pumpkinsIt’s that time of year again.  The pumpkins are out, the leaves are turning colors, the air is brisk and chilly.  It’s time for the spooky stories, the frightening films, the maybe not so scary but at times certainly inventive costumes and that most important element…..candy corn.  Yes folks, Halloween season is upon us once again.

My yearly tradition on All Hallows Eve is to hole up in my house, turn off all the lights and settle in to a nice good ole fashioned Horror movie.  What other way to celebrate right?  I figured this would be the perfect time to run down a list movies that fit this time of year perfectly.  Let’s run them down by letter shall we?

Halloween_poster-01H – Starting with the obvious,  Halloween.  John Carpenter’s fright fest with a score so simple, it’s frightening….literally.  Laurie Strode agrees to babysit on the scariest night of the year.  Little does she know what Halloween has in store for her.

The original version still holds up and I still get goose bumps when I hear that infamous tune start to play.  One of the freakiest scenes was after Laurie thinks she has bested Michael Meyers.  We see Laurie in the foreground, and Michael laying flat in the background.  Just when we think we can take a breath, we see Michael sit up straight.  I have two thoughts that run through my head each time I see this scene. 1) Tony Moran has amazing core muscles, and 2)Why did she stick around…get out…get out of the house!  Jamie Lee Curtis was great as babysitter Laurie.  She was able to make you feel her fear and make you jealous of her pipes all in the same scene.  She didn’t earn the moniker The Scream Queen for nothin’ folks.

AmityvilleA – The Amityville Horror (1979 & 2005)
Starting with the 1979 version starring Margo Kidder and James Brolin as a newly married couple who find, buy and move into their dream house.  Of course the house was witness to a heinous crime and the evil that lurks there starts to wreak havoc on the poor unsuspecting Lutz family.  The standout here was James Brolin.  His transformation from loving husband and father to evil, mad husband and father is subtle, but effective.  Moving over to the remake, or rebake, I should say.  The 2005 version was rebaked to a nice medium rare.  It was easy to chew on, and I enjoyed it.  The casting of Ryan Reynold in Brolin’s role was interesting but he showed his chops and made it his own.  The real star, after thinking about it, is the house itself.  That house gives me the creeps just looking at pictures of it.  It’s freaky!  I would never go there…..ever.   The standout scene in the 2005 version is when the priest comes to bless the house.  He ends up locked in a room with a swarm of flies.  I believe his last line of dialogue is “Your house scares me”.  Buddy, you’re not joking….it scares me too.

The orignal had the stigma attached to it that the story was based on actual events.  It came out several years ago, that it was in fact fiction and the events that transpired in the house didn’t actually happen.  Both films still have the ability to leave you a bit restless.

lost_boysL – The Lost Boys (1987)
Ok, so not so much a “horror” film, but it has Vampires.  And that is always a good thing.  Michael and Sam are brothers who, with their divorced mother, move to the coastal town of Santa Carla.  Things from strange to freaky when Michael gets mixed up with bad seeds of the town.   Michael finds himself walking the fine line between human and vampire and Sam tries to help get his brother back by enlisting the help of the Frog brothers. 

Comedy ensues, and vampire guts fly.  Death by stereo was invented.  And as far as I’m concerned, anything with Keifer Sutherland, is bound to rock.  This is a Vampire film made for an MTV Generation.

LastHouseLeftposterL – Last House on the Left (2009)
I have to go with the remake on this one since I’ve never seen the original.  I know I know, bad Tracy!  I went to see one because my Aunt called in a marker.  I drag her to a load of crap movies, so this was her pick.  I came out surprised.

After a family tragedy, Mari Collingwood goes to spend the summer with her parents at their summer home.  After visiting with a friend in town, Mari gets caught up with nasty group of people.  Violence, trauma, death, the usual stuff ensues.  Tony Goldwin and Monica Potter play Ma and Pa Collingwood and the leader of the bad guys is the stellar Garret Dillahunt.  You may not know the name, but you’ll know him when you see him.   This film has plenty of jumps and couple of parts that made my jaw hit the floor.  Not so much in the horror veins as the other films on this list, but it has just enough of that uneasy feeling to warrant a mention.

The_Others_Movie_PosterO -The Others (2001)
“I am your daughter!” Oh how I love saying that to my mom.  And she gets it, which makes it even better.  Having seen the movie with her, I pull out that line when appropriate.  The Others, starring Nicole Kidman as a wife and mother who is trying to raise her kids while her husband if off fighting in the Civil War.  Her kids have a condition where they can’t be exposed to sunlight, and loud noises bother them.  This film is typical, with the suspense and creepy factor.  I mean, the movie has Fionnula Flanagan in it.  And that woman knows how to serve up some creepy. 

There is a bit of a twist which I’m ashamed to say I didn’t see coming.  I’m normally quite good and spotting those kinds of things.  Perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention.  Anyway, if you watch it alone, with all the lights off and you start to hear noises, I would say one might be a bit unnerved.  I think I’ll call my mom right now and tell her once again that I am, indeed, her daughter.  It gets an eye-roll, but her response to this is nothing compared to her response to my next entry.

wizard-of-oz-dvdcoverW -The Wizard of Oz (1939)
I know. You’re scratching your head thinking “what the hell is she thinking??”.  Wizard of Oz isn’t a horror movie!  I beg to differ.  This movie has been dishing the creep my entire life and then some.  A green witch hell bent on revenge!  Flying evil monkeys! Lions and tigers and bears oh my! Flying evil monkeys!  All of that is downright scary stuff.

Dorothy and her little dog get caught up in a tornado and ends up taking the yellow brick road trip of a lifetime with a couple of high maintenance companions.  You’ve seen it, you know the story.  You must also see the creepy too right?
Not to bring my mom into this again but, she hates this movie.  With a passion.  So of course, every time  it’s on TV,  I call her and tell her to flip it to whatever channel, which then leads to about 3 minutes of cursing in my ear.  Then I giggle and hang up.  It’s not nice, but it’s fun.  I watched this so much as a kid, I’ll probably never watch it again.  The thought of it creeps me out.

entityposterE – The Entity (1981)
Even though it’s been ages since I’ve seen this one, I can still recall certain scenes and they still freak me out a bit.  Barbara Hershey is Carla Moran.  A single mother who finds that the nighttime visits she is being paid, isn’t coming from a friendly, or human for that matter, source.  Carla finds herself the focal point of an entity that forces itself on her continuously.  Thinking that she is going mad, she enlists the help of a paranormal research team.  After a plan to rid Carla of her attacker goes awry, but seems to work, Carla and her family bail from the house they were living in to start fresh.  At the end Carla still experiences the attacks but with less frequency.  Pretty messed up right?  Word on the street is that this film is based on actual events and experiences of the main character. 

Given the subject matter, it’s probably not a proper movie for a youngster to watch….which is exactly what I was when I saw it on HBO.  Anything that says it’s based on fact, or actual events, or inspired by true events shines like a beacon to me.  I’m instantly curious and must see it.  Call it morbid curiosity I guess.  I don’t have a particular need to re-watch this one however.  Just the thought of it being based on fact is enough to give me goosebumps!

exorcistE -The Exocist (1973)
Growing up I never had any restrictions about what I was allowed to watch.  As evidenced by my previous entry.  The Exocist was the one film that was forbidden.  I asked and asked and begged and pleaded with my mom to let me watch it.  Every time I got a stern look followed by “ABSOLUTELY NOT!”  It wasn’t until I was 18 and legally an adult, although still living at home with mom, that I brought it home from work.  She asked me what movie I rented and I proudly stated “The Exorcist!” After enduring another stern look, she turned around and walked out of the room leaving me to my scare fest.  After watching poor little Regan turn into something evil and do some not so nice things with a crucifix, I understood my mom’s reluctance. 

I actually didn’t think the film was super scary either.  Even though I may never look at pea soup the same way again.  I guess the issue here was that since it was so forbidden, I had it built up in my head that this was the movie that I was going to lose sleep over, and I felt a little bit let down.  Several years later when it was re-released in the theaters, I went with a boat load of friends and felt the effect to a greater degree.  Seeing Regan do that crazy spider walk down the stairs on the big screen genuinely freaked me out.

nightmareN – Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
1, 2, Freddie’s comin’ for you……3, 4, better lock your door…..5,6, grab a crucifix…7,8 gonna stay up late…..9,10 never sleep again.
Freddie Kruger.  The best villain of the 80’s horror movies.  He was so much more effective than Jason or Michael Myers.  I attribute it to the fact that Freddie had a quality that the others didn’t…..personality.  Freddie was such a menacing figure, but he terrorized with panache.   And you have to give kudos to Robert Englund for pulling that off.  Freddie runs around and wreaks havoc on the kids whose parents yanked him out of the living gene pool years prior.  The twist, he’s offing these kids by way of their dreams.  Nancy is the one smart teenager who puts it all together and fights Freddie to the bitter end. 

The remake is currently in post production with Jackie Earle Haley donning the infamous striped sweater.  I think it’s a perfect fit, no pun intended.  I recently watched the trailer and got a bit excited for it, so hopefully it’ll do the original justice.  Whether or not they decide to continue on with the sequels is anybody’s guess.  I stopped watching after Dream Warriors.  It just got plain silly after that.  I was impressed with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare however.  I thought that was an interesting spin on the story.  Nightmare is a must see for anyone who digs the scary movies.  When this film came out, it was a rare occasion where you simultaneously laughed and screamed at the same time.  Good ole Freddie just had that effect on people.

Well folks, that sums up my list.  I hope I’ve given you all some ideas on what movie you’re going to watch on Halloween.  So go get your loved one, hunker down and grab a wubie, turn off the lights and put in your favorite scary movie.  That’s exactly what I’ll be doing on October 31st.  Let us know what scary movies you love and why in the comments.