While it’s often not possible to visit the actual sites of purported hauntings, there is an equally heart-pounding experience to be found while watching a scary movie for Halloween. Okay… so, not exactly… However, films do offer the opportunity for some scares for nearly free or for cheap.
Some may prefer a bit of the comedic or goofy for their holiday entertainment fix. Perhaps something along the lines of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” or “Hocus Pocus.” Those with children may still await the Great Pumpkin with Charlie Brown’s friends year-after-year. Fans abound for the slasher films and b-movies of the past, or those that can be found on SYFY these days. (These often border on a horror/comedy genre mix for me. *cough* “Sharknado.” *groan*)
I, like many others, want to be scared. Horrified, without too much gore, though it can have its place. (No “Feast” movies ever again, thank you very much… Did I really watch that to see Henry Rollins?) Although I find some odd things such as Alice Cooper’s “Welcome to My Nightmare” pretty darned cool for its time, what I really want for Halloween is a good movie that really grabs you on a visceral and intellectual level. There’s been quite a few that have made me want to hide under my blanket, and that have given me nightmares.
The best Halloween movies have some pretty awesome make-up and visual effects, that don’t always have to be sophisticated. A lot of people are still fans of the traditional physical elements that are used to make a film, and tire of digital effects added in post-production. This may be why there is renewed interest in the art, as evidenced by shows like “Face Off” on SyFy.
In addition, a fresh take on old tropes for the genre, such as the haunted/trap house, is appreciated. These are two main elements that combine for a macabre effect in the perception of the mind. Maybe some of the more horrific characters in some of these visually appealing and dark horror favorites can be inspiration for some costuming and cosplay.
This is the film that broke the mold for so many long-used psychological thriller and horror elements, and it would launch a successful franchise. Sadly, much of what made the original so phenomenal was forgotten. The series of films that followed would devolve to use even more gore, and less focus seemed to be placed on the intricate mind game puzzles. But “Saw” itself, is a classic.
Cabin in the Woods
Joss Whedon’s written-during-a-weekend-in-a-hotel script had many skeptics concerning how good an “Evil Dead ripoff” could be. But this “Scooby Gang” went through an experience that would make even the most ardent conspiracy theorist’s head swim. This film wins on so many levels, and the ultimate reveals bring sense of despair. There really is no hope for us.
House of 1,000 Corpses
Some may laugh, but this Rob Zombie flick gave me nightmares. Living along a small back road, there’s a real fear of stuff like this happening. The imagery is quite disturbing throughout the majority of the movie.
While there is a political message to be found if you squint, and not too hard, this film is a twisted, dark fairy tale invented in the mind of a child to help her cope with the world she knows. The creatures that inhabit the landscape of her mind are some of the most grotesque denizens to grace screens in recent years. This is not Jim Henson, or David Bowie’s Goblin King. Not by a long shot. All stories have an ending, but there is more than one of everything…
Flamethrowers, body-ripping aliens, and a dog. Oh, and Kurt Russell. What more could you want from a horror survival film? John Carpenter has made many films in the horror genre, but this is his standard in the eyes of many. My skin still crawls when we first get a look at the alien.
Such a hit-or-miss film on many counts, but the visual oomph is not a failure. The encounter with a certain Wicked One is worth sitting through the entire film.
What horror films do you break out for Halloween? As far as make-up and effects, what are some of your favorites?