As you are probably aware, Hallowe’en is happening in a couple of short days. I’m not one for celebrating holidays. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I can’t be bothered. My normal MO on Hallowe’en is to sit with whoever else doesn’t want to do anything and watch some horror movies. I used to be a huge horror movie fan, but my enthusiasm has waned in recent years. I don’t know whether this is down to me growing up, horror movies getting worse or just outside influences rubbing off on me, but I struggle to get excited about horror films now. However, this year is different. I have three modern horror movies to watch that I am very excited about; Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat, Ti West’s House of the Devil and Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. I realise that these may never be recognised as standard-bearers for the genre, but they have all been celebrated in what I would consider the right circles, and I was a massive fan of the first of Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes.
What I wanted to write about was the perfect movies to watch on Halloween. I think for horror movies, four is the magic number as they will generally run in at around the 100 minute mark. With that in mind, I will start thinking.
For the first movie, it has to be exciting. Whether it be gore or humour, it has to have an extreme element that will get everyone involved in the experience. I’m a big fan of John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London, Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead and Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake. These are all fast-paced movies with plenty of really visceral set pieces that you can’t help but enjoy. Of the three, I think The Evil Dead will probably do the job best. Who doesn’t enjoy ankles getting stabbed with pencils, young girls getting violated by trees and Bruce Campbell’s reaction at the end? It’s a perfectly crafted horror-comedy, and of course it was banned under the Video Recordings Act in 1984 which makes it even more awesome.
The second film, for me, has got to up the scares and tone down the comedy. I think Tobe Hooper’s original Texas Chain Saw Massacre is perfect for this. Who doesn’t find Leatherface terrifying? By the end of this movie, everyone should be pretty emotionally drained, as it takes a lot of stomach to watch. There is one particularly harrowing scene towards the end that freaks me out every time. This rightly regarded as a horror classic, and often seen as the beginning of the slasher movie, an opinion I do not agree with, but it deserves its place at the top of the horror genre.
Now that we’ve had what is essentially a zombie movie and a serial killer movie, how about a ghost story? I’m going to go with Gore Verbinski’s The Ring. I know it’s a remake, but I prefer it to Hideo Nakata’s original and it also has the added bonus of being in English which can only be a good thing, as you should be quite drunk by now. I think, for all the evil it unleashed on the world, The Ring is a great horror movie. It’s genuinely creepy. Samara could easily be seen as one of the great horror characters of the 21st century, and even if nothing but the final set piece gets to you, it is more than worth watching.
Finally, a very personal choice. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, featuring future stars Patricia Arquette and ‘Larry’ Fishburne. I find this movie hilarious, and it is a perfect display of set piece horror films. Every fifteen minutes you get an awesomely constructed death scene, which of course happen in the characters’ dreams, so anything can happen. A Nightmare on Elm Street was a fantastic idea for a horror film, but this instalment takes the idea and takes it to its ridiculous extremes. My particular favourite death is when Freddy turns a certain character into a puppet with tendons for strings. Also, there is an awesome fight between John Saxon and one of the skeletons from Jason and the Argonauts. This is just classic camp horror, and is very much worth watching.
So there you have it. If you are stuck for Hallowe’en, sit down with some people, some beer and The Evil Dead, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Ring and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. That sounds like an awesome 6hrs 19mins of entertainment to me, and will do you well for Hallowe’en. I enjoyed myself writing this. If you take my advice, you will enjoy Hallowe’en.