Now with the easy accessibility of filmmaking technology and more filmmakers stepping forward, we’re getting more horror movies based around Halloween than ever. I’m just fine with that as Halloween was always a very under tapped mood back drop for such a long time in the horror genre. “10/31” is tailor made for Halloween and horror buffs looking for a good time with assorted tales of terror and black comedy. While it isn’t perfect, it’s a damn good treat nonetheless that I can’t wait to put alongside gems like “Tales of Halloween,” 2013’s “Mischief Night,” and “Trick r Treat.”
“Creepshow” isn’t just a horror movie, but it’s also the gold standard for what most anthology horror movies strive to be. While there have been anthology horror films before it, “Creepshow” popularized the genre for a new decade and helped redefine the idea of the sub-genre. Not just that, but “Creepshow” is also a rebuttal to the golden age of horror comic from EC. Once upon a time the comics label that produced violent horror based comics were shut down due to their controversial nature. “Creepshow” is a movie that combines immense talents from folks like George Romero, Stephen King, and Tom Savini to provide something of a rebellious middle finger and show a new audience that these tales were as fun as they were violent.
Michael Dougherty’s “Trick r Treat” is a contemporary success story that’s enamored horror fans for a long time. Originally in 2007, Michael Dougherty’s horror anthology was kicked around various studios, pushed back, and shelved. When it finally re-emerged, it was pushed to a DVD release on 2009. Once unleashed on the fan base, it began life as a hidden gem, and has grown to become a bonafide horror classic, almost universally praised. To boot, “Trick r Treat’s” mascot, the burlap sack wearing, jagged lollipop adorning Sam has become one of the modern horror icons, whose bred a legion of fans (as well as a slew of merchandise).
Once upon a time TV movies were an event. They meant something. They were used sporadically during the year for various networks as a means of attracting big ratings. Once upon a time TV used TV movies as a means of competing with theaters, and ever since that’s become something of a lost medium. Even when I was a kid, the nineties were filled with TV movies both of the Stephen King multi-night variety, and occasional biblical epics, and or science fiction epics like “Taken,” or “Noah.” It was an interesting time. “Dead of Night” is one of the various TV movies that’s gone from TV movie to well acclaimed horror movie, and that might be because of Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson.
It makes sense that Shout Factory would package “Tales from the Crypt” with “Vault of Horror” since both horror films are essentially a part of the same universe, and are adapted from the genius EC Comics brand. In “Vault of Horror” you can even see one of the characters sit beside a stack of EC Comics while turning to continue reading a “Tales from the Crypt” novel. It’s a good thing too since both films are stellar horror anthologies, practicing the tradition of EC Comics’ storytelling formula that involves revenge, irony, plot twists, and turning the tables on characters at every turn. If you can spare the time, these films deserve to be viewed as a double bill, because it’s a master class of storytelling and creeps.
It’s not often I hear about a movie made before the nineties that took three unfinished films and cobbled them together to create an anthology movie, but here we are. “Night Train to Terror” is actually a pastiche of failed productions, with its three spooky tales actually re-edited and truncated remnants of films titled “Scream Your Head Off,” “The Dark Side to Love (aka Greta),” and “Cataclysm” You might think this would end up in a failed production, and a poorly constructed end product. And you’d be right “Night Train to Terror” is one of the top five worst anthology horror films ever made. It’s a film that constantly left me baffled, confused, bored, and muttering to myself “What the fuck is happening here?”
Joseph Sargent’s “Nightmares” is one of the more underrated anthology horror films to ever cross the genre and it’s surprising how constantly overlooked it is. While it’s not a masterpiece, it definitely serves up its fair share of strong horror tales. It’s probably because it doesn’t have a mascot like the Creeper or the Cryptkeeper to tell its tales. We’re essentially treated to a pair of glowing eyes in a storm, and hands that open us up to some really creepy tales. “Nightmares” wastes no time with fatty introductions and gets right to the thick of the creeps.
I have to admit that “Ghost Stories” was something of a surprise this year, because I’m shocked so many people liked it, while I just didn’t. Surely, “Ghost Stories” is a beautifully directed film but it builds on a momentum that it can’t deliver. It seems to be leading up to one big bang, and in the end when that big bang finally arrives, it’s more like a trick gun with the flag that reads “Bam!” The message is also pretty heavy handed and feels tacked on. Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s “Ghost Stories” is a beautifully directed film with excellent cinematography, and brilliant sound design, it’s just all glimmer and no substance.