Halloween Inspired Horror Movies
As October approaches, we are granted many opportunities to indulge in the spirit of the Halloween. This is the time of year that leaves descend from their branches and the air develops a cool breeze, allowing us to enjoy mugs of hot apple cider, pumpkin inspired pastries, and hearty stews.
Throughout the decades, Halloween has been celebrated in diverse customs from Pagan to Christian, causing superstitions and folklore to blend amongst towns and cities. In current times, the celebration of Halloween continues in masquerades, haunted houses, séances, trick or treating, parades, bonfires, games, and horror movies.
The following is a list of movies that are Halloween inspired.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a made for TV movie from 1981. Throughout the years, it has stood the test of time and created a nightmare that has haunted generations. With its pacing, suspense, and young hearted innocence, it reminds me of Little House on the Prairie with a Jason Voorhees twist. The locations, costuming, and community appear worn and faded, adding a greater depth and richness to the movie, and leaving the viewer juxtaposed between seeing the town as wholesome yet ruthless. Although tame in nature, it proves that guts and gore are not mandatory elements for a good scary movie.
Dark Night of the Scarecrow focuses on a small town filled with a tight knit community and murder. Larry Drake portrays an adult character equivalent in mentality to his friend – a child neighbor. After an accident, Drake’s playmate is assumed dead. Since the character which Drake portrays is mentally stunted, a few locals assume he has harmed her. To avenge her death, four men execute Drake.
After his murder, this whodunit film bestows vengeance upon each man who partook in Drake’s death. To make this movie even more fun, the four men meet their own grim fate by inventive ways.
October would not be complete without John Carpenter’s Halloween. At this point, we all know Halloween focuses on a babysitter, Jamie Lee Curtis, who is being stalked by an escaped murderer from the local insane asylum.
This classic is a slow burner with an impactful end result. For an hour and a half subtle elements are used to frighten us, such as scenes of stalking, sound effects, and of course the unforgettable music score. Halloween is a prime example of how a movie made on a shoestring budget can create an iconic character and heroine if all correct ingredients are utilized.
Fun Facts: Jamie Lee Curtis was hired not only for her talents but because she was related to Psycho’s star Janet Leigh, making Curtis a greater asset to the film. The Michael Myers mask is in fact a white painted William Shatner mask. If you look close at the original poster art, you can see a hidden image in the knuckles of the hand gripping the knife. And the movie The Thing which is playing on the television, would later be remade by John Carpenter.
Trick r’ Treat is a treasure neglected from a mainstream opening because there was fear it couldn’t compete with Saw IV. This resulted in a straight to DVD release and it quickly gained a fan base among movie buffs. Artistically crafted to appear as if Norman Rockwell had a nightmare, Trick r’ Treat proves a vintage Halloween style can be achieved and enjoyed in modern day.
This movie focuses on four interwoven short stories that feature maniacs, werewolves, zombies, vampires, and the spirit of Halloween. The audience can expect tales of gore, original plots, fun characters, and dark humor within its dialogue. One of my all-time favorite lines is when the serial killer’s son yells at his dad, “BUT CHARLIE BROWN’S AN ASSHOLE!”
Fun Facts: Trick r’ Treat was inspired by an animated short called Season’s Greetings. Characters from each story are seen in the background of segments they aren’t involved with, this is done to link all stories chronologically together for the ending.
Night of the Demons is possibly the most famous movie about a group of kids who party at a possessed house. Taking place on Halloween, we view scenes that are frightening, grotesque, and prank inspired.
It has been noted lead actress, Amelia Kinkade, said this movie was filmed in a time where everything, effects wise, was real. The scene where she is warming her hands in the fire was achieved by perfect timing. For instance, Kinkade had a gel on her hands that would prevent the fire from harming her. Still, she was time pressured because the fire could burn through the gel within seconds. For safety, a water bucket was kept nearby to extinguish the flame. It has also been noted the scene where the demons were set on fire was real as the actors/actresses were actually set aflame.
With dedication of the crew placed aside, this movie has a great old school Halloween vibe to it with an awesome soundtrack. One of my favorite scenes in Night of the Demons is where Kinkade has become possessed and she performs an erotic thrash dance to the song Stigmata Martyr. Another infamous scene regards a tube of lipstick shoved up Linnea Quigley’s nipple. If you’re curious to how this is possible, just watch the movie.
I stumbled across Satan’s Little Helper a few months ago. Taking place on Halloween, Douglas is a gullible child obsessed with a video game called Satan’s Little Helper. The object of the game is for Satan’s Little Helper to assist Satan in sending souls to Hell. When Douglas becomes confused between game and reality, he stumbles across a serial killer dressed as Satan. Throughout the movie, the serial killer is assisted by Douglas luring other characters to their death.
Amusing scenes include: the killer arranging dead bodies on the front porch as Halloween decorations, the hit and run scene where Douglas is listing off the points system for each person they hit, and the silent, unsettling ending, which instigates both a smile and a chill.
Created by Jeff Lieberman who gave us such classics like Squirm, Just Before Dawn, and Blue Sunshine, this writer/director shows that even after a long career gap, he doesn’t lose his touch on humor, horror, and characters. Also, the cast, especially the child actor appeared as if they had fun filming this, which means a lot by today’s demands.
I am probably going to receive hate mail for this suggestion but Halloween 3: Season of the Witch is a good standalone sequel. Although I’m not certain how part 3 fits into the Michael Myers franchise, we do learn that in The Curse of Michael Myers a satanic cult is the reason he grew into an undying maniac. My speculation on this cult in The Curse of Michael Myers vs. the manufacturer in Halloween 3 urges me to assume that the two cults are connected. If this is so, maybe Halloween 3 is showing the multiple attempts this cult pursued to cause death?
My favorite scene happens to be one of the most shocking moments in the movie. Midway into the film, we have a family who is given a tour of the mask factory. The child of this family is provided with a mask that sports a silver shamrock on the back. Upon wearing this mask and watching a commercial with subliminal messages, his head explodes, releasing hordes of insects and venomous snakes.
This movie touches on how corporations have capitalized on Halloween and how they can snake their way into our homes due to the products we purchase from them. Perhaps Halloween 3’s true message is consumer beware?
House of 1000 Corpses was Rob Zombie’s debut movie that provided villains who were more likeable than the heros or heroines. This 70’s style psychedelic trip movies like what would happen if The Texas Chainsaw Massacre dropped acid.
Taking place on Halloween Eve, a group of kids explore the back roads of rural America looking for legends and dime museums. They learn about a local maniac, Dr. Satan. Although advised not to explore the Dr. Satan mythos, they disobey and find themselves in a dire situation.
Seasoned with an iconic star list, horror fans are given a plethora of talents amongst characters, especially those portrayed by Karen Black, Sid Hag, Bill Mosley, and Sherri Moon. As if the casting isn’t great enough, the soundtrack is filled with creepy country music and rock classics.
By using old school horror techniques and effects, we are subject to scenes that regard scalpings, body modification, and hellish creatures.
Trick or Treat is a 1980’s rock and roll Halloween inspired movie, featuring cameos by music legends: Gene Simmons and Ozzy Osbourne. Trick or Treat begins as your typical high school bully movie. The lead character, Eddie Weinbauer, is a victim of ongoing pranks who turns to heavy metal music for coping. His refuge offers an outlet until he hears news of his rock and roll idol, Sammi Curr, dying.
Following this tragedy, he discovers his idol’s spirit is reaching out through hidden messages. Such as the Ouija board, he uses Curr’s albums by playing them backwards to provide him with directions on exacting revenge upon his enemies. Although the vibe isn’t deeply saturated in Halloween culture, Trick or Treat does take place during the season.
My favorite scene is when a green demon materializes from a pair of headphones in the form of smoke. The first time I watched this formation, it brought a sense of dread over me as I was unsure what this smoke was going to morph into. The structure of the demon was another visual I didn’t expect, yet, for me its form worked and reminded me of a more sinister evil from perhaps Hinson’s Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal.
Although this list is minor in length, I suggest readers to check out my other blogs regarding Minority Horror and Controversial Movies for more suggestions. For parents, if you are looking for movies to preoccupy your kids then they might enjoy classics such as: Hocus Pocus, Casper, Disney’s the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Halloween is Grinch Night, The Halloween Tree, The Nightmare before Christmas, and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
Return next week as I blog about Halloween themed books.
Alexander S. Brown