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Halloween Suggestions October 29, 2007

Posted by Jim Berkin in Movies.
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Ah, Halloween! That wonderful holiday where once a year, every woman takes the opportunity to dress like her inner slut and call it a “costume.” I’ve seen slut-witches, slut-princesses, slut-nurses, and perhaps feminism has taken its toll so this year there’ll be slut-doctors, slut-lawyers and slut-NASA engineers. You go, girl! I suppose I could go on and on about how this growing trend is yet another symptom of the death of the adult in our society, but I can certainly think of worse things to complain about, such as Why can’t women dress like sluts every day? And why can’t they come over to my house and behave like sluts? To hell with Halloween, I’ll have candy ready for ’em every day if they do!

But they don’t. 😦

THERE IS NO END TO MY AGONY!

Well, perhaps I can drown my lonesome sorrows of slut-less abandonment with some of these cinematic Halloween treats! I’ve always divided horror films (the good ones) into two very distinct categories – ONE: The genuinely scary film – the one that gives you a jolt of surprise or creeps you out deep, deep into your resulting nightmares – and TWO: The Idiotically Gory & Silly Division.

If I ran the world, everyone would be required to see every movie I’m about to mention! (That is, once I finished passing the “Be A Slut For Wagstaff” Act, but that’s another story).

Let’s start with category one – now as much as movies like Henry:Portrait Of A Serial Killer and Blue Velvet certainly creeped me out and were extremely nightmarish, I don’t think they qualify as a Halloween scarefest. On the other hand, extemely effective monster movies like Alien or Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly certainly do. Another neat monster movie to add to the Halloween party would be John Carpenter’s 1982 remake of The Thing, with Kurt Russell fighting a shape shifting alien (with a library of whacko alien DNA to imitate) at an isolated Antarctic research post. Wonderful gore effects abound here, with some nice jolts and a very clever set up & execution.

Do you like zombies? Of course you do! Everyone loves zombies! The original Night Of The Living Dead falls into this category for me, since its low budget black and white photography, simple sets and non-stars lend it all a very realistic quality. For some reason, the idea of a space virus of sorts causing uncontrollable zombieism seems reasonable enough, and this film also plays against Hollywood horror formula by setting up the usual characters that tend to survive films like this and then killing them off rather suddenly, sort of the horror equivalent of those sudden-head-shot-deaths in the opening of Saving Private Ryan that went against the usual Hollywood war-movie formula.

Maybe I’m jaded. Or maybe I’m a cold unfeeling bastard (Cue the standing ovation), but most of the time, I’m more amused by horror movies than scared. This is why I tend to favor my second category, the silly division of this genre. Starting at the top o’ the heap for this particular style of film, let’s begin with the Evil Dead triology, though I would most strongly recommend Evil Dead II, which mixes some attempts at scares with satiric humor, visual puns and slapstick, followed by Army Of Darkness which abandons scariness altogether and goes for Three Stooges-level slapstick and succeeds admirably. My other choices for films that reach this level of intelligent (yes, I mean it) satiric humor within this blood-flyin’-off-the-walls genre would be Peter Jackson’s Dead/Alive and Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, both of which I’d argue as the best films of this type ever made, that “type” being films made for longtime horror fans who have conquered their fears of the unknown via development of a love for sick humor.

Of course, this style of film really goes back to material like the original Bride Of Frankenstein and continues through much of the career of Vincent Price, whether it’s the outright comedy of The Raven or Price’s later “I’ll kill you all in clever and literate ways” films like The Abominable Dr. Phibes or Theater Of Blood, both of which are must-see items.

Peter Jackson’s first film, Bad Taste, also falls into this category since its plot concerning overall-wearing alien Bubbas turning people into hamburger basically serves only to set up a series of high-larious gross-out gags. Seeing this along with Dead/Alive made me think that Jackson saw the black knight scene in Monty Python & The Holy Grail and it changed his life completely. Stuart Gordon followed up Reanimator with another loosey goosey adaptation of Lovecraft with From Beyond, which certainly has its moments, such as a giant bug springing from someone’s neck and biting someone else’s head off (Yum!). There’s also Return Of The Living Dead, a parody-sequel to Night Of The Living Dead which I enjoyed, the “real” sequel to it, Dawn Of The Dead (love that blood pressure machine gag!), as well as lesser-but-still-fun type material like Phantasm, Critters (a Gremlins rip-off, but still pretty good), and I think there’s even something positive to be said about uneven material like Dead & Buried, especially since the villain in it is from Providence.

My God, I’ve seen a lot of this crap in my time! Okay, maybe not as much as this guy, but I think I need to get out more. Perhaps I should go trick or treating and see what I can get from those Halloween sluts…

Cut to Charlie Brown: “I got a rock!”

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Comments»

1. Happy Halloween! « Professor Wagstaff - October 31, 2008

[…] far as REAL good horror movies go, here’s my post from last year rounding up a plethora of wonderful Halloweenie movies for you. I can’t really add much to it […]


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