Happy Halloween, everybody!
For the big night, we’re leaving the big budgets behind. Satan’s Little Helper isn’t the packaged costume you buy at Spirit Halloween Superstore. No, this movie is your dad’s old ripped shirt and charcoal smudged on your face. This movie is Halloween at its most basic level.
A young boy becomes a lover of Satan by playing a handheld videogame. On Halloween, he comes across a man dressed as the devil and offers to help him do his good work, just as he does in the game. Of course, little Dougie doesn’t know that the man in the mask isn’t Satan; he’s just a serial killer. Dougie brings him home and the shit quickly hits the fan.
This flick is heavy on the camp and has an undeniable creep factor. Pop it in the player and think twice before you let a masked man nuzzle your breasts.
Note: The trailer’s in Spanish, but the movie is not. I couldn’t find a trailer in English. You’ll get the point.
Let’s be honest: this year’s October horror releases have been pretty terrible. The new Child’s Play sequel was released a while back and that silly looking Carrie remake is in the theaters, but that’s about it. If, like me, you were looking forward for some decent theatrical horror releases this month, you’ve been sorely disappointed.
And this is where straight-to-video saves the day. Most people will not have heard about All Hallow’s Eve, which was released yesterday. It is, hands down, the Halloween film of 2013. Mainly because there were no others.
This film is very similar to V/H/S. It’s an anthology with three loosely intertwined stories, all of which feature the delightfully creepy Art the Clown. In spite of the low budget, this clown manages to be sufficiently creepy. There are a few rare moments when he actually got my heart pounding a bit. The movie feels like a nightmare. It’s disjointed and inconsistent, but there’s no denying that it has that something that other films this year have not.
Duncan’s life is stressful. His wife wants babies, his mother wants grandchildren, and his boss wants him to lay off massive numbers of employees even though he works in accounting. All of these headaches result in the worst case of stress-induced IBS that anyone ever experienced. In an effort to pacify his family and get some control of his issues, Duncan starts seeing a therapist whose unorthodox, hippy treatment reveals that the man has a pint-sized demon living in his colon.
Milo is great, primarily because you never really know whether he’s cute or repulsive. He looks like a little Michelin Man but has teeth like a Great White. Give it a watch and you can decide for yourself.
There isn’t a single installment of the Howling franchise that could be objectively called “good.” But there is one that stands out from the pack as the worst: The Howling 3: The Marsupials.
Because the only thing less scary than a werewolf at this point is a werekangaroo. Okay, to be fair, we’re talking about some kind of shapeshifting Tasmanian tiger, but still. If you give it a pouch, it is, by default, not scary anymore. Unless you have a fear of pouches.
I think you’ll agree, dear reader, that there are few things in this world as fun to watch as possessed hands. It’s hard to think of a more enjoyable movie moment than Ash doing battle with his own hand in Evil Dead 2. They’re not all winners, of course- I can fondly recall being bored to death just waiting for the hand to do something in The Hand.
Idle Hands is one of the good ones. Anton is a lazy stoner whose hand, for no obvious reason, becomes murderous. It kills his parents and his friends and some cops…just about everyone it comes in contact with, really. So, much like Ash, he decides to lop it off at the wrist. This, as you might expect, frees the hand and gives it the opportunity to rip the scalp off of Dexter Holland of The Offspring, who, by 1999, really had it coming.
This is what happens when you try to summon a demon at your Halloween party.
What can I say? It’s a classic. If it’s not already in your Halloween rotation, it should be. I love the way this movie was approached. It feels so much like the original Evil Dead, but has a flavor distinctly its own. The effects are beautiful and the camera work is downright interesting (which is something I don’t typically notice). If you’re into severed arms as much as I am, you’ll dig it.
Horror films, too often, portray women as weak, helpless victims. Every now and again, you will see a female hero, some woman who survives all the horrible shit that has happened to her over the course of the film and manages to escape. Sometimes she even displays some kind of raw power and kills her tormentor. But it isn’t often that a woman goes on the offensive. These two movies, both what I would classify as feminist horror tales, do a really great job of showing the risks men run in putting women in these positions of vulnerability. Women are not weak.
Please see Exhibit A:
Vagina dentata. Take a second and let that soak in. Teeth tells the story of a girl born with an impressive set of chompers in her lady bits. Throughout the film, she interacts with a number of men, most of whom subject her to the same nonsense that most women in horror movies typically face. The key difference here is that her body simply will not have it. The implications are amazing and redemptive. What we end up with is a cautionary tale for men everywhere, one that demands something simple and fueled by common sense: respect women. Otherwise you’re going to lose your dick. The applications of this movie’s themes to everyday life are simultaneously obvious and complex.
The Woman, in a more grisly and graphic way, brings the same ideas to the forefront. A domineering husband and father captures a feral woman when he’s out deer hunting. He brings her home and chains her up, telling the family that they’re going to civilize her. Really, though, he teaches his son how to treat women and he shows his wife and daughter exactly how much regard he has for their sex. I love this movie because it drives home the idea, albeit in an extreme way, that our behavior is our legacy. Our children are watching. If you hit your spouse, they see it. If you treat a woman like a slave, they see it. At the same time, it also shows these behaviors have their own cost.
Tonight, women will feel strong. Men will be humbled. And everyone will be a little queasy.
The 80s get a bad rap for all the cheerleader and sorority murders, but there are some genuinely creepy movies that came out in the decade of big hair and spandex. Poltergeist is one of the most intense and scary horror movies ever made, in spite of its tame rating.
Imagine you’re a young college football coach and have moved into a new house with your family. Creepy things start happening and your daughter disappears. Into the TV. What do you do? Where do you turn? Why is your pool filled with bodies?
The effects are fun. And even though some of the characters come across as ridiculous when taken out of context, the acting was pretty darned good. Yet another movie my mom should have stopped me from watching as a child.
What would Halloween be without scarecrows? Boring, that’s what. Unfortunately, scarecrow horror films tend to be ridiculous. Like Power Rangers meets the Leprechaun ridiculous.
The only true answer to this problem is the 1995 oft overlooked Night of the Scarecrow. This movie takes place in a small town where an evil warlock was buried in a cornfield after he was killed by the townspeople. And then some dumb kid with a tractor cracks his tomb and lets the spirit of the dastardly wizard enter the body of a nearby scarecrow. The scarecrow wastes no time getting down to business and makes it his personal business to off all the descendants of those who took his life.
Some parts are corny, yes. But there are death scenes that will amaze you. Ever seen someone killed with individual pieces of hay? Didn’t think so. And that’s just one of the many hidden treasures this unforgettable fall movie boasts. Scoff if you must, but you’re a fool if you don’t watch this movie tonight.
A glass of wine. Plenty of iron. Folic acid. Prenatal vitamins. Antibiotics. Prescriptions. Pregnancy is not an exact science. Doctors are always learning.
Sometimes doctors get things wrong. It’s Alive dealt with this idea is a fantastic way- after following her doctor’s advice to take a certain medication while pregnant, a young mother gives birth to a monstrosity that kills a whole roomful of people before it’s even chewed through its own umbilical cord. It tackled complex issues about parental detachment and that old Frankensteinian quandary: who is the monster, anyway?
It Lives Again brings us right back into the monster baby universe. Only now, it’s becoming more and more apparent that other mothers are having very similar adverse reactions to this popular medication. More and more grossly deformed and highly agitated babies are coming into the world. The government is hunting them down, while there’s a league of underground doctors trying to keep them healthy in order to study them.
Fear your children. Fear them.