John Carpenter Reveals His Scariest Horror Films In Honor Of Halloween


The Walking Dead, Stranger Things and even Brooklyn Nine-Nine are all getting in the Halloween spirit, but if you’re searching far and wide for a spooky movie marathon, John Carpenter has chimed in with his recommendations. Yes, the John Carpenter.

The Fader recently caught up with the illustrious filmmaker to discuss Halloween‘s lasting legacy, the ever-evolving horror genre, and those timeless classics that helped influence his remarkable filmography. It’s a fascinating insight into one of cinema’s all-time greats, and below you’ll find the eight horror films that had a bearing on Carpenter’s career. Unsurprisingly, Night of the Living Dead, George A. Romero’s crowning achievement, claimed the #1 spot.

1. Night of the Living Dead

Let’s start with a movie called Night of the Living Dead. I saw this back in 1968. Back in the day, it was a pretty terrifying movie. It’s not so much anymore, but that’s a groundbreaking movie. I went to see it with my girlfriend at the time, who was so freaked out at it. I think it may have affected how I saw the film; maybe I’m a little biased. But it’s the idea of this relentless, relentless horde of things coming after you. The fact that a loved one can be turned into a zombie. It’s just tremendous. I mean, look at the movies that have ripped it off! Look at Walking Dead. I mean come on.

2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an incredible movie. It’s one of the scariest movies ever. The whole idea is scary. You really don’t see anything; it’s not explicit. But it’s what’s going on in your head that’s scary. It’s also extremely funny — it’s almost a comedy. I really loved the movie. Loved it.

3. The Exorcist

You know what’s scary about The Exorcist. Everyone knows what’s scary about that movie. It’s the devil. The first time I saw it, I thought, in order to be really effective, this movie requires a belief in a higher power. But since then I’ve come to appreciate it just for what it is. It’s got some pretty great scenes in it. I watched it again recently and was surprised by how intense it is. The things that they did back then, with this little girl, they broke a bunch of taboos, my god. It’s pretty damn good.

4. X The Unknown (1956), 5. The Quatermass Experiment (1955), 6. Horror Of Dracula (1958)

There are a lot of other movies that you have to go back to the 1950s, when I was growing up, to appreciate. That may be a little too early for you. Can we go back there? OK, well, when I was a young man, some of these movies really scared me. There was X The Unknown, there was The Quatermass Experiment, and Horror of Dracula.

7. The Fly

The original The Fly — that was a movie where the popcorn went flying. I jumped up. I was so scared! It’s pretty creepy! I know everyone loves the remake, but I love the old one. When his wife rips the hood off him and there’s a big fly head there, I just — the popcorn went flyin’! That just scared the hell outta me. I was 10. I should have known better! I should’ve been more mature and cooler, but I wasn’t. I was a wimp then. I admit it.

8. The Thing From Another World (1951)

The Thing From Another World is the daddy of all science fiction monster movies. That was back in the early ‘50s, but I saw it a little later on. That is an absolutely terrifying, fabulous, classic movie.

So, there you have it; John Carpenter has compiled a Halloween-themed watchlist so you don’t have to. But what do you make of the director’s choices? You can, as always, drop your thoughts and comments via the usual place.

And remember, having just launched his Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998, Carpenter is all set to score the Halloween reboot of 2018, which has already welcomed Jamie Lee Curtis back to the fold.