Saturday, October 17, 2009

Halloween Movies List #1 - Second Look Halloween Movies

How does one make lists? So many things need to go into consideration. Sometimes it’s easy. My end of the year “Best Of” lists are just taking my favorite films released that year and putting them in some kind of order. When you get into more specific lists like this sometimes several things do come up. For a Halloween list I tried to think of movies that, for me, have a feeling of the season. These are not so much the best horror films. Just recommendations. I did not include a lot of films that are no less worth checking out. I also did not include some of the classic films because I usually factor those as a given – 'Dracula', 'Frankenstein', 'The Wolf Man', etc. I also did not include films that I feel work at any time of year. So no 'Dawn of the Dead' or 'Friday the 13th'.

I have four categories which I will be posting at various times over the next two weeks. Also gives me time to finalize them. Again, there are so many films I could put for these lists but I tried to keep it to ones that just feel like Halloween and fall to me.

So let us begin.
Second Look Halloween Movies

These are movies that I feel have either been overlooked or deserve a second chance. Listed in alphabetical order.

THE AMITYVILLE HORROR - Much debate has been made over the "true story". Personally I don't really care. For me this film is still creepy. The Lutz family moves into a new house where the previous family had been murdered by their eldest son. Pretty soon strange things start happening and the creepiness settles in. Granted ghost stories always get to me more than other ones so it doesn't take much for me to get freaked out if a ghost story is done even moderately well. I still think this film holds up well and works. I think because I used to live in Connecticut and stories were always done on the house every Halloween that it always reminds me of this time of year.

BEHIND THE MASK THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON - A film that deserves to be seen. A dark comedy about a documentary crew following around a killer in his day to day life. Assuming that killers like Freddy, Jason, Michael Myers, etc. are all real and how they stalk their victims is the way it's done. A good horror comedy is hard to pull off without it leaning too far one way or the other. This one straddles that fine line perfectly. A really clever film and one worth seeing. What better time than at Halloween?


THE FOG - After the success of 'Halloween' John Carpenter made this film which at the time people were disapointed in because it was no 'Halloween'. Exactly. That's why it works. He didn't just make the same movie twice. This ghost story about a small town with a dark secret that is revisted by old ghosts who appear in an ominous fog is a creepfest thanks to the amazing atmosphere that John Carpenter creates. Featuring Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Hal Holbrook, Janet Leigh (yes, Jamie's mom), and the man himself Tom Atkins along with yet another great score by Carpenter. The opening scene with John Houseman telling the story with that great music behind him is worth it alone.

HALLOWEEN II - After the success of the first 'Halloween' it's no doubt people were breaking down John Carpenter's door to make a sequel. While he did agree to produce and write it (along with fellow 'Halloween' writer Debra Hill) the directing chair was passed over to Rick Rosenthal. At first it's easy to dismiss this sequel as not only inferior to the first one but a sort of what's the point kind of thing. However, if you stop comparing the film to the first one then you will find a good scary flick. A lot of creepy moments and some extra bloodletting are found here. Along with a great atmosphere which leads to an unnerving sense of dread. Plus this film still has one of the best music cues ever. "You don't know what death is!" Cue Halloween theme. 

Couldn't find a solo clip. The key moment is about 3:30 to 4:20.

HALLOWEEN III SEASON OF THE WITCH - The much maligned film has gotten a bum rap. The goal was to have a Halloween themed film every year featuring a story that takes place around Halloween. A great idea. The problem is because they decided to keep the Halloween title and call it 'Halloween III' it caused many to flip out. A 'Halloween' movie with no Michael Myers? What the deuce?! However, once you take that away from it you'll find a film that, while not perfect, works on many levels. A great idea and one that I secretly would love to do a remake of but that's another post for another time. The Silver Shamrock mask company is making popular Halloween masks only they hold a secret to something more sinister. Starring the great Tom Atkins and featuring a great score by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth this film does work and is worth a second look. Just ignore the whole 'Halloween III' title. Plus even people that hate the film can't deny the catchy jingle used in the commercials for the Silver Shamrocks masks.

PHANTASM - This film works at any time of year but for some reason I always associate it with now. Probably because I saw it for the first time around Halloween. While the fanbase is worldwide for this film I still don't think it gets the recognition it should. A film that walks a fine line between the real and surreal. Strange things are happening up at Morningside Cemetery where the Tall Man resides. Mike, a loner kid still getting over the loss of his parents, discovers what is happening to the disappearing bodies and tries to convince his older brother Jody. An imaginative film from Don Coscarelli that is a perfect fit for the person looking for something different this Halloween season.

SESSION 9 - Once again a ghost film. What can I say? They creep me out. A little gem about a group of asbestos cleaners hired to work in the old institution only things start happening especially after the discovery of some old tapes of a session from a former patient. Is the place haunted? A really creepy film with one of the creepiest shots I have ever seen. If you're looking for one that gets under your skin give this film a try. Also worth noting on a technical level this was a very early shot on HD film. 

Next list will either be Halloween films for the kids or alternate Halloween films. Haven't decided which one will come first. Look for it soon. In the meantime check out the above films.


Jerry said...

Nice list. Halloween 2 and 3 are on my list to watch on Halloween. I've never seen Session 9. Doh!

Gory said...

Definitely check out Session 9. I really think you'll like it. And thanks for reading.