Halloween with a Persian Twist

By Fred Parvaneh

Halloween is a quintessentially American celebration – yet one that countless Iranians around the globe happily partake in.

Halloween relives the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in), which originated in Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, where the people living there 2000 years ago celebrated their new year on November 1.

What could possibly be a more enjoyable way to celebrate this ancient rite than dressing up in a costume and going door-to-door trick or treating? Or better yet, offering Persian sweets from a big bowl to visitors gathered on your doorstep?

To mark the occasion, Kayhan Life has come up with a selection of scary movies to watch in the comfort of your own home. These are horror movies with a Persian angle – a genre that is so far little known:

Under The Shadow

Mythical Persian creatures known as Djinns (Demons) come to life in Tehran in the middle of the Iraq-Iran War, when a missile hits an apartment building, releasing these ancient spirits. Written and directed by Babak Anvari, the movie centers around Shideh, a young mother who has to keep the demons away from her daughter while her husband is sent to the war front.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

This cult classic by acclaimed director Ana Lily Amirpour tells the story of a lonesome, skateboarding, music-loving vampire played by Sheila Vand who stalks and kills the unknowing residents of an Iranian city. The movie, shot in black and white, is reminiscent of spaghetti westerns, and is funny, creepy and hip.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

One of Iran’s leading actresses, Shohreh Aghdashloo, plays the role of Dr. Sadina Adani, an expert witness on demonic seizures and a drug called ‘Gambutrol.’ The movie, which is based loosely on a true story and has an all-star cast, mixes courtroom drama with religious and supernatural beliefs. Father Moore (played by Tom Wilkinson) is accused of negligent homicide as he performs exorcism on a young girl named Emily.


This debut film written and directed by Nima Farahi tells the story of a newly married couple who notice strange occurrences while honeymooning in a villa north of Tehran. The film is in Persian, and winner of the recent Spotlight Gold Award. The online magazine Spotlight Horror Film Awards searches the globe for the “best horror, sci-fi, thrillers, mysteries, animations and experimentals.”