— by SCOTT SWAN —
In no particular order …
Oct. 22: “Psycho II” and “Psycho III” (Double Feature) — Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is very good, obviously, but it’s not really what I’d consider scary. It’s more of a slow mystery with a couple shocking moments. “Psycho II” (directed by Richard Franklin) and “Psycho III” (directed by Norman Bates himself, Anthony Perkins) are most definitely scary movies. More than that, they’re sleazy ’80 scary movies, “Psycho III” especially. Dennis Franz in Part II and Jeff Fahey in Part III are both phenomenal. Part III is so successfully distasteful and freaky, I wish Perkins had helmed one more “Psycho” movie and really pushed the extreme content.
Oct. 23: “Shrooms” — This is a strange choice, but hear me out. The premise of this visually-inventive flick, penned by Pearse Elliot, is simple yet extremely effective. A group of friends trek out into the countryside (which is conveniently located near an abandoned mental institution, or at least that’s what it looked like to me) to partake in psychedelics and “get wasted,” as the tag line states. And they do get wasted, no doubt, just not the way they intended. The set up is functional and the ending is solid, but it’s the middle chunk that is the reason to watch this baby. It’s reminiscent of “Carnival of Souls” and Argento’s “Susperia.” The dream logic that guides us through this part of the film is masterful and the imagery is striking, to say the least.
Oct. 24: “The Convent” — The tone of the film is somewhere between “Return of the Living Dead, “Evil Dead 2,” and “Demons.” Obviously, director Mike Mendez doesn’t have the same size budget as any of these, so he makes do with what he has. It’s not as gory as the disgusting “Demons,” but I really don’t think that’s what they were aiming for. Some very talented people pulled off a few miracles of design here, and overall the film has a very clever visual style. Plus, the White kids on display here make perfect zombie fodder.
Oct. 25: “The Architecture of Doom” — If an unflinching glimpse into Hitler’s obsession concerning the creation of a “pure” race and society is what horrifies you, then this 1989 documentary might be just the ticket to send chills down your spine. This is real horror, brutal and at times almost unwatchable. This is the sort of material that truly makes me want to puke. Screw “Blair Witch.” A buddy of mine used to throw this one every once in a while, and it never failed to darken the day.
Oct. 26: “Jeepers Creepers” — This is a scary movie that doesn’t forget its primary goal, which is to scare you. It’s a monster movie, an unrelenting vision of terror and dread that blends horror and fantasy with remarkable ease. It’s reminiscent of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Terminator” and even Steven Spielberg’s “Duel.” Despite these comparisons, it still offers an appetizing menu of pure inventiveness and originality. Plus, it isn’t bogged down by pop culture references and doesn’t feel the need to be cynical or prove that it’s hipper than the genre or the audience.
Oct. 27: “Basket Case 2” — This a great movie I forgot all about until I popped in the DVD recently. It’s a forgotten classic of freaky ’80s low-budget tongue in cheek horror insanity (or at least if it’s not forgotten, it’s seldom talked about). If you’ve seen the original 1982 “Basket Case,” then you probably have a good idea what kind of movie Part 2 is. But even if you missed it, don’t hesitate to watch this second installment. It’s deranged, to put it mildly. And it’s an outrageously ambitious movie for what writer/director Frank Henenlottermust have had to work with.
Oct. 28: “Midnight Express” — This is possibly the most depressing movie of all time, an unrelenting, graphic trip into the mouth of Hell and beyond. And the best part: It’s all true. Brad Davis plays American tourist in Turkey named Billy Hayes. He gets caught trying to smuggle drugs out of the country and that’s when the real party gets started. If this movie teaches us anything, it’s this: DON’T GO TO TURKEY!
Look for The Finale of 31 Days of Halloween on Oct. 29.
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Follow Scott Swan on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scottobiswan.