Posted by Richard Harland Smith on October 17, 2006
Horror fans in general and Halloweenists in particular are always in a dither at this time of year over what to watch on The Big Night. For the Gothically inclined, no-brainer candidates include the Universal Studios classic monster canon that began with Tod Browning’s Dracula and James Whale’s Frankenstein in 1931, plus all their respective Bride of–, Son of–, House of– follow-ups. Alternatively, we suggest the seminal (but still undervalued) psychological spookers produced by Val Lewton for RKO during the ’40s; while the best of these (The Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, The Body Snatcher) are flat-out genre milestones, the least of them (Isle of the Dead, The Leopard Man) drip with autumnal atmosphere. Lewton protégés Jacques Tourneur and Robert Wise were later responsible for Night of the Demon (1957) and The Haunting (1963), respectively; both are top notch spookers whose shocks are more suggested than shoved in your face.
At the risk of blasmpemy, we further suggest giving John Carpenter’s influential Halloween (1978) a well deserved time out this year. Just released on DVD in a (gasp, choke) bare bones release from Parmount is John Hancock’s eerie Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971), a Connecticut-set spooker that might be a vampire picture or simply the story of one woman’s descent into madness. Creepy New England settings also figure into John Llewellyn Moxey’s Horror Hotel (UK: City of the Dead, 1960), a story of small town secrets and big time Satanism, Republic Pictures’ The Woman Who Came Back (1945), a forgotten gem set in contemporary, witch-hagged Massachusetts, and Lucio Fulci’s American Gothic terror two-fer, City of the Living Dead (1980) and House by the Cemetery (1982). For woodsy, October chills, it’s hard to beat all of the above, and so many more dark horse candidates there isn’t time or space to include.
Horror cinema has been a going concern since the silent era and shows no signs of letting up 100 years later. All of this makes the multiple choices of selecting Halloween viewing especially hellish… but isn’t that the point?
Happy Haunting (and Shocking Shopping) from the Movie Morlocks.
MovieMorlocks.com is the official blog for TCM. No topic is too obscure or niche to be excluded from our film discussions. And we welcome your comments on our blogs and bloggers.
See more: facebook.com/tcmtv
See more: twitter.com/tcm
3-D Academy Awards Action Films Actors Actors' Endorsements Actresses animal stars Animation Anime Anthology Films Art Direction Art in Movies Asians in Hollywood Australian CInema Autobiography Avant-Garde Aviation Awards B-movies Beer in Film Behind the Scenes Best of the Year lists Biography Biopics Black Film Blu-Ray Books on Film Boxing films British Cinema Canadian Cinema Character Actors Chicago Film History Cinematography Classic Films College Life on Film Comedy Comic Book Movies Crime Czech Film Dance on Film Digital Cinema Directors Disaster Films Documentary Drama DVD Early Talkies Editing Educational Films European Influence on American Cinema Experimental Exploitation Fairy Tales on Film Faith or Christian-based Films Family Films Film Composers Film Criticism Film Festival 2015 film festivals Film History in Florida Film Noir Film Scholars Film titles Filmmaking Techniques Films About Gambling Films of the 1960s Films of the 1970s Films of the 1980s Food in Film Foreign Film French Film Gangster films Genre Genre spoofs HD & Blu-Ray Holiday Movies Hollywood history Hollywood lifestyles Horror Horror Movies Icons independent film Italian Film Japanese Film Korean Film Literary Adaptations Martial Arts Melodramas Memorabilia Method Acting Mexican Cinema Moguls Monster Movies Movie Books Movie Costumes movie flops Movie locations Movie lovers Movie Reviewers Movie settings Movie Stars Movie titles Movies about movies Music in Film Musicals New Releases Outdoor Cinema Paranoid Thrillers Parenting on film Pirate movies Polish film industry political thrillers Politics in Film Pornography Pre-Code Producers Race in American Film Remakes Revenge Road Movies Romance Romantic Comedies Satire Scandals Science Fiction Screenwriters Semi-documentaries Serials Set design/production design Short Films Silent Film silent films Social Problem Film Sports Sports on Film Stereotypes Straight-to-DVD Studio Politics Stunts and stuntmen Suspense thriller Swashbucklers TCM Classic Film Festival TCM Underground Television The British in Hollywood The Germans in Hollywood The Hungarians in Hollywood The Irish in Hollywood Theaters Thriller Trains in movies U.S.S. Indianapolis Underground Cinema VOD War film Westerns Women in the Film Industry Women's Weepies