Oct. 31st: Halloween (1978)

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Though over listed and a decidedly cliched choice, for the purpose of this list, of course, John Carpenter’s classic has to take the pole position.

Though I give much love and respect to it’s Yuletide predecessor and inspiration Black Christmas, I still feel Halloween does it better. It is hands down my favorite slasher film and one of my favorite horror films period.

Effectively and methodically paced, Michael’s rookie outing is awash in strange glows and Halloween energy. And the music, not simply the theme (which is great) but all the incidental scoring throughout is eerie and seminal horror business.

The Shape had many sequels and imitators, but nothing holds a jack-o-lantern’s candle to this true American original. And it’s all on Halloween.

Many years have I watched this film on Halloween night and it’s never been a bad decision. Simply watching this film any night is never a bad decision, but from a young age, into my teenage and adult years, Halloween still makes Halloween feel like Halloween.

So, Happy Halloween tumblr.

Oct. 30th: The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror (1990 – Present)

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No TV show has celebrated Halloween so consistently, so effectively or so happily as The Simpsons. With their annual Treehouse of Horror episode, featuring 3 vignettes typically parodying genre films, the Simpsons (for me, growing up) equaled Halloween.

The show was a huge part of my youth, and the Halloween specials something I desperately looked forward to seeing. Which movies would they spoof this year? When will it air? What new horrors and laughs lie in wait? These episodes allowed me to both revel in my love of Halloween and further reenforced that love in equal measure.

At one point in time, some of the only samples on the playlist were from The Simpsons Halloween Specials. Over the years, I’ve slowly replaced a good many of them, but some have been left in tact, leading in the same songs as they always did.

I’ve hosted parties where I had whatever episodes existed at the time just running in loops. Other years I’ve spent my Halloween night watching as many as I had.

Some of them (namely 4, 5 and 6) are among my favorite episodes of the entire series. And though, like the show itself, they have long passed their peaked, and grown weaker it seems with each passing year, I still enjoy watching the new ones all the same. I must concede however, that they don’t quite inspire the same giddy Halloween excitement in me as they did in my youth.

While the watching of any 4 Treehouse of Horrors would essentially constitute the length of a movie, I would suggest marathoning the first 12 for a good 4 hour dose of Halloween awesomeness.

Homer reciting Poe, Burns playing Frankenstein and Dracula, The evil Krusty doll, Mulitiple Twilight Zone spoofs, Kang and Kodos, Willie as Freddy, Homer as The Omega Man, Bart as The Fly! So many great Halloween horror moments await you.

Nostalgia rant ceasing. Happy 30th everybody.

Oct. 29th: Night of the Demons (1988)

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One of my absolute favorites, this one has slipped in and out of my Halloween night top spot over the years, and for a multi-feature Hallows Eve marathon, it’s a sure-fire selection.

This awesome late 80’s gore-fest has everything you want for a Halloween Movie:

  • An awesome title sequence with a great theme
  • A plot that takes place entirely on Halloween
  • A Halloween party as its main event
  • A haunted and abandoned house as its main setting
  • Demon possession
  • Drinking and bad decisions
  • A sexy and possessed goth chick dancing to Bauhaus
  • A naked Linnea Quigley shoving lipstick in her nipple
  • Fun gore and Special FX
  • A great soundtrack
  • Obnoxious and memorable horror victims
  • Choice one-liners
  • A crotchety old prick who hates Halloween
  • And enough Halloween ambiance to satiate all of the 31st’s requirements.

Weirdo goth girl Angela is throwing a Halloween party at the infamous and abandoned Hull House. Sounds like a deal, so even the squares decide it might be a lark.

Unfortunately for them, Angela’s party agenda happens to include a seance. Probably not the best idea in Hull House on Halloween, the night where all the creepy things are suppose to stalk the earth.

Though seemingly a dud, the seance works, and soon a torrent of Halloween hell rains down on everyone involved.

Classic 80’s horror on display here. If you’ve never seen Night of the Demons, this is the year. Wait for the 31st, imbibe the poison of your choice, sit back and let the Halloweeniness possess you.

Triple feature all 3 Night of the Demons for an extra Halloweeny evening.

Oct. 28th: Trick ‘R Treat (2008)

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When it comes to straight up Halloween atmosphere, no movie quite kicks you in the pumpkins with it like 2008’s Trick ‘R Treat, and it just may win the prize for most Halloweeny movie ever. Dunno if that title is ultimately subjective or actually quantifiable though. Either way, this ones definitely being considered.

Playing like the Pulp Fiction of horror, Trick ‘R Treat weaves 4 Halloween yarns together, all on our night of All Hallo’s.

I’ll be honest, I can do without the Werewolf girls, I find that story drags a bit, with a pretty telegraphed reveal, but the other 3 stories are top-notch Halloween tales.

While not without its faults, it’s great fun, with more pumpkins and trick or treating than any other movie to date. Try not getting amped about Halloween watching this movie, I dare you.

I had heard about it’s troubled release and was sad it to find out it wasn’t going to get its day in the theaters. I was pretty stoked when it was finally released on DVD and was able to bathe in its orange glow, thinking “finally another awesomely Halloweeny Halloween movie.”

Oct. 27th: Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

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Despite being the Myers-less entry, this bizarre and underrated installment trumps them all in the Halloweeniness department.

It’s a definite must somewhere in the Halloween week. If you’ve never caught this entry, or have passed on it based on poor reviews or its non-canonical status, give it a shot this year, especially around Halloween.

It is by no means a flawless film, and its pretty rough around the edges, but it has a lot going for it, particularly if you’re in the need of a hefty dose of Hallo’s Eve atmosphere.

Initially, Carpenter wanted the franchise to be this; a different Halloween-themed film for each yearly “Halloween” installment. It’s a great concept, and had this film come 2nd, been a little better and done better critically and at the box office, it probably could have worked. Oh well, I suppose.

Essentially, mad Celtic Druids create face melting masks and peddle them to the public in an attempt to carry out the greatest single mass Halloween sacrifice of children in history. Alright, sounds like a plan, Old Man from Robocop

If that’s not enough to sell you, how bout tons of Halloween ambiance, a great score, Tom Atkins, masks, trick or treating in spades, some sex, dudes dumping latex into hydro-cal molds and that classic commercial jingle. Holy Samhain!

3 more days till Halloween, Halloween, Halloween. 3 more days till Halloween, Silver Shamrock!

Oct. 25th: Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

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Long-time followers are sure to know of my love of Jim Varney, Ernest P. Worrell and this movie.

One of my favorite Halloween movies of all-time, Ernest Scared Stupid has definitely made its way into a Halloween night triple feature on more than one occasion. Sometimes though it just gets an October viewing. Either way, it’s a prime selection and an October must.

Unfortunately, Ernest mania (was that ever even a thing?) was waning by ‘91, and the movie didn’t fair too well at the box office, or with critics. It was the last Ernest outing to be released by Touchstone Pictures and Ernest was not long for the theatrical world, finding his subsequent, independently produced and inferior efforts heading for the video market.

Which is a shame, because this is honestly my favorite, and while I’m not sure it’s “better” than Ernest Goes to Camp, I think it’s the most enjoyable, and superior to both Saves Christmas and Goes To Jail, but that’s just me. I’m a die-hard Halloweener.

This is family Halloween fair at its best with Ernest ineptly battling a gaggle of awesome Chidio-made trolls. It’s fun, funny and above all chock full of Halloweeniness. So how ‘bout a bumper sandwich, booger lips!?

Oct. 24th: Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959) & The Basement (1989)

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Friday night double feature! This one features 2 films that couldn’t possibly be any more different from one another.

Our first selection has been on my “to watch” list for sometime. Late 50’s hot-rodder meet a ghost? The Shindig is in. That list is long however, and its viewing had never come to fruition, until tonight.

Though I do wish I had dropped it a bit earlier in the month, this movie’s got enough Halloweeniness (though never explicitly stated) for any October night, in any year. And it’s vintage Halloween to boot, and nothings better than some old fashioned Halloween.

The first half plays like your average 50’s dragster flick, with enough hep dialogue to beat a nick with a stick. However, the second half shift into something between House on Haunted Hill and Scooby Doo episode, with one of the weirdest endings I’ve seen in quite sometime.

It’s a great spook-party with lots of dancing and costumes, and it all adds up to a fun throw-back night.basement

However, if its 65 minute run-time leaves you a little wanting, I say back end it with another semi-Halloween shorty, The Basement.

This super-8 shot, backyard bloodbath was never officially released ever, on any format. It wasn’t until recently that it became available at all. About a minute and a half in and you’ll understand why.

Your standard anthology horror effort, The Basement finds 4 idiots stuck in a basement (of all places) with The Sentinel, a foolish and spooky figure who’ll give these morons a peek at their future sins. Alright, I’m game.

It all plays out like a 16th-assed Creepshow or (more appropriately) Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors and it has some of the worst/greatest overdubbing I’ve ever heard. This film (though I shutter to use such a term) will no doubt have you in tears, one way or the other.

For our intents, it is the second vignette, entitled “Trick or Treat” that concerns us. This short story finds an shitty crumb-bum and Halloween hating English teacher caught in a Dickensian nightmare, al a A Christmas Carol for The Eve of all Saints. He’s a real prick, and its great fun watching him whine his way through the ghostly visits.

Maybe not the most Halloweeny, and certainly not the best movies this list has to offer, but what can you expect for an 11th hour selection? I still say they’re both worth a viewing. So,…enjoy?

Oct. 23rd: Hack-O-Lantern (1988)

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From the hallowed year of our Lord 1988, comes the awesome, ridiculous, and thoroughly Halloweeny, Hack-O-Lantern.

Young Tommy has a pretty intense grandfather. The guy loves Halloween and pumpkins. He’s also a practicing Satanist with his eye of Horus firmly fixed on Tommy’s future. He also tried to rape his own daughter on her wedding day, but that’s another matter all together.

Tommy’s dad’s a tough cop though and knows all about Grampa’s dark artistry. So naturally, he doesn’t take too kindly to Grampa’s Halloween visit. When he approaches gramps at a barnyard black mass, he is quickly taken out by a hammer wielding occultist. So much for that.

Fast forward the present and Tommy’s a badass metal misfit whom grampa has taken graciously under his wing, as he grooms Tommy be the son Satan never had.

All is going well it seems. People are dying randomly, and Tommy is preparing for his big Halloween initiation. He’s got satanic heavy metal cassettes, cool horror movie posters, a slutty girlfriend and his own alter of evil in his closet. To hell with what his mother says, he’s the son of the devil, goddamit, and tonight’s his big night.

While Tommy is busy amping himself up, his studious sister, Sheriff’s deputy brother and the rest of the town preparing for a boring, vanilla, murderless and incest free Halloween party. When these two Halloween worlds collide, however, the Hack-O-Lanterning begins.

This film has everything you need for a satisfactory Halloween night. Ridiculous acting, low-rent barnyard Satanists, trucks filled with pumpkins, old diecut decorations, masked murder, tits, a Halloween party, graveyard shenanigans, one jarringly wedged and incomprehensible stand up routine, attempted (an incestuous) rape, a sweet ass heavy metal dream sequence, and of course, Halloween as its main focus.

If you’ve never seen this rare VHS gem, YouTube or Veehd can supply you with the stream-able awesomeness at the push of a button. Ah, what a wonderful world the internet is sometimes.

Hack-O-lantern comes highly recommended from the Shindig as part of a complete Halloween breakfast.

Oct. 22nd: Hauntedween (1991)

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Here’s another low-rent Halloween fiasco, this time entitled HauntedWeen.

Reguaws Kentucky has it’s own Family haunt – The Burber House. Unfortunately, young Eddie Burber’s too young work there yet. So, he sneaks in with his shitty mask and tries his hand at scaring a little girl. Which he does, effectively. So effectively in fact that she runs into a carelessly placed spike, skewering herself. So, Eddie just whips out a machete and finishes the job.

Ma Burber doesn’t chastised Eddie, she simply decides they need to leave. So they abandon the haunt and take off to a cabin in the woods. There they live happily, until another Halloween where Ma Burber dies, leaving Eddie free to pursue his murderous inclinations.

Fast forward and Hauntedween is now following the Sigma Phi fraternity, perhaps the lamest frat this side of the Tri-Lambs. Seems these jokers haven’t paid their national fraternity dues lately and are facing shut-down. No worries, just throw a haunted house Halloween party, charge admission and problem solved.

But where? Well, when a mysterious stranger offers you the keys to the haunted Burber House, I don’t think there’s any cause to second guess that at all. Party on, after a quick Mistress of the Dark style remodeling montage set to an awesome Title Track. Bonus.

So, the house opens again, but of course, Eddie’s there too, with his old shitty mask, sneaking around the haunt creating real murders for all the unwitting spectators.

It’s actually a pretty neat idea, and it’s pulled off with a lot of low-budget, hometown labor-of-love charm. The haunted house finale is so spot on with local haunted attractions, it’s hard not to grin widely, particularly when Eddie makes the leap from dreams to reality.

It was even shot on 16mm, which is a commendable in an era where this could have easily been shot-on-video. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and it’s works.

Though a rare and sought after VHS gem, it is also available now on DVD from the filmmakers themselves @hauntedween.com.

Oct. 21st: The Midnight Hour (1985)

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Here’s a Halloween treat in the truest sense. Another selection from 1985 that’s also a made for TV moivie, The Midnight Hour.

A veritable festival of Halloween, this film takes place (like all great Halloween films should) exclusively on the Eve of All Saints. Like some other Halloween films on the list, generic New England creepsville Pitchford Cove has it’s own haunted history, and the film begins with the telling of that tale at school. Seems a witch named Lucinda Cavender was put to death there by  the Witchfinder General 300 years ago.

So naturally, 5 high school morons jack that authentic witch gear from the museum for their Halloween costumes. While knee deep in B and E, they also discover a crazy ancient scroll. So, yeah, they decide to head for the local cemetery and read from that scroll, like any one of you might.

As one may expect, this promptly resurrects Lucinda and just about every other corpse in the graveyard. And where do all zombies go on Halloween? Why they’ll crash the big Halloween party being held at Lucinda’s old Mansion. Mayhem, vampirism, zombification and dancing ensue.

Though made-for-TV, the only real tip-off there is the lack of gore or language and perhaps the presence of so many television stars. Otherwise, this just feels like a PG-13 horror movie that’s semi-family friendly.

And the cast is nuts, check it:

  • Shari Belafonte, daughter of the singer Harry Belafonte
  • LeVar Burton, Star Trek’s Geordi La Forge and Reading Rainbow host,
  • Peter DeLuise, 21 Jumpstreet tough guy
  • Kevin McCarthy from the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers and UHF
  • Kurtwood Smith aka Clarence Fucking Boddiker,
  • Dick Van Patten!
  • and even the voice of Wolfman Jack as the DJ.

Are you kidding me? That’s insane. And I guarantee you’ll see a few other faces you recognize but can’t place.

You’re getting heavy Halloween party action, a Halloween dance number, exploding graves, Trick or Treating, a old jerk who hates Halloween, costume robbery, zombies, vampires, and did I catch a werewolf in there too? It’s got everything you need for a slightly rough around the edges family Halloween night.

While certainly not the best, The Midnight hour is one of the most Halloweeny selections you could come by, and is essential Halloween material.

As Wolfman’s jack would say: “It’s Halloween, so we’re gonna be rockin’ till The Midnight Hour!”