Good evening, the time is drawing close for you to make your viewing selections for Halloween, so let me offer you what I consider to be an essentials list of classic films for the season. These are the films I recommend everyone watch.
5) Evil Dead (original) – This low budget masterpiece introduced the world to Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert. A trio that has since gone onto bigger things. The effects in the film are good, especially when you consider the budget and how some of the effects were pulled off. The later films take a more comedic turn (becoming splatstick), but this first one is still disturbing. Be it the tree rape, the possessed gnawing through her own wrist, or the creepy girl that won’t quit giggling. This film is still one of the best examples of the “Cabin in the Woods” genre.
4) Nosferatu (1922, silent) – This was the first screen vampire and is technically a film that we shouldn’t have today. After it’s initial release the estate of Bram Stoker sued Murnau for copyright infringement and won. All prints of the film were ordered destroyed, however, because the film had already been distributed internationally this was not successful. Thankfully. Schreck’s performance is wonderful and Murnau really does a wonderful job of creating a creepy horror opus that still holds up today. Also impressive is the fact that Schreck did his own makeup.
Great makeup, right?
3) The Creature from the Black Lagoon – This is my personal favorite from the Universal Classics. It has great sequences underwater that are shot beautifully but still create the sense of dread because just below the surface is the Creature watching, waiting, until the time is right. It also has a great gillman suit that still holds up. And it has a good story, scientists are looking for fossil remains and find a living specimen. During their attempts to capture the creature, they become trapped at the lagoon and are forced to fight for their lives. This movie has just always been a great watch and always will be.
2) Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Welcome to the birth of the modern zombie. Before Night, you did not have the flesh eating zombies that you have in modern cinema. Previously, they were all voodoo zombies. Something that Night also did was give a grander scale of the problem. While our main cast is trapped inside a farmhouse, they are exposed to the plague around the world via the television. If there’s anything else that Romero’s zombies taught us is that deadliest threat is not the undead. From it’s opening where we learn that :”They’re coming to get you, Barbara!” (which is one of the most memorable lines from horror movie history, and was also parodied in Shaun of the Dead) to it’s end, which does not leave us happy with a warm fuzzy feeling, this film is a milestone of independent filmmaking and using a device to discuss social woes (though this is more notable in the other films in the series, it all started with this one). And please don’t believe the satellite brought the dead back to life theory that most people use as the explanation for the zombies. I heard Romero speak and he explained that there were going to be several different theories given via the news during the night, but they had to cut the film for time’s sake and left in that one because they had went to Washington D.C. to shoot it, and they felt it added production value to the film. So why are the dead wandering? We just don’t know for sure.
1) John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) – I am a massive John Carpenter fan and this film series. This was the film that started it all for the masked slasher. It also introduced us to Jamie Lee Curtis. Halloween was a true vision of terror and is still disturbing today. For some unknown reason (at least until the sequel), Michael Myers murdered his sister 15 years before and ,now, has escaped the maximum security hospital to stalk babysitter Laurie Strode, killing off her friends before attacking her. What adds to this film is the ever present Michael Myers as he stalks her and her friends. You can almost feel him watching plotting to plan his perfect moment. He was thought of as the boogeyman by some, and he proved himself an indestructible killing machine in this film. Although it’s the ending that will leave you wondering, where’s the boogeyman. This film also turns in excellent performances by Curtis, but also Donald Pleasance as Dr. Sam Loomis (named for Janet Leigh’s boyfriend in Psycho) Michael’s psychiatrist who knows just how deep the evil runs within Michael.
Well there you have it. If you haven’t finalized your Halloween viewing for the weekend, these are your essentials. If you’ve already seen these then please read some of my other posts to get ideas on what you might find out there that you’ll like. Sleep tight, and just tell yourself it’s only a movie.