In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Picks!

Devil's Night is upon us. How's about a list of recommends? I figured since I already gave you some Blu-rays to pick over earlier this week, I'd do something a little different. I offer up to you five ghoulish selections that actually TAKE PLACE on Halloween. Ready kiddies? Let's answer the door together.

Let's get the obvious one of out of the way first, shall we? I know I'm not the only one that watches this 1978 classic every time October 31st rolls around. Beautiful, yet simple cinematography, the iconic archetypes of Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis (played by the late, great Donald Pleasance) and one of the best musical scores to ever be laid on a film are just three reasons this film stands the test of time. I need not preach to the choir here, for if you are on my humble blog reading this, you are probably nodding in agreement. Watching Halloween for me is like putting on a favourite shirt. No matter how old it gets, it's always comfortable and just feels right.

The film de jour right now (along with I guess House Of The Devil & Paranormal Activity) is Michael Dougherty’s Trick 'r Treat. Let's forget about how Warner Brothers effed up the theatrical release of this movie, as now it's all blood under the bridge. What's important is it's out there and has FINALLY reached a mass audience on DVD. It’s been received graciously by horror fans, and why not? It's clever, gory and most of all, tons of fun. Anthologies have been few and far between since the heyday of Creepshow and TV's Tales From The Crypt and Trick 'r Treat recaptures that magic marvellously. It even ups the ante by having all the stories interconnect. Having recognizable faces like Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker and Brian Cox in the cast didn’t hurt either. Pick it up and enjoy.

I'm a big fan of Jeff Lieberman (Blue Sunshine, Just Before Dawn) and that's why I first checked out Satan's Little Helper. I don't know if I can really call this is a guilty pleasure because I don't really know anyone else who actually seen this movie to tell me it's shite. I remember watching it the first time and having this nagging feeling that it wasn't good, but I was really having too much fun to care. Satan's Little Helper has this bizarre kind of indefinable charm that makes you overlook how low-rent it is because you're enjoying it too much. I remember having the exact same reaction to I Sell The Dead. There's just something inherently watchable about it. It's really hard to explain without you having seen it to know what I'm talking about. If there's anyone out there who can better articulate it, by all means. I know my love for this movie has to be based on more than just the fact it was first time I laid eyes on Katheryn Winnick.

Ghostwatch is doubly relevant, as it not only takes place on Halloween, but was actually broadcast Halloween night on British television in 1992. And then never again, after it caused a crap-ton of controversy. You see, not unlike Orson Welles' legendary 1938 radio broadcast of War Of The Worlds, it seemed that much of British public, especially impressionable children, thought the events in Ghostwatch were, in fact, real. I saw it several years ago when it played on the horror channel here and despite the cheesy ending; there are some CHILLING sequences in it. Helped by the fact it had actual BBC personalities (like Red Dwarf’s Craig Charles) playing themselves, it really does feel quite genuine. Until it goes off the rails, I can certainly understand why a kid or two might have shit bricks. In fact, I believe the British Medical Journal documented a few cases of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the broadcast. If you enjoyed Paranormal Activity & The Blair Witch Project – which this was rumoured to have influenced – I would suggest you track down a torrent somewhere because it hits a lot of the same notes.

Lastly, let me hit up a VHS title from waaaay back called Trick Or Treats. Very much like Slaughter High, which I recently viewed for the Final Girl Fan Club, Trick Or Treats is one of those movies that has so much wrong with it, you eventually just have to throw your hands up and say “okay, well I can't NOT like this movie now. All these shenanigans MUST be intentional... right?” I mean just the opening where Peter Jason wrestles with two moustachioed orderlies for a full five minutes was enough for me to know this was a winner. Then, you also have awesome exchanges like when the babysitter (Jackie Giroux) calls her actor boyfriend (played by Steve Railsback) just before he goes onstage.

-“Aren't you a little young to be playing Othello?”
-“I can lower my voice.”

I'm choosing to ignore the horrible pacing for the purposes of this bit though. Sadly, coming across this 'treat' may be difficult as it has yet to be released on DVD. I had to rely on the wonders of Ebay to procure it.

So, there you have it. Try not to get into too much mischief this weekend.


AllHallowSteve said...

Nice post!

I'm always looking for films that take place ON Halloween.

Satan's Little Helper is one I've heard about, but never seen. No one else seems to talk about it so I avoided it as I thought it might be "shite" as you mentioned. I'll have to seek it out and let you know what I think.

Ghostwatch sounds fun. As I liked both Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity I wonder if I'll think I've seen this already.

Trick or Treats: I remember the box from when I worked at a video store years ago, but never watched it. I'll have to seek out a copy.

Aaron said...

I'm tempted to see Trick or Treats because a. I'm a sucker for Horror movies set on Halloween and b. I love the artwork. I've heard the movie is really boring though because nothing much happens.

Jay Clarke said...

You're not wrong, Aaron, pacing is a big problem, but there was an air of ridiculousness throughout, that kept me interested.

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