If you've heard me talk for any reasonable amount of time (apologies!), you know I can't maintain much of a conversation before beginning to list movies. What can I say? I love ‘em!
So for this penultimate October Thursday, I thought I’d share my Halloween movie playlist. These are not necessarily the greatest movies ever (although it's possible), or even my favorite flicks (although that's equally possible). But these are the ones I can watch regularly over the course of the year, and the ones I will certainly check out between now and the 31st.
If you're looking for something Halloweenie to watch, here are some suggestions. They win the Banes Duck of approval!
Friday the 13th: Jason Lives!
I'm a huge fan of the Friday the 13th series. They may be dumb; they may be cheesy. The movies may range from at-best mildly scary, to painfully dull to watch. Jason's backstory may make no sense whatsoever. What can I say? I'm a man of particular tastes.
Part 6 is my favorite of the series. The fandom is divided on whether “human Jason” or “zombie Jason” is better. This one is the beginning of zombie Jason, who is accidentally resurrected by a bolt of lightning and rises to continue his mission of killing randy teenagers.
There is a lot of love for part 4 (the so-called Final Chapter), which is great, too, and probably the scariest of the series. But I love part 6. It's fairly bloodless, actually, with the killings being quite over the top. The writer/director made a conscious choice to do it that way; he wanted the deaths to be impossible for a human being to duplicate. I like that. These movies are not about realistic, gruesome kills (at least not for me). They're about FUN.
The movie is packed with humour, fast paced, and despite a lot of death, is not a gorefest. The tone is an excellent balance of fear and fun; apparently it was a big inspiration for Kevin Williamson's SCREAM, which came out ten years later or so.
When A Stranger Calls/When a Stranger Calls Back
I'll never forget the first time I saw “When a Stranger Calls”. It was playing on TV and I had no idea what it was. It's a pretty old flick at this point, but the tension is built by excellent direction by Fred Walton, and great editing, music, and a strong performance by Carol Kane as a babysitter who starts receiving creepy phone calls.
It's actually a strange recommendation in a way, because after the opening sequence (about a half hour), it goes off the rails completely with a cop (Charles Durning, a great actor) pursuing the killer. Very strange. But this was 1979; movie makers were still figuring the genres out.
In the film's last fifteen-twenty minutes, it cranks back up and ends well. So there's an hour in the middle that's pretty much skippable. But the first half hour is JUST THAT GOOD. I believe it's still on YouTube. Even if you already know the “twist” (good chance you do), it's still a great watch.
Actually, I found the little-known sequel, When A Stranger Calls Back, even better in a way (maybe because the first film and its “punch line” are so well known.
This one starts with another babysitter, who is faced with a creepy (or potentially creepy) guy knocking on her door. Just like the first film, the tension is ratcheted so tight that by the time we SEE whoever's stalking this girl, ANYTHING would be satisfying. Again, the first half hour is a masterwork by Fred Walton (I have no idea what became of that director; he did a brilliant job with the dread and tension in these movies).
This sequel is at its best in the beginning and end, too, but the stuff in between is quite a bit more watchable than in the first one.
Skip the remake from 2006. One of the worst horror movies ever.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
Before Marvel had a cinematic universe…and before Marvel Comics even existed, the Universal Monsters did it. Universal had great success with Frankenstein and Dracula, and followed with Wolfman, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, etc.
After a movie or two or three, the monsters began meeting in sequels. Frankenstein vs. Wolfman and so on. Most of these mashups weren't so great (but they were figuring it out as they went).
One that was a total success, though, was the last hurrah for most of these Monster characters (in that iteration at least). It was a comedy-horror where Abbott and Costello are bumbling deliverymen who encounter Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and Dracula.
It's an absolute blast, and one of my favorite movies of all time. Well written, with comedy that holds up really well (especially for a 60-something year old film!).
Okay, I won't go into this too much, because it's the most obvious recommendation ever, and I've certainly talked it up enough on the Quackcast.
It's the film that pretty much created the slasher genre (with respect to Black Christmas. Halloween was a MASSIVE phenomenon that spawned all the imitators, starting with the Friday the 13th series).
It's scary, it's pretty much bloodless, has some good performances, and one of the greatest musical scores ever (John Carpenter, baby!)
Some of the sequels are okay; I generally don't bother with them. This is the masterpiece and deserves its accolades!
Alright! That's it for this Thursday. Hope it was somewhat enjoyable. I wanted to give a COMIC related recommendation. The scariest comic I've ever read is the short Manga story called “The Fashion Model” by Junji Ito.
There's a motion comic version on YouTube, and it's darn effective. Warning: There is some blood and gore in this story. And it's pretty scary.
So, what's on your playlist/reading list?
Banes at 12:00AM, Oct. 22, 2015
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