Top 10: Halloween Picks 2011

Author: OTH Staff
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2011-10-09 11:23





10. The Janitor (2003)

    I always like to contribute a horror-comedy to this list. A favorite of mine (so much so that I added it to OTH’s Hall of Fame) is the side-splitting indie flick The Janitor. Andy Signore and TJ Nordaker’s quasi-slasher is wall-to-wall gore, irreverence and T&A . It’s the story of a homicidal custodial engineer whose killing urges know no prejudice. From corporate drones to sorority girls to, well, almost anyone he meets on the street, Signore’s grunting Lionel seems to be on a mission to cleanse the world of all douchebags. Having not watched it in a few years, I popped this in the other night and found myself laughing just as hard as ever. It’s a perfect marriage of ultraviolence and over-the-top performances. Lloyd Kaufman’s cameo as a taunting bum is a standout and, in a more subtle turn – subtle for The Janitor, that is - Bruce Cronander shines as Mr. Growbo. I can’t recommend this highly enough for party viewing. (Dave Dunwoody)
9. Dr. Giggles (1992)

    Unless Michael Myers is involved, I don’t generally do slashers for Halloween; however, this underrated 90s effort is suitable for the season. Between the town fair, a decrepit house of horrors, and the old legend of the local, murderous doctor that lives on via nursery rhyme, one feels a real funhouse atmosphere in Dr. Giggles. It’s a rather bloody funhouse at that, as the title character finds various inventive methods of tending to his unfortunate patients. However, the film’s humorous dimension truly makes it an ideal candidate for a fun-filled Halloween night marathon that’ll leave you choking on your candy rather than barfing it up. Slick, gory, and funny, it just might be the last pretty good pre-Scream slasher to boot. (Brett Gallman)
8. Children of the Corn (1984)

    This Stephen King adaptation doesn’t take place at Halloween--in fact, I’m not even sure it takes place during fall at all. However, it sure feels like it between all of the cornfields and harvest imagery. That stuff always makes me think of haunted corn mazes and their ilk, which begin to crop up on rural roadsides this time of year (in fact, there’s one literally five minutes from my house). The flick itself happens to be pretty cool in its own right and does the “spooky small town” vibe as well as any other; it also does the “creepy little bastards” theme in grand fashion. Let’s just say the tykes from Gatlin, Nebraska aren’t here to trick or treat. (Brett Gallman)
7. Onibaba (1964)

    It is startling to see that in a genre where fanatics go out of their way to snag up remaining copies of Gore Whore that legitimate films remain undiscovered by certain people in its audience. Last October I recommended a couple movies that changed the landscape of horror for me in Jigoku (covered on last year's list) and Onibaba, which is likely the premiere film on this years list of tricks and treats. Using masterful, creepy arthouse cinematography to the fullest, Onibaba is Poe-like in its use of inner demons and selfishness torturing the human mind and wreaking havoc on the soul. Slow building, tense and as classic as a horror film ever will be, you owe it to yourself to check this one out for a moody October 31st. (Brett H.)
6. The Changeling (1980)

    What’s Halloween without a haunted house and a ghost story? You get both when George C. Scott moves into a particularly creepy Victorian mansion in this Canadian chiller. It’s quite a foreboding abode, as its amenities include a creepy attic, hidden, condemned rooms, and the ghost of a dead boy. Cold, dreary, and somber, The Changeling is a prototypical slow burn as Scott’s character attempts to make contact with the child, who is prone to pulling the usual haunted parlor tricks: opening doors, playing pianos, banging on pipes, etc. Along the way, a séance provides some nightmarish sound and fury from the beyond, and the film provides a few more jolts before its frantic climax. (Brett Gallman)
5. The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

    Ever since Carpenter’s Halloween, I’ve found All Hallow’s Eve movie marathons to be synonymous with sci-fi/monster B-movies. While Tommy Doyle and Lindsay Wallace were luckily saddled with Hawks’s classic The Thing From Another World, I imagine their counterparts from a decade later would have been reared on something like The Incredible Melting Man, which is an awesomely gory update of the old monster movie standard. Taking its title and cue from previous efforts in that genre (The Incredible Shrinking Man and the Quatermass Experiment), its monster is actually a man who turns into a pissed-off, homicidal walking ooze after being exposed to space radiation. The plot is thinner than the earth’s atmosphere, and Burr DeBenning gives a gloriously stodgy leading man performance, but Rick Baker’s effects are incredible. His title character is certainly one of his greatest achievements in a massively successful career; he hideously drips and pusses all over the place as he mutilates everything in his path. This one is a bit off the beaten path, but it’ll fill a lot of slots in your marathon: it’s a cheesy, violent, but undeniably fun take-off of 50s monster movies. (Brett Gallman)
4. House by the Cemetery (1981)

    It's Video Nasty time on our list with this Lucio Fulci cherished treasure that hits like a knife to the back of the head. Without talent, Fulci's films would have played out like mindless gorefests that haunted the halls of many a' VHS racks in video stores in days gone by. With an eye for all that is horror, Fulci paints your TV set with gothic cinematography rivaled only by the best and blends the past with 1981's present to create an overwhelming, violent zombie-slasher hybrid gelling good old fashioned mad scientists, slasher overtones, Shining senses and Alice Cooper synth that embodies everything - good and bad - we love about horror and Halloween. Like a kid's costume, it's rarely perfect, but that's part of the charm. (Brett H.)
3. Black Sunday (1960)

    Bava’s entire career was a bit of a grab-bag, and his appearances on our annual Halloween list throughout the years have revealed his diversity. From the splattery madness that is Twitch of the Death Nerve to the dreamy, Technicolor triptych of Black Sabbath, the Italian master will satisfy all tastes in October. However, his finest moment might have come with Black Sunday, a film that acts as a bit of a variety pack itself. With its vampires by way of demonic witchcraft, gorgeous black and white photography, unexpectedly grisliness, and a score that feels ripped from a 50s B-movie, it’s straddling all sorts of sub-genres and periods; however, it all adds up to a spooky, gothic classic. Oh, you also get two flavors of Barbara Steele: one’s sweet, one’s sour, but both are essential for Halloween. (Brett Gallman)
2. The Raven (1963)

    Speaking of tricks and treats, there’s plenty of both in The Raven. One might argue that the whole thing is a trick: some of horror’s most famous faces (Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Hazel Court, and Boris Karloff) gathered together by Roger Corman and Richard Matheson to adapt Poe’s most famous work sounds like a surefire recipe for fright. However, as Karloff himself intones, “there’s nothing to be afraid of” because the whole thing is one big gag. But it’s quite a delightful one that’s brimming with fun performances and typically lush AIP production values, it makes up for its lack of scares with an abundance of laughs. Somehow, evil sorcerers, reanimated corpses, and talking birds pummel your funny bone into raspberry jam. Quite a treat, indeed. (Brett Gallman)
1. The Basement (1989)

    One of the things I loved best about trick or treating was the sheer variety of candy we held sheathed in pillowcases. I mean, really, how many chances in life does a kid have a veritable Baskin Robbins times ten of free candy to choose from? Maybe that's why the horror anthology is the candle in the Jack-o-lantern of many Halloween viewing festivities. And what better what to celebrate this nostalgia than letting Camp Motion Pictures guide you back to the rocking horse with its retro big box VHS and DVD pack headlined by a lost Super 8 film, The Basement, comprised of four tales of murder, monsters and macabre including one tale in which a Halloween-hating teacher is haunted by the spirits of the season. Certainly not the best motion picture of our bunch, The Basement nonetheless showcases its charm and love for the genre, making its candidacy for this list a no brainer. (Brett H.)


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