween

I really enjoyed making this list, as I’ve seen nearly all of these, and the rest are on my radar. I tried not to choose conventional movies, that everyone has already talked about, like Dracula, and The Wolfman, which are kind of a given really, or the kind of movies which featured the usual take on vampires and werewolves, although there is a tiny bit of that on this list. I also tried to add a few international movies that have maybe gotten a bit of attention on this blog. If you’re looking for a little novelty for Halloween viewing check these out.

Ravenous (1999)

After surviving a military ambush, Lt. John Boyd, discovers that he’s developed a taste for human flesh. When he gets sent to an isolated outpost, as punishment for the cowardice that saved his life, he encounters another cannibal who has fully given in to his proclivities, and tries to talk Boyd into doing so as well. This movie was directed by the late Antonia Bird, and stars Guy Pierce. Its a humorous movie, with tiny moments of camp, in the form of occasional asides from one of the characters, or the music during certain scenes, but mostly the plot and characters take themselves seriously. There are elements of the real life Donner Party incident, and strong references to overcoming addiction.

Ginger Snaps II: The Beginning (2004)

This is a sequel to the modern version of the first movie simply called Ginger Snaps. In the first movie, a young woman gets bitten by a strange creature in the woods, that was attracted to her because she was having her first period. There’s a little less of that here, but the movie does have a lot to say about the plight of women during this particular time period. There are the occasional moments of humor, but the movie isn’t particularly campy, and there is the obligatory Indigenous character ,who knows more than he’s telling, but who, of course, dies first.

After finding two sisters in the woods, being attacked by wolves, the men from an isolated outpost start giving in to paranoia and cabin fever, as they start getting picked off by a mysterious creature, that has followed them from the sister’s rescue site.

The Witch (2015)

This is a rather famous film as it won a slew of minor awards. It’s also one of my favorites. Its more dread inducing than terrifying, but if you saw Midsommar ,and Hereditary, than this is the movie you need to watch this Halloween. After her family is accused of witchcraft, a young woman encounters strange and terrifying events around her family’s isolated house. The atmosphere is perfect, but is a bit of a slow burn. The terror carefully creeps up on you, so you may want watch this with the lights on.

Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001)

I talked about this movie in an earlier post. This kind of a werewolf movie without a werewolf. This is an odd mishmash of historical fiction, martial arts, and political mystery, based on the French story of the Beast of Gevaudin, a werewolf adjacent creature that killed several people, in the French countryside, during the 17th century. This is a horror movie for people who don’t like horror movies, or don’t want to get too scared, but its not for kids. There is some amount of gore and sexual activity.

Mark Dacascos stars as an Indigenous man with the skills of Bruce Lee, and the movie highlights these skills in several beautifully spectacular, but completely unnecessary, fight scenes. Conveniently, he barely has any dialogue. A lot of the film is taken up with political arguments, a little bit of romance, and the mystery of finding The Beast, before it kills again.

The Head Hunter (2018)

This movie was a little confusing for me, because its not a linear transgression from moment to moment. There is some backing and forthing, and the lead character doesn’t make the plot clear from the beginning, because he’s pretty much all alone. There’s no one to explain things to. This is not a fast movie, but if you wait a minute its worth it.The movie, is dark, grim, and fairly gruesome, but if you like that sort of thing, then check it out. Its about a Viking who hunts people, but also the alien looking creature that killed his family. This movie is available on Amazon Prime.

Lizzie (2018)

This a revisionist retelling of the story of Lizzie Borden, who murdered her parents with an ax, in the 19th century. There have been a couple of these in the past ten years, but this one is more artistic, and intimates that Lizzie killed her family because they disapproved of her relationship with a young woman, who moved into their home. I didn’t care too much for the revision, ( only because I prefer a simpler version of the story), but the acting is first class, and its a lovely looking film, that’s well worth the watch, just for those two things. This is available for viewing on Amazon Prime’s Shudder app.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

This is one of Guillermo Del Toro’s early films, which, unless you are a real Del Toro enthusiast, you probably haven’t seen, since this movie, like Cronos, was made before his emigration to Hollywood. It contains most of the usual Del Toro imagery, and themes, and is very similar in feel and story to Pan’s Labyrinth, with children telling each other ghost stories, while trying to protect themselves from a malevolent adult, against the backdrop of war.

Overlord (2018)

This is an unusual zombie story set during WWII. What captured my attention is the lead character is a Black man, who is ostensibly the hero of this film. After they crash their plane in a village in German territory, he and his fellow soldiers stumble across German experiments in resurrection, using some kind of black goo, that bubbles out of the ground. When his companions become infected, he has to try to destroy them, the experiments, and escape the castle where they took place. This is available on Amazon Prime.

Deadlands (2014)

This isn’t actually a movie, its a series that is loosely based on a movie of the same title. A young Maori man who fights zombie- like creatures in the real world, but at some point, must go into the afterlife to discover why the dead are rising, find the source of the evil, and save his people. This is an interesting peek into ancient Maori history, the cinematography is stunning, and this is the first type of zombie movie I’ve ever seen like this. There have been some interesting genre movies and series coming out of New Zealand, since Peter Jackson filmed Lord of the Rings there, some twenty years ago. This series is available on Amazon Prime.

Monstrum (2020)

I talked about this movie in an earlier post as well. Set in ancient Korea, its about a ruler who is given a pet creature, that grows to an enormous size. At some point he loses control over it, and sets it free to roam, and attack the citizens in an effort to keep them under control. A group of brave soldiers and clerics band together to destroy the beast.

Like Train to Busan, this is a very exhilarating action horror mashup. The monster is mysterious and terrifying, the action scenes are very suspenseful, and no one is too important to be spared. This movie is airing on Amazon Prime.

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