Far too many horror movies ask the audience to root for the killer by treating their victims as irritating morons (I’m looking at you, Paranormal Activity). This overlooked little gem has the temerity to (gasp!) treat its audience with a modicum of respect. The oddly-paired Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson get creative as a divorcing couple marooned at an isolated motel cum snuff-film backlot.
Alfred Hitchcock may have invented the slasher film with Psycho but John Carpenter transformed it into its own sub-genre. Virtually every horror film that followed owes its conception to this perennial holiday darling. Michael Myers has become the quintessential Halloween boogeyman and cemented his place among the throng of horror movie monsters who cannot-be-killed.
What better film for Devil’s Night than one that uses it as a backdrop from which to unfold its tale? Though it has unfortunately been overshadowed by Brandon Lee’s untimely death, this atmospheric actioner has gained cult status over the years for director Alex Proyas’ visionary take on the graphic novel.
An absolute must for repeated viewing all month long. It begins with a comically gruesome prologue featuring Linus watching in stunned horror as older sister Lucy guts a freshly picked pumpkin, to a wonderfully spooky opening credits sequence, which has the sheeted Peanuts gang running back and forth across an abstract background from flying witches, bobbing jack-o-lanterns, dancing skeletons and a flip-flopping black cat.
If The Haunting is the granddaddy of all haunted house movies, this is its godmother, the ultimate ghost story. Rather faithfully adapted from Henry James’ novella, The Turn of the Screw, director Jack Clayton and cinematographer Freddie Francis photograph the grounds of Bly — the grand estate wherein the film takes place — in deep focus, enlarging it even further and increasing the aura of loneliness that pervades. The performances are all around spectacular.
As iconic as Bela Lugosi’s performance is, Tod Browning’s Dracula is a rather drab affair, unimproved by Philip Glass’s post hoc score. Hammer Studios bloodier Draculas were an atmospheric improvement but they veered much too far from the source material. John Badham’s late-70s update falls somewhere in between.
After the successes of Halloween and Escape from New York, Director John Carpenter took a risk in remaking one of the most popular science-fiction films of the 50s. Though he used elements from Howard Hawks’ classic version, he drew most of his inspiration from John W. Campbell, Jr.’s novella Who Goes There? In the process, he created something that is as classic as the film that inspired it.
The granddaddy of all haunted house movies. Doctor John Markway, desirous of connecting the worlds of science and the supernatural, gathers his own little group of ghost hunters to spend the summer at Hill House in hopes of doing just that. During their stay they encounter the usual strange occurrences and things that go bump (or bang… or boom) in the night. It
Tom Holland was quite keen to do a vampire film that was contemporary, rather than a period piece. Up to that time, there hadn’t been a successful one and the genre had lapsed into parody. With Fright Night, he gave vampires just the right jolt of bloodlust needed to bring the undead back from the dead.
Honestly, all of Fantasia is an enormous delight. Consisting of eight animated segments set to an arrangement of classical music, it’s a beautiful experiment in the evolution of animation. The penultimate segment, Night on Bald Mountain, is the real delicacy here. Ovelooking a small village, an ominous mountain comes to life in the form of the demonic Chernabog, a winged personification of Satan.