"Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit." Elbert Hubbard

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The return of what to watch for Halloween...

Did you listen to me? NO...You fools failed to ensure the monster was truly dead, and now it has returned to wreak it's vengeance! I warned you! Lock your windows and doors. Get out your pitchforks and torches. Say your prayers. Hide the women and children. Wait, what?

Oh never mind, just read on. If you dare...

1.The Devil Rides Out (1968). A classic from Hammer Films. The Duc de Richleau battles a Satanic cult led by the sinister Mocata. Based on the novel of the same title by Dennis Wheatley. You'll just have to watch it to see who prevails. As for the original novel? So horribly boring that I put it down after the first chapter and never picked it up again.

2.Horror Hotel (1960). Originally made and released in England as The City of the Dead. More Devilish goings on to give you the creeps. It opens up in Puritan New England as a witch is burned at the stake, then jumps forward to the present where such things are superstitious cruelty practiced on the innocent by the ignorant. Or is it? I remember discovering this film late at night in my youth and absolutely loving it to the point of owning it on dvd now. Low budget but effective, it has what a good gothic horror needs, mood and atmosphere.

3.The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968). Another excellent made for television film. Jack Palance straight up owns the role of the mild mannered Henry Jekyll and his alter ego, the diabolic Edward Hyde, as if the part was written just for him. This is my favorite adaptation of the novel of the same title by Robert Louis Stevenson.

4.The Night Stalker (1972).When I saw this at eight years old I was hooked. The follow up television series was one of my favorites at that age and still is, even if it got ridiculously cheesy at the end. Because Darren McGavin as the reporter turned monster hunter carries on despite the fact that no one will believe him. Based on the novel of the same title by Jeff Rice, which I have read and highly recommend.

5.High Plains Drifter (1973). Wait a minute, this is a Western shoot 'em up you say? Why yes it is, but... Watch it and pay attention to what's going on beneath the surface. It is a ghost story. A very vengeful ghost at that. The entire town was complicit in his murder and he's come back to make them all pay dearly for it.

6.Stir of Echoes (1999). Based on the novel A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson, this creepy, effective film was relatively unnoticed when it was released because The Sixth Sense hit theaters a month earlier. Your average blue collar working class guy is hypnotised for fun during a party. Then he starts seeing things that aren't there. Even his own wife starts to doubt his sanity. Hallucinations and voices in his head? Maybe...

7.The Haunting (1963). A team of paranormal investigators goes to an old mansion to attempt to dispel the stories of it being haunted. Are there ghosts? Or is the house itself the malevolent entity? Based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, which I read once and found boring. To be fair I will go back and give it another try one day. This was remade in 1999 and I found that version rather forgettable because it relied on the CGI effects to carry the story.

8.Haunted (1995). I discovered this little gem of a ghost story browsing through the horror section somewhere. Professor David Ash, a debunker of "psychic" phenomena, is called to investigate and calm the fears of an old woman. What he discovers causes him to question his own sanity. Based on the novel of the same title by James Herbert, it is the first of three novels concerning David Ash which I now absolutely have to read.

9.The Skull (1965). This creepy film stars Peter Cushing as a collector of occult artifacts, who comes into possession of the skull of the infamous Marquis de Sade. Unfortunately for him the skull has a will of its own that overpowers those who possess it. Christopher Lee also appears, but only just, much to my disappointment. Lee and Cushing together are just cinematic magic to me. Based on the short story , The Skull of the Marquis de Sade, by Robert Bloch.

10.The Changeling (1980). Ah...this film is a ghost story. And what a story it tells. George C. Scott is perfect in his role as a composer and Professor of music overwhelmed at times by grief for his wife and daughter, killed in a tragic car accident. Is the ghost of his daughter attempting to communicate with him? Or is it something else entirely and what does it want? Some secrets will not stay buried...

Once again horror films with no or little blood. The actors, story, and atmosphere carry you along to tell a creepy tale best watched with the lights out. Not a complete list by any means, but a fair sample of what I consider worth watching. Far too many films rely on gore, special effects, and punch you between the eyes shock value in between predictable scenes of the unsuspecting being led to their ridiculously creative deaths.

So my dear readers, see the films for yourselves. If you dare...

"We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight." H. P. Lovecraft


  1. THE NIGHT STALKER had a profound effect on my childhood, I wonder if the series is available on DVD? Do you remember the episode with the Werewolf on the Cruise Ship? Loved it!

    I can't believe I've never seen High Plains Drifter. While intend to follow up on all of your recommendations from both of these posts, I think HPD just moved to the top of the list!

  2. Both made for television films, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler (1973), are available on dvd. As is the entire series of Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-75), which only ran for one season (20 episodes), before it was cancelled due to falling ratings.

  3. What about Nightmare Before Christmas? ;)

  4. It is a film for the season, but for something fun to watch, not to give you the creeps.