CINEMA SIREN’S HALLOWEEN MOOD MOVIES
Halloween is for many the most enjoyable holiday of the year. No pressure about awkward thanks to your auntie who always wins the weirdest gift award. No parties with family members you’d avoid like the plague if you weren’t related. Whether you are 16 or 60, you can go out and beg for candy dressed like yourself, or anyone/anything you like, or If staying home is your pleasure, so be it. You can nosh on candied corn while watching a marathon of the creepiest, darkest, and bloodiest movies ever made. This is the time when movies that inspired today’s many vampire, zombie, and ghost-filled TV shows can be celebrated, and every horror sub-genre takes center stage, lapping up temporary appreciation by the many who don’t watch scary movies any other time of the year. Really, what is not to love?
This weekend, find your inner horror fan, or wave your horror fan freak flag by finding a new favorite film . . . let Cinema Siren help!
Released to theaters and On Demand on October 31st, this new film based on a novel by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son!) stars Daniel Radcliffe in another Harry Potter-distancing role playing Ig, a suspect in the murder of his girlfriend – Ig starts growing a set of horns that seem to inspire those around him to speak to and act on their worst predilections. It is a tonally inconsistent supernatural thriller that still offers depth and humor, and showcases Radcliffe’s talent. He is anchoring a film that without his centeredness and committed performance would spin off into a frenetic plot-muddled disaster. If you yearn for a horror film trying to offer something new, Horns will certainly keep your interest, It takes on the power of grief, the belief in the power of love, and the meaning of evil while mining its fairy tale roots. 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Also in theaters October 31st, Jake Gyllenhaal is getting rave reviews for his portrayal of whippet-thin morally corrupt wannabe freelance crime journalist, the lowest common denominator of which roam the streets looking for bloody footage and are nicknamed ‘nightcrawlers’, hence the movie’s title. This is not a horror film, but it leaves the audience feeling like it’s been cleaved in the brain with an ax. Though promoted as a thriller, this is is one scary movie. We get into the head of a truly bad guy, and witness just how far the world of TV news can and perhaps has lowered itself to get ratings. Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom may not have visible fangs, but he’d give any movie monster an authentic run for their money. Bloom and the world Nightcrawler portrays is so dirty, you’ll feel you need a shower by the end. 4 out of 5 stars.
Yes, THAT Saw. It is being re-released into theaters for Halloween. I will cop to the fact that i’ve never, nor shall ever see this film. I have a personal aversion to self-mutilation. I find fascinating that the original rating on “Rotten Tomatoes” is only 48%, given that gore-junkie horror fan friends love this film. Said Richard Roeper, “Saw has art-house ambitions, but it’s nothing but a glorified snuff film. I despise this movie.” Ironically, Saw has become quite a cult favorite, leading to director James Wan’s other films, the vastly superior Insidious and The Conjuring, both of which you can see online. However, if you’re in the mood for gore, Saw is the prescription.
Did you know that Saw star Cary Elwes just released a book about his experiences make The Princess Bride? Apropos of nothing, you might want to check that out too, HERE.
BOOK OF LIFE
Reviewed by Cinema Siren in greater detail HERE, Book of Life is perfect for those looking to bring your kids to the theater for some candy-free Halloween goodness. A gorgeous visual feast, this 3D animated feature tells the story of Manolo and his epic journey through three magical worlds in a quest to rescue the love of his life and save his village. The movie celebrates Mexican culture and the Day of the Dead in a positive way that allows for conversations particularly appropriate on Halloween. 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
IN THEATERS – THE REST
DRACULA UNTOLD, OUIJA, and ANNABELLE
All three of these movies are painfully derivative, and i’d recommend staying home and watching some of the many classic and delicious horror flicks available online, and spending the savings on Halloween candy. If you MUST go see something else in the theaters, see the non-horror Birdman or look for revival movie houses in your local city or town playing Rocky Horror Picture Show or Scream, or any number of other fun movies along those lines.
STAYING HOME – CLASSICS
Why not stay at home and find some new Halloween favorite on Netflix?
Here are some films you may not know, that you can cosy up to for a good scare after giving out all your candy…
Starring Vincent Price, this original from 1958 is at once scary enough to satisfy, a bit tragic, with just enough B-movie cheesiness to feel fun. A must for all monster movie fans, because it inhabits the world of horror and cult filmdom that is rare in any genre.
Horror auteur director Mario Bava’s 1960 classic about a condemned witch who comes back 200 years after her death to avenge her murder. Bava’s work rose the bar for all directors of the horror genre, and if you are looking for an atmospheric, gothic, very stylized example of 60s italian horror, this is a great place to start. Film star Barbara Steele was known as one of the quintessential scream queens.
THE CAT AND THE CANARY
Director Paul Leni’s 1927 silent classic about potential heirs required to spend the night in a scary mansion, this is a nice option for those searching for an interesting departure from the cinematic norm. All the expressive faces and pauses you’d expect from the silent era, but you can see the inspiration for later films that used the style and production design from this delightfully spooky, occasionally funny and well-plotted feature. Scooby Doo owes a lot to this one!
Speaking of silent films, if you haven’t seen the original F W Murnau’s 1929 version of Nosferatu starring Max Schreck as the embodiment of vampiric grotesquerie, you are missing one of the best and most beautiful horror classics. It is visually stunning, has great acting, and is one of the creepiest movies you’ll ever see, even today.
STAYING HOME – RECENT DELIGHTS
THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW
We Craven directed Bill Pullman in this great movie from 1988 about a man who descends into the nightmarish world of dark voodoo. A mix of horror and psychological thriller, we become enmeshed in Pullman’s struggle, and as things get worse for him, the audience stays invested and hopeful he will overcome the horrors surrounding him.
A French language film about corrupt police and gangsters having to band together to fight zombies when trapped together in a tenement apartment building, it has excitement and character development mixed with the appropriate amount of gore. What a fast cinematic ride you’ll have with The Horde, which made bucket loads of money in its native country.
TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL
One of my recent favorite films, as reviewed HERE, Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine) are two backwoods boys who have bought a vacation home that looks suspiciously like the one in Evil Dead. They are mistaken for psychotic killers by a group of twentysomethings, and accidental violence ensues. This film sits squarely in the horror comedy sub genre, but has enough spilt blood and axes splitting open craniums to gross out the most hardened horror film fan.
A movie that had a hard time getting released, 2013’s Odd Thomas stars Anton Yelchin as a psychic who sees dead people and predicts disastrous events in his small town. Also a genre-buster, though somewhat tonally uneven, Yelchin’s performance and the plot as a whole, as well as the mix of romance and quirky comedy horror makes the story interesting to follow and the ending hard to predict.