Happy Halloween! Here’s what happened when we asked our talented & lovely contributors to answer this question:
Is there one horror movie you’ve seen this year, new or old, you’d recommend for readers to watch this Halloween?
MIKE VANDERBILT: TALES OF HALLOWEEN. Horror anthologies are notoriously uneven, that’s the nature of the beast, but TALES OF HALLOWEEN keeps the stories so short that it’s impossible to get bored. You don’t like this one? Don’t worry, another tale is right around the corner. The best anthology pictures have an E.C. Comics influence and TALES OF HALLOWEEN is no exception. There is plenty of gallows humor and gore, and of course each take ends with a twist that acts as a great punch line. The film slows down towards the middle but it’s a welcome change of pace. The first couple stories have such a manic, Joe Dante-style energy that the audience needs a breather at that point. It’s telling that both Dante and Hollywood’s most dangerous director, John Landis, have cameos in the film as the team behind TALES OF HALLOWEEN are obviously influenced by that very ’80s mixture of horror and comedy and it’s visual style helps create the feel of this alternate universe where all of these stories are taking place and crossing over with one another. TALES OF HALLOWEEN perfectly blends both genres without ever getting too silly or too scary; despite it’s R rating, I think that older kids would really enjoy this one. I know 11-year-old Mike Vanderbilt would have loved it.
KATIE RIFE: TALES OF HALLOWEEN was made with such obvious affection for both horror and Halloween that, despite a couple of inevitable rough patches, it might just become an annual tradition for horror lovers.
PATRICK SMITH: If you’re looking for a good time, few movies come with a higher recommendation from me than TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT. I mean, for one thing, just look at the cast: William Sadler, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Thomas Haden Church, CCH Pounder, Dick Miller, and Billy Fuckin’ Zane! Thats a stacked cast if I’ve ever seen one, and they’re all clearly having a ball (that goes double for Billy Zane, who has never been so scene-chewingly glorious). Ernest Dickerson’s direction adds a cool visual flair to the flick. Combine that with some awesome monsters and some crazy mythology, and not even The Crypt Keeper’s terrible puns could ruin this flick (and Lord knows I love terrible puns).
TRISTAN RISK: The one horror film that I revisited this year that I have not seen in many a day was Ken Russell’s LAIR OF THE WHITE WYRM. With my partner transitioning into a human dragon, I felt it an appropriate choice given the lore and the highly electric performance from Amanda Donahoe, which is a favourite of mine. I love Ken Russells mix of high absurd with classic horror. A fun viewing.
JEREMY LOWE: TRICK ‘R TREAT is a top notch anthology movie that masterfully intertwines all the the spook filled vignettes. With the cute but deadly embodiment of Halloween (Sam) presiding over all the madness, how could this not be the perfect Halloween movie!?!?!
RYAN CAREY: I’d have to say STARRY EYES — I’ve watched it three times and been more impressed with each viewing.
CRAIG EDWARDS: DEAD SILENCE. Really well done, but seems to have slipped through the cracks.
DOUG TILLEY: Lucio Fulci’s THE BEYOND. That Grindhouse releasing Blu-Ray set is gorgeous, and it’s pretty wonderful to see his greatest horror film being treated with such care and respect. Also, it makes for *peak* Halloween viewing… perfectly creepy and violent, while still reveling in its share of ridiculousness.
FREEMAN WILLIAMS: This is a hell of a question before coffee. So I pondered it while I drank coffee. Thought of several, dismissed them. I agree with all the choices here, and will chime in with the original PHANTASM. It embodies the homemade grotesquerie of Halloween, is full of delightful surprises, and is as charmingly low-tech as the local haunted house attraction.
PAUL FREITAG-FEY: Looking over the horror films I’ve seen this year, I’d like to give a nod to the solid werewolf pic LATE PHASES. I know it’s gotten some good word of mouth, but if it had been released twenty years ago, it would be a genre favorite by now. A genuinely eerie pic featuring adults that act, for the most part, like adults, it’s easily the best werewolf film I’ve seen since GINGER SNAPS.
JASON COFFMAN: I would recommend any horror fan check out Rolfe Kanefsky’s 1991 debut feature THERE’S NOTHING OUT THERE. I’ve been a huge fan of it since I saw it when it first came out on video, and it’s still really fun. A bunch of “kids” (who are all clearly not teenagers) go to a cabin in the woods and are attacked by a monster. The hook is that one of the kids is a video store clerk who’s seen all the horror movies in his store. It’s super goofy but it’s great fun, and I’ve always considered it a sort of minor classic.
JON ABRAMS: Earlier this year, I saw IT FOLLOWS the same weekend I saw SPRING. There’s no major similarity between the two films besides the fact they are both low-fi indie efforts of very high quality, but in my mind they are connected due to that simple twist of scheduling. But while IT FOLLOWS was quickly adopted as an instant classic by many horror fans and debated fiercely by the fewer dissenters, I don’t get the sense nearly as many people are thinking about SPRING. Maybe it makes sense. SPRING is a quiet movie, in comparison to just about anything else out there. Beautiful things don’t usually shout. Also, it’s sort of hard to talk about this story without spoiling at least some of its surprises. And the jury is still out over whether or not it can be called a horror film. Aside from a few expertly-paced scenes of suspense, this is not a movie intended to frighten or disturb. I guess I’d call it a love story for horror fans, a heart-render for weirdos. It’s more like an alternate-universe hopelessly-romantic version of POSSESSION, or DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE if its heart had been on its sleeve a lot more than its tongue was in its cheek. In the way of plot details, all you need know is that a troubled young American (Lou Taylor Pucci) who recently lost a family member to a cruel disease decides to skip the country for a while after kicking the shit out of somebody who sort of deserved it. After some aimless wandering through Europe, he gets a job and a room at a vineyard in Italy. When he goes out on the town, he meets a smart, sexy, worldly, thoroughly confusing woman (Nadia Hilker) with whom he is immediately smitten. Obviously, she’s hiding something. Obviously, that’s why I’m dancing around calling SPRING a horror movie. It matters, but it doesn’t. What you’ll care about most are these two characters, Evan and Louise. From the thoughtful writing of co-director Justin Benson, to the warm cinematography by co-director Aaron Moorhead, from the bruised, spiky, but hopeful performance of Lou Taylor Pucci to the even-more-bruised, intoxicating, and daring performance of Nadia Hilker, to the lovely score by Jimmy LaValle and straight down the line, SPRING is a class act, a treat, a cause, a movie I found very easy to relate to, and even easier to love. It may be ironic to recommend a movie called SPRING in October, but it’s a movie to be visited and revisited any day of the year.
MIA MAYO: I would always suggest NIGHT OF THE DEMONS as THE horror movie to watch on Halloween. I remember the VHS box being the most frightening thing at Blockbuster (other than the CHILD’S PLAY 2 cover art)…
I didn’t watch NIGHT OF THE DEMONS until I was like 25 or something. Its pretty much the perfect Halloween movie. The opening credits make my face tight and nipples hard (my physical reaction to nerding out) and I’m in ’80s horror bliss for the remainder of the film. I went to a screening awhile ago, and Amelia was there. She handed me a flyer to a benefit she was doing and she said, “Wanna come to my party?” I almost hit the floor. I remember texting friends saying ANGELA INVITED ME TO HER PARTY. The director Kevin Tenney is super rad, and a nice dude too, who I’ve met in person and who didn’t make me feel bad about being a spazz. So, yeah, order pizza, put on some trashy lingerie, and stick it in your VCR.
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