As October steadily approaches that means that spooky season is getting ready to swing into full gear, so we can all look forward to frights, scares, and the most dreaded terror of them all, pumpkin spice lattes. But as the weather cools it also gives us the perfect excuse to wear something comfy and stay indoors, of course if you’re an introvert like me or petrified of Covid, you never really needed a reason in the first place. Anyway, this October brings us five wonderful weekends to play with, and with one falling smackdab on Halloween, there’s no reason not to have a little fun with it all. For a lot of folks, like myself, that means one thing, retreating into our caves to watch a scary movie or two and enjoying everything that goes with it. With five weekends, that gives us five Saturdays and movie nights to fill up, so I thought I might help all of you do just that. I’ve got a handful of my favorite horror flicks to bring to you, so sit back and see if one of these tickles your fancy for fear, and if not, then I don’t know what to tell you.
I think I might have mentioned this one in a previous post a while back, but say what you want, I love this movie. It’s what you get when you combine Goonies with Lost Boys, and it’s a win-win for fans of both. See, some kids stumble across the lost diary of Professor Abraham Van Helsing, detailing a magic amulet that that if possessed by evil can bring about an age of darkness forever. Well, if Van Helsing is involved then you just know that Dracula can’t be far behind, and the count doesn’t disappoint us in the least, showing up with the Wolfman, Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster, and the Gill Creature all in tow. It’s not super gory or horrifically frightening by any means, except maybe when the Wolfman is blown to bits with a stick of dynamite and the body parts fly, but it’s still a fun movie with the way it’s handled and presented. The kids are great in all their 80’s foul mouthed glory, and Dracula is written as an absolute beast which is refreshing when compared to other portrayals of the count. Whether you’re an adult or a kid, Monster Squad is a great ride and has something to offer, and the Wolfman is still my favorite werewolf ever. Just remember to kick him in the nards.
The Lost Boys
Speaking of the above-mentioned Lost Boys, if you don’t know what this movie is all about, then we just can’t be friends. I’m serious, go watch it immediately or flip right off. This vampiric masterpiece is what the terrifying bloodsuckers should be, embracing their horrifying nature and indulging themselves in the bloody kill. Nowhere to be found is the mocking portrayal of romantic dipshits that glitter in the sun and chase underage skirt, and blissfully absent is the angsty teenage crap that’s brilliantly replaced by Kiefer Sutherland’s pure undead savagery. The rest of the cast is stellar, too, bringing the world of Santa Carla to life in the middle of a murder spree perpetrated by said vampires that run the show. The Frog brothers are a particular highlight, as where else can you get Corey Feldman running a comic book shop by day and hunting the undead by night. For me, and a hell of a lot of others I might add, this is the best vampire movie ever made, and that’s saying something. Oh, and I’d like to point out that the soundtrack is friggin amazing, too, with the sweetest saxophone solo ever committed to film.
Day of the Dead
I’ll be the first to admit that this one is a personal guilty pleasure of mine, as it’s definitely the weakest of George Romero’s dead trilogy, but I don’t care. It follows a group of scientists and soldiers that are all crammed into an underground missile silo together, the scientists tasked with trying to find a cure for the zombie pandemic sweeping the world while the soldiers are slowly losing their grip on themselves. Naturally, disaster is quick to follow, and with Tom Savini helming the special effects, you can bet that it’s going to be especially gruesome. The dialogue makes liberal use of the word fuck throughout, spouted so often that it borders of comedic by the halfway mark. And the tamed zombie, Bub, I have to say is cheesy as all get out, at least until he gets a hold of a pistol and starts popping off rounds left and right, then it’s time to run like hell. It may not be the best of Romero’s original three, but for some reason it’s my favorite, probably because I’m a sucker for the scene where the zombies rip the dude in half and drag his legs down the hallway all while he’s still slinging insults at them before he dies. Yeah, classic stuff, guys. Check this one out, cause it’s a real splatter fest.
What can I say about this John Carpenter gore fest that hasn’t already been said, which leaves me with just one thing, brav-friggin-o, because it’s still that damn good. It’s a journey into paranoia and fear as an alien parasite takes over a remote Antarctic research station, slowly infecting the men stationed their and assimilating their bodies. The movie does so many things right that it’s a treat to see, perfectly capturing the growing distrust between the workers at the facility as more fall to the creature and tensions and suspicions rise. It also happens to do something else that’s completely awesome as well, and that’s pull off all its creature effects without the use of one ounce of CGI. I won’t spoil anything if you’ve never seen this film, but the practical effects they came up with are really something special, even when compared to today’s standards. Just make sure you have a stronger stomach for a few parts, though, because there’s some messed up stuff here, but it’s totally worth it in the end.
Damn, John Carpenter’s good when he wants to be, and what he does with this film is at the total opposite end of the spectrum when put up against the Thing. Where Carpenter relies a lot on special effects and gore with the previous, Halloween takes a completely different approach, firmly, and effectively, building its tension with slow moving camera shots, brilliant use of shadow and darkness, and a soundtrack that keeps you on the edge of your seat even during the slower moments. Our first introduction to Michael Myers shuns overly graphic bloodshed and fully embraces the use of mood and atmosphere, probing our own imaginations to fill in the rest and take us to scary places. It was largely a product of a lack of a big budget at the time, but it works, to the point that it’s really impressive to see what Carpenter did. If you’re only familiar with the Rob Zombie travesty then do yourself a favor and watch this slasher classic, as it’s arguably the greatest horror film ever made, and it’s easy to see why. And Donald Pleasence is absolutely brilliant as Dr. Samuel Loomis, Myers’s psychiatrist and the man that’s desperate to stop him before he kills again.
Well, there you have it, folks, my picks to make this year’s spooky time a veritable fright fest for you. There’s a lot of good stuff out there without a doubt, but these are the ones I have set aside to help get through my next few weekends in October. With the way this year is going we could all use a bit of fun over the next month or so, so settle in as the temperatures drop and enjoy a scare or two. And if you have to sleep with the lights on, we’ll all understand. After all, we all have to keep the boogeyman away ever once in a while. Later, gang.