Well, it’s Halloween Week and you’ve got nothing to watch to celebrate the occasion. Should you go out and rent all the classics you’ve seen before, like ‘Halloween,’ ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Friday the 13th or should you try something new? As a lover of horror films, I’m here to tell you… go on and be a little different this year and watch something outside the box! While I love the movies listed above, there are plenty of other horror flicks that are just as good (and in some cases, better) out there that you should see to break the monotony. Here is a list of some of my favorite not-as-well-known scary films that you should check out this Halloween.
Before I start this though, PLEASE keep in mind that all of these movies are fairly extreme and should not be shown to children, the easily scared, the squeamish or anyone who may take offense to this form of entertainment. I will be sure to keep you informed from time to time. Any movies that may possibly be considered highly offensive or overly graphic will have a ** next to them.
Zombies are the new vampires, so if you’re in the mood for some flesh eating, give ‘REC’ and ‘Return of the Living Dead’** a try. ‘REC’ (remade in 2008 as ‘Quarantine’) is about a newswoman and her cameraman following a fire crew as they investigate a disturbance in an apartment building. They get quarantined inside not long after arriving and have to fight off super-fast, infectious zombies. Vastly superior to the remake, it is rapidly paced, better acted and extremely tense. ‘Return of the Living Dead’** is the first true zombedy that takes place in and around a medical supply building where the dead come to life. It is hilarious, gory fun and if you love ‘Shaun of the Dead’ or ‘Zombieland,’ this should definitely make for a good time.
As witnessed by the success of this year’s ‘Friday the 13th’ reboot, good slashers will never go out of style. So why not go back to where it all started? In 1971, ‘Bay of Blood’** was made by Italian horror filmmaker Mario Bava. It has continued to have an insanely large influence on slasher films, most noticeably the ‘Friday the 13th’ movies, where several scenes were recreated in the film series. The 70’s slasher boom in America began in 1974 with ‘Black Christmas,’** ironically made by Bob Clark, the same man who made holiday classic ‘A Christmas Story’. Clark goes for the disturbing rather than the laughs in this chiller, set in a sorority house where an uninvited guest has been making graphic prank phone calls to the house. Not long after, the girls begin to experience an attrition problem. I still consider ‘Black Christmas’ to be the scariest movie I’ve ever seen and have a hard time watching it alone and sleeping for a day or two after. Just don’t get it mixed up with the 2006 remake; I wouldn’t want to be responsible for anyone seeing that terrible waste of time.
Now onto my favorite sub-genre of horror: the anthology film. There is, of course, Stephen King’s ‘Creepshow,’ but the best King-based horror anthology by far is ‘Cat’s Eye.’ Two chapters are adapted from King’s best short stories, ‘Quitters, Inc.’ about a man who goes to a clinic to stop smoking with very… “unorthodox” methods and ‘The Ledge,’ about a tennis star who is forced to participate in a dangerous bet. The final chapter, ‘The General,’ an original story written for the screen, is about a girl haunted by a troll living in her wall. While that tale is excessively cutesy and rather weak, the first two stories are scary, but also darkly funny. ‘Trilogy of Terror,’ a 1975 made-for-TV horror flick, suffers from the same problem, but in reverse. The first two stories are nothing to scream about, while the third, about a doll with a Zuni warriors soul trapped inside, is awfully unsettling.
The best of these types of films, however, are the ones made by the Amicus production company in the late 60’s and early 70’s. If they aren’t all rented out, definitely take a look at ‘Tales from the Crypt,’ ‘The Vault of Horror,’ ‘Asylum,’ and ‘The House that Dripped Blood’. Quirky, wry and at times devilishly frightening, these four movies are the best of the anthology flicks Amicus released.
Be sure to check in again Wednesday, when I will have my final three sub-genres of horror films to explore. Until then… have a spooky good time!
(All of the movies referenced in the above review are available through Netflix.)