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Old 10-26-2013, 08:36 PM   #1
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Rhett's Halloween Top Ten 2013

It’s been a weird fall where Hollywood seems to have forgotten about horror films. Hardly any high profile studio horror releases on Blu-ray or DVD, only 1 new horror film in theaters this month (and even that one was a holdover from earlier this year)…what happened to the fun of being scared in October? I guess it’s up to you, readers, to devise your own devilish list of digital pleasures this year. Here’s ten to help.

It’s been a weird fall where Hollywood seems to have forgotten about horror films. Hardly any high profile studio horror releases on Blu-ray or DVD, only 1 new horror film in theaters this month (and even that one was a holdover from earlier this year)…what happened to the fun of being scared in October? I guess it’s up to you, readers, to devise your own devilish list of digital pleasures this year. Here’s ten to help.

10. Weekend at Bernie's II (1993)

What if I told you there was a zombie movie where a man with a shady past is reincarnated in a voodoo ritual in order to scavenge the seas for his hidden treasure, during which time he’s shot in the head underwater with a harpoon in a scene that rivals the zombie vs. shark scene from Fulci’s Zombie? Sounds sweet, right? Or how about another scene of necrophilia after the zombie fights a roided out douchebag? Weekend at Bernie’s II isn’t a horror movie, but its very black humor and Terry “Dr. Crews” Kiser’s scene-stealing performance makes this the perfect goofy romp to get the party started. Amazingly, Bern has had a major resurgence lately as a popular club dance inspired by his conga moves in this sequel. The fact that this is one of the only zombie movies from the 90s is kind of a crazy statistic, too. It’s a one note joke that’s literally beat to death, but fans of slapstick should get a kick out of this unlikely living dead flick. I did, and that’s why I’m dressing up as ol’ Bernie Lomax this year for Halloween. Do the Bernie!

9. Child's Play 3 (1991)

“Don’t Fuck with the Chuck!” It was great this year to see Chucky supplant everyone’s expectations and come back in full force with Don Mancini’s effective Curse of Chucky this October. It was also great to see all the original films re-released in HD for the Chucky Blu-ray set. My favorite has always been the one that gets lost in the shuffle between the fan favorite Child’s Play 2 and the post-Scream renaissance of Bride of Chucky. For me, my favorite has always been the dark as dirt Child’s Play 3. Chucky is just nasty in this movie, and as someone who hates tight spaces, that crushing in the garbage truck always got under my skin. Having a kid shot with live rounds from a paintball gun was pretty ballsy during a time when there were high profile child murders in the press, but the film also has clever moments like Chucky bemoaning the fact that he never gets to kill a guy because the site of a killer doll causes the man to have a heart attack first. What makes the movie for me, and what makes it a great Halloween flick, is the finale at the spooky carnival, where Chuckster gets his face sliced off by a grim reaper and the protagonists climb to safety up a wall of skulls. Chucky never died better than he did here, but with the enduring quality of the series, may he never be laid to rest!

8. Lifeforce (1985)

I was always of the mind that Tobe Hooper was the quintessential one-hit-wonder of the horror genre, making one of the best films of all time in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and then following it up with shit like Eaten Alive and The Funhouse. I’d deferred the success of Poltergeist to Spielberg, and otherwise his ouvre looks like a long slog through mediocrity and uninspired direct-to-video crap. But thanks to Scream Factory, and some prodding by our own Chunkblower, I finally decided to give the huge box office bomb, Lifeforce a shot. Glad I did. It starts off as kind of an eerie Alien or Invasion of the Body Snatchers kind of alien-run-amok film, but as it goes along it gets more insane, culminating into one of the grandest, most elaborate apocalypse attacks the genre has ever seen. It sure is a wild ride, with amazing effects, a brisk pace, and an always naked Mathilda May to keep everyone’s interest. Halloween is a time where people in costumes take over a city, and Lifeforce kind of encapsulates that feeling with its third act, only with more explosions. And zombies. And boobs. Hooper's back on my good list.

7. The Invisible Man (1933)

I’m going to co-opt a pick from Jeremy’s list here, the timeless Claude Rains classic, The Invisible Man. It’s quite a feat of storytelling to have a film centered around a person you never even see, and it’s an even greater feat that Rains, and his director, Frankenstein’s James Whale, are able to do so with such personality and character. The invisible effects are fun and perfect for a holiday all about trickery, but it’s Rains’ performance that steals the show. Unlike many portrayals of The Invisible Man, Rains’ man is kind of a dick, and it’s fun to see him maliciously enjoy and abuse his powers. If Carrie actually enjoyed killing everyone in the gym that’d sort of encapsulate what Rains is like here. It's mean-spirited wish fulfillment at its best.

6. The Initiation of Sarah (1978)

Speaking of Carrie, with the remake out it’s ripe to revisit the property (and kudos to Chunkblower for highlighting the underappreciated and ever timely sequel), but with the hack work done by Kimberly Peirce I need a break from King’s creation. Instead, I offer up the best of the films to follow in the original Carrie’s wake (and there were many, from the bad like The Spell to the good like Jennifer). My favorite, The Initiation of Sarah, comes from the golden age of the TV movie. Like other TV horror classics like Dark Night of the Scarecrow and Don’t Go To Sleep, it’s a film that’s not afraid to explore the darker nature of humanity despite the family-friendly limitations of the medium. It grows the seeds planted by Stephen King and takes them to a college environment that explores a number of different themes, with a sister dynamic, some occult mythology and battling fraternities that make this a classic tale of us versus them. The cast is trove of genre treasures led by House’s Kay Lenz as the tragic lead and including favorites like Shelley Winters (The Night of the Hunter), Robert Hays (Cat’s Eye), Tisa Farrow (Zombie) and Morgan Fairchild (The Seduction) as the penultimate bad girl bitch. Fairchild’s comeuppance is one of the nastiest things that ever made it to broadcast, and the whole ending goes to such an admirably dark and satisfying place you’d swear this wasn’t Made for TV. Scream Factory will be putting this out later this year, so now’s the perfect time to get initiated to this classic on Netflix before Halloween.

5. Terror in the Aisles (1984)

As much as I love the entire Halloween franchise (Part 5 what whaaaaaat!) I’m not including any on this year’s list due to the fact that I watch these movies too much already during the rest of the year. If I can’t have a Halloween film, I may as well at least have a film that’s included as an extra on one of the Halloween discs. Terror in the Aisles is found on the Halloween II Blu-ray from Universal, and it’s got Dr. Loomis himself Donald Pleasence at his most adorable alongside Carrie’s Nancy Allen as they host a theatrical trip through many of the classics of the horror genre. It highlights a number of seminal horror classics, as well as a bunch of other flicks studios were trying to pimp from the time, but it has a great 80’s vibe and its love for horror cinema and the entire theatrical experience of shock make it a great love letter to the fun of being scared. With its kind of episodic format of highlighting different films or sub-genres, it’s a great movie to have playing in the background at parties where constant attention is not a necessity. Making a theatrical film just about people loving horror movies was such a great idea back then, I really wish they’d so something like that again today while there are still theaters left…

4. Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

Maybe it’s because AMC is always having Friday the 13th marathons around this time, but these days it’s always Jason that’s number one in my mind when it comes to October. With Crystal Lake Memories, the fuss about the slapdash box set from Warner and the murmurings of a sequel from Platinum Dunes, I guess this really is Jason’s month. While most of the Jason movies are set during the early summer as councellors prepare for camp, it turns out that due to scheduling most of the films in the franchise were actually made in the fall. The New Blood has that chilly autumn-y vibe, with the yellow leaves on many of those Alabama trees a nice reminder of the season. Thematically, the film is also in the autumn of the franchise’s lifecycle, with Jason now back from the dead as a zombie and the box office returns slowly drying up. Aside from all the superficial things, John Carl Buechler’s film has grown to be one of my favorites with its perfect leading lady, Kane Hodder in his memorably menacing first as Jason, Bernie Lomax himself as the best sub-villain of the franchise and some of the best kills thought up in the series. The true shame is that the MPAA savaged effects wizard Buechler’s work, because had all his gore been included this is a film that could have rivaled any pound for pound for pure gory fun. Even cut to shit though, The New Blood still gives us a gay (literally) ol’ sleeping bag bashing good time.

3. Donald Duck and the Gorilla (1944)

I always like to include a short or a TV episode to breakup my Halloween movie playlist, and this year it’s one of the dark Disney classics from its wartime short film golden age, 1944’s Donald Duck and the Gorilla. It’s got Donald Duck wielding an axe and that iconic repeating radio call “Attention all listeners…” that frames the story. That iconic introduction, where Donald and his nephews sit ‘round the radio on a dark and stormy night is just classic horror even before a bloodthirsty gorilla chases everyone around the house for the next five minutes. Attention all listeners…watch this movie. Breckenridge.

2. Tales from the Hood (1995)

I kind of tipped my hand making a thread on this film earlier this month, but I’ve been on an anthology kick of late, and as good as Creepshow 2 and Cat’s Eye are, Tales from the Hood stands out for its topical tales, wild style and hellish finale. This fine little HBO film offers five sick segments revolving around African American-themed issues like police brutality, southern racism, thug life and domestic abuse. There’s a great range on display here, from the darker “Hard-Core Convert”, which features a number of photos from real-life lynchings and black murders to the more fantastical “Boys Do Get Bruised”, where a little boy can punish his enemies by what he does to their drawings on paper. There’s also a scary little voodoo doll come to life segment that’s long been a fan favorite. Framed by a coffin chewing Clarence Williams III tormenting a bunch of drug running punks this one just oozes with the thrill of telling scary stories this time of year – the fact that the stories actually have a pro-active social message is just a bonus. Black, white, whatever, it’s just great storytelling, and it’s readily available on Netflix instant today. It’s da shiiiiit!

1. Prince of Darkness (1987)

Us horror fans are becoming an older and older breed, and while I’m certainly younger than many at 30, I still crossed a milestone this year that has me wanting to watch films with older, more mature characters. That’s partially why revisiting John Carpenter’s classic Prince of Darkness thanks to Scream Factory’s new fall Blu-ray release resonated so much with me this time around. I’d always had an appreciation for the film, but this time I was really drawn in to its adult characters and its even more mature themes. The way Carpenter brings a scientific, quantum perspective to evil and religion is fascinating, and yet he still manages to keep it exciting and accessible thanks to a second half that’s like Night of the Living Dead in a church. While Carpenter’s Halloween theme is the usual go-to track for Halloween parties, the subtle, but unrelenting, throbbing of Prince of Darkness' theme is something that could pace any perverse party. It’s tough to call any John Carpenter film underrated at this point, but this is probably as close as it gets from his 80s work. As the clock strikes midnight on October 31st, let Carpenter’s pulsating Prince of Darkness wash over you and remind you that horror, be it green slime in a jar or a masked man on the street, is eternal.

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Old 10-26-2013, 08:49 PM   #2
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Tales from the Hood was a top 10 pick for me as well this year, what a great little badass movie. I still remember being 11 years old and watching this and Friday all the damn time at my cousin's house and him trying to hook two VCRs up together and dub the rental copies. As Archie and Edith would say, "those were the days".
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Old 10-26-2013, 11:53 PM   #3
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Excellent list Rhett. I smiled when I saw Terror in the Aisles...and I still have to watch the blu-ray version on my Halloween II copy. I haven't seen Tales From the Hood in years, but I was just reading about it in John Kenneth Muir's excellent book Horror Films of 1990s. Also, always nice to see offbeat choices (Bernie's 2, Donald Duck) and a Paramount Friday film included.
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Old 10-27-2013, 05:12 AM   #4
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I love Weekend at Bernie's - but the sequel I thought was not nearly as good.

I recently saw Lifeforce for the first time and really enjoyed it as well- but come on give some love for The Funhouse which is high up on my favorite horror list from the 80s.

Two thumbs up on Donald Duck and the Gorilla! <:
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Old 10-27-2013, 05:23 AM   #5
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Nice touch there with the inclusion of the sequel to Weekend at Bernie's. It wasn't as good as the original but it's OK there.

I totally missed Catherine Mary Stewart in that one, oh what a woman...even to these days! Guess she's one of those girls from the 80's that has conserved so well, and was made in Canada. Do you still produce this level of quality?
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Old 10-28-2013, 12:37 AM   #6
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I've walked out of two films that I paid cash money for in my life. The Big Hit and .............. fucking Weekend at Bernie's II
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Old 10-28-2013, 12:55 AM   #7
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Swim with the fishes, you zombie bastard!

Weekend at Bernie's II wasn't nearly as good as the original film, but it was still insane fun. I'd much rather watch comedy like that over the crap that passes for comedy these days.

Nice list Rhett!
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Old 10-28-2013, 02:11 AM   #8
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Brilliant list and write-ups, Rhett! I especially liked the Child's Play 3 commentary.

Love that Bernie Lomax made it twice on your list. But you can't drop the costume-bomb and not post pix.

edit: the pix are in the costume thread!
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Old 10-28-2013, 02:47 PM   #9
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LMAO Weekend at Bernie's 2! Can't wait for the Rate/Comment on.. thread
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Old 10-29-2013, 12:30 AM   #10
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Terror in the Aisles is one of my personal favorites!
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Old 10-29-2013, 03:04 AM   #11
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Yes! Someone who appreciates Child's Play 3!
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Old 11-07-2013, 07:01 PM   #12
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Great list, although kind of funny how you start off stating that there are no horror films in Oct. anymore and then have the balls to start off with Weekend at Bernie's 2! haha. I remember enjoying the first one more, but to be fair it's been a while since I've seen the second film. Great costume by the way!

The rest are all great picks, and I really want to see initiation of Sarah now. The only ones I'm not so sure about are Child's Play 3 and Friday 7. I haven't seen Child's Play 3 in a while, but on recent watches I found Friday Part 7 to be one of the weaker entries, and although I like Kane Hodder, I can't say he is in any of my favourite Friday flicks.

Either way, great read as always!
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Old 12-24-2013, 01:30 AM   #13
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Donald Duck and the Gorilla is one of the best and funniest Disney shorts.
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