Always a fun time of year, and while I could sit here and give you my favorite scary movies, I thought perhaps I would just list 10 films that I really enjoy, in no particular order, ones that are good for a spooky movie night. These are movies that are fun to watch, or you can just throw on as background visual noise at a party…
Fright Night (1985) - Having the ever-awesome Roddy McDowall as a tv horror host is one of the best things about this film! That and the whole idea of a typical neighborhood, a horror fan, and the vampire next door.
Yes, the remake is ok, but nothing will ever top the original film, with Chris Sarandon as the menacing and charming Jerry Dandrige, and a much more believable Evil Ed in Stephen Geoffreys than Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s version.
Course, the remake does have the very cool David Tennant, and Anton Yelchin.
But the original is the one to watch!
“Welcome to Frrrright Night… For Real.”
The Lost Boys (1987) – Kieffer Sutherland as a bad-ass vampire, a rockin’ soundtrack (except for maybe that number on the beach with the shirtless guy and the saxophone) this is a wicked film from Joel Schumacher before he went sideways and put nipples on the bat-suit.
The two Coreys (Haim and Feldman) have a lot of fun, as Haim’s Sam tries to save his older brother Michael (Jason Patric) from falling under David’s (Sutherland) spell, while trying to keep an eye on his single mom’s dating prospects.
This was the film that showed me vampires could be cool, and they certainly didn’t have to sparkle, and remember… “when a vampire bites it, it’s never a pretty sight. No two bloodsuckers go the same way. Some yell and scream, some go quietly, some explode, some implode, but all will try to take you with them.”
The Monster Squad (1987) – Written by Shane Black (Iron Man 3, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lethal Weapon) this is a more family friendly spook-fest. A bunch of kids, who love their horror films, and their monsters, are stunned to learn that Dracula himself is in town, and he’s brought his friends.
Featuring creature effects by the late, and dearly missed Stan Winston and company, the film still stands up as a delightful ride.
You should definitely have a look at this one soon, especially if you’re not sure if your youngest is ready to see some of the spookier fare that makes the rounds at this time of year.
So tool up, gather your squad, know your monsters and remember… “Wolfman’s got nards!”
Poltergeist (1982) – I know I’ve spoken about this one fairly recently, when I got to rewatch it on the 101 Horro Movies list, but I love this film. It’s the perfect suburban haunted house movie.
Craig T Nelson and JoBeth Williams are perfectly cast as parents, and the late Heather O’Rourke as the adorable Carol Anne just curls up in your heart and steals the film.
The special effects are great, and much like Monster Squad, though this one is defintiely stronger in spooky content, is a PG-rated horror movie, so fairly suitable for all (though if you’re sharing with young ones, perhaps you should watch it first to make sure its ok – the scary clown still bothers me).
And the one thing to always remember, move the bodies… “You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies, didn’t you? You son of a bitch, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones! You-only-moved-the-headstones!
The Mist (2007) – One of my favorite Stephen King stories brought to life by Frank Darabont, who didn’t shy away from its downer ending. And it is a downer. I remember being stunned when I saw it for the first time.
A monster movie in the true sense, it also reveals that not all the monsters are hiding in the mist, and that the human one can be just as troubling.
This is the Stephen King story that stayed with me long after I read it, even now, I can remember the wonder and fear it created in me as it hinted about the things hiding within it.
And these very thoughts occupy the characters in the film as much as it did me… “I’m not sure I believe it, and I was here. What we saw was impossible. You know that, don’t you? What do we say? How do we… convince them? Ollie, what the hell were those tentacles even attached to?”
The Thing (1982) – This is one of my favorite John Carpenter films (Big Trouble in Little China, Escape From New York and the next title round them out) and was a brilliant update of the original sci-fi classic The Thing From Another World.
Playing with paranoia, this tense, horrifying film showcases some horrifying effects as the creature, awakened from its long sleep in the ice takes people over, using lots of blood, teeth and tentacles to do it.
Kurt Russell as MacReady leads the fight to survive, and he knows he’s “human. And if you were all these things, then you’d just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn’t want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It’ll fight if it has to, but it’s vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it’s won.”
Halloween (1978) – Carpenter’s classic film, and of course it’s on the Halloween list, it’s right there in the title.
It’s the ultimate boogey-man story, as Michael Myers, simply referred to as The Shape in the script, stalks some poor high-school kids including the feature film debut of Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode.
Carpenter’s slasher film set the standard for all those that would come after it, and it shows you that you didn’t need the back story that Rob Zombie’s film had to give to Michael, all you needed to hear was Donald Pleasance’s Doctor Loomis explain it… “I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes… the *devil’s* eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.”
Tremors (1990) – A great little monster movie, that lets Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward goof off together.
Working as a pair of handy men in a small town called Perfection, the two of them decide, one day too late, to leave town, as it comes under assault by giant and lethal monsterous worms.
It’s just a fun ride that has some great lines, a fun concept, and never, ever takes itself too seriously.
There’s some wonderful character actors popping up through out the film as well, including Michael Gross, Reba McEntire, Ariana Richards, Bibi Besch and Victor Wong.
Earl and Valentine (Ward and Bacon) often solve problems by rock, paper, scissors and always have a plan… “Run for it? Running’s not a plan! Running’s what you do, once a plan fails!”
Underworld (2003) – Vampires versus werewolves? Ok. Kate Beckinsale in leather and latex with guns blazing… SOLD!
This is one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies, and with monster versus monster it seems like a perfect Halloween movie.
And did I mention the Kate Beckinsale part?
But not only that, it also has Bill Nighy and Michael Sheen as well, and those two actors are always fantastic.
The fight sequences are great, and it’s cool to see two classic monsters go up against each other… “Whether you like it or not, you’re in the middle of a war that has been raging for the better part of a thousand years. A blood feud between vampires and lycans. Werewolves.”
Or you could just watch some classic episodes of The Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964).
Rod Serling’s fantastc creation brings you odd, and unusual stories, strange creatures, twist endings, UFOs, aliens, monsters, sounds like a perfect Halloween to me.
There’s a door up ahead… “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”
What will you be watching?