Ah, Halloween, that festive occasion at the end of October when it’s definitely best to stay inside, not so much to steer clear of the monsters and ghouls but to avoid the less than clement weather. Here then are the voyages of your humble and intrepid explorer of the cinematic (under)world, charted below for your reading pleasure.
(1997, dir. Paul W.S. Anderson)
I’m guessing the elevator pitch was “Alien… IN SPACE!” Add a generous helping of Solaris, The Thing and Hellraiser, and you get what sounds like it should be the most awesomest sci-fi horror movie ever. Sadly, in practice the movie doesn’t quite deliver. Compared with the movies just mentioned (with maybe the exception of Hellraiser, which is hardly a masterpiece) I’d say the blame lies with the director, and if not, let’s blame him anyway.
(1986, dir. Stuart Gordon)
Another Lovecraftian crazy scientist romp from the wonderful people who brought you Re-Animator. Over-the-top campy horror complete with Barbara Crampton in a leather dominatrix outfit – they definitely had me at hello.
(1981, dir. Joe Dante)
What would Halloween be without a single werewolf movie? Full of cheap scares and cheezy special effects, The Howling does the trick, even if the acting is really wooden (but then, who watches werewolf movies for the acting?)
Elisabeth Brooks as Marsha Quist might just be the sexiest B-movie she-devil ever. What a Vampirella she would have made… (sigh)
(1954, dir. Kenneth Anger)
I’m led to believe Inauguration… is some sort of an experimental movie landmark. The 38 minute movie contains no dialogue; the soundtrack is Leos Janacek’s “Glagolitic Mass“. Art for art’s sake? There certainly are lots of pretty pictures to look at. Probably best appreciated while in an altered state.
(1980, dir. Tsui Hark)
“A secret agent investigates a village that is populated by crazed, inbred cannibals.” The summary from IMDb says it all really. Some nicely choreographed action, including a fight scene suspended by ropes. Very cartoony, but that’s par for the course. Bonus points for the somewhat rare mix of cannibal slapstick and martial arts action.
(2008, dir. Martin McDonagh)
Dark comedy with allegory galore and clever dialogue that takes forever to get started. Is Bruges Hell, or just Purgatory? Or is it simply worth a visit before you kick the bucket? Great soundtrack by Carter Burwell, brilliant use of incidental music.
(1970, dir. Brian G. Hutton)
Mix equal parts of heist movie and war movie, and you’ve got Kelly’s Heroes. The heist in the center of the action is a traditional MacGuffin chase, although there’s no shortage of mortar shells flying and tanks attacking, if that’s the sort of thing that bloats your goat. Telly Savalas, Clint Eastwood and Donald Sutherland ham it up as the Three Musketeers, whose ingenuity is only surpassed by their greed.
(2006, dir. György Pálfi)
Surreal imagery and incredible cinematography are the strong points of this Hungarian art house movie. The final scene is definitely a shout-out to Peter Greenaway, and why not. Not recommended for the squeamish, but if vomit and bestiality do it for you, give it a go – what could possibly go wrong?
(1974, dir. Dusan Makavejev)
Now, I’ve seen some weird movies in my time, but Sweet Movie is definitely getting somewhat close to redlining the weird-o-meter. Makes a great double feature with Taxidermia – there might be less vomit (I would have to review both to be sure, which I’m in no hurry to do right now) but on the other hand, there’s way more urine and feces. Fun for the whole family!
For a more detailed (and spoiler-laden) take, check out Roger Ebert’s 1975 review of Sweet Movie.
(1981, dir. Norman J. Warren)
Another entrant in the “Alien… IN SPACE!” games, in the shoestring budget category. Is it so bad it’s good, or so bad it’s bad? Either way, there are some cringeworthy moments, and I’m not talking about the overacting.
(2010, dir. Jorma Taccone)
There is no shortage of puerile jokes in this 80s action movie parody. Spoiler alert: if you think seeing a grown man hopping around naked clutching a stalk of celery between his buttocks is funny, and who doesn’t, you just might enjoy MacGruber.
And that, my friends, brings us to the end of the 2014 Halloween movie extravaganza. Pleasant screams.