Good tidings traveller, I greet you warmly and invite you to spend a while from the bitter midnight chill at this ramshackle and vaguely threatening tavern as I recount tales of the best movies that you could be watching this All Hallows Eve. In other words, there's a countdown list on the way.
At this time of year, you won't be able to burn a witch without coming across a top ten horror movies list; some of them are well worth considering, especially this one over at The Guardian. The problem with these? Ten movies just aren't enough! There are just too many great horror films out there to fit onto a list of ten, and why should you miss out?! So that's why I've singled out the five best movies from the most popular horror sub-genres in order to give your options more....bite? Sorry.
These lists will be posted on the blog over the next week in anticipation of the big night itself, and hopefully they'll give you a few ideas of what to watch to get in the mood.
To kick off, I've started with a sub-genre that's all about telling a good, creepy tale – the anthology...
Top 5 Horror Anthologies
5. The House That Dripped Blood (1971)
Although Hammer may have owned the 60's and 70's horror movie scene, Amicus gave them a decent run for their money and this Amicus produced film is not the only one on these lists. The cast sheet of The House That Dripped Blood is like The Expendables of horror and sci-fi; you've not just got Cushing and Lee but Jon Pertwee, Ingrid Pitt and Geoffrey Bayldon. As well as the cast, the movie has a great kitsch vibe (as you'll discover as soon as the movie starts) and stories macabre enough to get the Halloween juices flowing. The best one? Vampire tale, The Cloak, about pompous actor Paul Henderson (Pertwee) who, in order to look convincing in his latest role as a vampire, makes a purchase of a mysterious cloak that literally transforms his performance...
4. V/H/S (2012)
V/H/S has got a great retro feel to it. Not only does it tell its stories through old VHS tapes (which means it has that shaky, how-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-autotrack-this-on-my-bluray-player) look, but the fact that the stories are told in the anthology style is in itself a throwback. There are no “stars” in this one but this only serves the film as you have no pre-conceptions about who the villains are and who will possibly meet their grisly demise. The film also works as a “found footage” piece as the movies are, as you'd expect, filmed by the characters themselves as the events happen. The best story for me is Amateur Night, where the first person POV works well to craft a moral tale of how you should be careful who you decide to pick up in a bar.
3. Asylum (1972)
Another entry from the Amicus canon, featuring Jesus of Nazereth and The Crowman (or Robert Powell and Geoffrey Bayldon). Again, suitably macabre from the start the plot here is about young Dr. Martin (Powell) who is tasked with interviewing four patients from a mental asylum as part of a job interview. If, after hearing their stories, he correctly uncovers which of the patients is the recently-gone-insane Dr. Starr – he gets the job. The stories from the unfortunate individuals are even crazier than The House That Dripped Blood, from bloodthirsty bio-mechanical robot toys to severed body parts teaming up to take revenge on the hallion responsible for separating them.
2. Creepshow (1982)
A popular title that had the strength to bear two sequels, this is more fun that fearful. Leslie Nielsen is in it for a start... Guided by an on-form Romero (who would eventually peak a few years later with Day of the Dead) and with a screenplay by Stephen King, how could this NOT hit the mark. The best story is Something to Tide You Over which features the aforementioned Nielsen and Ted Danson. Danson's character (Harry Wentworth) has been poking away at Nielsen's (Richard Vickers) wife. With the mantra “Danson Must Die” ringing over and over in his head, Leslie decides to kill the pair of them in an elaborate buried-up-to-the-neck, TV watching fashion. It plays out like an episode of Columbo until the newlydeads resurface to wreak their vengeance Romero style.
1. Trick 'r Treat (2007)A great movie for getting into Halloween. Set on the ghoulish night itself, Trick 'r Treat revolves around the fate of several residents of “small town America”, the sort of place you'd reckon Michael Myers calls home. There's plenty of familiar faces in it, including True Blood's Anna Paquin and the awesome Brain Cox (not the TV brainiac). The film is lush with Halloween atmosphere and colourful characters ranging from werewolves to crazy psycho-killers. All the good stuff, y'know. What sets this apart from the others is the structure of the storytelling. Some tales are set up gradually, while others are going on, and the timeline isn't linear – think Pulp Fiction and you'll be closer. Best story is that of Laurie (Pacquin) as she settles on finding the right guy for her first time...