THS Fright-A-Thon: The Definitive 2020 Horror Movie Marathon List

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It’s that time. It’s FINALLY that time. The real Fright-A-Thon begins. October 1st. The leaves outside, even here in California, have a different sheen today. Somehow the air just feels different. It can only mean one thing. Halloween. Yes, it’s October and we’ve been beating around the bush for September to try to extend the evil of Halloween into that month. It’s time for a fully operational Halloween battlestation. I, and probably many of you, like to watch at least one horror themed thing each day of October. It could be an episode of a TV show, or a feature film, or anything you can imagine. But the gods of Halloween will only be satiated with a sacrifice or you paying your respect to the greatest of holidays.

Christmas gets an entire month and a half. Halloween, like we’ve said before, deserves that extra half a month of preparation. That’s the very essence of THS Fright-A-Thon. We’ve got our top horror hounds on the case. But for the very first day of the hallowed month of October, here’s the THS Fright-A-Thon Movie Marathon to keep your horror wits sharp. The list might not be every horror movie that you love, but it’s tried and tested to certainly appease the gods of Horror and Halloween.

You might notice a certain, Wes Craven theme to the list, which is paying respect to one of the masters of Horror. So let’s get to it.

The 31 Day List For Fright-A-Thon

THS Fright-A-Thon October 1st: A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

Wes Craven’s finest work. Don’t overthink this one, start your month off right. Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon (RIP), Johnny Depp, and of course Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 2nd: Fright Night (1985)

My favorite vampire movie of the 80’s (yes, I know about The Lost Boys). Fright Night is a classic that won’t necessarily scare the crap out of you, but it’ll make you laugh, and the soundtrack is fantastic. Add to that the creature effects and Chris Sarandon’s insane performance as Jerry Dandridge, and you’ve got a film worthy of your October time.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 3rd: The Invisible Man (2020)

Blumhouse is the official house of horror these days. Leigh Whannell gets my vote for up-and-coming master of horror. This one is the most recent flick on the list, but it’s well worth your October time. Elisabeth Moss gives a tour-de-force performance here. You can also read our review of it, here.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 4th: A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)

It might be the least scary or worst of the series, depending on who you ask. But I like A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge for what it is. It’s a cult film, that is hilariously bad at certain points. It’s even funnier to rewatch the film after knowing that the cast/crew didn’t think that any of the gay overtones of the film were there.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 5th: Orphan (2009)

Can Vera Farmiga be in a happy movie that isn’t terrifying? Orphan is well paced, and it crafts a more psychological horror film. What transpires in this movie will make you question orphans for the rest of your life.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 6th: Friday The 13th Part III (1982)

While Friday the 13th might have started with the first two parts, the third part is really where the slasher goodness starts. Jason Voorhees is in full swing here with all the kills that you’d imagine for a slasher sequel. Go ahead and watch the first two films at some point, but this third installment makes the marathon.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 7th: VFW (2020)

I already went in-depth on VFW, but it’s safe to say it’s a love letter to the John Carpenter films of the 80’s and the siege movies that were popular at the time. You can read the full review here, but give this one a shot to lighten up the mood for the horror-fest a bit.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 8th: A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

In my opinion, the best of the Nightmare sequels, Dream Warriors combines the return of Heather Langenkamp, and the only appearance of Patrcia Arquette. It tightly wraps up Nancy’s story but continues the Freddy saga. This was the last film before New Nightmare with input from Wes Craven. Also, any movie with Dokken in it, is good in my book.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 9th: The Thing (1982)

My favorite film of all-time, this is John Carpenter’s unquestioned masterpiece of storytelling, horror, and just an uneasy film overall. It doesn’t over-hero Kurt Russell, but it’s the basis for every single location thriller since. It earns a worth place on this marathon.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 10th: Thirteen Ghosts (2001)

A rare horror remake that is actually decent. Thirteen Ghosts is one that’s gained more of a cult following in recent years. The creature effects here are pretty good and it’s one of the best uses of practical effects in the modern era for films. Matthew Lillard is a real highlight here, especially his last scene in the film.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 11th: A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

The film that saved Renny Harlin’s career and the film where Freddy becomes a dad. It’s a double feature for two subpar sequels for the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, but while they aren’t as good as the first or the third film, they still are very much watchable. This won’t be the last double feature for the list.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 12th: American Psycho (2000)

The role that I’m pretty sure led Christian Bale to being cast as Bruce Wayne. American Psycho is a tour into the deranged mind of Patrick Bateman. While it might not be the most horrifying installment on the list, it makes up for it with messing with your head just enough. You can tell me if you think Bateman did the murders in this film or not.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 13th: The Monster Squad (1987)

The lightest film on the list, The Monster Squad is fun for the whole family. You can show this one to kids, adults, anyone. If you don’t find it fun, you’re reading the wrong list. Kids versus the “Universal Monsters”, in a style like The Goonies. You’ll be saying “Wolfman’s got nards!” for years to come.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 14th: Manhunter (1986)

I already did a write-up of this movie as well. Manhunter is Michael Mann’s version of the Hannibal Lecktor (yes, that’s how this film spells it), story. William Pederson gives the best performance of his career. You can read the Fright-A-Thon review of it, right here.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 15th: The People Under The Stairs (1991)

So this is what Wes Craven was doing instead of Nightmare on Elm Street sequels. Well it turns out, when he gets an original idea, he runs with it. The People Under The Stairs takes a story of a teen and his two friends who break into the house of his parents evil landlords. It’s just weird enough, but also horrifying.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 16th: Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

Now for the most striking double feature on our list. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare is not great. It’s a rushed, unpolished film, that would have been a HORRIBLE way for the series to end. Thankfully, Wes Craven returned to save the franchise again with New Nightmare. The film updates the look of Freddy Kreuger and makes him completely scary again. It’s story is inventive and original.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 17th: Re-Animator (1985)

Take the average mad scientist film and add some top-notch creature effects and the mad ramblings of Jeffrey Combs and you get Re-Animator. From the H.P. Lovecraft story, it shows just how far someone will go for their own science. Add to it a scene where a severed, reanimated, head does something unspeakable, and you’ve got one of the best creature films of the 80’s.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 18th: Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931)

The two films that basically started everything horror. They’re both a shade under the feature length mark, so you can knock both of them out in a night. Give some respect to how we got here in our history of horror. The Universal films might not be terrifying these days, but you can learn a hell of a lot about film from them.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 19th: Near Dark (1987)

This one deserves a full-blown review at some point because it’s criminally underrated. In a genre-bending twist, you get vampires and a western film all in one. See if you can find this one on a streaming service, because the Blu-Ray is ridiculously expensive. Hopefully the Criterion Collection gets their hands on this one at some point soon.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 20th: Night Of The Demons (1988)

What do you get when you have a Halloween party at an abandoned funeral parlor? You get Night of the Demons. One of the late 80’s horror films that deals with possession and has plenty of substance and style. This is another one that not too many people have checked out.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 21st: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

The only Halloween film that doesn’t have our boy, Michael Myers. (Besides one scene where the first Halloween is on screen). I gave it an in-depth look at the concept for the film the other week. The film works on a bunch of levels but gets to the thrilling conclusion through a strange plot involving Stonehenge.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 22nd: Ready Or Not (2019)

samara weaving in ready or not

Ready Or Not was simply put, the best horror film of 2019, and one of the best overall films of that year. The concept was original. The film was beautifully shot, and Samara Weaving gave a star-making performance. You’ll love this one after you watch it, and you can check out our review of it, right here.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 23rd: The Return of the Living Dead (1984)

Return of the Living Dead takes what George Romero laid out in Night of the Living Dead and expands upon it. While it doesn’t keep the same racial undertones and influence that film has, it makes up for it with some of the most fearsome zombies put on screen. These undead, simply, will not die. Combine that with some great over-the-top performances, you get a fantastic horror film.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 24th: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Instead of expanding upon the ambitious ideas of Halloween III, the studio decided they just want more slasher killing. So you get Halloween 4 and 5. They’re not horrible movies and they actually have gotten better the more times I watch them. They’re a cornerstone of any marathon of horror.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 25th: The Frighteners (1996)

This won’t be the last Peter Jackson film to make the cut on the list, but it’s certainly one of his least well known films. The Frighteners subverts a lot about the characters and actors. Michael J. Fox isn’t exactly heroic in the film, but the concept of ghosts helping him out against demonic spirits is classic.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 26th: Fright Night Part 2 (1988)

Fright Night Part 2 really should have been horrible. The story is somewhat cliche with the sister of Jerry Dandridge coming back to exact revenge on Peter Vincent and Charley Brewster from the first film. Everything that you can think about this film that wouldn’t work, it does. Check out the review that started off Fright-A-Thon here.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 27th: Dead Alive (1992)

Peter Jackson is back. And he’s got hundreds of gallons of fake blood. He also has a Catholic Priest who “kicks ass for the lord”. You’ve got to see this one to believe it, while it’s still a pain to find on home video, you can easily find this one on YouTube. Make sure to watch it just for the climactic scene and the creature effects, alone.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 28th: Evil Dead (1981) and Evil Dead (2013)

This is a battle of two absolute smash-classics of the horror genre. The remake of The Evil Dead was a groan-inducing one. Too bad for those hateful folks out there, the 2013 remake is absolutely fantastic. It combines more horror and great effects without making a mockery of the original.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 29th: Child’s Play (1988)

Tom Holland’s original Child’s Play is the best one of the series. It’s the most based in reality and to be honest, the scariest of all of them. Without turning Chucky into the wise-cracking, child-having, icon of later in the series. You also get a great performance from a child-actor in a horror film with Alex Vincent.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 30th: Scream (1996)

The original tear-down of the overbloated and overbudget horror genre. It bent back the curtain and gave everyone the “rules of horror”. Wes Craven gave the horror genre a lot, but this might be his greatest gift. It fully reset the cycle of slashers and you couldn’t really come back from this film after. The sequels after broke the cycle and continued the slasher tropes, but this was the best of the bunch.

THS Fright-A-Thon October 31st: Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981)

The double-feature to end all double features. You can watch any other movies on Halloween, but you need to end the night with these two. The film that popularize the slasher genre and the underrated sequel to it. Get the Jack O’ Lanterns around your tv, turn out the lights, and sit with the warm orange glow as you go on the journey. As the trick or treaters fade away, the morning glow of the ending of Halloween II should send you off to bed with a successful Halloween night.

My Apologies To The Films That Didn’t Make The Cut

Making and curating this list was difficult. I had to leave off films that are absolute classics, but those ones are for the horror veterans to watch. This was more for people who are looking to get into horror or need a refresher course. After all, we’re all horror fans and let’s make Halloween 2020 the best it can be.

For more on horror, Fright-A-Thon, Halloween, or any other general pop culture, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.

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