Monday, October 19, 2015

New Halloween Movie Playlist

It seems to me that Halloween comes second only to Christmas.  Everyone loves Christmas and Halloween.  Both outrank every other holiday.  Both have treats, their own playlists, their own movie marathons, etc.  I originally wanted to run through a list of my favorite Halloween movies, which include popular favorites like Ghostbusters, Young Frankenstein, Sleepy Hollow, Night of the Hunter, and Nightmare Before Christmas, but I decided to recommend some current movies that may have originally flew under your radar when they first came out, all of which you can find on Netflix streaming.

Just note that I'm not a horror fan AT ALL.  I can stomach The Shining and Silence of the Lambs nothing scarier.  I can't handle torture porn, Japanese horror, or stuff like the The Evil Dead remake.  Nope, nope, nope.  Ain't no way I'm sitting through women being mutilated or worse on screen. HELL NO.

The following recommendations feature may feature some gruesome deaths but nothing too realistic or extreme.  Certainly not like anything you've seen in the Game of Thrones series.

1. Monsters (2010) dir. Gareth Edwards

Prior to directing the current US Godzilla remake, Gareth Edwards made Monsters on a shoestring budget.  The movie follows two Americans as they try to escape an alien infested quarantined zone in Mexico.  Due to its tight budget the movie doesn't show the alien life forms in full for the majority of the movie until a stunning sequence at the end.  After Hurricane Katrina and subsequent storms/natural disasters, the scenes of devastation in this fictional version of Mexico really hit home.

2.  Drive Angry (2011) dir.Patrick Lussier

In Drive Angry, Nicolas Cage plays a mostly straight man,lead role.  He's a man with a mission driving around in this ridiculously sweet, fast car.  He's paired up with pre-Johnny Depp, Amber Heard for no real reason, but you won't really remember either them after seeing William Fichtner as the bad guy, simply named The Accountant.

As Satan's right hand man, Fichtner spends most of the movie slaughtering his way towards our leads, retaining his icy blue stare and his sharp sense of humor.  He has the all best lines in the entire film and you know when actors say it's more fun to play the villain, you just know Fichtner is having a blast, and you will too when you witness his performance.

3. Attack the Block (2011) dir. Joe Cornish

For any of you that watched the new Star War teaser trailer and wondered who the black kid was, actor John Boyega had his star-making lead role first in Attack The Block, which featured a gang of British teenagers defending their apartment block from attacking aliens.  What's interesting here is that Boyega plays Moses, the leader of a gang, that includes black and white kids.  Moses doesn't start out as a hero or a destined savior.  Dressed in a hoodie and sporting a banana covering the lower half of his face, Moses has more than a passing resemblance to Trayvon Martin, and indeed in the beginning leads the others into vandalizing and bullying people on his own block.

We gradually see Moses transform into a true leader once the aliens land and begin attacking. Boyega makes you go from mildly disliking to 100% believing into the hero this kid has become.  Add to that the fact that aliens resemble more monster-like qualities such as pitch black fur, glowing fangs and claws, and you have the rare action sci fi - horror movie that features people of color as our heroes.

4.  The Crazies (2010) dir. Breck Eisner

Initially I thought The Crazies would be much scarier and gorier than the film actually turned out to be.  I gave it try because I love Timothy Olyphant in the series Justified.  Here Olyphant plays the main character, a sheriff, in a town that becomes infected by a toxin and turns the townspeople into violent killers, a not quite original spin on the zombie trope film but what elevates this from a paint by the numbers horror film is Olyphant's  competent performance and the action sequences set in Rockwellian locations just oozing small town charm.

The Crazies is about on par, scare wise with an average episode of The Walking Dead, and not one of their top ten scariest episodes.  However this film gives you what The Walking Dead cannot; a satisfying resolution.

5.  Trollhunter (2011) dir. Andre Ovredal

Trollhunter is a found-footage, documentary-style format, much like The Blair Witch and Cloverfield, and you expect to be either horrible or hilarious or even better, both.  The film features a protagonist seemly patterned after the kind yet serious, fatherly Dr. Van Helsing in Dracula, and you cannot help but be invested in following his work tracking Norweigan trolls.  

The movie ultimately turned out to be much better than I expected.  As with Cloverfield, you do not see many glimpses of the trolls in full view and the ice-swept scenery adds to the mysterious, slightly scary effect.

6.  Let the Right One In (2008) dir. Tomas Alfredson

Let the Right One In, a story about a young boy encountering and befriending a child vampire, was recently remade in the US as Let Me In (2010) starring Chloe Moretz.  Many of the scenes were duplicated virtually shot by shot so there is not really a drastic comparison between the two.

I prefer the original Swedish version, as the actress playing Eli the vampire has more an androgynous looks that plays better into Eli's mysterious origin.  The audience is never really sure, who or what Eli is or came from.  The film plays like a moving painting.  The frozen Swedish landscape provides a backdrop for what is part fairytale, part nightmare story of a boy growing up and a child that will never be able too.  Haunting in every sense of the word.

So what about you?  Any new recommendations for Halloween movies I should see?


  1. Ah, I can't do any sort of horror either (I watched the first paranormal activity and it scared the carp out of me, likewise The Grudge). This is a really great list and totally agree with lots of these. I really liked Monsters, attack the block and let the right one in, but I think troll hunter would be my favourite - something to do with that landscape no doubt :) will have to check some of the others out as I think they'd be the right kind of 'horror' for me.

    1. Hahaha, I'm gonna use that now, "scared the carp out of me" "you mean, crap?" "no, I meant the fish". Yeah, I do like more the old-school atmospheric horror films but The Grudge was pretty scary. There is no way I could have seen it in the theater. I watched in on the tiniest tv set I could find.