LM Kitchen Staff Hall-O-Ween Slaylist featuring Uncouth
Videovores, it’s that time of year again when the weather gets colder, the nights get longer, and neighborhoods begin to look like cemeteries infested with rotting corpses, ghosts, and pumpkins. This has been my favorite time of year since I was just a little dude. Trick or treating was never the highlight of the season for me; in fact I quit that business earlier than all my friends. No, the real treat for this gorehound was the horror movie marathons that plagued cable stations like locusts. I was rarely given permission to rent all the spooky treats haunting my local video store, so cable TV was the next best thing. I remember eagerly reading the TV Guide, lining up my viewing for the whole month, hoping to catch a Friday the 13th marathon, or a juicy zombie flick. Then and now, after Halloween, the year’s all down hill from there. So l’d like to celebrate this cinephile season with some of my very favorite flicks to warm up my VCR each year….
First up I have House (1986), a film about as you might have guessed, a house! Directed by Steve Miner of Friday the 13th Part 2 and written by Fred Dekker of Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad fame, House is not your standard haunted house flick. Famous horror writer Stephen King, err I mean Roger Cobb loses his son to a kidnapper, gets divorced and inherits his aunt’s house. He decides to take shelter there from all the worry and strain of the real world so that he can work on his autobiographical Vietnam novel, and besides, Norm from Cheers lives next door, so what the hell?
Hey... the war ain't over, pal!
The house is of course haunted and creepy things happen here, but it’s also a portal to another dimension, a dimension filled with your worst fears. Monsters, killer inanimate objects, and resurrected dead girlfriends abound, not to mention a great performance from Night Court’s Richard Moll as one badass dead Vietnam vet. Creepy, funny, and full of imagination, this one doesn’t play by the rules and is truly a forgotten gem in the pantheon of horror. Hell, it spawned several sequels to mixed results but still it remains a lesser known flick. It scared the crap out of me as a kid and I love it even if it isn’t nearly a spooky as I remembered.
The amazing one-sheet for THE THING's theatrical release....
Next up we have John Carpenter’s The Thing. Not an unknown flick by any means but it could very well be my favorite horror flick of all time. For those uninitiated it’s about an alien crash in Antarctica and a small team of scientists and rough necks stationed there that suffer its attacks. The alien is able to assimilate any living thing it kills, morphing into a perfect match. Its goal is assimilate the world, so it’s up to an already paranoid band of misfits to hunt it down and kill it before they all fall victim to this strange creature.
Bursting at the seams with cold-war paranoia, the film is gory, funny, imaginative, scary, and suspenseful. It’s got a great soundtrack and some of the best performances from the actors that grace the screen. Sorry, was that a little bit too fanboy-ish? I’m gushing, I know; but it’s just such a damn fine flick and this here little write-up just doesn’t do it justice. If you haven’t seen it for a while, fire it up again. You’ll be surprised at how amazing it really is. And to think it was critically panned and a box office blunder upon it’s release, now its one of Carpenter’s most successful films thanks to video rentals!
Arguably the best tag-line ever for a zombie flick....
Finally, I’ll round things out with my number one favorite film to watch on Halloween: The Return of the Living Dead (1985). It is a special film that could only be born from the 1980’s. I remember catching pieces of this on TV and when I was old enough, renting it and watching it with amazement. Running zombies? Unheard of! Yes, that’s right: they beat 28 Days Later by a good 20 years! Hell, these rotters call the cops so they can feast on “MORE BRAINS!” Written and directed by Dan O’Bannon, who wrote Total Recall, Alien and a ton of other genre staples, this was his directorial debut. It was originally offered to Tobe Hooper, but he dropped it for a film he figured would be his ticket to the big top, Lifeforce, which of course...wasn’t.
The Tar Man in all his black and slimy glory... say it with me now:
This flick offers a quirky cast of punks and various degenerates spinning the tale of a medical supply company which gets a shipment of zombies in a can; of course, one of ‘em leaks zombie smoke everywhere, infecting the medical supply workers, and eventually the cemetery next door, bringing the dead back for one helluva party. All the characters are now trapped with nowhere to go and no way to kill the zombies. Shooting ‘em in the head does nothing to these guys; there’s no way of killing them. None. That kind of nihilism at the height of the cold war was rarely rivaled. The film is gory, funny, action packed and unique. It doesn’t fit the zombie mold and is wonderful for it. It has a pitch black comedic ending and a great soundtrack of 80’s punk rock including 45 Grave, The Cramps and T.S.O.L. This one is perfect for any party of punks and metalheads getting together to drink some beers and party hearty. The flick never gets old for me, and I’m not the only one. There’s been several sequels, a book about the films, and coming soon an extensive documentary from the makers of the Nightmare on Elm Street doc Never Sleep Again.
So there you have it: three horror flicks that I can’t live without and plan on watching yet again this witching season. What are some of your favorite flicks to check out this time of year? I'd like to know!