— by SCOTT SWAN —
In no particular order …
Oct.15: “Blade II” — Guillermo Del Toro is the genius. And this is perhaps the greatest vampire movie of all time. Or at least it’s neck-and-neck with F.W. Murnau’s classic “Nosferatu.” Del Toro’s shocking visual reinvention of the vampire mythology is worth the rental alone. If you haven’t seen the first “Blade,” don’t worry. It’s not vitally import you see it first, or even at all. “Blade II” is easily the classic of the franchise.
Oct. 16: “Killing Cars” — Although this isn’t a horror movie, I feel it’s appropriate to put this movie on the list because it’s an extremely iconic thriller. And despite the extremely low budget and despite not being very polished in all respects, “Killing Cars” ( or “La Femmes Dangereuse,” as they call it in France) somehow manages to summon real power through image and tone. Director Jean Rollin, credited as having made the first French vampire film (1968’s “Le Viol Du Vampire”), imbues this 1993 thriller with dream logic and cinematicchiché. Much like the 1962 cult classic “Carnival of Souls,” this film is great simply because it’s not so great, if that makes sense. The film follows the exploits of a mysterious Asian woman who goes around knocking off mafia-style a series of seemingly random people. Each death is a tablue that plays like a movie unto itself. Only at the very end of the film do we realize what motivates the killings.
Oct. 17: “Stephen King’s The Mist” (Black & White Version) — Frank Darabont is without a doubt the greatest director of prison movies based on books by Stephen King. Ever. Nobody comes close. But how is he at adapting King’s horror stories? Actually, he’s even better, if you ask me. This is an old fashioned monster movie, a love letter to “The Blob,” “Night of the Living Dead” and and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” And if you don’t know what the ending is, great. It’s a hell of a kick in the nuts.
Oct. 18: “Sisters” — For such an early Brian De Palma movie, this is a surprisingly confident dark ride. I saw this on TV when I was a kid, maybe 6 years old, and it righteously freaked me out. There are images in this movie that to this day disturb me on a primal level every time I think back on them. De Palma establishes here, very early on, that he’s one of the true masters of suspense.
Oct. 19: “Hardcore” — George C. Scott was the man. Simply put. And Paul Schrader could not have done himself more of a favor than he did by casting the legendary actor to lead us through this twisted, yet touching, dark mystery. Scott plays a deeply religious family man from Grand Rapids, Mich. When his teenage daughter travels to wicked California and suddenly goes missing, his descent into a lurid and often gut-wrenching underworld begins. He first enlists the help of a shady private detective, played by the also-legendary Peter Boyle, who quickly uncovers an 8mm porno movie that GCS’s daughter appeared in. He’s emotionally destroyed as he watches his daughter perform in the vile film, but that’s only the beginning. What follows is the kind of horror you read about and see on the news.
Oct. 20: “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974) — I’m trying to stay away from the obvious choices, but this one has to be on the list. Not only is it one of the scariest movies of all time, but it’s also perhaps the finest American film ever made. This is Tobe Hooper’s moment of glory and nobody can ever take it away from him. This is the “Easy Rider” of horror movies.
Oct. 21: “John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness” — This is easily John’s scariest movie, hands down. I’m such a fraidy-cat when this movie kicks into high gear. It also contains several of the most unnerving shots in movie history. And it’s truly wonderful to see Carpenter and Donald Pleasence work together again for the final time.
Look for Week Four of 31 Days of Halloween on Oct. 22.
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Follow Scott Swan on Twitter at http://twitter.com/scottobiswan.