View Full Version : Rhett's Halloween Top Ten 2010

10-23-2010, 11:24 AM
As a horror viewer, I tend to be very methodical when I watch movies. I often like to group my viewings into neat clusters defined by a franchise, a director, a sub-genre, or an era. When it comes time for October, though, such viewing habits go out the window, as I instead just try and stuff the pot with whatever horror I can find.

As a horror viewer, I tend to be very methodical when I watch movies. I often like to group my viewings into neat clusters defined by a franchise, a director, a sub-genre, or an era. I’m compulsive that way. When it comes time for October, though, such viewing habits go out the window, as I instead just try and stuff the pot with whatever horror I can find. A true witch’s brew from all places, times and forms, this isn’t a concoction made of common ingredients. You probably won’t find a lot of these entries on other lists, but if you’re looking to spice up your viewing this year, this list should more than quench your horror hunger.


10. Tales from the Darkside, Season 2, “Halloween Candy” (1986)

I always like to get the night started with short-form storytelling, and Tom Savini’s directorial entry in Romero’s Tales from the Darkside series should be a Halloween perennial. “Halloween Candy” really captures the door to door trick or treat vibe with its tale of a curmudgeon who refuses to give out candy, only to be visited by a real demon. It’s cerebrally directed for most of the runtime, but Savini pulls out all the gory, gooey stops for a demented finale. This was one of the high points of the entire series, and the perfect treat for horror tricksters.


9. Don't Go to Sleep (1982)

Sticking with TV, here’s another little chiller, this one from 1982. The story, of a little girl who starts seeing her dead sister while many of her family members end up dead themselves, really stands out with some dark imagery and some ballsy edge. The scenes where little Mary’s bed is bursting with flames with her in it, or the infamous pizza cutter attack are still thrilling today. The lengthy resolve, too, takes the child lead in some pretty dark places that even feature films shy from today. You certainly don’t see that kind of horror involving children today in our society of political correctness. While other made for television horror films have been making their way to DVD, including Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Bad Ronald and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Don’t Go to Sleep might be the best one still unavailable. Of course, those familiar with YouTube should be able to fire it up (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRP2KQd_lEE&feature=related) in full without problem.


8. Asylum (1974)

Anthology movies work great for our holiday of non sequitur scares, and this one from the great Amicus gives us four short tales, all interwoven by having the lead visit different patients and their stories in a nuthouse. Penned by Psycho’s writer Robert Bloch, this similarly has horror both clever and shocking. Multiple personalities, body parts come back to life and a killer suit are three of the twisted tales, but the most famous is the one where Herbert Lom builds a tiny robot with human organs to do his murderous biddings. Well written, tautly directed and with a cast of classic English actors, it’s the perfect anthology alternative to those tired of spinning Creepshow or Trick’r Treat.


7. Kill, Baby...Kill! (1966)

Bava was the best, bringing classical films into the contemporary with colorful lighting, an active camera and a baiting sense of visual trickery. Perhaps his grandest classical film is his Kill, Baby…Kill!, where through his tight direction was able to make even the most basic of things, like a little girl putting her hand on a window, eerily frightening. It’s a visual tour de force, but the story, involving the ghost of a little girl who was unjustly killed, puts its current J-Horror imitators to shame. You’ll think twice about going on a swing after this one.


6. The Horror of Party Beach (1964)

And now for a bit of levity. This, from Del Tenney, who in 1964 also directed two other pretty diverse and distinctive pictures, The Curse of the Living Corpse and Zombie Bloodbath, isn’t a horror film you’re likely to forget. A kind of cross pollination between beach party movie and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, this not surprisingly offers up a pretty distinctive mishmash of genres. The creature effects are hokey, the humor is full camp, but the old fashioned storytelling is all fun. Why it always gets a play at my house is for the music by cult favorite The Del Aires. Their show stopper is “The Zombie Stomp”, which should be on the iPod of any horror house party DJ this Halloween. The music is fun enough on its own, but in the film the entire beach spontaneously breaks out in a rigor mortis romp with dance moves that should be studied and emulating by any bipedal horror fans. Check the song and dance out here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0g8CCxH14g).


5. Psycho III (1986)

I agree with Chunkblower’s assessment that Halloween horror films should be “sweet junk that will rot your teeth” or at least ones that trashily “dress like a tramp”. Anthony Perkins’ Psycho III seems to satisfy both of those criteria. While Psycho II took itself fairly seriously as a whodunit trying to live up to the prestige of Hitchcock’s original (and it did a fine job at that, I might add), Psycho III makes no qualms about throwing the good-natured but seriously twisted Norman Bates into his mother’s clothing with a very big kitchen knife. Perkins has a field day bringing out the internal conflict in his character, but it’s his sleazy direction that’s most enjoyably twisted of all. Whether it’s having a suicidal nun see a cross-dressing Norman as the Heavenly Mary, or Jeff Fahey playing the guitar in the nude while trying to seduce anything that moves, Perkins makes this the ultimate horror movie junk food. Complete with a high body count, nudity, sacrilege and a refusal to resolve anything with goodness, it’s probably the trashiest sequel to a big studio franchise ever released.


4. Thanksgiving Trailer (2007)

Now, for American horror fans, Eli Roth’s spot-on mock trailer for an early-eighties slasher will certainly not suggest those October evenings that define what being a horror fan is all about. For us above the 49th parallel, Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday in October to give thanks for the harvest, and is for me therefore inseparable from the oranges, yellows and browns of October. Crammed with classic one liners and a bunch of trashy, enjoyable deaths, it’s like an entire slasher film condensed into a few minutes, and is the perfect fall-themed picture to offset a movie night of feature-length horror films. All will be carved!


3. You'll Find Out (1940)

This wild, family friendly horror bash from RKO pits three of the earliest icons of horror together in one howler of a horror movie. Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre all share top billing along with popular thirties radio personality Kay Kyser. Kyser, playing himself, is booked for a birthday party bash at a heiress’s mansion that, after a number of very peculiar frights, appears to be haunted. We know one of the three heavies is responsible, but the fun is trying to figure out who, and to watch all three chew scenery in their largely over the top roles. Lugosi might be the most exciting as the flamboyant clairvoyant, Prince Saliano, replete with a grossly caricatured accent and costume. It’s got laughs, it’s got scares, and it’s even got music, complete with the some of the earliest synthesizer music ever made. It’s easy to revert to the horror classics every Halloween, but with one watch of this, um, you’ll find out just how fun those old, family, studio horror films can be.


2. Madman (1982)

This is the only title on my list that I’ve included on a list previously in my eight years of Halloween listing, but for me there really is no better film out there that understands the exhilaration of what a scary horror story is all about. Framed so memorably as a campfire tale, Madman presents a slasher literally larger than life as the grunting, burly axe murderer goes about killing campers after a teen doubted his legend by yelling his name above a whisper. The practice of telling a ghost story by the fire predates even film itself, and watching Madman Marz enact his reign of terror seems as iconic as storytelling itself. The cinematography is great, the acting…well, not so much, but whenever I think of Halloween and the practice of joyfully scaring others, I always think back to Madman and the campfire horror that came to slashing life. Watching it on the differently color timed Code Red DVD, with its oranger hues, as fellow forum members have noted, also makes this a more fitting horror tale for October than ever before. Don’t laugh at the tale, heed if you call him, the legend lives, beware, beware the Madman Marz!


1. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

The Abominable Dr. Phibes was a first-time viewing for me earlier this fall, and it’s instantly become a horror favorite. Even though it’s pushing forty, it’s still as contemporary as ever with a malicious comeuppance tale that seems a distant ancestor to the Se7en and Saw formula. It involves Vincent Price getting back at all those who had a part in killing his wife, including deaths as memorable as covering a sleeping face with chlorophyll slime and having it eaten by locusts or dropping acid from a floor above as a doctor is forced to perform an incision looking for the key to escape. It has a diabolical tone, but at the same time a refreshingly perverse humor, with Price often pausing from his vicious vendetta for some campy conducting of his caricature orchestra. The ending, too, is bonkers, and in all respects this is a top notch tale of terror. Halloween to me is so much about topping one costume, one fright, with another, and that’s Dr. Phibes’ MO, too, with one wild moment after the other until its otherworldly resolve. This doctor serves up the perfect prescription this Halloween. Best to take in repeated doses. Enjoy!

10-23-2010, 01:28 PM
Gotta love Don't Go The Sleep. One of the best TV movies from the 80s ever.
Nice to see The Horror of Party Beach in the top ten as well. I watched this for the first time last summer and quite enjoyed it.

10-23-2010, 03:10 PM
Fabulous list. Phibes is must viewing at Halloween, it's influence is immense. Psycho III is a blast and Kill Baby Kill is Bava at his best. Great List !! Three of those films are currently ready for play in my DVD.

Harry Warden
10-23-2010, 04:03 PM
Interesting list Rhett. I really like the inclusion of Asylum. It's a great anthology film. Nice to also see some love for Dr. Phibes. Vincent Price was really good in that film.

10-23-2010, 06:53 PM
Nice list- especially throwing in a bit of a surprise with the Thanksgiving trailer- when I saw Grindhouse at the theatre with a friend and this trailer popped up we loved it- laughed so hard and wished someday maybe it would become a full movie- or maybe its best left as the classic faux trailer. Anyways Dr Phibes freaked me out as a kid and I havent see it in many years so I might have to revisit. The scene I remember the most is the locust scene- classic! I still need to see Kill Baby Kill- I own and love Black Sunday.

10-23-2010, 07:17 PM
You had me until Madman :p

10-23-2010, 07:32 PM
You had me until Madman :p

Good thing it was so far down the list! :D

10-23-2010, 10:23 PM
Well the fact that this reminded me I still haven't gotten that Karloff and Lugosi set (my one missing set on those guys!) makes up for it all ;)

Also need to track down Don't Go To Sleep...sounds damn good.

Oh, and in lieu of creating a new thread (don't want to add clutter since others have done some already), just tossed up some top 10 lists over at my site for anyone looking for even MORE recommendations (and I think some of you can fit them in; looking at the Halloween tracker, some of you guys are beasts!) Check it out here: http://infini-tropolis.com/articles/halloween2010.htm

10-24-2010, 01:19 AM
Every list for Halloween should include Madman, Rhett. Well done! My personalized belt buckle salutes you.

10-24-2010, 01:31 AM
If it were me, I'd have #11 be a cube of Pil to wash down all this goodness.

I'm gonna track down Don't Go to Sleep now.

10-24-2010, 02:38 AM
I love the Horror of Party Beach!! I actually have it on my DVR. For a while this station called Retro TV was doing a horror hosted movie every Saturday night and I recorded it every week, but only really watched it if it was a movie I liked and one week they played this, so I kept it, since I've never gotten around to buying the DVD. It's a favorite since I was a kid. Also, I just got the Psycho 2, 3 and 4 pack at Big Lots for $6, so I'm anxious to watch all 3!

10-24-2010, 06:08 AM
love love love.

10-24-2010, 06:27 AM
Great list. Though I prefer the "Trick or Treat" episode of Tales From The Darkside over the "Halloween Candy" episode.

10-24-2010, 07:05 AM
Only one on there I am genuinely fond of is Psycho 3. Totally agree with your take. And I love the music.

10-24-2010, 07:27 AM
Great list. Though I prefer the "Trick or Treat" episode of Tales From The Darkside over the "Halloween Candy" episode.

I love the pilot as well, but it was on my last year's list so I thought I'd mix it up. Also, I don't know why, but I'm really endearing myself to the season two opener with the alien. It's just such a blue collar, honest little attempt at Close Encounters, and for me that's what Darkside always was at its best - episodes that could never compete when it came to budget or effects, but ones that really tried to entertain with the meager resources available.

10-24-2010, 11:47 PM
Dr. Phibes for life!

10-25-2010, 03:02 PM
Nice list man. I never got into the Tales series but that is definitely a good argument to check them out. Few others on there I'll have to check out.

10-27-2010, 01:21 AM
Another great list! Madman has become a favorite as well as Psycho III. Now I have to go spin around in a jacuzzi.

10-27-2010, 05:54 AM
Very solid list, Rhett. I've still yet to watch Asylum--I think this is the third Halloween where I've tried to slot it in. Next year, for sure. And Dr. Phibes! Wow, what a #1.

11-09-2010, 04:31 PM
Ah, Don't Go to Sleep.

Saw that as a kid and I'll never forget it. The first time that I had a hard time sleeping after seeing a movie. I was terrified. I was also five years old, but still.

Never thought to look for it on You Tube. Thanks for pointing that out!