Halloween Movie List

Since it’s Halloween and all, I decided to write about some of the weirdest, scariest movies I’ve seen. I love horror movies, though, most horror movies just aren’t very good. Second only to porn in movies that are cheap to make any sell to an international audience, horror isn’t often scrutinized by studios for the writing, acting and overall quality.  That’s too bad because when an actually good horror movie does come along, it easily becomes a classic. Movies like “The Shining” “The Exorcist” and “Alien” are all good movies that just so happen to also be horror movies.

 This isn’t a list of the “best” horror movies. Some of the titles on this list aren’t even horror, some of these titles aren't even good. But all of these titles are good for Halloween. These are of some of the strangest, creepiest, movies I've seen. I hope that you enjoy them!  

 
 The Wicker Man (1973)


 As sad as the fact that the misogynistic remake is what most people younger than me think of when they here this movie title (if they think of anything at all), is the fact that this movie isn't shown all over America every May 1st. It's more a May Day movie than a Halloween movie, and more something that should, that really should, be a Broadway musical than anything.

  It's not scary, unless you are scared of awesome shit. But it is weird. Really weird. It is also, super sexy. It's one of the few movies Brit Eckland was in before becoming Peter Seller's slave and she is crazy gorgeous in this. She also has a really long scene of singing and slapping her naked, perfect, bum, which isn't something many films can boast. It also stars Christopher Lee, looking like an Pagan Burt Bacharach, sporting smart 1970's menswear and casually leading Sargent Howie (Edward Woodward) on a wild goose chase through the weird pagan community that he is the (leader?) of.

 What's amazing about this film is unlike most stories where the underdog, an innocent, is lead into a strange world, they would clearly be the hero. But here Woodward's character comes off as more of a prick than someone there to help and his nerdy piety is more annoying than it is noble. At least that's how I felt watching it. Summerisle, a beautiful and unchanged world full of singing drunks and nude Maypole dances was disrupted by a real dork - and what comes to him, well, he doesn't deserve that, but I'm still pretty sympathetic to the town.
 

There's also lots of awesome animal masks and scenes that seem entirely unnecessary but I'm so glad they didn't get cut.

 L'anticristo (1974) aka The Antichrist aka The Tempter

 I don't know how to describe this movie because a lot of it doesn't really make too much sense. It's a film that was made in Italy after "The Exorcist" was a huge hit by a guy named Alberto De Martino. This guy has made shitloads of movies, though most of them, maybe none of them, other then this, are horror. And man, this movie is fucking horror. In fact, it rips off almost every other horror movie and then tops them all with goat orgies and freaky art.

It's got everything you could ask for in a movie; a crazy woman in a wheel chair, a rich dad boning a young hot babe instead of caring about his nutty daughter, a brother who is also a boyfriend, exorcisms, a picture of Jesus with a boner and hypnotism. It's pretty brutal, but also, pretty dumb.
 

It's not a totally dumb movie. It's not like "Birdemic" or "Deathbed" in that the shitty quality is what makes it fun to watch. There are almost good parts and definitely dazzling parts. Though, like those super bad movies, it  does have an unnecessary amount of story lines. When the lead character Ippolita Oderisi, who has a Rosemary’s baby haircut and a genuinely scary look in her eyes, becomes possessed, it isn't enough that she is possessed by a demon or the devil or whatever. She is possessed by her ancestor who was also a witch, who was also possessed by the devil, so I guess she is possessed by the devil... It's a really convoluted plot, but it almost doesn't matter. It's just SO WEIRD. I’ve told anyone who likes horror to try to find this movie. It’s on DVD now and you can order it on Amazon, so do it.

The Sentinel (1977)

 No, not the George Clooney one. Like many of other films on this list, there in another film with the same title.  This film actually scared me. It has some images in it that are so bizarre and ugly, and has a few genuine shriek moments - all done without changing the volume of the score.
 

It’s basically about a model who has tried to commit suicide twice in the past and has a kinda shady boyfriend and shady dad (daddy issues). When she decides that she isn’t quite ready for a full on commitment with her boyfriend, she looks for a new apartment of her own. She's on a budget (like most models), so when she finds an awesome apartment in Brooklyn Heights, she jumps at the opportunity. Of course the apartment building is full of weirdos, like a blind priest who sits in his window all day, Burgess Meredith and his cat, and a couple of lesbian ballerinas, one of whom masturbates in front of her new neighbor on their first meeting; which is weird, but to make it weirder for the viewer, that character is played by Beverly D’angelo (the fucking mom from the vacation movies dude!). 

So, the dream apartment may turn out to be a gate to hell, and the lead character may be the pawn in a game of good and evil, and there might be scenes with overweight, nude zombie-demon-women eating cake. It might be an awesome movie!

 The cast for this one is actually pretty amazing too. Chris Sarandon does a great job at looking hot and scary all at once. Jeff Goldblum plays a photographer, and Christopher Walken is in there somewhere too, though I have no memory of what roles he plays; not to mention fucking Ava Gardner and Jerry Orbach!

 


 Martin (1976)

 

This slow, steady, haunting and gruesome film from George Romero may be the best movie ever made about Vampires, and is certainly, the most realistic. “Martin” is a shy,  gawky, 83-year-old vampire with a young looking body. His young body actually looks like a cross between Mark Hamill and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, which makes this vampire way more interesting than the classic brooding Draculas or the modern Tiger Beat set.

Martin isn’t sexy, cunning or cool. He can’t hypnotize his victims. He can’t even face them. The most unsettling aspect of Martin is that he does drink blood and gets it by very creepy and realistic means. He drugs and murders his victims.


 Martin is what Dexter strives to be; a brilliant character study of a person who does terrible things and struggles with himself because of it. You feel for him. You want him to get “better”, but at the same time you wonder, “is he really a fucking vampire?”
 

There is a little camp to lighten things up, like Martin calling in to a “Coast to Coast” like radio show and telling his story, and his crazed Catholic cousin trying to “reform” their vampire kin. But for the most part this is a sad, hazy look at how unglimmery the day to day life of a real vampire would be.

Turkish Delight (1973)

 

 If Paul Verhoeven were never born, we wouldn’t have Starship Troopers, a movie that was shot in the outskirts of my hometown and my brother worked as an extra on, so I have a special fondness for. “Troopers” is a fun, oddly subversive movie, and “Showgirls” is so astoundingly bad that it deserves a very special place in film history (file under Kyle Maclachlan pool sex). But the most amazingly weird work of Verhoeven is without a doubt “Turkish Delight”.

 This movie is in no way a horror movie, but it is super creepy and has a way of really getting under your skin. Starring a young Rutger Hauer in a role where I don’t think he is supposed to be scary, but it’s fucking Rutger Hauer, so of course he is scary. Actually, he isn’t just scary, he is awful. He plays a guy who is maybe the biggest asshole east of Tucker Max; a misogynistic sculptor who falls in love (if you can call it that) with a beautiful, but weird-brained woman, played by a mostly nude, dazed and perfect looking Monique van de Ven.
 

I’m not a fan of misogynistic movies. In fact if I could erase ever seeing anything by Neil Lebuet from my brain, Eternal Sunshine style, I would. This film, however, as grossly anti-women as it comes across, is so genuinely bizarre and genuinely genuine I just can’t dislike it. In fact, I really like it. It’s Amsterdam in the 70’s after all, so the look of the film is glorious. Though, I can’t really understand what the point of it is. It’s like Verhoeven wanted to make “Love Story” but his translation of that involves vomit, picking up poops that are stained red from eating beets, and dogs eating something so yucky I won’t even describe it. It’s kind of like a love story for people who have no concept of love.

The Brood (1979)

 I love David Cronenberg. Every movie that he has ever made is so creative and smart, and though I actually like his newer stuff more than his early gruesome, biological horror, this is a list of creepy movies and nobody makes creepy movies better than he does. “Videodrone” is probably the best ever imagining of the future, as some elements, like watching gruesome executions at home, have become quite real. His “Crash”, the sex and car crashes one, and not the shitty one, should probably be on this list, as certain images from it disrupt the calm moments I have right before sleep, but, as weird as that movie is, it’s also a little boring.  
 

The Brood, on the other hand doesn’t have a dull moment.  Taking place in a chilling Canadian mental health hospital, an unconventional psychologist's (played by Oliver Reed) therapy on the deeply disturbed Nola (Samantha Egger) causes her “brooding” anger to manifest itself physically as a “brood” on hideous and evil, child-monsters. These brood babies look sorta like mouthless Garbage Pail kids in snowsuits as they hit the town and viciously murder everyone that Nola has issues with. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there are some of the grossest depictions of human-hybrid birthing ever.  

 Under its fucking weird exterior is a movie about mental illness, power being put in dangerous hands, divorce and child abuse. Though, on first viewing, it’s hard to get any of that from it because there is just so much weird shit happening with gross-faced tots. It’s a little like Kramer vs Kramer set at Nuke em’ High.


Café Flesh (1982)


 As I stated earlier, I’m not a fan of misogyny, so putting an actual porno on this list seems to really contradict that. However, this isn’t your typical porno. I haven’t actually seen too many X-rated movies, other than the “classic” ones (Devil in Miss Jones, Deep Throat etc.) which are still all kinda sad to me, and really sad when I hear their backstories, but when Cafe’ Flesh was described to me, I knew that I just had to see it.

 This is a porn from the period between the 70’s “golden age” where normal people went to theaters to see Deep Throat and felt freed because of it, and the VHS era, where porn got really hardcore and cheaply made. This is from 1982, the same year I was born and the same year AIDS started too. This is just before AIDS, but the film’s topic seems to be a startling premonition as to what would soon happen to casual sex.
 

Cafe’ Flesh takes place in the future, after a nuclear apocalypse has wiped out a great deal of the Earth’s population. Those that are left, at least 99% of the survivors, can’t have sex because they  are “Sex Negatives” - they become violently ill if they have sex. The 1% in this case aren’t shitty millionaires, but are people who can have sex. So, for some reason those people have to perform sex acts on stages at freaky cabarets for all of the people that can’t bone down to watch. Cafe’ Flesh is one of those art house public sex theaters.

The sex in this movie is kinda an afterthought. I mean, yes, it’s super hardcore sex, but the way it’s presented is like a fever dream had by Hunter S. Thompson and Salvador Dali. There are people dressed like rats and wearing bibs, and dances that seem better suited in a Daft Punk music video than in a dirty movie. The club’s “host” is an old-timey vaudeville type who looks a little like David Johansen. The various tight and unflattering “artsy” shots of punk rock extras, like the uncredited Richard Belzer, with greenish pasty skin, only adds to the weird world created in this film. Like other post-apocalyptic movies, it made me realize that I really, really hope I die when the shit goes down.

 Everything about this movie is gross, but at the same time amazing. Nothing like it was ever made before or after. I realize, without actually watching much porn, there is WEIRD porn, but not that is made on this scale. Cafe’ Flesh was written by Jerry Stahl, who wrote Permanent Midnight and I, Fatty. Knowing he wrote it, helps to explain the weirdness and the darkness of this film, and it makes me assume that he was in a strange place when writing it, since not too many great writers got there start penning porn.

 Left Behind (2001)


Like “Cafe’ Flesh”, “Left Behind” is a movie about the end of the world. Very unlike “Cafe’ Flesh”, “Left Behind” is the first in series of films based on a extremely popular, extremely Evangelical Christian book series. The film’s star is Kirk Cameron who along with his wife, fellow born-again nut Chelsea Noble, produced the movie after loving the books so much.

 I watched this one night out of curiosity, knowing if would be funny and cheesy, but not knowing just how scary it would be. It takes place after the “rapture”, the transporting of believers to heaven at the second coming of Christ, so all of the “good” people have vanished in to heaven. Now, the world is run rampant with Catholics, gays, Muslims and all sorts other ‘bad people”. What’s scary about this movie, isn’t the imagined post apocalyptic world, it’s the fact that it and the 16 books that it’s based on have an audience that view this kind of hateful shit as TRUTH.
 

Somehow the Christian pop-culture world has taken parts of the bible that are so fanciful and silly, and so clearly to be read as parables to what was happening then, and spun them into a multi-million dollar industry based on fear and hate for non-believers. This kind of shit is more offensive to me than anything that Hollywood or the porn world could ever dream up.

Now, the movie itself is pretty funny. Kirk Cameron plays Buck Williams, a name that only Christian  culture or 80’s T&A movies would see fit for a lead character (there is also a guy named Rayford Steele). Cameron is just as cheesy as he was on Growing Pains, maybe cheesier. Though, this movie is kinda violent. The bad language, sex, and uncombed hair that would most definitely happen in a world with only bad people in it is scrubbed away. Making me wonder why these people were “left behind” anyway. The post-apocalyptic world is pretty much the exact same as it was before, only with a bunch of nerds gone and a couple of confused people trying to stop some kind of new world order.

It’s important to watch because this is the kind of shit that people who don’t let their kids listen to Huey Lewis let their kids watch. This is what a lot of Americans don’t just view as entertainment, but view as “something that will happen.”  The only thing that could make this movie creepier is a cameo from John Hagee. Oh wait, there is one!  Creep on born-agains, creep on.
 

Time After Time (1979)


 

Right after making “Caligula” Malcolm McDowell was sick of playing madmen and anti-heros so he took a role that was different from anything he had done in the past, as H.G Wells in “Time after Time”. This is a movie that isn’t afraid to ask the question “What if H.G Really did have a time machine and used it to travel to late 1970’s San Francisco?”  Of course H.G would need a good reason to time travel so far into the future and what is better reason than stopping Jack The Ripper?

 Yes, “Time After Time” supposes that Jack The Ripper and H.G. Wells once played chess together and that Jack used H.G’s real time machine to escape getting caught in his own time. Kind of amazing premise and the movie delivers.
 

This isn’t a creepy movie really, it’s by far the most wholesome on this list, but it is very strange and well worth watching. I love McDowell in “Clockwork Orange” and in “Caligula”, he plays a psychopath better than anyone, but in this film he plays a true sweetheart. Which makes me think he is actually a really good actor. I want to jump into the screen and hug him during this movie and it has, maybe unfairly, lead me to believe that H.G Wells was the nicest person of all time.

This is a really sweet and well acted movie, with David Warner (the photographer that gets impaled in the Omen) playing Jack the Ripper and Mary Steenburgen as the 1970’s love interest of Wells’. It turns out that McDowell and Steenburgen fell in love while shooting this film and got married in real life. It did lasts too long, since she has been famously married to Sam Malone for a long time now, but it’s still a sweet story.
 

There is also a scene in it where a extra vomits in the background, which I’ve never seen in a movie before or since. This takes place in a hospital waiting room, so I assume it was planned or at least okayed by the director, which has to be the most awesome and strange choice in “background” acting ever.

The Exorcist III (1990)



Writer/ Director William Peter Blatty didn’t get his start writing horror, early in his carrier he wrote comedies like “A Shot in The Dark” (with Blake Edwards) and even made an appearance on "The Groucho Marx Quiz Show". It wasn’t until he read about a St. Louis boy who was possessed by the devil that he branched out, first writing the novel “The Exorcist”, based on the St. Louis story he researched and then writing the screenplay.

“Legion” was the sequel to the Exorcist book and after the terrible and embarrassing “Exorcist II” (which Blatty had nothing to do with) stained the reputation of the first film the studio decided to,  16 years later, make a real sequel to the Exorcist and had Blatty adapt his book “Legion” into what would become “The Exorcist III”.
 Though “The Exorcist III” never reached anywhere close to the popularity of the original Exorcist movie, I think it's much, much better and is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen.
 

The plot follows Police Leineit Kinderman and his friend Father Dyer, both of whom where friends of Father Damien Karass from the first movie. Each year the pair goes to see “It’s a Wonderful Life Together”,  as a delightful odd couple George C. Scott and Ed Flanders shine. They are the kind of rugged old guys that you wish were sitting next to you at the bar. Scott doing what his does best, playing a cranky guy under a lot stress and Flanders playing the kind of cool, drinking priest that seems to only exist in movies.

 I mention that Blatty wrote comedy first because this movie, as terrifying as it is has some genuinely funny moments too. The banter in much of the movie is so real and funny and that adds to scariness of it because, like a great horror should be, it stands alone as a great movie without the supernatural aspects in the plot.

Now, the supernatural stuff is amazing too. Brad Dourif, who is probably the most under-looked actor of our time is out-fucking-standing as serial killer “The Gemini Killer” who has been committing horrific murders in D.C. There are a few scenes with him that are watch-with-the-lights-on scary and his acting is Oscar worthy to say the least.

 There are a few silly parts that on first watching I was confused by, like Fabio playing an angel in heaven, but as I’ve watched it over again, these silly moments only make me like it more. Blatty is an irreverent, dry wit and I don’t think a lot of people get that about him, but it's what makes this movie absolutely amazing.