Paff's Halloween List 2004 I haven’t been around HorrorDVDs.com too much this year. I started a new job, continued to take classes, and was also hired as a programmer for a local film festival. But I’m always a horror film lover at heart, and when the days get short in October, you have to do whatever it takes to find time for viewing some fright flicks. Luckily the film festival is the week before Halloween, and while the rest of the staff will be celebrating the end of the festival by partying in Vegas on Halloween weekend, I’m gonna do something I literally haven’t done in a year: Spend a day (and night) glued to my couch watching horror flicks. Here’s what’s on tap at CinemaPaff on October 31 this year: 10. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown Everyone knows I love to start off my top ten list with animation. Here we go with the classic tale of the Peanuts gang going trick-or-treating. And we even get a couple of sideplots: Snoopy battling the Red Baron, and Linus sitting in the pumpkin patch awaiting the arrival of The Great Pumpkin. The Snoopy piece is some great animation. And what I’d really like to know is, how mean do you have to be to keep a supply of rocks on hand for trick-or-treaters with bad costumes? 9. Dead of Night (1945) Hands down, the best horror anthology ever. One thing that always sinks anthology movies is a lame or non-existant framing device. Without a framing device, it seems disjointed, and when it’s something really dumb or irrelevant, it takes away from the stories. In Dead of Night, the framing device is a great story itself, and the climactic scene ties all the individual stories and the framing story together. The final segment, with Michael Redgrave as a tormented ventriloquist, is definitely the highlight, but I really like all of the segments (except maybe the golfing one). It’s finally out on DVD, and well worth owning. 8. Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter Another long-awaited title, this time for one of the best efforts from Hammer films in the 70s. After so many years of Christopher Lee as Dracula, the Hammer vampire film was losing it’s luster. With Captain Kronos, they tackled the subject matter from a totally different angle, and it works great. Horst Jansen plays the swashbuckling hero, and the always-lovely Caroline Munro is the love interest. The Victorian setting remains, which was always a Hammer staple, but with an imaginative new take on vampire lore. A must-own DVD for classic horror fans. 7. The Wicker Man Back for a second year. I showed this one at my Halloween horror-thon last year, and while my friends were more than a little skeptical, everyone loved it. I realized I haven’t watched it since that time, so it seems like the perfect opportunity to open Anchor Bay’s super-cool wooden box again. Like last year, I’ll go with the theatrical cut, my preferred version of The Wicker Man. This movie just has a great natural flow to it, I only wish I had become a fan of it much sooner. Plus, it’s got Christopher Lee, and it’s just not Halloween until you’ve watched a Christopher Lee movie. 6. Hell Night A guilty pleasure, but one of my favorite 80s slashers, a genre I don’t generally enjoy. Amazing how much better a movie is when the director pays attention to the proper use of atmosphere, mood, lighting, and costumes. In a time when everyone made carbon copies of Halloween and Friday the 13th, this little slasher film set out to be a bit different. As I mentioned in my review, this was the movie that made me buy a DVD player in the first place, after sitting through the horrible VHS version so many times. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? Halloween is a perfect night to pop this disc in the player. 5. Night of the Living Dead Still a guaranteed viewing for Halloween, and one of the most all-around creepiest movies ever made. It’s hard to come up with more praise for this film year after year, so I’ll keep the description short. Just watch the damn thing. 4. The Fog This may not be a popular opinion, but I think that The Fog is the best Carpenter movie to watch at Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween, but it’s a slasher film, and slasher films don’t usually evoke the spirit of the season for me. The Fog is ghost stories around the campfire, vengeance from beyond the grave, and of course the titular fog. It’s taken a little time for The Fog to become the classic it is. After Halloween, fans were expecting another ground-breaking film, and were a little disappointed that Carpenter would make an old-school ghost story. But now that we’ve seen that he just likes to make films in the style of those he saw growing up, we appreciate The Fog for what it is: A great horror movie. 3. Phantasm This one comes back on the list after a year’s absence. The acting isn’t the best in this one, but it’s still a fiercely original concept. Don Coscarelli went all out here, with science fiction, aliens, a deadly flying sphere, midgets, and a Plymouth Hemicuda. Not to mention a surprisingly deep story about a teenage boy dealing with the death of his parents. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, and that’s a damn shame. 2. A Tale of Two Sisters A South Korean film that is among the best in recent years. I won’t actually put this in on my Halloween marathon, as we’re screening it at our film festival just the week before. But this is another must-see film. Not since The Exorcist have I seen such an effective contrast of quiet scenes juxtaposed against loud jarring scenes. The cinematography is top notch, and so is the acting. This one is also deep, and even after several viewings, I’m still not sure exactly what’s happening at certain points. We’ll be talking about A Tale of Two Sisters for a long time to come. 1. The Blair Witch Project I’m just not gonna apologize for loving this film. Let’s remember horror in the late 90s. Thanks to Scream, all we got was self-referencing parody films featuring young gorgeous teen idols in the cast. Everyone was clamoring for something different, and Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick delivered. While the copycat films were thankfully few, I think it definitely gave rise to the emphasis on atmospheric horror we’ve seen in recent years. I can’t defend the way the film was over-hyped, but that was Artisan Entertainment’s doing, not the filmmakers or the cast. Love it or hate it, these folks tried something new, and they should be applauded for that. If it wasn’t for filmmakers taking chances with horror conventions, we’d never have a Night of the Living Dead, a Suspiria, an Evil Dead, you get the idea. This marks the fourth year in a row I’ll be watching The Blair Witch Project at midnight on Halloween, and I can see this tradition staying with me for a long time.