Featured image: Pixabay
As the end of October approaches, the cold is creeping in and autumn leaves decorate the trees. This time of year is a favourite for many, with the arrival of Halloween and the palpable atmosphere that presides over this spooky season.
The traditions we associate with Halloween today, including wearing costumes and carving pumpkins, have their roots in ancient rituals associated with spirits of the dead. Folklore of witches and demons also feed into the links between the scary supernatural and Halloween-time.
It’s no wonder that one of the most popular pastimes during the holiday is to turn down the lights and watch a film that’s guaranteed to frighten and exhilarate in equal measure. Whether it’s witchcraft, poltergeists, vampires or humans with an appetite for terror, watching something spooky is a must.
There’s no better way to celebrate scary movies than to catch your favourite features across cinemas in Manchester. We’ve rounded up a selection of horror classics, from mainstream hits to cult classics, all being shown at your nearest cinema throughout Halloween season.
Situated in the centre of Manchester, Vue is celebrating Halloween by screening 80s cult hit The Lost Boys. This feature is a comedy-horror set in a fictional Californian beach town and centred around brothers Michael and Sam, who soon become entangled with Santa Carla’s resident vampires. It’s in cinemas for its 35th anniversary. So, if you haven’t watched The Lost Boys before, this showing is a great opportunity to experience it for the first time. You can also catch the seminal Friday the 13th over the weekend, which provides all the classic slasher tropes of a group of teenagers engaging in the debauchery of drinking, drugs and sex before untimely and gory demises at the hands of a masked killer.
The Lost Boys (35th Anniversary) – Friday 27th October @ 21:00.
Friday the 13th – Saturday 28th October @ 20:45.
Odeon, Great Northern
You can find Odeon near Deansgate, nestled within the Grade II listed Great Northern warehouse-cum-entertainment complex. On Halloween night, they’re showing not one but two horror masterpieces. First up, a special 50th anniversary director’s cut of The Exorcist, which caused a cultural frenzy on its initial release in 1973 and is still cited as one of the greatest horror films ever made. The plot follows a young girl possessed by a demon and her mother’s desperate attempts to save her through the performance of exorcisms. Half a century on, its sequel, The Exorcist: Believer, has just been released in cinemas, creating the perfect opportunity for a Halloween double feature on the big screen.
Halloween night at the Odeon also sees the screening of an extended version of The Shining, which delivers an extra 25-minutes of footage on top of the film’s standard runtime of 119 minutes. The Kubrick-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name is well-known for its cultural references of creepy twins, haunted hotels and the iconic shot of protagonist Jack Torrance with his head through a splintered door, all of which are well worth catching on the big screen during the most haunted night of the year.
The Exorcist Director’s Cut (50th Anniversary) – Tuesday 31st October @ 19:30.
The Shining – Tuesday 31st October @ 19:50.
Cultplex, Red Bank Cheetham Hill
Perhaps a lesser-known cinema in the city but a wonderfully atmospheric place in its own right, Cultplex resides in Cheetham Hill’s Red Bank. The cult-fanatic independent cinema have gone all out for Halloween this year with their STAB season, a namesake paying homage to slasher franchise Scream. Although the season is well underway, there’s still plenty more flicks you can catch before the month’s end such as Nightbreed, a horror-fantasy helping from the directorial mind of Hellraiser’s Clive Barker. A critical failure of the time that has earned itself cult status, the film follows a young man drawn to a group of misfit creatures who all band together to take down a serial killer.
Tim Burton classic The Nightmare Before Christmas, featuring all your favourite Halloween Town residents alongside Jack and Sally, is also being screened this weekend for one day only. On Halloween itself you can catch comedy-horror An American Werewolf in London, another cult classic which follows two American backpackers falling prey to werewolf bites while on a walking tour of Britain. It has been praised for its wit as well as its fright.
Nightbreed – Friday 27th October @ 19:30.
The Nightmare Before Christmas – Sunday 29th October @ 16:00.
An American Werewolf in London – Tuesday 31st October @ 22:30.
HOME Theatre, Tony Wilson Place
HOME, just a ten-minute walk from the university, is an impressive three-storey independent venue that boasts five cinema screens, a theatre, galleries, bars and a restaurant. Launching its FilmFear 2023 season in collaboration with Film4, the venue is due to spotlight older cult classics alongside contemporary releases. One such cult classic gracing HOME’s screens is Peeping Tom, a frankly chilling horror film from the 1960’s that was considered scandalous at the time. It explores voyeurism, patriarchy and other complex psychological themes through the lens of British culture.
There are four screenings in total taking place across numerous days but the best time to experience this would be Sunday afternoon, when the film will be introduced by Manchester Met’s English Literature and Film lecturer Dr Eleanor Beal, who also co-leads at the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies. This is definitely not one to miss on the big screen while you have the chance.
Peeping Tom – Sunday 29th October @ 15:30 with an introduction from Dr Eleanor Beal,
Monday 30th October @ 15:15, Tuesday 31st October @ 18:00, Wednesday 1st November @ 20:40 and Thursday 2nd November @ 20:30.
The Light, Stockport
Last up on our list of cinemas celebrating scares this Halloween is The Light, based at Redrock in Stockport. Easily accessible from the city centre by bus or train, the journey down to this industrial Greater Manchester town is made all the while as the cinema celebrates ‘Frights at the Light’ this Halloween. Alongside a host of new horror releases including Saw X, The Exorcist: Believer and Five Nights at Freddy’s, The Light is also showcasing some old-school classics. The second Tim Burton feature on this list, you can catch the zany Beetlejuice across the weekend, with Burton’s signature spook and humour found in droves. When a family, including Winona Ryder portraying daughter Lydia Deetz, move into a new home they soon find themselves subject to the havoc and hijinks of “bio-exorcist” Beetlejuice.
As new photos of the highly anticipated sequel Beetlejuice 2 come to light featuring breakout star Jenna Ortega and the return of Ryder, there’s no better time to remind yourself of what made Beetlejuice the classic it’s revered as today. If you’re still looking for something to do on Halloween night, The Light has you sorted with science fiction-horror The Thing, directed by horror heavyweight John Carpenter, who perfected the art of the slasher in the late 1970’s with Halloween. The Thing follows a group of American researchers based in Antarctica and what happens after their encounter with an extraterrestrial life-form ignites paranoia and conflict amongst them.
Beetlejuice – Sunday 29th October @ 15:20 / 17:45 / 20:00.
The Thing – Tuesday 31st October @ 19:30 / 20:00.