Everybody likes to watch horror movies on Halloween, right? Here’s a list I compiled of some titles that don’t always get the love they deserve. Some are not available on DVD or are out of print, so you’ll have to do some looking, but it’ll definitely be worth it. Here goes:
1. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
Shunned by horror fans everywhere upon its initial release for not having anything to do at all with the slasher saga featuring Michael Myers, this is an overlooked and misunderstood classic that’s finally beginning to get some respect from nerds everywhere. It deserves it, because HALLOWEEN III is a delightfully fucked up film about the holiday. The plot involves a crazy old toy maker and owner of a novelty company called Silver Shamrock who plans on killing all the children on Halloween that wear his new line of masks during a special T.V. “promotion” shown on the day! How crazy is that? Featuring a solid starring role by the great Tom Atkins (NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, THE FOG), an amazing score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth, and one of the most disturbing scenes involving a family watching television ever filmed, this is a perfect movie to watch on the night of Samhain, trust me.
Clive Barker’s masterpiece about a secret community of mutant creatures that live in a mysterious dreamland is less about monsters and more about just trying to fit in when you’re different from everyone else. What nerd couldn’t relate to that? Featuring fantastic effects, great gore and an incredibly creepy performance by horror directing legend David Cronenberg as a serial killer shrink, this movie ROCKS!
3. TOURIST TRAP
Probably one of the creepiest horror movies ever made, this one is about a group of teenagers that become stranded at a secluded roadside wax museum, where they are murdered one by one by a lunatic who has telekinetic control over his mannequins. What?! For a PG rated movie it’s one of the scariest I’ve ever seen. The murders are far more innovative than the usual stalk and slash and the special effects are terrific. Did I mention there’s a sizzling hot Tanya Roberts running around in a halter top and short shorts? Are you sold yet?
4. THE KINDRED
This is one of my favorite slimy monster movies from the 80s. A group of friends stay at an old, scary house so they can help their friend unlock the mystery of his dead mother’s secret experiment, which involves a gross little creature that starts killing them off. Highlights include, Academy Award winning actor Rod Steiger screaming his lungs out while being showered in goo and a scene involving a watermelon that’s simply sublime.
What’s not to love about a scary movie that takes place in a theatre during an all-night horrorthon? Absolutely nothing! This film is SO much fun in every conceivable way you can’t help but fall in love with it. More than your typical slasher, it has a great mystery and a very strange back story that keeps you guessing. It also has horror veterans like Jill Schoelen (THE STEPFATHER) and Dee Wallace (THE HOWLING, CUJO) delivering great performances, and it features a very original death involving a giant prop mosquito. Pass the popcorn, please.
The late Stan Winston directed this great horror flick for the holiday about a man who conjures up a giant monster to kill a group of kids who accidentally murdered his son. Featuring amazing special effects by the master himself and an iconic and terrifying looking creature that still holds up to anything created today. This is a perfect Halloween flick in every way. It also serves as an interesting morality tale and it’s got Lance Henriksen acting his ass off as usual.
7. TERROR VISION
Did you ever wonder what E.T. would be like if instead of a cute, Reese’s pieces addicted alien we got a flesh eating monster in its place? Look no further, because TERROR VISION is what you’ve been dreaming about. This is pure B-movie bliss. The Putterman family has just installed a new satellite system on their T.V. that starts receiving transmissions from an alien world. All hell breaks loose when a creature with an insatiable appetite crosses through and into their home where it starts eating everything and everyone in sight. This is a fun, campy movie that features performances by Gerrit Graham (USED CARS), Mary Woronov (DEATH RACE 2000, ROCK ‘N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL) and Jon Gries (JOYSTICKS). Switch back to cable, quick!
8. PRINCE OF DARKNESS
One of John Carpenter’s most underrated films as well as one awesome spin on the run of the mill demon possession formula. A group of physics students and a priest (Donald Pleasence) lock themselves in an old abandoned church in Los Angeles to decipher an ancient warning involving a swirling mass of green liquid kept in the basement. They soon discover that the contents of the jar contain the energy of Satan himself who plans on releasing an Anti-God upon the Earth! Holy shit! The students who get too close are turned into mindless zombies after being sprayed in the mouth with the substance and the city’s homeless surround the church to do the dark lord’s bidding. This is one scary, original and atmospheric horror movie with a creepy plot device involving a future transmission beamed backwards into your sleeping subconscious that still gives me goose bumps to this day.
9. HAUSU (HOUSE)
One of the weirdest, coolest and most original haunted house movies ever made, this Japanese horror film from the 70s is like watching a Grimm’s fairy tale on LSD. The plot involves a young schoolgirl who invites her six girlfriends to her Aunt’s remote country house for the summer. They soon discover the house is alive with evil spirits and they are slowly killed off in highly imaginative ways. One overweight girl has her head turned into a watermelon, while another girl who likes music is eaten alive by a piano. Incredible imagery and beautifully drawn characters makes this a surreal ghost story classic.
10. FROM BEYOND
From the twisted minds of H.P. Lovecraft, director Stuart Gordon (RE-ANIMATOR) and screenwriter Brian Yuzna (SOCIETY) comes this freaky, psychedelic horror flick from the 80s! Dark humor and grisly violence combine in a plot about a group of scientists performing experiments with a machine called the “resonator” that stimulates the pineal gland and opens up a parallel universe filled with hostile creatures. It has an amazing cast featuring Jeffery Combs (THE FRIGHTENERS), Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD) and the always sexy, Barbara Crampton (who’s dressed in a leather bondage outfit at one point. WOOF!). Atmospheric, bold and one highly entertaining film.
11.,12., & 13. PHANTASM I, II & III
I didn’t include PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION because it’s my least favorite in the series, but if you want to check out an awesome horror trilogy this Halloween, you can’t do much better than Don Coscarelli’s PHANTASM movies. Each film picks up after the last film leaves off and each one increases the insanity, surrealism and gore output by a thousand percent. The storyline involving The Tall Man (an evil funeral home operator from another world) and his attempt to turn the recently deceased into vicious little dwarves that are used as slave labor on his home planet, is one of the most original ever conceived. Reggie Bannister and Angus Scrimm keep things consistent with their perfect performances and the silver balls are always a joy to watch as they kill people in the most imaginative and violent ways possible. I also love the way you never know for sure if what you’re watching is reality or a dream and Coscarelli did it long before Wes Craven ever did with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.
14. THE BROOD
My favorite David Cronenberg movie and one of the scariest and weirdest “evil children” films ever made. An always excellent and intense, Oliver Reed plays a psychologist who performs a controversial therapy technique on his patients called “Pschoplasms”. One of his favorite disciples is a troubled mother who may be connected to a group of deformed children that brutally murder everyone she seems to have an issue with. This is another twisted entry into Cronenberg’s body horror films and one of his scariest. The day care scene is one of the most disturbing sequences ever filmed.
15. DON’T GO IN THE HOUSE
Ever wonder what PSYCHO would have been like if there was no mystery at all and instead of dressing like his mother and stabbing women in the shower, Norman dressed in a fire retardant outfit and burned them alive with a flame thrower? If the answer is yes, than this is the film you’ve been looking for. It is a sleazy, weird little piece of exploitation madness from 1980 that will really freak you out. More in the vein of William Lustig’s MANIAC than the Hitchcock classic, the story is about an abused Momma’s boy who reacts to the death of his cruel matriarch by playing his records really loud and frying women to a crisp in a special fireproof room he constructs in the family abode. Great movie, but you might need to take a SILKWOOD style shower to scrub the griminess off when this one’s over.
Well, that’s my list for this year. Have a happy Halloween and watch some scary movies!