As the leaves fall, the wind blows, and the jack-o’-lanterns flicker in the night, there’s no better time to watch a horror flick. If you’re in the mood to get spooked this Halloween, here are some of my choice picks…
The Lost Boys
The 80s will always be remembered for delivering some of the biggest and most memorable horror movies ever made. Though the ‘slasher’ genre was in full swing and it came down to Freddy and Jason battling it out at the box office, the variety of horror on offer was second to none.
However, none captured the spirit of the decade quite like The Lost Boys. From mullets to INXS to the two Coreys, Joel Schumacher’s sexy vampire tale is one hell of a time capsule. When two brothers move to the ‘murder capital’ of America, they soon find out that behind the funfairs and candy floss there are dark forces at play.
The movie is packed with coming-of-age drama, love triangle tensions and lots of sultry glares and stares. The gore is restrained but the film has a great atmosphere and the vampire makeup is absolutely stellar.
If you want gothic horror with a strong topping of 80s nostalgia, The Lost Boys is the flick for you.
I love it when a movie plays with your expectations and turns them upside down. Like Scream before it, You’re Next is a cracking twist on the slasher genre that delivers some unexpected thrills and plenty of scares along the way.
Directed by Adam Wingard prior to his work on The Guest and the 2016 Blair Witch reboot, You’re Next sees a family vacation come under siege by masked assailants. With the body count rising, and the family being torn apart by tension and fear, someone has to step up and face the killers.
With some vicious scenes of violence, genuine thrills and a retro flavour that recalls the best of trash cinema and video nasties, You’re Next is certainly a worthy watch for those with a hardened stomach. However, when things take a major turn, the movie becomes less thriller and more Home Alone with entrails.
If you’re after a quirky, feisty little sucker punch of a horror movie, this one has you covered.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch
After the enormous success of the 1978 independent horror classic Halloween and its immediate sequel, the world wanted more Michael Myers. However, creator John Carpenter had other ideas and went about building a franchise along the lines of The Twilight Zone, a series of movies set during Halloween with different stories each time around. Halloween III is one of the riskiest horror movies ever made, a risk that never paid off for the series.
It’s a shame really, as Season of the Witch is a stellar little tale that immerses itself in the Halloween setting far better than any of the Myers-centric movies. When a shop owner winds up being killed in hospital, his doctor Dan Challis finds himself hunting for the truth alongside the victim’s daughter, Ellie. His investigation leads him to Silver Shamrock Novelties, the leading producer of Halloween masks. From there, he discovers that the company is not all it seems…
While some parts of Season of the Witch have definitely dated, the experience as a whole is surreal and dripping with Carpenter-inspired terror. Directed by longtime friend Tommy Lee Wallace, who would go on to direct the television miniseries for Stephen King’s It, the movie pulls no punches when it comes to body horror and violent death scenes, with one in particular staying with me long after the credits had rolled.
With tons of Halloween visuals, a surprisingly rich plot and one of the best endings in horror movie history, Halloween III: Season of the Witch is not a sequel to sleep on. Forever burdened by the series’ name, this cult classic deserves to be watched and appreciated this Hallow’s Eve.
Notable Mentions –
Re-Animator – Loosely based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft, this horror comedy dials up the mayhem and crosses some serious boundaries when it comes to sex and violence. However, there’s something endearing about the way this tale of death and lust is told. ‘Plagiarist!’
Switchblade Romance / High Tension – This French horror delivers gore by the bucket, with some of the finest splatter moments one could hope to see unfold upon the screen. Though some moments are very uncomfortable to sit through and the final twist leaves a lot to be desired, Switchblade Romance is as odd as it is captivating.
Sleepy Hollow – Tim Burton’s take on the tale of Ichabod Crane and the legend of the Headless Horseman is a gorgeously gothic affair that features more beheadings than you can swing an axe at. Easily Burton’s most visually accomplished film, the sheer fury of the Horseman’s rampage is a joy to behold.
The Crow – Adapted from a graphic novel of the same name, Alex Proyas’ 1994 dark fantasy tale sees murdered rockstar Eric Draven rise from his grave to avenge the death of the woman he loved and put his soul to rest. Though not really a horror in the genre sense, The Crow is dripping with gothic imagery and is even set the night before Halloween. Plus, there’s plenty of brutal and horrifying moments as Draven takes down those who killed him, with the late Brandon Lee channelling rage and passion like few actors can.
Event Horizon – An overlooked sci-fi horror one could describe as Hellraiser in space, Event Horizon is a dark, twisted and ferocious movie that would go on to influence the Dead Space series of video games. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, revered and reviled for bringing the Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil film adaptions to our screens, this flick is far more interesting than it has any right to be and is definitely deserving of higher praise.