Happy Halloween! This post is, appropriately enough, emanating from the Witching Hour (Eastern Daylight Time) of Halloween 2016. For me, one of the many great things about Halloween is that it's a socially acceptable time to watch and discuss scary movies. A conversation starter I've come up with along those lines is this: The trick-or-treaters are gone. It's getting a little stormy outside. You're going to turn out the lights and settle in for the night with a bowl of popcorn, perhaps some good friends or a three-legged black cat, and a triple-header of horror movies. What three movies would you pick?
I want the answers to be personal favorites. Comfort-food horror, if there is such a thing. My three, which change slightly over the years, are very solid but fairly uninspired. But they're my picks, so they're perfect in my world: 1959's House on Haunted Hill with Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart, the iconic 1968 Night of the Living Dead by George A. Romero, and 1978's Halloween by John Carpenter, the holiday's ultimate dark fairy tale. Two unsurprising picks and a Vincent Price flick that Sarah and I could watch every single day. I love many other horror films, from classic to funny to terrifying. But those three represent the perfect Halloween night, in my eyes.
I wanted to share some other responses and thoughts. So I posed the horror-movie question to some of the great folks my Twitter feed (I'm @Papergreat, of course). They stopped what they were doing and here are the responses that they very generously came up with when I asked them about their personal three movies to watch on Halloween.
1. David Southwell (@HooklandGuide and @cultauthor)
Author, creator of fantastic realities such as Hookland County. I interviewed him for a two-part post last October, which starts here.
- Quatermass and the Pit (1967) "The horror we love is often the horror we grew up with. It will not scare, the special effects creak and yet this is a gem of an English horror cinema. Both as well-structured thriller and depiction of swelling mystery, it stands up to repeated viewing."1
- The Wicker Man (1974) "Possibly the best horror film of all time. Watch the uncut version and you will find a map of fear that leads you back to ancient places within the DNA museum. Stunning."
- Who Can Kill A Child? (1976) "I first saw this whilst in a war zone. It takes a lot for a horror film to mean anything when it is viewed in the context of true human brutality, true monstrosity. More bloody than I usually like my horror, this turns the stomach and the mind."
2. J.W. Ocker (@JWOcker)
Creator of the Odd Things I've Seen (OTIS) website and author of several books, the most recent of which is A Season with the Witch: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts.
- The Body Snatcher (1945, with Karloff & Lugosi)
- The Changeling (1980)2
- Dark Was the Night (2014)
3. Cheryl Zaidan (@FeralCherylZ)
Her Twitter bio: "Full-time marketer, part-time writer, horror movie lover and hardcore dreamer. I write awful stories about terrible people." She's one of the coolest folks I follow on Twitter.
- Halloween (1978)
- Trick 'r Treat (2007)
- Night of the Demons (1988)
4. Colin Lorimer (@Colin_Lorimer)
He's a writer/artist whose supernatural comic book, The Hunt, from Image Comics, needs to be on your pull list.
- The Innocents (1961)
- Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
- Dead of Night (1945)
5. Emma Finlayson-Palmer (@FinlaysonPalmer)
Her partial bio: "Mom to 5, Ravenclaw & Writer, I love witches, vampires, cakes, tattoos, tea & zombies." You can read her blog here.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
- Shaun of the Dead (2004)
6. Undine (@HorribleSanity)
Bio: "Edgar Allan Poe/strange history blogger. Horseplayer. Tweeter of damn fool nonsense. Crazy Cat Lady. Grouch. Abandon hope, all ye who follow here." Blog: strangeco.blogspot.com. Note: If you like seeing how cats are featured in vintage advertising, this is a must-follow Twitter account.
- An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (Vincent Price, 1970) "Hey, Price and Poe. What more do you need?"
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) "What makes this film so terrifying is that the world in recent years leaves me feeling like Kevin McCarthy in the final scene."
- Carnival of Souls (1962)3 "I first saw this on TV when I was about five years old. Cheap and cheesy though it might be, there is something about this eerie movie that has held my imagination ever since."
So there you have it! Thanks again to all of the great people above who took the time to share their thoughts. (I also queried Bill Rebane4, who follows me on Twitter, but he didn't get back to me.) I definitely have some great new suggestions for scary movies to check out between now and Halloween 2017.
What are your favorites? Share them down in the Comments section and I'll include them in a future From The Readers post.
1. I grew up loving Quatermass and the Pit. Only, it was titled Five Million Years to Earth over here in the States.
2. I love The Changeling, too. It mention it in my 2013 post "Which movies gave you the biggest fright?"
3. Carnival of Souls became another one of my favorites after I discovered it about 10 years ago.
4. Bill Rebane, 79, is the director of such horror films as Monster a-Go Go, The Giant Spider Invasion, The Alpha Incident, The Demons of Ludlow, and The Game (aka The Cold). He is a former candidate for governor of Wisconsin. If he eventually answers, I'll share his selections.