Five Films to Watch on Halloween

There are thousands of horror movies.

Most of them have a simple and stupid plot: A group of intellectually stunted teenagers go someplace improbable. One of the women will show her breasts for a few seconds in the first 15 minutes of the movie (the only breasts you’ll see). That girl and the guy that she’s have premarital (read “sinful”) sex with will be the first to die. By the end of the film, everyone is dead except one, usually the virginal girl. Everyone else was killed because they either didn’t believe that someone was hunting them or they couldn’t figure a way out of the woods/house/cabin/boat/tunnel.

Slasher films are great, but they’ve been done. They keep being done because they’re easy to write and cheap to make.

Well, we thought we’d elevate this conversation. Here are five films we just can’t stop talking about. Some are old, some are new. Some are classic horror movies, others are hybrids of horror and other genres, but are worth watching for various reasons.

  1. Pontypool – This film is one of the best horror movies in years with an implausible plot. People are turning violent because the English language is infecting their minds like a virus. The legendary Stephen McHattie, who many years ago starred in the disposable TV movie “Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby”, stars as a radio shock jock who’s ended up doing the morning show in a backwater called Pontypool. As the violence unfolds, he receives calls from people who describe what’s going on. What’s most disturbing is the amazing way that people’s minds begin to short circuit and how they speak while it happens. The film is awesome for the acting, but also for an impossible plot that has been played out very well.
  2. Teeth – In 2007, Mitchel Lichtenstein put out a very dark comedy called “Teeth.” In the film, Dawn O’Keefe, played by Jess Weixler (who won the Grand Jury Prize for Acting at Sundance for her work on the film), is a spokesperson for her local Christian abstinence group. As the story continues, she discovers that she suffers from vagina dentata. She has teeth in her lady-parts and those teeth are keeping her nice and pure, except for all the blood from other people. The comedy is evident in how the film plays out, but there is an element of social commentary here. Her teeth don’t mangle anything if she’s consenting and happy. If, however, someone puts fingers where they don’t belong or answers the phone during sex – CHOMP. The acting is excellent. The story is well done and it’s almost guaranteed to have every in the room covering the family jewels.
  3. Crazies (1973) – The government does lots of stupid stuff and citizens will randomly pay for it. In the remake from 2010, the political commentary about the government, transparency and rights has been removed. In the original, there is a very distinct feeling of a post-Vietnam distrust of the military and the government. George A. Romeo, the creator of “Night of the Living Dead”, created this awesome B horror movie that feels very 1973 and somehow very 2016. An entire town in Pennsylvania turns insane because of a government bio-weapon. The film’s alternate name has the ring of humor and fear that made Romero a legend, “Code Name: Trixie.”
  4. The Birds – It seems a shame that we should ever need to include a Hitchcock film, but the lack of CGI and color has made many of his films “classics” that no one watches anymore. This film tells the story of town besieged by our feathered friends. Nothing is more terrifying that to think that animals can gather and attack us. Tippi Hedren, who is Melanie Griffith’s mother, is the ‘every woman’ of Hitchcock’s film. Unlike many horror films today, where the lead character is some type of scholar sucked into something that they are experts in, Hedren’s character, Melanie Daniels, has more in common with Paris Hilton than Jeff Goldblum. The special effects are special because they took work and the actors are convincingly Hollywood. You really aren’t a horror movie fan if you haven’t seen this film.
  5. Freaks (1932) – A film about sideshow freaks and betrayed love, this is a movie that’s as disturbing as American Horror Story’s Circus season. Maybe more so because it was made in the 1932, not 2014. There isn’t much to say about the film except that it’s disturbing and has been the source of some of the best horror movies of all time.

So… enjoy these movies and Happy Halloween. Let us know what you think of these films and what your favorite underappreciated films are.

Article written by Bob Peryea for The Monthly Film Festival



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