Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A DVD Panache Halloween

Just like Christmas, there are movies that get waaaay overplayed during Halloween. It's true that you need a scary movie on while waiting for trick-or-treaters to arrive at your house, it is false that said movie needs to be Halloween, Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street. This Halloween, surprise your guests or trick-or-treaters by having one of the following on your tube:

The Thing From Another World
This movie gets top-billing in part because it's what the kids are watching in 'Halloween' while Jamie Lee Curtis' friends are getting killed. It's an excellent sci-fi/horror title that was remade later by John Carpenter as The Thing. While this version does not have Kurt Russell or grisly creature effects, it does have Howard Hawks behind the camera (as an uncredited co-director and screenwriter) and two scenes that will melt your fun-size Snickers: the scientists who join hands to form the shape of the UFO they found under the ice (seen in 'Halloween'), and the first time you see the monster. The lavish title sequence is also unforgettable and can also be seen in 'Halloween.'

Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight
My God, have you seen this movie? Apparently, neither have many religious groups, as they would use this movie to show that religion is actually pretty kick-ass. Did you know kids that the blood of Christ, when applied on a window or door will prevent any demons from entering? Or that there are demons lurking in the world who look like Billy Zane, and the only way to combat them is to shoot them in the eyes (apparently, pretty easy to do) or wield some divine blood? It has been said before, but this movie is much better than it should be, and is one of the most fun horror movies ever made. Zane is The Collector, a ferociously over-the-top salesman for Satan who lures people into giving away their souls. But there's something he wants even more than souls: a talisman held by a drifter that contains some of Christ's blood spilled at his crucifiction. The sparks, and blood, flies as the residents of a lonely motel are under siege by Zane and his demons. Did I mention Dick Miller, Thomas Haden Church and Jada Pinkett are in this as well, and it was directed by the same guy who made Surviving the Game?

The Monster Squad
Sadly, this gem is not yet available on DVD, and I doubt Blockbuster still stocks it. Anyone who watched HBO much in the late 80s had to have seen this about 10 times. When Dracula gets the grand idea to rule the world, he'll need the help of the Mummy, Frankenstein, the Creature and a Werewolf. Naturally, all the hijinks occur in Anytown, USA like many 80s movies and the only people on to their scheme are a gang of pre-teen cutups. 'Monster Squad' is actually a very entertaining lil' flick, with great nods to all sorts of horror movies and some very good special effects. It also contains two of the best lines the 80s had to offer: 'Wolfman's got nards!' and 'My name [cocks shotgun] is Horace!' Look for Jason Hervey (Kevin's brother in 'The Wonder Years') and the best Mummy-killing ever caught on film (why didn't anyone ever think of that?)

Transylvania 6-5000
Like The Monster Squad, this is another monster spoof movie from the 80s, with one difference: Transylvania 6-5000 is verrrrry stupid. Jeff Goldblum and Ed Belgley, Jr. play dumb reporters who are investigating sightings of Frankenstein, the Wolfman and vampires in a small Transylvanian town. Things aren't all they seem as the wolfman is very sensitive, Frankenstein just wants to play cards and the female vampire just wants sex (that's her in the picture, played by Geena Davis!). It's really just a setup for a bunch of physical comedy (mostly good, like the brilliant Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde sequence) and Michael Richards moments. A movie like this would never be made again and it's hard to believe that it was made when it was. One more warning: it is verrrrry stupid.

John Carpenter's The Fog
Yes, the original and yes I really do like it. This was John Carpenter's attempt to follow up Halloween with another ground-breaking horror movie. Of course it didn't live up to 'Halloween's' standards, but what could? Nonetheless, this is a very spooky movie with excellent special effects for the era and an awesome location. The beginning is one of my favorite scenes, as a crusty old man tells campers a 'ghost story' of what actually happened to a ship of lepers at the harbor where they live. It's 100 years after that terrible incident and weird stuff starts happening, like car windows exploding and stuff falling off shelves (yikes!). But the weirdest thing is this glowing fog that starts drifting into town and killing people. There are some great 'Carpenter' moments here, like the great use of a lighthouse and the showstopping final scene (when the priest is killed) that makes the movie for me.

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