‘Tis the Halloween season once again faithful fright readers, and that means that every one is getting into the spooky spirit by revisiting some of their favorite horror films this month. For most, the tradition classics – John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, THE EXORCIST, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, FRIDAY THE 13TH, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and so on and so forth will most definitely be on heavy rotation. Then there’s those of us that’ll be breaking out the cult classics, films like DEAD ALIVE, EVIL DEAD 2, DAWN OF THE DEAD, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, etc to get the party going.
I’ve been personally combing through my DVD collection and revisiting specific films that I know I haven’t seen in years and I have a batch here that I wanted to recommend specifically because they all have one thing in common – they’re all FUN. And when you get to the guts of this holiday, isn’t it all about having a scary good time? So here are 7 horror movies to put the fun back in your Halloween.
WAXWORK: If you’re a fan of all out monster mashes such as ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE MONSTER SQUAD or even the recent CABIN IN THE WOODS, then one of the funnest flicks to incorporated multiple on-screen baddies is definitely WAXWORK. Fronted by GRELMINS lead Zach Galligan and starring 80’s mega-babes Michelle Johnson and Deborah Foreman, writer/director Anthony Hickox’s flick features a wax proprietor played by David Warner (!) who has a museum of some of history’s most notorious monsters. What our cast of teens don’t know is that if you get too close to any of the displays, you’ll enter the world of the specific display. So you get the wolfman, Dracula, the Mummy and more! All in one movie! It all leads to a pretty epic battle with man versus monsters to prevent the evil entities from leaving the museum and taking over our world. There is a sequel, but minus the Bruce Campbell cameo it’s not nearly as fun (or good) as the first. The first WAXWORK however is highly recommended!
WRONG TURN: I still remember seeing the first WRONG TURN in theaters with my buddy Vin (aka the Technoweenie if any of you old-school ICONS readers remember him from the humble beginnings of this site!) and after the disappointment of Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, this little FRIDAY THE 13th meets THE HILLS HAVE EYES hybrid restored our faith in the genre and was exactly the movie we had hoped Zombie’s debut feature would’ve been. A group of travelers get stranded out in the middle of the West Virginia forest where they find themselves being hunted by a group of cannibalistic mutated maniacs! It’s as if the Sawyer clan from TEXAS CHAINSAW suddenly took residency in Camp Crystal Lake and became hunters! It’s got cool monsters, some rad gory kills and a pretty decent cast of actors including DEXTER’s Desmond Harrington, Jeremy Sisto (MAY) and Eliza Dushku. I never would’ve imagined that this would eventually spawn a franchise that’s currently at it’s 5th film, but the original is still a blast!
WISHMASTER 2: EVIL NEVER DIES: I hadn’t revisited either of the first two WISHMASTER movies in a while but decided to do a double feature of ’em the other night. The first one’s a lot of fun, boasts a cool title monster, a ton of cameos from Robert Englund, Kane Kodder, Tony Todd, Ted Raimi and is a lot of gory fun, no doubt thanks to director Robert Kurtzman making his directorial debut here, but I’m going to pick the second entry WISHMASTER 2: EVIL NEVER DIES for my pick of 7 films. And mainly because I love the idea of the Djinn going to jail to obtain 800 souls by granting the wishes of some of the most vile criminals on the planet. Hell, one convict’s wish is to see his lawyer go fuck himself, and the Wishmaster obliges! Plus, Part 2 has super cute Holly Fields in the lead. Don’t bother with the 2 entries after this.
POPCORN: What an odd and fun little “slasher” gem from the late 80’s! What if a bunch of horror fans put together a William Castle-esque all night horror marathon at a local theater complete with gimmicks galore? And among them is a complete Freddy Krueger-esque psychopath! Well, that’s the gist of POPCORN, which always had one of my all time favorite tag-lines “Buy a bag, go home in a box.” Sure in retrospect, it’s goofy fun and Dee Wallace’s scene early on at the movie theater doesn’t really make any sense when you learn the film’s twist, but what a twist it is! Amazed this one didn’t spawn a franchise, but thankfully you can always revisit the original POPCORN!
DOLLS: While most people will go straight for RE-ANIMATOR when it comes to celebrating the work of filmmaker Stuart Gordon, I kinda have a soft spot for this Charles Band produced horror feature DOLLS. I mean, what horror fan doesn’t love a good killer doll movie?! And this one is pretty unique. A group of people get stranded at an old mansion and the owner and his wife happen to be toy makers. No one believes little Judy Bower that there are “elves” running around the house (she has a pretty overactive imagination) except for the simple minded Ralph. But when the adults (Judy’s parents and two punk rocker chicks) prove to be evil spirited, the killer dolls of the house go into action to make them permanent residents! You can look for Stuart’s wife Carolyn Purdy in the role of Judy’s wicked stepmother Rosemary, as well as PUPPET MASTER alumni Guy Rolfe, Andre Toulon himself!
THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING!: I grew up on a steady diet of Full Moon Entertainment movies from my local mom & pop video store. And while all of them had their own charm, none of them were like Dave Parker’s directorial debut THE DEAD HATE THE LIVING. This was a few years after the self-referential SCREAM franchise, but long before the crop of recent horror movies that featured filmmakers trying to make their own horror flick. And this came out at a time when we horror fans didn’t have access to the European zombie flicks homaged here, unless we bought bootlegs at old Fangoria Weekend of Horror conventions! Plus, the color pallet! Obviously it’s a terrific homage to Dario Argento films, but again, Dario’s films were a lot harder to come by in 2000 when this flick originally hit video stores so I appreciated that someone out there was trying to make something this unique that culled from the films we couldn’t get, but read all about in the pages of FANGO. It’s got some cool, wicked looking zombies, in particular that fella from the box art and hell, there’s a fun gag where the filmmakers in the film try to disguise themselves from the zombies by dressing as zombies themselves! This one’s definitely a fun flick worth checking out, especially now.
BUBBA HO-TEP: Last but not least is the recent cult classic Don Coscarelli movie BUBBA HO-TEP, a film filled with a tremendous amount of heart as well as laughs. Bruce Campbell (in arguably his best performance) plays a 70 year old Elvis Presley who faked his death and is now stuck in an East Texas rest home with a cancerous growth on his private parts. The only person that believes he’s really Elvis is Jack aka JFK as played by the late, great Ossie Davis. An ancient Egyptian mummy is awakened and is feeding on the souls of the old folks in the rest home. No one believes the elders and hence Elvis teams up with black JFK to kick some mummy ass! And while the premise (based upon the short story by Joe R. Lansdale) is really off the wall, it’s played straight and serious, and hence ends up being thoroughly touching, while sprinkled with some genuine laughs as well.
So there you have it. Just a handful of “fun” horror flicks I’ve watched this month that I thought you should too. What else is on your playlist for the month? Let us know some of your favorite horror movies to watch for Halloween in the comments section below!