The John Carpenter classic, pictured here, is a favorite--with good reason. Though I didn't play it this year, this movie became the archetype for the slasher genre. Unfortunately, while this film was original for a low-budget horror piece and had a very creative director, the genre only had limited quantities of quality in story-lines and structure. And, even this one was somewhat derivative from the earlier 1974 movie by the late Bob Clark (of , A Christmas Story fame, another annual treat), Black Christmas. Both of these great films, compared to what came later, displayed little blood and gore, but plenty for the viewer's imagination and tension.
Okay, on to this year's October horror-fest of movies. The 1981 An American Werewolf in London is first on the list. At only 97 minutes, director John Landis created one of the best werewolf films, ever. Effectively moody, and with great bits of American and British humor thrown about, it still holds up well in story, even after a good many years. The one thing about this particular horror genre, that goes back to the original, The Werewolf, is its tragic, sad nature. And, Landis, though remembered for a lot of excesses in his films, recognized this fact when he brought this to the screen. If you saw this in the theater (as I once did), many were more than a little stunned by its final outcome (especially since it's so easy to care for those plucky Yanks). The other wonderful thing about this film is its great soundtrack. Using many of the older, moon-themed songs, this really connected with the pop culture in a way seldom done before. If you've seen this movie, you know what I write about when you recall the use of CCR's Bad Moon Rising as the pre-cursor to Rick Baker's now famous transformation sequence of actor David Naughton. The year 1981 had another solid entertaining werewolf movie, The Howling. But, it is this one that I remember more dearly.
Next, I did try to have one for the family movie night, the early Tim Burton favorite, Beetlejuice. Unfortunately, the kids couldn't hang through to the end. I thought that since the kids loved The Nightmare Before Christmas, that they'd enjoy this one. They just about went screaming out of the room. Damn... Dad strikes out, again (his wife, chided). Anyway, it's one of my favorites, with one of my favorite actresses, Geena Davis (who I happened to see a couple of weeks ago at my daughter's school carnival / book festival). And, yes, she's tall. But, the others here, namely Michael Keaton as the bio-exorcist, are a joy to watch. Burton's imagination and unique production values make him something special. Not all of his movies work, but few look anywhere close to them in style and design. Finally, I got out his other great work, Sleepy Hollow. Depp and company really shined on this Burton production. Though not truly Halloween-themed, it has shown itself to be one of the better ones for this time of year. Some of the splendid, haunting visuals here, not counting the beheadings (of course), make some in the industry truly jealous. Many sets/scenes are eerily beautiful. That, and any movie that has the great Christopher Lee and the uncredited Christopher Walken (as the Horseman) in the same movie is going to make it as one of my all-time scary fun favorites just on principle, alone.