Posted by Richard Harland Smith on November 2, 2012
Remember how excited we were when September yielded to October and Halloween was 31 days away? Now it’s November 2nd and hard to believe another All Hallows Eve has come and gone. But I think it is a perfectly good use of All Souls’ Day to reflect not only on what we accomplished during the month of October but to lament the missed opportunities. To that end, I have gathered a few of my fellow HorrorDads for an informal chat about the spooky movies they thought they’d get to during October but for whatever reason did not.
JEFF ALLARD: I actually got around to watching most of the movies I meant to get around to but there’s always a few that slip by. TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1971) was one I hoped to fit in but didn’t. It’s been years since I’ve seen it but I think the Blind Dead themselves are just the coolest monsters ever. They have those funky, moldy old cloaks that they wear, they ride on horses in slow motion, and best of all because they can’t see, they track their victims by the sound of their heartbeats so the more fearful someone is, the quicker they’ll find them. And if I remember right, they even sport soul patches to boot! Why no one has ever tried to mount a US remake, I don’t know. It’s probably for the best that no one has but I hate to see such excellent monsters permanently retired.
I had also hoped to watch HABIT (1997), the Larry Fessenden vampire movie. I was thinking at one point that it would be a contender for my hardcore fan spot on our Halloween triple-bill but I just didn’t get around to screening it in time to see what I thought of it today. I know that when I saw it back in ’98 or so, I thought it was terrific. There had been a couple of artsy, New York-set vampire movies released at about the same time - THE ADDICTION (1995) and NADJA (1994) – and I thought both of them were pretty insufferable and expected the same from HABIT but I ended up loving it. While I’ve liked some of Fessenden’s stuff since then, like THE LAST WINTER (2006), HABIT is still my favorite of his films. The other movie I wanted to get to by Halloween but didn’t was BONES (2001) — yes, the Snoop Dogg movie. I don’t know why it came to mind – maybe because of director Ernest Dickerson’s current work on THE WALKING DEAD – but I really enjoyed that movie back when it came out and thought it was time to revisit. I remember it being put together with much more care than one might’ve expected from a movie that had Snoop Dogg trying to sell himself as the next Freddy Krueger. It wasn’t a perfect movie by any means but it bought my affection with the Looney Toons-style (or maybe Itchy & Scratchy style) moment where Bones slays a pair of street thugs off-camera and what looks like every drop of their blood splashes against an alley wall side by side in a perfect outline of their bodies.
DENNIS COZZALIO: Regrets? I’ve had a few. For starters, I wasn’t able (wasn’t willing?) to continue my string of greasepaint-oriented Halloween costumes into a third year. Two Halloweens ago I haunted the neighborhood as a bald guy in a cape with white makeup covering the entirety of my orb— Humpty Dumpty-ula— and last year was the occasion of my triumphant, costume-contest winning appearance as Satan—bald head covered this time in red, but with horns! I had great plans as we plowed into September of going green for Halloween this year but, frankly, I just couldn’t find Martian antennae that lived up to my exacting standards—glitter-covered emerald pom-poms attached to a girl’s headband would have been just so beneath me. And I remembered the fallout from having to scrub my crimson sphere with a bar of Lava in order to get all that makeup off last year—which, of course, left the landscape of my skull a whole different sort of red, cratered and very Martian, for sure. So I wasn’t eager to relive that. This year I settled for Man in Shorts and Oregon T-Shirt accompanying my Cute Ninja and Scary Devil Doll with Cracked Face as they scoured the neighborhood in search of scares (and Skittles, and Snickers, and…) But now that it’s all over, I kinda wish I’d felt a little more into it, like I have the last couple of go-rounds. My girls only have one or two more honest trick-or-treat runs left in them before they start getting all self-conscious and worried about whether or not they’re old for this sort of fun, and I wish I’d been a little more gung-ho for their sakes. Next year, the Martian invasion of Glendale is on!
Okay, then… I still wish I’d seen the movie there though. Next year I promise my home will be awash in Universal horror and my head slathered in green paint for the holiday. And no threat of Election Day comedy mucking up the bog water wither!
PAUL GAITA: Jeez, what didn’t I see this Halloween? The closest I came was watching the MAD MONSTER PARTY disc two weeks prior to the 31st. But it’s my own fault – I didn’t set aside any time to watch stuff and just barreled through the holiday with my focus on making sure that our daughter didn’t abandon her costume after thirty seconds of wear. Had I slotted in some creature features, I would have probably chosen NIGHT OF THE DEMON. Writing about M.R. James for WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU (1968) and A WARNING TO THE CURIOUS (1972) last week piqued my interest in seeing it again. It’s been a while since I’ve watched NIGHT OF THE DEMON but there are several scenes that immediately leap to mind: the windstorm conjured by Karswell at the children’s party (and his satisfied smile upon seeing their terrified reactions); the rune-marked paper that leaps out of Dana Andrews’ fingers after opening it; Andrews’ flight through the woods from Karswell’s mansion, with the demonic ball of light in pursuit; and of course, the appearance of the demon itself, which manages to look atrocious and the stuff of nightmares at the same time. I’d also like to have seen the television version of its source story, “Casting the Runes,” which was made for ITV in 1979 and is currently available on DVD from Acorn Media. And while I’m at it, it would have been interesting to see the more recent version of WHISTLE AND I’LL COME TO YOU with John Hurt, which was made for the BBC in 2010. Oh, well… next year?
NICHOLAS MCCARTHY: Almost every Halloween in recent memory, I’ve failed at my goal of watching classic horror movies. This year, I changed that. I was able to catch a whole bunch of favorite horror movies in the week before Halloween. It was my absolute pleasure to revisit THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933), the original THE MUMMY (1932), Jose Ramon Larraz’s SYMPTOMS (1974), and THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE (1974), which I programmed for a Halloween party where we all drank the classic 40s cocktail “The Corpse Reviver” … get it? I even caught the original HALLOWEEN (1978) again. So I had an exceptional run for the season, but I didn’t watch the single movie I was aiming for: the original DRACULA (1931). There is still time.
RHS: Thanks to our kids, we got a lot of juvenile Halloween viewing in this year. Unlike Dennis’ brood, our kids love MAD MONSTER PARTY and we feathered in (sometimes multiple) viewings of BARTOK THE MAGNIFICENT (1999), THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD (1950), IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN! (1964) and MONSTER HOUSE (2006) — halfway through trick-or-treating Vic even struck a hunched pose on some neighbor’s property and bellowed “You kids get off my lawn,” just like Old Man Nebbercracker. By and large, though, my kids don’t care for black and white movies, so I tended to watch for my own enjoyment after the entire family had gone to bed. That meant I caught a lot of movies in progress or in fragments – THE GORGON, MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE (1932), THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, DEAD OF NIGHT, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1932), NIGHT OF THE DEMON and THE BODY SNATCHER (1945). TCM programming was not my friend this year – I missed out on HORROR OF DRACULA because it aired at 5pm Pacific time, an hour when I’m picking my kids up from after-school care, but I did get to see THE ZOMBIES OF MORA-TAU in its entirety. Gyp! That’s too bad because HORROR OF DRACULA has such a perfect autumnal palette and I haven’t sat down with it in years. I’m still grateful as all Hell (all of it!) that Turner still devotes so much air time to classic horror. Though I have 90% of their horror library on DVD and can watch any time, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of putting on the TV to find Frankenstein, Dracula, and their beastly brethren waiting for me.
Unrelated to Turner Classic Movies, there was a host of spooky films I thought I might be able to load onto my plate… but didn’t. High on the list was Alejandro Amenábar’s THE OTHERS (2001), a film dripping with atmosphere and boasting nuanced yet full-speed performances from its entire cast. I would love to have seen CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962) this year or THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999) and the recent DVD release of HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982) would have been a great occasion to catch up with that much-maligned but beloved-by-me second sequel to HALLOWEEN (1978). I did screen John Brahm’s THE LODGER (1944) for myself and Nick’s THE PACT (2012) for my wife, Barbara, who rewarded me (and Nick) by curling up defensively on the couch early on and diving under a throw blanket for fear of what she might see. As seems to be my habit, though, I found myself writing more about horror movies than actually watching them. On Halloween night itself, after trick-or-treating and the kids were bathed bedded, I told Barb I had obtained a copy of the recent THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012) for our evening’s viewing but she said “No, let’s watch one of your old-timey movies.” As THE WOLF MAN (1941) was on TCM and fairly near the beginning, that’s just what we did. It was wonderful seeing the Larry Talbot story on our big 50″ monitor. And after Barb retired for the evening, leaving me alone in the orange glow of pumpkin lights, I sat through THE MUMMY (1932) and THE MUMMY’S HAND (1941), fulfilling the Universal quotient that was so sorely missing in Dennis’ holiday. I guess Halloweenman’s reach is bound to exceed his grasp… or what’s next year for?
What are your post-Halloween regrets?
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