So a lot of people blog Halloween movies and reviews, which is a good idea, so I’ll drop a couple here. Just my favorite go-tos or recommendations. I won’t do a full 31 days. Why? Well, I’ve noticed a few channels have their Ghostober, or the 31 Days of Halloween, which is great, except they don’t really run 31 movies. They run the same 8 or 10 movies a hundred times throughout the month.
So I bounce around between Family Channel and TMC and HBO and anywhere I can find Halloween favorites, and my top beloved are below.
- The Exorcist. You’d think this one would be on everywhere (ok, not Family Channel). I have always loved it, even tho I tend to watch it alone and at 2 am. This year, for a special treat, a friend found a place showing it on the big screen, where I finally got to see the WHOLE thing. So many tiny scenes that get cut out for tv, put them back and suddenly a bunch of weird lines make sense. There’s more of the background story on Merrin and Pazuzu, more quirky little things to make you suspect something’s really wrong with Regan, more of Damian’s torment. (“Why you do this to me, Dami?”). More shots of that frightening white demon face that pops up like a subliminal message to have a stroke. This movie to me is a great study in characters…a horror story with real characterization. I still can’t imagine audiences seeing this in an actual theater back in 1973, with the level of gross, vulgarity, and fright (and the most frightening scene that makes me always look away…the procedure where they ram that monster needle into Regan’s carotid artery…UGH!)
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I don’t consider this a horror movie, per se, but the ultimate homage to them. My first Halloween home in about 14 years will leave me depressed, so I may have to curl up on the couch with this one running. I was in a shadow cast for many years of my life (not saying who I played, altho I knew every part), but I will say that my oldest, dearest friends were not made in college or high school, but here, in the Cinema 1&2 behind Macy’s, and Cinema 7 on Rt 7, and the Hellman on Washington Ave. If you do watch this for Halloween, watch it with a veteran, because in and of itself the movie is quaint but absurd. Add in the lines, and it’s an experience not to be missed.
- Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. I haven’t seen this on in a million years, but in high school, this movie scared the bejesus out of me. A couple moves into a mansion, and these tiny little nasties live in the vents and are after the wife. They should be comical, with their walnut shaped heads, but I watched this on a Saturday afternoon, home alone, when I was maybe 14, and seeing the wife in this huge house alone, all dark and broody, and hearing those ghastly little voices calling her name….Sally….Sally….Sally….I was on the phone with a friend who was watching it at the same time, and HE was scared shitless, too. Neither of us would hang up. Apparenly, 1973 was my year for movies.
- ‘Salem’s Lot. While so many love The Shining (and so did I, but it was NOT the book I adored, sorry) I feel like this was one of the better Stephen King adaptations, especially for 1979 (so stuck in this decade!). Barlow isn’t sparkly, or a rock’n’roll vampire. He’s an absolute dick. A quick glance may make you think of Nosferatu, but he’s not nearly that comical. He is a vicious, unwavering animal. Also, be warned…there is no happy ending with this one.
- Hocus Pocus. Not a horror movie, but a guilty favorite. I know a lot of people want another to be made. I don’t. Making a sequel, like a remake, seems to somehow taint the original, and it never matches expectations. Films like this, and the first Ghostbusters, are born of magical chemistry that can’t be planned.
- The Others. Not sure why I like this movie so much, even though its one of those that once you get the twist at the end, you may never watch it again. I do, when it’s on, because I love Nicole Kidman’s character, and the daughter, and the family of servants. There’s a slow build toward the end, and some great scenes on the way to it. Again, I’m a fan of characterization and plot, not so much gore. Maybe that’s why I fondly relate to the old monster movies from Creature Double Feature Saturdays of my youth, and horror movies from the 60s and 70s.
- The Omen. What more can I say? It’s The Omen. Donald Sutherland making that ridiculous face, but you’re so creeped out by little Damien’s face that you can let that slide. Oh, look, we’re back in the 70s. Imagine that.
- Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. I so so so love Bette Davis in this. And again, it’s excellently done characterization. As horrible as Baby Jane is, both in the beginning as a child and later on as the tormentor of her sister, she is a deeply sympathetic character. There are moments where you can’t help but feel for her. Likewise, Blanche is complex as well. How bitter is she? Who’s really torturing who?
Some others I enjoy: The House on Haunted Hill, Burnt Offerings, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, any of the monster movies a la Godzilla, Ghidora, Reptilicus, etc, Sinister, Insidious, The Conjuring, and the old hoaxie-but-goody Amityville Horror (the original, from 1979), Needful Things, Misery, The Secret Garden.
So get out that streaming service. Some of these are harder to find (The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane…another old favorite with Jodi Foster literally a child) so good luck to you, and Happy Halloween!