By T.J. TranchellWelcome to my favorite time of year. I’ve already set up the graveyard in our flower bed and hung a purple-robed skeleton on the porch.
October not only brings all the scary decorations I love to homes, but it also is the time when “regular” folks are more open to watching horror movies.
I am a year-round watcher of horror, everything from black-and-white Universal monsters all the way up to the massive hit that is “IT.” In between, there is a bunch of junk that must be sorted through. There are a million lists of the best horror movies to watch for Halloween. Here, instead, is a brief categorical breakdown of good movies that don’t always hit the “best of” lists.
Possession/exorcism: “The Last Exorcism” (2010)
A “found footage” movie that follows a Southern preacher/fake exorcist who finds himself facing an actual possession. Sharp-witted, well-acted and notable for breaking away from Catholic exorcism films.
Slasher: “Dark Night of the Scarecrow” (1981)
There are two types of slashers: the crazy but human “serial killer” type and the “we thought he was dead” type. Dark Night of the Scarecrow is one of the second. Not as popular as it should be due to a lack of gore (this was a TV movie originally), this movie features a brilliantly tragic performance by Larry Drake as Bubba, the wrongfully punished man who seeks vengeance from beyond the grave.
Traditional monster: “Dracula” (1979)
I will write about this movie until I die. Frank Langella is Dracula, the debonair European set afoot in England to woo its young women to undeath. And yes, the scene with Laurence Olivier and Donald Pleasance in the underground tomb still give me the shivers.
Zombie: “Slither” (2006)
Do you like the humor in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and want to carry that into the Halloween season? “Slither” is for you. These “zombies” are the result of parasitic space slugs (slugs are the worst, yet I love this movie). You’ll get amazing creatures and a healthy dose of Nathan Fillion.
Haunted Houses/Ghosts: “Sinister” (2012)
So many to choose from here, but the nod goes to “Sinister.” Overshadowed by the more popular “Conjuring” and “Insidious” franchises, “Sinister” gets to the heart of these movies, which is families in turmoil. Director Scott Derrickson (mostly recently of “Doctor Strange”) pits a true crime writer against the spirits inhabiting the home he rents and makes his wife and two children live in. “Sinister” spawned a decent sequel, too.
Stephen King: “Storm of the Century” (1999)
Yes, I gave King his own sub-category and then put a miniseries in it. “Storm of the Century” does King at his best: build up, build up, small scare, build up, big scare, tension, tension, pulls the rug out from under you just when you thought things would be OK. This series cranks up the creep factor with Colm Feore as the villain and a cast of perfectly normal people who turn on each other. Like I said, it’s what King does best. Since this was an original teleplay, it’s all on him.
T.J. Tranchell is a freelance journalist and author in Moscow. His birthday is on Halloween. What is your favorite underrated horror movie? Let’s talk: firstname.lastname@example.org