Join Date: May 2000
Paff's Halloween Top Ten 2013
Let's have a party! It's Halloween, a great time for socializing, having friends over, throwing some burgers and bratwurst on the grill (I live in California...we grill year round), pouring some drinks, and watching some fun seasonal movies. With that in mind, I've prepared a list of films that would make for a great party.
Let's have a party! It's Halloween, a great time for socializing, having friends over, throwing some burgers and bratwurst on the grill (I live in California...we grill year round), pouring some drinks, and watching some fun seasonal movies. With that in mind, I've prepared a list of films that would make for a great party. We'll start with pretty innocuous movies, in case some of the friends we've invited don't care for the nastier films in our favorite genre. The movies will get darker as the sun goes down and it gets late into the night. The people with the weaker constitutions can leave early, till it's just the true horror fans. So let's get this party started!
|10. 42nd St. Forever|
Of course, while everyone is arriving, we don't want to just shut up and watch movies. We want to get a little socializing in. Meet and greet, catch up, talk and laugh a bit, and of course prepare for our marathon with some food. While all this is going on, the perfect thing to have on in the background is a trailer compilation. It's the mixtape for movie lovers. Especially B-movies, where the trailers often are better than the actual films! There's a ton of these kinds of discs out there, so if you have a favorite, you can substitute one for the 42nd Street Forever series, but these Synapse discs are among the best of the bunch.
|9. Matinee (1993)|
For our first actual movie, it's still daytime so why not go with a matinee? In this case, it's even the title of Joe Dante's love letter to the giant mutant creature features of the late 50s and early 60s. We hear this “love letter to...” description quite often, but I don't think anyone has written one about the B-movies of this era. Joe Dante grew up on these movies, so he was the perfect choice to direct. The movie-within-the-movie, Mant!, is a great parody of the giant bug films and it will stand up to other odes to the era like The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. But what gives Matinee such an edge is that we see Mant! through the eyes of its intended teenage audience. Even better is that the film takes place during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a time when the threat of nuclear conflict seemed almost a certainty. We can laugh at radiation-created mutants now, but back then it felt a lot more real.
|8. Mr. Vampire (1985)|
There are few horror subgenres as weird as that of the Chinese hopping vampire. Chinese vampires (which are closer to zombies in terms of Western horror tropes) hop, because their limbs are stiff with rigor mortis. This does not seem to affect their kung-fu abilities however. Leave your crosses, garlic, and holy water at home; Chinese vampires are only stopped by Buddhist incantations stuck to their foreheads, and be sure to hold your breath when one is in the room. Mr. Vampire was not the first Chinese hopping vampire film, but it is the most famous. There's a lot of slapstick humor, the film is quite episodic, and it's great seeing traditions and superstitions that are unfamiliar to us. Not a lot of scares in Mr. Vampire, just some unique situations and good martial arts action. If this one piques your interest, check out Spooky Encounters. It has a bit of an Evil Dead-vibe at the beginning as a man battles the undead in a remote cabin, then closes with some absolutely jaw dropping kung-fu featuring the inexplicably nimble Sammo Hung.
|7. House (aka Hausu) (1977)|
We'll stay in the far East and ratchet up the “WTF” factor exponentially, for the Japanese film House (or Hausu in phonetic Japanese). Have you ever listened to the incoherent ramblings of a pre-teen girl? Can you imagine if they were turned into a movie script? Well, wonder no more. Now while little Chigumi Obayashi didn't actually type out the script for House, she did tell her dad about her strangest nightmares. The elder Nobuhiko Obayashi added a little more plot and setup, and the result is 90 minutes of sheer wackiness. Seeing this movie in a group setting is required, if only to laugh at the characters' names (Gorgeous, Fantasy, Kung-Fu, Professor, etc. Seriously. I'm not making this up), the hilariously cheesy optical effects, or the general craziness of the entire thing. I didn't like this movie the first time I saw it, but it's grown on me a lot since to become one of my top Japanese horror films of all time.
|6. Blood For Dracula (1974)|
The story of the making of this movie is almost better than the movie itself. The plan was to make just one movie, the 3-D gross-out epic Flesh for Frankenstein. But when Frankenstein came in under budget, the cast and crew decided to make a Dracula film with the remaining money. Frankenstein was planned out carefully with sets and soundstages and a script, but this Dracula effort was very much shot on the fly. Script pages were written the night before and filmed on location the next day. When enough footage was shot, a hastily put-together ending sequence was added. And you know what? Blood for Dracula is the better of the two films! I think it's more of the DIY attitude that makes it far more acceptable for things you'll see in this movie, like a character in a European period piece who speaks with a modern Brooklyn accent. It's fun and campy, light on violence, but heavy on nudity and sex so be sure the younger guests at our party have gone home.
|5. Baron Blood (1972)|
Time to get a little more serious, with a good gothic horror film from Mario Bava. I originally saw this on the double-feature laserdisc set by Elite Entertainment where it was paired with the much more popular Lisa and The Devil. I mostly got the disc for Lisa, but I found I enjoyed Baron Blood a little more. It's way more straightforward (let's face it, Lisa and the Devil is a pretty cryptic film in terms of plot), and extremely striking in the visual sense. A lot is made of a sequence midway through the film where the Baron chases Elke Sommer, and I agree that it's worth the price of admission for that sequence alone. Baron Blood may not be Bava's most mature film, but I find it to be a lot of fun and perfect for late October.
|4. Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)|
I love Horrordigital.com, I really do. The conversations we have in the forums will often lead us to check out movies we probably never heard of, and Who Can Kill a Child fits that description perfectly. I don't recall the thread, or who recommended it (yes, I could do a search I suppose), but I was intrigued enough to get a copy from Netflix. And so glad I did! The movie does take a little while to get going, but once it does it's unsettling as hell. The overused cliché of a small group of survivors (in this case, a young married couple) barricading themselves against a much larger group of invaders actually manages quite a bit of tension and suspense. One of the better movies I've seen in recent years. Now, it was another thread on this site that I learned it's recently been remade, but I can't believe the remake is as visceral as this older version. An obscure title that will definitely put your friends on the edges of their seats.
|3. Carrie (1976)|
I suspect this film will get a lot more notice over the next few weeks as the Kimberly Peirce-directed remake starring Chloe Grace Moretz finally makes its way into multiplexes. And while I never really considered it a Halloween-themed film due to its obvious late spring setting, it's still one of the best horror films ever made (on my list, it's the best horror film ever made). Carrie is still unsettling, nearly 40 years later due to a wonderful combination of intelligent script, amazing acting (two Academy Award nominations), fantastic visuals, and haunting music. The scenes of Carrie and her mother are downright harrowing to watch, as is the prom scene in which we know what's to come when the bucket of blood finally drops on poor Carrie White. I've not seen the remake yet, but I can't imagine it will be anywhere near as powerful as Brian DePalma's classic film.
|2. Phantasm (1979)|
As we're shoulder deep in the Blu-Ray era, the Phantasm series is getting left behind and as a result it's losing the respect it so well deserves. Most of our favorite series are now available to us in wonderful high definition that looks clearer than when we saw them in the theaters, but Phantasm is still only available on standard definition DVD. Still, don't let that distract you! Phantasm is a nightmare of a movie. It's also extremely imaginative for such a low budget affair. In this era of horror, filmmakers would compensate for their financial limitations with fake blood and nudity aplenty (and don't worry, you'll see some breasts in this film), but few were as ambitious as Don Coscarelli was in terms of plot and originality. Plus, Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man is one of the iconic horror villains of all time. Don't be afraid of standard definition! Watch your old DVD of Phantasm. Now. I'll wait.
|1. The Blair Witch Project (1999)|
Look, I've defended this film and its inclusion at the top of my list as long as I've been doing them. But I also fully recognize that those who despise it so much will likely never be swayed. So I'll keep this mercifully short; if you're one of those that loves this film like I do, it's absolutely a must-watch at midnight on Halloween. If you hate the movie, fine, then don't watch it. And that's about all I have to say about The Blair Witch Project. Well, until next year that is.