Ready for a bombshell? Halloween is the best season for movies. Whether you’re looking to fondly remember those simple trick-or-treating days or endlessly scream into the closest couch pillow, there’s a Halloween flick for that.
Through all the years of Halloween cinema, tech has a played a crucial role in the ghoulish form of storytelling. Even in the most outlandish premise, technology can make the story more relatable, or even more frightening. Just think: would Poltergeist have been nearly as effective if the centerpiece wasn’t an everyday household item?
In the spirit of the All Hallows' Eve and great cinema, we’ve plucked the six most iconic pieces of technology sprinkled through Halloween movie history. A fair warning at the start: we have a broad definition on what classifies as a seasonal movie. In our opinion, The Terminator is a Halloween staple just as Die Hard is a Christmas classic. If you disagree, well, there’s always the comment section - a likely inspiration for upcoming horror stories.
Without further delay, let’s take a look at the most iconic tech in Halloween movie history.
Neutrona wand and proton pack - Ghostbusters
You probably didn’t even have to open this list up to know this made the cut.
The handy-dandy ghostbuster’s tool for catching those pesky negatively charged ectoplasmic entities became an immediate pop-culture phenomenon, and still remains to this day. Whether or not you were on board for the remake, you have to admit that you were a little excited to see this tech back at work.
There’s just something so effortlessly timeless about that particle beam being fired at unwieldy ghosts, making the neutrona wand and proton pack shoe-ins for all-time great Halloween movie tech.
T-800 - The Terminator
Yes, this is a Halloween movie.
Although the franchise is now reduced to a B-rated action series, James Cameron’s original blockbuster was a contained horror/thriller that kept audiences on the edge of their seats. Of course, this film wouldn’t have worked without perhaps the most influential piece of cinematic tech to date - the Terminator himself.
Long before audiences knew of the inner workings of Skynet and Christian Bale’s hilarious on-set rant, a cyborg assassin from a bleak future was sent back in time to eliminate Sarah Connors, the mother of the future leader of a resistance against the machines. The end result is a classic horror film about a woman trying to escape a killer, with some spine-tingling sequences throughout.
At its core, this flick was an effective horror film with an intensely powerful tech-based message at that remains one of the pillars of film making.
Speak & Spell communicator - E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
E.T. is truly the quintessential family Halloween movie, with a brilliant third act that takes place amongst a neighborhood of trick-or-treating kids. But to get to that point in the film, E.T. had to “phone home,” using a handmade communicator made from a Speak & Spell.
The communicator is simple and beautiful, embodying the tinkering spirit every tech lover felt as a kid. Inspired by a Buck Rogers comic strip in the same vain, E.T. and Elliot build the device together as their bond grows. This piece of makeshift technology plays such an unforgettable role in a classic film that it would be a crime to overlook.
VHS tape - The Ring
And to think, all this time we thought the resolution was the scariest part of VHS tapes.
The Ring is a remake of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ring and is about a man who discovers a cursed videotape. The legend says that whoever watches the videotape will die seven days later, making it the second scariest VHS after the one of you when you were four-years-old that your mom plays every Christmas. Or is that just us?
Back to the point, what follows this revelation is one of the most iconic and terrifying horror films of all time, all revolving around a single videotape. So keep that in mind next time you’re comparing the prices of Blu-Ray and VHS.
Ash - Alien
SPOILER ALERT: you should have seen this film by now.
Ridley’s Scott’s classic horror film is famous for its brilliant suspense, practical effects, and, of course, plot twist. In one of the more brilliant screenwriting turns, the spacecraft Nostromo’s crew is damned to a dark fate, as Ash, a seemingly compassionate crew member is revealed to be an android following orders to return the alien to Earth, at all costs.
Similar to The Terminator, this pick is less about a single piece of tech and more about how technology can be used to enhance the story to a higher level. Although audiences were already locked into the alien horror film unfolding before them, the element of an android who views the crew as expendable was a welcome layer of complexity. For that reason, Ash easily earns his spot on our list.
Television - Poltergeist
Of course the piece of tech that’s been striking fear into our hearts and keeping us up at night isn’t some far-fetched sci-fi innovation - it’s a television. Why? Because we all have one.
The original Poltergeist hit theaters in 1982 and has been plaguing viewers ever since. Despite a bevy of sequels and a 2015 remake, fans continue to come back to the original. This is in no small part due to the timeless image of Carol Anne in front of the TV, being called from the other side.
On top of the general spookiness of the film itself, many in the cast died prematurely, leading some to believe the movie itself is cursed and lending Poltergeist a larger than life fear factor. So, uh … good luck watching it tonight!
- Our list of best TVs won't scare you