Darkness falls across the land…it must be that time of year again where we delve deep into the murky waters of horror, chills and Halloween. I’ve made it quite clear that I’m not the biggest fan of horror movies, I was a weedy kid who was scared of his own shadow so watching these things set my imagination running. But I think that is part of the appeal. We want to be scared. We like to be scared. Make sure you lock the doors, turn off the phone and, whatever you do, don’t go into the cellar…
CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984)
I remember seeing this when I was probably too young. It scared the you-know-what out of me and, as such, I’ve not been able to watch it since. But the memory of that fear has stayed with me. Based on a Stephen King short story, Children of the Corn sees a young couple (Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton) trapped in a small town where a murderous cult full of kids, lead by charismatic leader Isaac (John Franklin) is killing all the adults. Eight sequels (yes, eight!) followed and, quite frankly, I’ve not seen any of them, the thought of this one loomed large enough for me to swerve any more.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
CHILD’S PLAY 2 (1990)
I’ve always been a fan of the original Child’s Play movie even though (like most films of that nature) it scared me to death the first time I saw it (again, I was probably too young!). So when they made a sequel I was happy to jump on board (having to wait until I was old enough to rent it out from the video shop!). Alex Vincent returns as Andy, the reluctant hero from the first movie. This time around, while his mother is in psychiatric care, he is placed into the care of a foster family. Gerrit Graham and Jenny Agutter play the willing foster couple who also have Christine Elise‘s troubled Kyle under their roof. Also, not far behind, is Chucky (once again voiced by the excellent Brad Dourif) who is hell bent on finishing what he started. This film picks up the pace (and the body count) and lays the groundwork for the sequels that follow.
WATCH IT FOR: “How’s it hanging?”
American TV shows always love to make a Halloween special, often diverting from the usual format and storyline in order to give the audience a bit of a fright. There are so many to choose from but I landed on this episode of Knight Rider, from the third series, that I don’t remember seeing before. A woman is convinced she has witnessed a murder but all around her think she’s hallucinating. In comes The Foundation and Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) to investigate the strange goings on. With a few special effects and a visit to a familiar spooky house, this episode has all the hallmarks of a classic Halloween special.
WATCH IT FOR: “This place looks really familiar”
THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1991)
Big screen remakes of classic television programmes don’t always work. There are some exceptions, however, like this retelling of the hit sixties show The Addams Family. Director Barry Sonnenfeld manages to keep the feel of both the original show and cartoon strip while also updating the story for a modern era. While the story and set design play a huge part, the great joy of this film is the casting. Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston are simply perfect as Gomez and Morticia, their chemistry oozing off the screen as they declare their love (and hate) for each other. Christina Ricci as Wednesday is just sublime while Christopher Lloyd‘s Uncle Fester is a joy to behold. They may be creepy, kooky but they are altogether Spooktacular in this wonderful film.
WATCH IT FOR: Gomez loves Morticia
SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999)
Speaking of the sublime Christina Ricci, she pops up again here in this gloriously gothic horror from Tim Burton. Johnny Depp stars as Ichabod Crane who is sent to the town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a series of gruesome murders where each victim has been decapitated. Talk around the town says the legendary headless horseman is responsible, but Crane, with his modern way of investigation, wants to believe otherwise. Burton is a master at work here with fine attention to detail and glorious set design. There are plenty of shocks and scares to keep even the most cynical of movie goers happy.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
THE OMEN (1976)
This is one of those classic horror movies that I’ve only ever managed to watch once all the way through (you know, because I’m a wimp!). Hollywood icon Gregory Peck stars alongside Lee Remick as Robert and Katherine Thorn whose infant son, Damien (Harvey Stephens) may or may not be the child of the devil. Now located in London, strange events follow them around and, with the added warnings from a priest, the couple soon realise that all is not right. There are some genuinely scary scenes in this film and director Richard Donner ramps up the threat level to fever pitch ensuring countless sleepless nights!
WATCH IT FOR: The priest’s demise
I love The Goldbergs. The show, set in the 80s, is full of pop culture references and memories and their special episodes, like this Ghostbusters-inspired one from the first series, is exactly why the show is so successful. Adam (Sean Giambrone) has ditched Pops (George Segal) to go trick-or-treating with a cool new friend but things don’t go so well. Meanwhile Barry (Troy Gentile), dressed as The Hulk, is intent on having a great time despite his mum, Beverly (Wendy McLendon-Covey) gatecrashing the party! Yes, its not scary but sometimes, Halloween doesn’t need to be.
WATCH IT FOR: Barry IS The Hulk!
THE WICKER MAN (1973)
While this film may be more famous for is shocking denouement, the story as a whole is enough to send shivers down your spine. Sergeant Neil Howie (Edward Woodward) flies up to Summerisle, off the coast of Scotland, to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Once there, though, he finds that the locals have no recollection of the missing girl not to mention their strange, pagan customs. Its the ultimate fish-out-of-water story wherein a normal, everyday policeman finds himself in a bizarre situation with an equally bizarre end. Christopher Lee also stars as the charismatic Lord Summerisle in one of the creepiest films of all time.
WATCH IT FOR: Trailer
We end as we began with a Stephen King adaptation that exceeded all expectations and became one of the biggest box-office hits in recent years. I featured the previous version of IT on last year’s Spooktacular and, for a long time, that was mine and everyone else’s definitive version of the story. Until this came along. Director Andy Muschietti has brought together a group of young actors, including Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis and Finn Wolfhard, to retell King’s classic story for a modern audience. But the real test of this film comes with the casting of Pennywise. Tim Curry‘s innocent-until-gruesome clown pales into insignificance compared to that of Bill Skarsgard‘s portrayal. Like the original, this movie is in two parts (Chapter 2 is set to be released in 2019) so you almost feel cheated by not having much of an ending, but the thrill is in the anticipation. As a non-horror fan, I absolutely adore this version of IT and cannot wait to see how the second chapter unfolds.
WATCH IT FOR: “I don’t want to go missing”
There you go, another batch of chills to keep you company on this Halloween night. There are plenty more I could have featured, but they’ll have to wait until next year! Until then, don’t have nightmares and beware the moon,lads…
“We all float down here. Yes we do!”