2021 Classic Halloween Watchlist: Lesser Known Edition

It’s October, and for the media-centric western hegemony, that means Halloween, or, in more recent parlance, “Spooktober” – a term that I kind of dislike. For a lot of people Halloween is the time to watch scary movies and advance ever further towards diabetes with fun size candies by the dozen(s).

Most people are aware of the some of the more popular horror movie franchises (Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Scream, Halloween, etc…) and, in my opinion, they are excellent films, but they may be a little familiar (I mean, I know I have seem all of them multiple times…) so maybe this year it might be a nifty experiment to try one of the many horror movies out there that are less known, and may be totally new to you.

Anyway, presented in no particular order, with the exception of my favourite (of this list) being last, here are 11 movies to check out this Halloween Season.

Paul Naschy is a legend of horror.

Howl of the Devil

Known originally as El aullido del diablo, this flick from 1988 starts off this list as a bit of hidgepodge flick. The movie has a definite plot and story, but it is basically a vehicle to show off Paul Naschy and excellent quality makeup and prostheses.

For spook fans there are a lot of different classic monsters and ghouls that are al done well; and for the sleaze fans (which, as far as I am concerned, is an essential part of any horror movie) this one features a hooker-murdering plot, which means that there is a lot on display and some moments that might make you shiver.

tl;dr lots of boobs and great horror makeup

This posters is turbo misleading.

Crypt of Dark Secrets

Despite what the poster above and the title of the movie might hint at, 1976’s Crypt of Dark Secrets is a weird horror movie, but doesn’t have a lot to do with crypts. Another thing this movie doesn’t have a lot of is budget – it is fairly obvious that this was made with limited resources, but, despite that, it is fairly entertaining.

Like a lot of low-budget horror movies, this one decides to make up for the lake of stunning effects with a another stunning visual – lots of nudity. The story is fairly trashy and there is plenty of sleaze to go along with it.

tl;dr no-budget flick with lots of nudity on coupled with a weird story

“TWINS”

Twins of Evil

The only thing scary about this flick from 1971 is how unabashedly straightforward and upfront it is with the nudity and sleaze. Peter Cushing may be a serious actor with real credentials, but this is not the type of movie one watches for the acting.

So, it may not be scary, but it does have a decent amount of creepiness and atmosphere, and hey, maybe someone would find it scary.

tl;dr sleaze and classic spookiness

Let me ‘axe’ you a question, is budget important?

A Night to Dismember

Forget how the title is a terrible pun, remember how great this flick is! The perfect delta between sleaze and violence, this 1983 movie is a zero-budget wild ride that veers from sex to violence at random.

It should be noted that due to the low-budget of this one, it is not for everyone, people who are in love with intense effects and top-tier production are not really going to get a kick out of this.

tl;dr sex + violence – budget = this flick

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

The Nail Gun Massacre

Greater than any crime depicted in this film from 1985, is that it is not more widely known. Nowadays a lot of movie makers try to recreate some idea of what they think the 1980’s were, but just make some super-contemporary movie that is nothing like the 1980’s. Not this flick, it’s from the 1980’s, and it oozes 1980’s.

Everything anyone could want in a slasher movie is here (except actual slashing, but it has nailgunning!!) – lots of violence, gore, and glorious sleaze. This one even gets special bonus points for having the box cover actual resemble what actual happens in the movie.

tl;dr nailguns, nudity, watch this movie

That lady has a secret…

Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers

This entry from 1988 is probably the best known on the list (but still not very well known) and for good reason – the initial movie in the series is a bit of a cult classic with a “twist” ending that is a little too-well known.

I enjoyed the first movie, but I really enjoyed the second – it has a larger budget and is a little more ambitious in just about every way possible. There is lots of really good effects, violence, and this flick is absolutely packed with sleazy stuff for everyone.

tl;dr effects, violence, and sleaze

Is that some VD?

Deep Space

I had never even heard of this 1988 movie until it was suggested to me. It has a very sci-fi name, and it has a definite sci-fi bend to it, but it definitely falls into the horror/creature-feature realm.

Without going into too much detail, this one features a lot of nice practical effects and over-the-top violence. There is some sleazy stuff in this one with some trashy characters (including trashy narration) so it ticks all of the boxes.

tl;dr little-known monster feature

The scariest part of this poster is the weird shape and size of that dude’s arm, I mean, look at it….

Grave Robbers

Unless you are a fan of Mexican Horror cinema, I doubt you have heard of 1989’s Ladrones de tumbas before this.

This one is clearly inspired by Indiana Jones as well as several other movies, and while it has the inspiration, it doesn’t have the budget. Despite lacking funding, the movie does have a largely coherent story and it is reasonably well-acted. The effects are a little on the light side, but they are definitely present.

tl;dr grave robbing is cool

Spooky.

Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings

The original in this series was somewhat popular, but the 1993 sequel was less so, which is a bit of a shame, because it has everything the first one had, and more!

There is lots of the good old gore that most horror fans crave, and there is even a bit of the sleazy stuff to mix things up. If you want a moralistic plot, there are hintings at it without being too bash-you-over-the-head about it, or you can just ignore it an revel i the carnage.

tl;dr monster fucks shit up

“TRUE” Story in bound…

Werewolf Woman

Have you heard of La lupa mannara from 1976? I doubt it. There are lots of female werewolf movies (Howling series, Ginger Snaps, etc) but this is a forgotten “classic” of that genre. This has some questionable-quality effects, but makes up for it without having a drop of decency.

This one has lots of violence and an abundance of sleaze, so this probably isn’t one that you want to watch with someone prudish. I found that this one was well-acted and you really feel the madness.

tl;dr werewolf titties

The cover, like many movies, has nothing to do with the actual movie.

Mortuary

This amazing flick from 1983 really snuck up on me – I like to think that I was aware of most (if not all) great horror films of the 1980’s and 1970’s, but somehow I missed this amazing movie.

This movie really does have it all, great effects, great sleaze, and it even has Bill Paxton! This film is well-acted, well-written, and has an acceptable budget for effects. I really enjoyed it and it has earned itself a spot in my multiple viewings category.

tl;dr Bill Paxton in a great horror movie without aliens

That’s the list. I hope you found a new movie to watch from it and if not, well, that’s life.



image sources: imdb.com, cinematerial.com, amazon.com, rare-movie-collector.com

Halloween (2018)… A Movie Review.

Two weeks in a row with horror movie reviews? Well get used to it, October is the month of horror movie reviews and here goes another one! Halloween (2018) is a continuation of the Halloween story with Jamie Lee Curtis and honestly it is a handful to follow, but in a good way.

Continue reading “Halloween (2018)… A Movie Review.”

I Watched 8 “Nightmare on Elm Street Movies” in 7 Days

Just as blogging is a dead art form, DVDs (like most physical media) are a dying/dead media. Well, I am combining both by writing a blog entry about how I watched some movies on DVD! Soon I will be in a coffin because I am old and will also be dead.

It just so happens that the DVDs I have watched are part of an 8-DVD collection of films from the Nightmare on Elm Street series, which, if you didn’t know, is a series of movies that feature the delightful hijinx of a loveable trickster named Frederick Krueger who entertains children in their very dreams! If you are totally unfamiliar with the series, I strongly suggest watching it.

I will be giving each individual movie a rating and then I will present my ordered list of preferences, which, due to my position as a respected film critic, will be revered as paradigm-shifting and will establish an entirely new era of film critique and film series preference ordering. You may wonder about the 2010 remake, but I have never seen it, and there is a good chance I will never; as far as I am concerned, it has no place on this list.

Anyway, here are the movies in release order with my ratings:

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A classic film!

A Nightmare on Elm Street, in addition to being a classic of horror cinema, was also the debut of Johnny Depp as an actor. This film also introduced entire concept of the main antagonist (for me, I really consider him the protagonist) Freddy Krueger and did so in an extremely smooth fashion. This film didn’t have the budget of its following entries in the series, but the (practical) effects were excellent and the acting was coherent, even if it suffered by having actors in their 30’s play high school students.

My Rating: 10/10

I find it incredibly difficult to not rate this movie a solid 10, and I mean, that is the rating I am giving it. This has every good aspect of a horror movie: building tension, creepiness, horror moments, gore, and even a little bit of nudity. Obviously there are things that I would prefer changed or done slightly differently, but this is a film I could watch multiple times (I have) and still enjoy every aspect.

Kim Myers and Mark Patton in A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985)
A great sequel!

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, is the first sequel in the series. A lot of people seem to think that no sequel can ever match the original, but I don’t always agree. The success of the first film ensured that the sequel had a larger budget (about double) and that money was well-spent on practical effects that really started to ratchet up the dream-like insanity of Freddy’s imagination and bloodlust. It is possible to enjoy this movie without having seen the first, but this movie is made better by having a little background knowledge.

My Rating: 9/10

I know I just got finished writing how a sequel can’t match the original and how I disagreed, but I mean, let me get this clear, this is a really great flick, but it just misses a little bit of the tension of the original and I really would have liked a little nudity (sorry not sorry). Although, on that topic, if you read the “parent’s guide” on IMDB, this one sounds like a hardcore homosexual porno, but I don’t really agree with that assessment. Whatever. Highly recommended and if not “as good” as the original, it is still an excellent experience.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)
Starting to drift from the main concept a bit…

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, the second sequel, and is a mixed bag for many reasons. This film, like the first sequel, also had the benefit of a larger budget and that budget was spent on effects, notably this was the first of the series to feature computer animation, although in very small sequences. The (practical) effects are truly excellent and fairly over-the-top which is welcome, but the story starts to suffer as this film really starts to expand on the “dream world” elements of the film universe, which is not what I want in a horror movie, I want people getting mangled, not weird dream interactions between children.

My rating: 8/10

I want to be clear here: most of the story involving the eponymous “Dream Warriors” is kind of a real drag; this movie relies on another excellent portrayal of Freddy and some truly imaginative sequences with effects to match. There is a lot of “cringe” in this flick, but there are a lot of good scenes as well. Overall, I really enjoyed it and I think any fan of series should also, and for the general film-watching public, it should be pretty good; give it a try.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
Starting to lose it a bit.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, like the previous entry this movie really starts to fall apart in the coherency department due to the further exploration of the dream world. For me; however, I really liked how everything was just kind of shoe-horned in and somewhat forced – the feeling is almost nostalgic and for me, gives the movie a feeling of mystery. The film also represents another positive step in the effects department and I feel that with a few small exceptions, the effects not only stand up to current efforts, but often surpass them. The big knock that I have for this movie is the lack of gore, this is the first entry in the series where gore really takes a backseat, every kill being almost entirely bloodless, and this, for me, for many horror/gore fans, is inexcusable.

My Rating: 7/10

Yeah, another high rating, but I mean, I am a fan of the series. I will note that the direction on this one and the lack of gore were what really harmed this one. The director and/r writer clearly had a hard-on for 1950’s America and it had a negative impact on the aesthetic… …yet, the director also had really amazing camerawork and scene composition, so, wow, hard decisions here. If this had been made by the same team as 2 or 3 but with the technological advancements and improvements in effects, this would have been a 10.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child (1989)
Basically a continuation of 4.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, is for me, basically a continuation of the previous film – it has most of the same characters, deals with the same story arc, and largely features the same plot. This movie does have one of my favourite depictions of Freddy, so I can’t consider it to be total trash.

My rating: 7/10

The rating may seem strange since this is basically a copy of the previous. I deduct points for lack of originality, but add points due to increase in quality, so it evens out.

Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991)
A new outlook.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, well, I guess this sequel dropped around the time when it became unpopular to have numbers in the title for sequels. This one abandons the story arc of the last two films and settle on a new one that brings more characterization to Freddy and shows a bit of his life before he was an undead dream master. There is a lot of creativity in this one and it has a lot of film-parody elements.

My rating: 8/10

For me, this is more of a “return to form” and definitely fits a bit closer to the first sequel. I really would have liked to see a bit more gore, not to note that the film shies away from it, but simply would benefit with some more.

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)
A film so meta it will gaslight you.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, is an evolution, not only of the entire film series, but also of writer/director Wes Craven. After being away from the series for a decade, the original creator comes back with an entirely different type of horror movie. Whereas previous incarnations were focused on strict horror, this film includes an incredible psychological aspect and blurs, even more, the border between dream/film/and reality.

My rating: 9/10

Everything here is amazing; it is difficult to choose between quality writing and excellent special effects. This film relies on having a knowledge of who and what the film series are about; but, it is easily digestible for someone who only really knows about Freddy Krueger, but hasn’t necessarily seen any of the films. This one is definitely the most “thinking man’s” horror film of the series, but has enough of the traditional stuff for the fans of the earlier films.

Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger in Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
The crossover that existed in fan’s minds for years before it was made.

Freddy Vs. Jason is my favourite in the series (funny enough, it is my favourite in the Friday the 13th series as well). This movie, is as far as I’m concerned, one of the greatest films ever made. Even by traditional metrics of judgement, this flick has it all, character development, a triumph in spite of a hopeless situation, and all of the atmosphere and coherency you could ever want. This flick also combines CGI and practical effects in the best possible manner and all CGI elements are in the background. This is even approachable for newcomers to either series, but is especially great for fans of either/both.

My rating: 10/10

This film is golden, liquid platinum, diamonds, whatever you value, this film is that. Of course I am biased, but everyone has a bias, but anyone that does not enjoy this film is trying to not enjoy it. There is not a scene in this film that is lazily composed and everything about this entire production is overwhelmingly professional. I recommend.

That’s that! Now, that I’ve review each individual film, here is my ordered list of the 8 films, from my favourite to least favourite. Make sure you let me know how bad my list is in the comments, and don’t forget to vote in the poll below my list as well!

  1. Freddy Vs. Jason
  2. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  3. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
  4. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
  5. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
  6. A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
  7. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
  8. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

All film poster from IMDB

Top 10 Vintage Halloween Movies for 2020

Believe it or not, but I watch a lot of movies, and most of them fall into the genres of either schlock or horror (or schlock horror). I typically prefer older stuff, so this is going to be a list geared a bit more towards the old skool.

Anyway, all of that watching hasn’t really made me an authority or respected critic in the field, but this here is the internet and I can squeeze the disgusting filth of my opinion out as much as I want! …and seeing as it is October (the official season of Halloween) I thought I would let the world know what I think are the ideal movies to watch to get into the Halloween spirit.

Presented in no particular order, here are my Top 10 picks for the 2020 Halloween season. There are links for reviews, or if you don’t care to watch the movie yourself (?), there are synopses with screenshots, so live your life, I guess.

Hack-O-Lantern – 1988

Hack-O-Lantern (1988)
An underappreciated gem.

I know this list is in “no particular order” but this is my absolute favourite Halloween flick of all time. The timing of the movie matches the season exactly and it was clearly designed to be a “Halloween Flick” and it does so perfectly. But this movie is more than just a cheap cash-in, it features everything that was great about 1980’s Horror Cinema: nudity, violence, weirdness, and amazing production values! Literally the only bad thing I can write about this movie is that I am able to only see it for the first time once.

Synopsis / Review with spoilers.
Review with no spoilers.

Freddy Vs. Jason – 2003

Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger in Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
The most recently-released film on this list!

A lot of contemporary movies and shows take aim at recreating the aesthetic from a previous generation, and in my opinion, really fail at it quite badly. Not this, oh no, definitely not this film. This film takes the best parts of the early 2000’s (somehow amazing CGI) and blends it with everything that the 1980’s represented for horror movies. This one has a checkmark in every box and will satisfy any horror fan in the month of October.

Synopsis / Review with spoilers.
Review with no spoilers.

Alucarda – 1977

Alucarda, la hija de las tinieblas (1977)
Mexico likes it weird.

In a lot of ways Mexico seems like an untapped resource, and this is particularly true when it comes to trashy horror movies – Mexico has been pouring them out since the late 1960’s, with 1977’s Alucarda being a great example. This one has something for everyone, maybe just don’t watch it with your Catholic grandmother, I mean, unless she’s really cool.

Synopsis / Review with spoilers.
Synopsis with spoilers.
Review with no spoilers.

Zombie / Zombi 2 – 1979

Ottaviano Dell'Acqua in Zombi 2 (1979)
The quintessential Italian schlock classic.

This here is an old-fashioned zombie flick and it is a good one. There are a few plotholes in this one, but overall it is very entertaining and has some good, spooky scenes. Violence, horror, sexuality, and interesting, varied scenery, this one has something for everyone.

Synopsis / Review with spoilers.
Synopsis with spoilers.
Review with no spoilers.

Faceless – 1987

Faceless (1987)
This will creep you out.

This is a great Halloween movie. I know a lot of people aren’t “scared” by the films they watch, and I understand that, but this one absolutely will creep you the fuck out, and if it doesn’t, you are a psychopath and I have to wonder why you even care about entertainment.

Synopsis / Review with spoilers.
Review with no spoilers.

Mausoleum – 1983

Mausoleum (1983)
This is a good one!

Cemeteries are Halloween and this classic flick is all about cemeteries (and possession and general weirdness) and should really make it to your watch list!

Synopsis / Review with spoilers.
Synopsis with spoilers.
Review with no spoilers.

Flesh Eater – 1988

S. William Hinzman in FleshEater (1988)
Zombies!

Like Hack-O-Lantern, this flick is perfect for Halloween. It takes place in the fall and has a lot of that retro/vintage feel that you should crave. There is lots of violence and generally uncomfortable scenes that make this a truly great horror flick and one that is fantastic for October and Halloween.

Synopsis / Review with spoilers.
Review with no spoilers.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula – 1992

Gary Oldman in Dracula (1992)
It’s really, really good!

Dracula (and vampires in general) is a Halloween classic and this film is a classic in and of itself. This flick is, in my opinion, the best vampire film that has so far been made (take that, Twilight!). If you like spookiness and sensuality, this one is for you, and for your Halloween 2020 viewing.

Synopsis with spoilers.
Review with no spoilers.

Night of the Demons – 1988

Night of the Demons (1988)
How can you not like Angela?!

This film takes place on Halloween in a haunted house and features a group of highly-promiscuous teenagers getting picked-off one-by-one with all kinds of 1980’s insanity. If that doesn’t reek of premium Halloween entertainment you need a lobotomy.

Synopsis / Review with spoilers.
Review with no spoilers.

Black Candles – 1982

Los ritos sexuales del diablo (1982)
So the original title of this bad boy is “The Sexual Rites of the Devil” – how is that not Halloween appropriate?!

This one is on the sexier side of scary, but it has plenty of weirdness and spooky stuff to keep a horror fan pleased, and honestly, what kind of horror fan doesn’t like weird devil-demon-sex stuff?!

Synopsis / Review with spoilers.
Review with no spoilers.

That’s the list! I hope you check out some of these classics, and if you are reading this before (Canadian) Thanksgiving, maybe you should check out:

Blood Rage – 1987

Blood Rage (1987)
This is without doubt, the finest Thanksgiving movie ever made, one of the greatest horror films ever made, and simply one of the best flicks ever put together.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving this flick is required watching.

Synopsis / Review with spoilers.

Top 10 Halloween Albums

I am listing this in no particular order, but they are my ten favourite Halloween Albums of this year!

Not this kind of spooky. Source.

If you haven’t already, you really should get rid of your “Spooky Sounds” CD (surely I can’t be the only one that still has CDs?) from 1996 (maybe you should also think about getting rid of your well-worn copy of “Now That’s What I Call Music!” also?).

Anyway, the “Monster Mash” isn’t really compelling Halloween music unless you have a real thing for campy trash or you run a daycare (in which case, uh, okay, I guess). There is a ton of truly excellent Halloween/Horror Movie (I mean, aren’t those two almost synonymous?) music that has been made that doesn’t make you want to rip off your face so that you can die and simply become another tacky piece of Halloween décor.

I am listing this in no particular order, but they are my ten favourites of this year!

Slasher Dave – Tomb of Horror

If you have ever seen an 80’s horror movie, (and you really should if you haven’t) then this music should really conjure up those same feelings. The production quality on this album is truly excellent and considering how atmospheric the album is, the consummate professionalism of this album really makes it an experience to remember.

Recommended Listening: during a fall drive, a night of (preferably horror-themed) gaming, or listen with headphones as you deliriously stumble around in the dark in a perpetual state of terror.

Acid Witch – Evil Sound Screamers

This album is a bit more on the intense side of things, a bit more horrific, and pretty pulse-pounding. I don’t think it is possible to have a relaxing night at home while listening to this, the paranoia that it causes leads to frenzied fits of screaming.

Recommended Listening: driving on the freeway without headlights or for being alone in the dark being pursued by a relentless murderer.

Goblin – Suspiria

A classic, and let’s just underline this, not the new one, with that guy from Radiohead. Goblin is an Italian prog-rock band that, due to cosmic powers, were unable to stop making excellent soundtracks for numerous Italian horror movies. The title track from the Suspiria album is delirious and infectious, the quick pace really amps up the intensity.

Recommended Listening: I mean ideally listen to the soundtrack while watching the eponymous source movie.

Hollywood Burns – Invaders

Cinematic is the best way to describe this album, and the cinema that it draws its influence from are thrillers and horror films of the 80’s and 90’s. Every track is able to bring you to a faraway time and place, and once there, drive you to the edge.

Recommended Listening: waiting for the bus, in the office, or when you are running through a parking garage with a horde of undead chasing you.

Gost – Possessor

This album is filled with intensity. Each track has a creepy intro followed by a driving beat that hearkens to intense chases.

Recommended Listening: while going for a personal best time running or biking, trying to stay awake during a never-ending night, or when working on a spreadsheet or essay.

John Carpenter – Lost Themes

So, John Carpenter has been responsible for a host of fantastic horror movies, but not everyone knows that he often does his own music for his films. This album is a collection of songs that he made for the sheer pleasure of making them, none of them are tied to a specific film or franchise.

Recommended Listening: sitting alone in the dark crying because you will never get to watch The Thing for the first time ever again.

Carpenter Brut – Blood Machines OST

So basically the movie that this album is the “Official Soundtrack” to is a glorified 50-minute music video, which, considering how music videos have died, is fairly neat in a retro-sense. The music is, like many of the other synthwave/darkwave albums on this list, driving, intense, and evocative of an era gone by.

Recommended Listening: for when trying to make minute rice in less than a minute.

Blood Lord – Unwelcome Guests

If you have ever had the nightmare of being trapped in a vampire-themed videogame from the late 1980’s, then this would have been the soundtrack. If the scenario described in that sentence doesn’t appeal to you, I have to wonder about what kind of inane preferences you have.

Recommend Listening: being trapped in a vampire-themed videogame from the late 1980’s.

b l a c c l o d g e – the back wards

A vaporwave entry on the list, this is a much slower, relaxed, and atmospheric album. Like a lot of vaporwave, this involves a lot of samples, most of which have been significantly distorted or manipulated.

Recommended Listening: like most ambient albums, this one pairs best with reading; or, if you are in the mood to be driven permanently insane, you might consider listening to this while you sleep, but don’t blame me for the agonizing metamorphosis that you will go through.

Wolfmen of Mars – The Spectral Sounds of Space

Of all of the albums on this list, this is certainly the “spookiest” of them all. It is a strictly ambient album without the typical musical progression of a traditional “song” or you know, something like that.

Recommended Listening: exploring a haunted house, hiding in your basement during an alien invasion, or hiding in your basement from your friends and family.

Well, that’s my list. Let me know in the comments what your favourites are!