Okay, I originally intended to continue my rant on pathetic, inferior, mindless, exploitative, stupid, inane remakes of horror movies that seem to be the trend these days, but after doing a little yoga, I decided to put a positive spin on things and offer some of my own suggestions for Halloween viewing instead.
(But I have to say I still hate 90 percent of the stupid remakes of 60s and 70s horror films. So there.)
“Hellraiser” I and II – Although the vastly inferior sequels have stolen much of the original film’s punch, it still is one scary movie. Back before the demonic Cenobite was called “Pinhead” and tossed off puns and one-liners to its victims, it served as the guide to a Hell only Clive Barker could have dreamed up – a mixture of grotesque creatures, terrifying demons, pain and dismemberment, and eroticism. Just be sure and stay away from “Hellraiser III’ onwards; definitely not worth your time.
“One Step Beyond” (original series 1959-61) – While “The Twilight Zone” mastered the art of taking science fiction and horror stories and bringing them to life, “One Step Beyond” was taking actual accounts of paranormal phenomenon and dramatizing them. The fact that the show was steeped in true events made it much creepier than the other shows of the era dabbling in the genre. Not as flashy as the Zone, but much more unnerving.
“Grindhouse presents Planet Terror” (2007) – Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s experimental attempt to recreate the drive-in experience of the 1970s, “Grindhouse” featured faux damaged prints, mock trailers, and old drive-in lead-ins. The first of the double feature, “Planet Terror,” offers more than its share of flesh-eating zombies, amputated limbs, and enough laugh-out-loud moments to offset the graphic violence. And really, how can ANY movie go wrong with Bruce Willis as a half-man, half-zombie and Rose McGowan as a go-go dancer?
“Helter Skelter” (original 1976 version) – When it originally aired on network television, this two-part docudrama of the 1969 murder of Sharon Tate and the subsequent arrest of Charles Manson and his followers was the most watched made-for-TV movie in history. The film works on so many levels, presenting the events in a very straightforward, factual manner without resorting to over-the-top dramatics and cheese. Which is exactly how it should have been made, as the story alone (to quote the author of the book) is enough to “scare the hell out of you.”
Beware of the vastly inferior 2004 remake. (Yep, I snuck a jab at remakes in there again, didn’t I?)
“The Haunting” (1963) – On many, many lists as one of the scariest movies ever made. It earns its place. BEWARE the HORRIBLE 1999 version!!
A few honorable mentions: “Burnt Offerings” (1976), “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), “It’s Alive” (1974), “Audition” (1999), “Alien” (1979), “The Shining” (Yes, yes, the original 1979 version, not the remake), “Eraserhead” (1977),?? “In The Mouth Of Madness” (1994), and “‘Salem’s Lot” (Guess what? The original 1979 version, not the terrible 2004 version with Rob Lowe…Rob Lowe? Seriously?)
And, of course, for those who like their Halloween viewing choices less “intense,” “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is still a CLASSIC, and theaters all over the country will have midnight showings of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” Halloween weekend (which is still MUCH better than seeing it at home!