Once again we find ourselves in the throes of our favorite holiday: Halloween. What I love about being a horror geek at this time of the year is that all the non-horror people get to pretend they are just like us. Video stores are beset by droves of customers clamoring for the horror section all of whom would otherwise avoid it like grim death. I don't mean to sound elitist, the amount of horror films I watch on a weekly basis is probably wildly unhealthy, but here is my list of the top five must-watch titles for All Hallows Eve.
It's not just the title folks, this film exemplifies everything that makes this time of the year so eerie. Michael Myers is an icon of horror and the music cues are a portent of danger recognized the world over. Carpenter employs subtle terror that is both groundbreaking and monstrously effective. It's no secret that I worship upon the altar of this film. For me, it transcends the holiday and is a sterling testament to the potential of independent film. Also, there's a guy in a mask that totally stabs people...hooray! If you are throwing any kind of party this year, this should be on in continuous loop or kick off your horror marathon. It's the standard for a reason and it will never become commonplace.
An American Werewolf in London
Do they even celebrate Halloween in London? Yes idiot! I have to fess up and disclose that I only saw this film for the first time earlier this month. It was a glaring hole in my horror film knowledge and I am ashamed at how long it took me to rectify this. However, this film spoke to me on several different levels and is one of the few films that lives up to the epic amount of hype it has garnered. It has rocketed its way up this list for one very simple reason: atmosphere. The creepy, misty moors of Scotland perfectly complement the spooky, autumnal flavor of this holiday and sends chills to the requisite parts of your spinal cord. Plus, we are talking about arguably the best werewolf film ever made; one of the original Universal monsters given a shocking modern twist. I promise you won't want to go trick-r-treating after watching this film...that is if the moon is full on Halloween night.
Night of the Creeps
Oh that's right kiddies, as of Tuesday this priceless gem of a film is available for purchase. I could literally howl right now with geek delight. Fred Dekker, who also gave us Monster Squad, brings us an 80's spin on 50's drive-in schlock. It's a story about alien slugs that turn people into zombies. If that premise doesn't excite you then I don't think we can ever be friends. As if that weren't enough, the film also features a super badass cop played pitch perfect by the incomparable Tom Atkins. Night of the Creeps dances gleefully with the cheesiness of the 1980's and delivers the perfect blend of gore and gags. I love this movie so much and I would recommend it for that coveted midnight slot of your horror marathon. It will thrill you!
Why is this one on the list? All the other films have their share o' scares, but mostly their inclusion stems from their ability to capture the spirit of the season more than frighten you. [REC], on the other hand, is a giant nightmare casserole with terror sauce (I think that's the quote on the DVD cover). I know the "found footage" stuff is getting gimmicky, but this film uses the camera as a subtle tool to slowly dissolve the fourth wall and make you feel connected to the horror. The images in the film are truly unsettling and it balances shadowy, vague scares with loud, kinetic ones. I would include [REC] in my all time favorite foreign horror films of all time. It's phenomenal and the ending will have you wanting to leave the lights on for a while.
Trick 'r Treat
We have reached the newest, and arguably most appropriate, film on my list. Already released on DVD and bearing a development hell story that rivals any other, Trick 'r Treat is a stupendous piece of anthology horror that uses the holiday itself as an antagonist. There is a very real sense in this film that if you piss off Halloween itself, you are royally boned. Every story is intricately crafted and they join together into the perfect mosaic of the holiday. It has the playful dark humor of Creepshow with the violent tenacity of a more modern horror tale. It is a crime that this film did not get a wide theatrical release, but the good news you can currently purchase Trick 'r Treat just in time for Halloween and experience for yourself why this film is destined to become a classic.