Darkness falls across the land ... the midnight hour is close at hand ...
... and it's HALLOWEEN ...!
Hope everyone has had a great Halloween weekend and is primed and ready for a spooky All Hallow's Eve. Since Halloween is on a Monday this year, I'm sure many people will spend the night at home on the couch, possibly with a scary movie or two - or three - to set the proper mood for the evening. To that end, and because I am a veteran of several consecutive Halloween Horror Movie Marathons, I thought I'd share some of my favorite scary movies, divided into different categories for your convenience.
DANNY'S ULTIMATE HALLOWEEN HORROR MOVIE MARATHON:
- EVIL DEAD 2 is, to me, the ultimate entry in this category - the perfect blend of scares, comedy, over-the-top insanity, and endlessly quotable dialogue. 2 is preferable to 1, as it's essentially a remake but with better visuals, better pacing, and sharper set pieces. And is there any better Halloween horror hero than Bruce Campbell's Ash? Nope - hail to the king, baby.
- DEAD ALIVE was a huge hit at this year's Horrorthon. It's Peter Jackson in full-on insane mode, creating jaw-dropping scenes of mass carnage coupled with Evil Dead-style wackiness and wit. the movie starts off a little slow, but just hold tight ... it soon escalates the mayhem and evolves into one of the craziest, most unbelievable massacres ever put to film.
- SPLICE has to be one of the most bat$#&% insane movies I've ever seen. A modern day Frankenstein fable of science-gone-wrong, the places this movie goes will have you in shock and disbelief.
- Many will claim that DONNIE DARKO is played out, but it's still an awesome Halloween-themed sci-fi mind-bender that's creepy as hell (guy in rabbit costume, anyone?). This is a great film to watch late at night and engage in some spirited post-film conversation.
- And of course, there's no better midnight movie than THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. Insanely entertaining and rewatchable, the movie is the very definition of cult classic. There's no better way to set the mood for Halloween mischief than by doing the Time Warp.
- Like peanut butter and chocolate, horror and comedy are two great genres that go together perfectly. I've already talked about Evil Dead above, but another film that's synonomous with the genre mashup is SHAWN OF THE DEAD. This whacked-out zom-com from Edgar Wright gives you hilarity, horror, and even a little pointed social commentary thrown in for good measure.
- To get a little more old-school though, you can't go wrong with GREMLINS, or even its sequel, GREMLINS 2. Both are darkly-funny 80's classics.
- Speaking of 80's classics, GHOSTBUSTERS anyone? You know who to call.
- For a slightly more overlooked 80's horror-comedy though, how about THE MONSTER SQUAD? An insanely fun kids vs. monsters romp, The Monster Squad is essentially Goonies with monsters, but is not to be missed.
- And while I'm talking about kid-friendly 80's cult-classics, I've got to mention THE LOST BOYS. Back when teenage vampires were less emo and more rock n' roll.
- YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN is arguably Mel Brooks' funniest movie - a pitch-perfect parody of the old Universal horror film, with an astounding cast and more quotable quotes than you can shake a stick at.
- Finally, for inspired, possibly life-changing comedy, you must see TROLL 2. Sheer glory, this is indeed the Best Worst Movie. It's so bad, it's amazing. It must be seen to be believed. If you have not seen Troll 2, then please, watch it immediately.
- If you're feeling nostalgic for the 90's, then by all means, pop in THE CROW. This goth-avenger tale of an undead superhero is still badass, and Brandon Lee still owns it. It can't rain all the time, but The Crow, for me, never gets old.
- Prequels be damned, the 80's, John Carpenter version of THE THING is another movie that mixes horror with sheer badassery. It's creepy, sure, but it's also got Kurt Russell as a grizzled ass-kicker. And an awesome score to boot.
- The sequel really ratcheted up the action quotient, but I'll also throw the original ALIEN into this category. It's one of the all-time scariest movies, but it's also a great sci-fi thriller and one of the all-time genre-defining films.
- A few years back, DAYBREAKERS really suprised me with its sci-fi take on a society run by vampires. The film goes in some pretty insane directions, and by the time it ended, I was shocked at just how far it went with its dystopian premise.
- Finally, Zack Snyder's 00's remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD is kinetic, action-packed, and a surprisingly effective update of the classic zombie franchise.
- Of course, I've got to mention NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. The classic stop-motion film is essentially Halloween-in-a-box - a gleeful celebration of all things spooky and strange.
- Similarly creepy is the more recent CORALINE. A children's fable with surprisingly sinister undertones, the kid-friendly film with a hint of goth might just leave you a little unsettled.
- Scariest movie ever? There's a good argument to be made for THE EXCORCIST. It's just plain scary as hell, and still works wonders decades after its release date. I still remember watching this in college, where the sheer fear factor caused people to leave the room in terror!
- You've also got to love Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING. Sure, it's a departure from the source material, but Jack Nicholson is in fine form as a deranged killer. Heeeere's Johnny!
- ROSEMARY'S BABY is a little slow, sure, but it's also incredibly creepy. Still works at eliciting a sense of sheer dread.
- Few films get an audience tensed-up like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. If you still haven't gotten onboard with these films, start with part one and prepare to be creeped-the-freak-out.
- Neil Marshall's THE DESCENT is just astonishingly well-made and scary as hell. It elicited genuine screams of terror at this year's Horrorthon, and instantly entered my cannon of stone-cold horror classics. This story of scared spelunkers confronted with horrifying cave-monsters is crazy-good.
- HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is one of my personal faves. This instant cult-classic from director Ty West creates an insane amount of tension, until eventually, all hell breaks loose. And it's also an awesome homage to 80's horror movies, complete with funky soundtrack. But don't let the retro trappings lull you into thinking this is some cheesy throwback. Far from it, this film shall scare you silly.
- Finally, Sam Raimi's DRAG ME TO HELL takes his Evil Dead formula and gives it a great new twist. Mixing comedy with scares, Drag Me to Hell is one of the best horror movies of recent years.
So what are your personal favorites? Feel free to comment with picks of your own.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, everyone!