Recommend some Halloween movies!

Mr. Athena and I are thinking of reviving our Halloween Movie Festival. We used to do this, 10+ years ago, and we think it’d be fun to start it up again.

Basically, on a Saturday around Halloween, we show movies from noon to Midnight and invite a bunch of people, like an open house. Figure maybe a minimum of 30 min in between films, and that’s about 5 movies.

I’ve got a couple ideas (Blair Witch Project, Bram Stoker’s Dracula), but am woefully out of touch with any scary movies that have come out since, say, 2000.

I’m looking primarily for:

  • at least one movie so over the top that it’s campy, since it’s always good to have some comic relief
  • Really SCARY movies
  • at least one obscure foreign movies

What I’m NOT looking for is:

  • overly gory movies. Like, I don’t want “Saw”. To me, gory != scary, and though I’m ok with some violence, I want “scary” more than “violent”

So… what should I be looking for?

Campy- an early 1960’s Mexican film - Braniac
*Tales of Terror *w/ Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone

Scary- Mario Bava’s Black Sunday aka Mask of Satan aka Mask of the Demon

Obscure foreign movie- 1979 remake Nosferatu the Vampyre

R.L. Stine: When Good Ghouls Go Bad
Somewhat gory (dude gets sliced in half by a glass door): Thir13en Ghosts

Scary and gory: John Carpenter’s The Thing

Campy (and inspired by the recent vampires thread): John Carpenter’s Vampire

OK, first:

MONSTER SQUAD! is the definition of a good time at a movie screening party. I have used this one for similar Halloween events and it always goes over well.

I also recommend showing a handfull of Twilight Zone episodes. Kinda as palate clensers. Particularly if you show well known ones. 3 should do ya.

Also, and I know people on this board hate it, but HIGH TENSION is the best bad horror movie to ever come out of France. It is not actually any good, but I saw it at a midnight screening with friends, and we all KNEW it was going to be bad and had a great time.

Early in the evening I like to show a classic that everyone will be somewhat familiar with. If you want something genuinly creepy go for the original Dracula by Tod Browning or better yet, Freaks.

Maybe grab a great Vincent Price movie from the 50s. I like The Raven, because it is silly and Halloweeny, but you have other options like House of Wax that weren’t intended to be campy.
Let me get back to you on actually scary stuff. And I will talk to a friend of mine in the office who is up on italian and Japanese horror for some more recommendations on that front too.

Scary, foreign and somewhat obscure: Suspiria. New student arrives at a fancy ballet school only to discover the school’s staff is doing a whole lot more than teaching ballet. Famous for its creepy soundtrack, which will stay in your head for weeks.

The original Nightmare on Elm St. is far superior to the sequels. Also, there’s nothing like the original Frankenstein and Dracula for Halloween.

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for House. Kinda creepy and funny as hell.

And I second Suspiria. I watched it back to back with Planet of the Vampires, and it freaked me out.

Two that I like:
Gargoyles (1972) and The Sentinel (1977)

Tough, but I’m always up for a challenge. Okay, here are some ideas:

Over-the-top campy: the all-time champion for this category is Dead Alive, a film from early in Peter Jackson’s career, way before he did the Lord of the Rings movies. It’s really, really funny. It is, however, extremely gory, so much so that it’ll almost certainly peg your gore-meter. The thing is, the gore is so extreme, so pervasive, so overwhelming, that it rockets past “gross-out” to the point of absurdity. If you can stomach it, you’ll find yourself laughing at how over-the-top it is.

A milder, but still gory, choice would be Evil Dead II. If, however, you can’t take the gore, another good choice is Arachnophobia. If you don’t like spiders, it’ll really make your skin crawl. On the whole, however, the movie is more comedy than thriller. And there’s always Scream, which has a couple of bloody scenes but has a lot of fun pointing out the standard horror cliches, adhering to some and abandoning others.

Scary: This is gonna depend on what scares you in particular. Some people get freaked out by serial killers, or “human horror”, because they fear the real possibility of being killed by a crazy person. A classic that preys on that would be The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I can already hear you saying, “I said no extreme gore!” Ah, but you see, the truth is that TCM, despite its reputation, is an almost completely bloodless film. There’s only one on-screen killing. All of the horror derives from the atmosphere, which is so well done that it fools you into thinking you’re seeing more than you are. I’m speaking of the original version, by the way; the new version is quite a bit bloodier.

If you’re afraid of ghosts and supernatural beings, The Grudge would be a fine choice, as would The Ring. Avoid the sequels.

If creepy places are your bag, Session 9 would be worth a watch. And one of the movies at the 2006 Horrorfest, The Abandoned, turned out to be a fairly decent movie featuring one freaky farmhouse.

Foreign movies: …hm. Well, Audition did become somewhat well known here in the States, but it seems most people still haven’t seen it. It’s not gory, exactly, but there are a few scenes, such as the ending, which feature torture that’s very uncomfortable to watch. There are the original Japanese versions of The Ring and The Grudge, if you want, although I rather prefer the American version of The Ring, myself. I wasn’t as entranced by The Devil’s Backbone as others have been, but who knows, you may like it.

“Halloween,” the original.

“Dark Night of the Scarecrow”
A retarded man is unjustly accused of attacking a young girl. Disguised as a scarecrow, he hides in a cornfield, only to be hunted down and shot. Later, after it is revealed he saved the girl from a vicious dog attack, members of the search posse are killed by a mysterious scarecrow.

Damn, FriarTed, that’s EXACTLY the list I was going to submit!

Several years ago I watched all the different versions of Dracula I could get together – all adaptations of the original. Bela Lugosi, the silent Nosferatu, the PBS Louis Jordan version, dan Curtis’ version with Jack Palance. Jess Franco’s version Count Dracula, which has the most faithful first half or so, before petering out. It was great. Since then there have been others (including the Coppola film). You could do the same with versions of Frankenstein.

Another possibility is to do a lot of those old Roger Corman Edgar Allen Poe films*, most of which don’t really have much to do with Poe, including The Raven, mentioned aove (and it’s circa 1964, not 1950s). Then at the end you can show Elvira’s Haunted Hills, which is basically a spoof on those flicks, as well as a showcase for Cassandra Peterson’s other talents.

Or get one of those Universal monster “Vintage Collections” of Frankenstein or Dracula or The Wolfman or The Mummy and watch a bunch of them.
If you go with the older stuff you’ll avoid the gore and keep that spooky spirit.

*They’re all on DVD, often two to a disc – The Raven, Tales of Terror, House of Usher, Pit and the Pendulum, Masque of the Red Death, etc. If you want the Real Poe with Vincent Price, get An Evening with Edgar Allen Poe. Or get the audio collection of Edgar Allen Poe stories told by Price and Basil Rathbone, turn out the lights, and listen to it.

Campy/scary: Black Sheep. Kinda gory, but still campy, and it might make you a vegetarian. Or for just plain dumb-Ghoulies. Hell, go pick up an economy-pack of films and let everyone pick!

A fun little movie: Below. Or I secondly nominate The Thing, if not least for the arguments it will possibly create.

Gory: Return of the Living Dead.

An obscure Canadian movie, kinda slow but building: Rituals. Could be tough to find, though.

If you like WW2 type films, maybe Outpost?

John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness is pretty creepy and scary, IMO.

The Descent really creeped me out. A few pretty gory moments, but not an overload.

A scary and campy Korean movie with a cool monster: The Host If you like big monster movies, you should definitely check this out.

The Raven, I think paired with Comedy of Terrors, is no longer in print, but still available through Amazon’s associated dealers.

For shear effective chills, I still vote for Masque! But Usher & TP&TP are still also pretty spooky. Tales has a chilling beginning & end (Morella & Valdemar), with a funny middle - Price & Lorre hamming it up in a pastiche of Black Cat & Amontillado.

I really like the idea of an all-Drac or all-Frank film festival. And each one has one classic parody (Love at First Bite & Young Frank, as well as of course Abbott & Costello).

Children of the Corn is creepy as hell.

Poltergeist - be sure to point out that the Carole Ann died in real life as well as some of the other child actors in the series.

Hard to do “over the top” without “gory”. Anyway, not all of these are all that new, but they work:

Over the top: Hatchet, Return of the Living Dead, Street Trash, Mad Cow Girl

REALLY over the top: Die! You Zombie Bastards!, Terror Firmer, Shock-O-Rama

Scary/creepy/atmospheric: The Haunting (1963 version ONLY), The Descent, Spiral, Below, Inside, The Lost

Relatively obscure foreign horror: R-Point, The Stendhal Syndrome

My favorite remains The Old Dark House. It’s the origin of the couple whose car breaks down on a stormy night and they knock the door of a mysterious house . . . which is opened by Boris Karloff. Directed with tongue firmly in cheek by James (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein) Whale. Hylarious and spooky at the same time.

Funny and scary:

I heartily second Black Sheep (not the Chris Farley movie, it’s a New Zealand film that I would categorize as a zombie movie, and it’s hilarious).

**Shaun of the Dead **is an absolute classic

Another second, for Evil Dead II.

**Severance **is a neat little “psychotic killer” horror movie with a sense of humor, which pokes fun at some standard horror tropes. Some gore, but not torture porn.

For something much lighter, we really love The Mummy, with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. Sure, it’s silly, but they’re charming, and it’s fun.
REALLY scary:

**The Descent. The Descent. The Descent. ** If you have even a whiff of claustrophobia, this will mess you up. Even if you don’t, scary monsters in the dark are still scary enough. Excellent, excellent film.

Another vote for Session 9. Extremely creepy and atmospheric, and in the end a bit disturbing.

If you like atmosphere and creep, but not too much scare, and no gore, The Others is an awesome haunted house flick.


**Pan’s Labyrinth **isn’t strictly speaking horror - maybe dark fantasy woven with historical drama? But it has some really chilling and memorable scary stuff - both pure natural human evil, and scary monster evil. Some gore and at least two non-supernatural attacks that will make you squirm, but worth it for this excellent film.

The Orphanage has its merits. It is creepy and scary, and plays by the rules for the most part. But the denouement is so heart-wrenchingly awful, I’m not sure I can say I recommend it. Again, it probably bothered me most because a) it involves a mother and child and b) the main awfulness is not supernatural, just terribly tragic.

We had fun with **The Host **as well. It kind of spins out of control and becomes messy, and it clearly speaks to an experience of recent epidemics that is foreign to us Americans, but it is very good overall.