A Handful of Horror this Halloween - Ray Schillaci
Critics are creeping out of the woodwork with their top ten lists of horror, but I cannot lump myself in with my brethren due to the fact; it’s boring. That my friend is the last thing you want this Halloween season. There is nothing worse than putting on your favorite horror film with a group of fiends and having them not pay attention at all, because they have seen it and know what’s coming around the dark corner. From the killers to the possessed and the haunting, it’s just no fun if the thrill is none.
With that in my demented mind, I present to you a handful of the weird and not so obvious for this sinister season. Not all of these will be easy to find, but if you can get them quick enough, it will be well worth the sleepless nights playing with your mind.
Lunopolis: Finally, this wonderfully creepy “recovered footage” sci-fi movie comes to DVD and it is an absolute delight. Sadly, as far as I know, it is only available through Amazon. But seek it out on Netflix anyway. There are more conspiracy theories weaving around the complex story than Oliver Stone’s, “JFK”. I raved about this little film with a big budget story last year and could not praise it enough. Mathew Avant delivers spooky and thought provoking scenarios that engross every step of the way. It begins with a frantic phone call to a radio station. From that point on, I do not want to ruin it. No trick, just treat yourself with this ambitious chiller.
Night of the Creeps: Before James Gunn’s “Slither” (20 years earlier to be exact), Fred Decker delighted us to slithering leech-like creatures from space and threw in nude midget aliens, zombie football players, a multitude of exploding heads and John Carpenter alumni, Tom Atkins (The Fog, Escape from New York) with a wonderful “B” movie salute. This movie does it all; makes you squirm, laugh, gape in shock and may promote gag reflexes. One of my favorite quotes, “The good news is your dates are here. The bad news is there dead.” Tom Atkins delivers that line with wonderful deadpan humor. A frat party is terribly disrupted by an alien invasion, but this does not stop hotties from removing their tops. This is fun for the whole family (of adults).
Trailer Park of Terror: This movie caught me off guard and I did have it on my top ten last year, but I insist on including it again for those who have not been exposed. I was not ready for its wit and visual style. Yes, that’s right – I’m associating those words with a movie about a cursed trailer park. Say what you must about the title, but writer Timothy Dolan and director Steven Goldmann deliver manna for horror mavens with a no holds barred trailer trashy fright flick. Hillbilly zombies have never been as grotesque or as much fun. I will warn the faint of heart that the humor does dwindle in the last half hour and the artists do not just go for the jugular, they rip it to shreds. Don’t waste your time with the “R” rated version – go straight for the unrated and watch the fun as your audience tries to keep from running out of the living room.
The Island of Lost Souls: I’ve written an extensive review on this one in my “Worth Reviving” article. This is nearly the “lost ark” of horror movies next to Lon Chaney’s “London after Midnight”. Monster movie lovers could not ask for much more from this October 25th, Criterion release. There have been several remakes, but none have compared to the raw beauty that the 1932 version has along with some of the most memorable characters including a mad Charles Laughton and a beastly Bela Lugosi. A scientist secludes himself on an island to play God while conducting blasphemous experiments crossing humans and animals. This is possibly the most outrageous film of its kind since Tod Browning’s “Freaks”. Discard “Human Centipede,” “Island of Lost Souls” is a classic monster movie right up there with the original “Frankenstein” and “Dracula”. If you have not seen it or have only caught it on late night TV, do yourself a favor and rent or pick up this uncut, restored Criterion release.
HORROR ITALIAN STYLE; Nightmare Castle, Zombie, Burial Ground, any early Mario Bava: No fright night is complete unless a little spice is added and what better way to flavor the evening with a nasty Italian horror romp. If you have never been subjected to the Italian horror genre, then make way for a most fun evening of taboo breaking, eye gouging, double buckets of the fakest looking blood with some of the most out of sync dialogue. They stem from the very gothic (Nightmare Castle or Castle of Blood) to the absolutely ridiculous walking dead that place an extreme emphasis on sex and decay (Burial Ground or Zombie). Then there is early Mario Bava, the Hitchcock of Italy (Black Sunday, Black Sabbath or Susperia). You could do no wrong with any of these depending upon your taste. Early Bava is definitely an exercise in atmosphere with his dynamic visuals and sound.
Stake Land: This one is an honorable mention and for the six-fingered fans out there. There are a lot of tepid vampire films, but Stake Land brings the bite back viciously. An apocalyptic tale with a smaller budget and a far more interesting story than 2009’s “Daybreakers” or Will Smith’s “I Am Legend”. The make-up is a cool reminisce of “Evil Dead,” the sound is cool and will make you jump. Also, a big warning; this film treads taboo territory and may offend some. No one is spared. This is a true chilling experience with a slow build up, but a great pay off.
Some are old, some are new and all have a style that will grow on you. So make the purchase or rental and dim the lights, turn up the sound and grab something that provides a few bites. Check your closets and under the bed, for this Halloween you may share a room with the…
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