Slop’s Vicky Pea teams up with Snips’ Dave Wain to bring you a spooky selection of seriously shocking Halloween films.
Hocus Pocus, Addams Family, Beetlejuice, Casper. These are the titles you can expect to be trotted out across channels over the next couple of weeks, and whilst they’re all wickedly fabulous and remain close to our cold dead black hearts it’s time to get serious about Halloween and serious about horror, and when that time comes there’s only one place to turn; Snips – a DVD rental store on the Wirral.
We’ve teamed up with Snips owner, co-editor of The Schlock Pit, 88Films sleeve note author and the world’s foremost expert on the Evil Bong franchise (we think) Dave Wain to bring you the only Halloween movie list you’ll ever need. Well, until you’ve watched them all or scared yourself to an early grave, we know which one we’d prefer.
So here’s Slop ‘n’ Snips‘ Seriously Shook Halloween Movie List.
Crème de la Crème:
1 – Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told (1967)
Directed by Jack Hill, famed for his works in the genres of exploitation and feminism, Spider Baby boasts everything a five star film needs.
Initially released into obscurity, a weaker offering could have found itself lost to the vaults, but eventually Spider Baby climbed its way out to achieve its cult status which naturally includes a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, achievements largely attributed to its killer cast.
A young Sid Haig embraces the role of Ralph, even back then the now horror icon shows exactly why he’d be a titan of the genre for decades to come. A master of modern horror at the start of his career is joined by a master of the classics nearing the end of his as Lon Chaney Jr produces one of his greatest performances and certainly the funniest playing the role of Bruno, guardian and chauffeur to the disturbed and deranged Merrye family, of which Ralph belongs to with siblings Virginia (Jill Banner) and Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn), all of whom suffer from their own unique genetic illness Merrye Syndrome.
In 2012 the film was preserved by the Academy Film Archive to further cement its quality as one of the greatest dark comedy horror movies to ever hit the screens.
“… one of the greatest blasts of creative B-movie inspiration to hit American drive-ins and grindhouses.” Stream on Demand
“It’s one of the greatest films ever made.” Combustible Celluloid
2 – The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
“Chainsaw-wielding Leatherface remains one of the most disturbing characters in horror.” Independent
3 – The Exorcist (1973)
“A work of cinema in its own league.” Cinema Crazed
4 – The Exorcist III (1990)
“…it’s everything The Exorcist should have been, but never quite was.” Mountain Xpress
5 – Suspiria (1977)
An absolute icon of horror, a starting point for many into the Italian specific tangent of the genre and the greatest of its creations. Released in ’77 Suspiria would go on to be one of Dario Argento‘s most successful feature length films and firmly made him a house hold name for horror fans as a master of the four S’s; Sinister, supernatural, stylistic, suspenseful. The suspense in particular owes a great deal to its score which was famously composed by prog rock band Goblin, who had previously worked with Argento on Deep Red.
Due to its wide range of continuing influence, whether on bands, writers, film makers or fans, it has built a legacy second to none other in the genre. So iconic is the film it’s now subject to a totally unnecessary a remake under the helm of Luca Guadagnino.
In better news a stunning 4k restoration is slated for release later this year, bringing you closer than ever to Argento‘s original vision.
6 – Les Yeux Sans Visage (1960)
“Eyes Without a Face is a perfect example of how cinematic poetry can transform a seemingly disreputable movie genre.” Chicago Tribune
7 – Nosferatu (1922)
“So this is it: ground zero, the birth of horror cinema.” Time Out
8 – The Eye (2002)
“It casts a spell strong enough that viewers won’t want to look away.” Washington Post
9 – Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
What takes a hardcore horror film from run of the mill release to notorious and news worthy? Controversy! The story behind Cannibal Holocaust is arguably better than the film itself.
Another from the Italian pool of horror and directed by Ruggero Deodato, it was filmed in the Amazon with legitimate indigenous tribes starring along side an American and Italian cast and at its heart an early example of found footage horror, one that walks the line between documentation and staging so well it landed them in court. After drawing a little too much attention from the wrong authorities due to its extreme graphic violence and animal cruelty, an obscenity charge for Deodato was quickly upgraded to that of having made a snuff film.
Much of this was due to the increasing ambiguity surrounding the movie, fuelled by rumours that some of the actors had been killed on camera the situation was not helped by an agreement Deodato had put in place with the supposedly murdered actors who had signed contracts to keep them out of any type of media for one year following the release. Of course he was cleared of all charges after producing the “deceased” actors very much alive, as well as displaying how a rather gruesome impalement was performed without causing any harm to the native actress.
Still, the film went on to be banned in Italy, Australia and up to 48 other countries, with some still maintaining the ban to this day due to the inclusion of graphic animal cruelty. Not one for the faint of heart.
“Cannibal Holocaust is certainly unpleasant, uncomfortable, even offensive – which is to say that it is uncompromisingly true to its genre – but that is not to undermine its fierce, probing intelligence.” Little White Lies
10 – Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)
“For the zombie connoisseur, it’s a treasure of invention and all-around solid filmmaking.” Antagony & Ecstasy
11 – Cannibal Ferox (1981)
“excessively gory, violent and should appeal to gore fans and grind house film fans” RT
12 – Nekromantik (1987)
“…Nekromantik is the most depraved film that I have ever seen….” RT
13 – Re-Animator (1986)
Ahhh B Movies. How we love you. Terrible effects, low budgets, outrageous plots, over acting. It was a hard fought battle to come out top of this sub-genre. We’ve swung back and forth but now at the final hour Re-Animator reigns victorious.
The reason for its top shelf position comes down to its surrealism and uncompromising style of humour – some of the more overlooked aspects of the B Horror flick – but two of the most essential. Some provide a surreal situation in general, others take a more familiar situation and insert surrealism into it. Some go for the big laughs, something everyone can have a giggle at, where as others stick to their guns with a blink and your’ll miss it delivery of a dryer and more targeted whit. Re-Animator is of the latter in both cases. It’s a classic Dr Frankenstein tale of crazed doctor’s, dead bodies and experimentation that hat develops into a head scratching, subtly smirking and occasionally belly chuckling riot for the right viewer.
It’s also acts as a homage to other sinister peers, with a soundtrack that noticeably takes inspiration from Psycho and the story itself based on a novella by H.P Lovecraft, spawning two sequels of a similar nature.
“Re-Animator is splatter heaven. Based on the sci-fi novel by H.P. Lovecraft, Re-Animator‘s gore is exceeded only by its wit.” Washington Post
14 – Society (1989)
“Although Society is at first blemished by its dated humour and contrived teenage self-discovery, we find everything is in service to a truly sensational ending.” NCTATNY
15 – The Evil Dead II (1987)
“Evil Dead 2‘s rampant inventiveness and manic energy have ensured that it will endure as a cult classic.” AV Club
16 – Night of the Creeps (1986)
“Scattered across the whole of Night of the Creeps is horror-nerd nirvana.” Fearnet
17 – Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)
The rarest of beasts. A triple barrel of genres. Black comedy-musical-horror.
With Bad Taste levels of gore and comedy, as well as fist-pumping political undertone in protest at the fast food industry, it crosses even more labels with some calling it an exploitation film, even the word liberating has been thrown around. In a “lowbrow way“.
Over six years in the making Poultrygeist is a triumph of dedication having been continuously challenged with delays, pay disputes, special effect malfunctions and production issues and would deserve an audience purely for the effort displayed, regardless of the quality. Prepare to laugh, cry, feel nauseous and regret your life choices, probably all for the wrong and unexpected reasons.
“It’s genuine sick fun, and there isn’t a boring moment in it.” Entertainment Weekly
18 – Bad Taste (1987)
“It certainly makes good on its title.” e-film
19 – Scanners (1981)
“Cronenberg is so great at juxtaposing the surreal with the mundane to generate both creeps and (nervous) laughter.” Movie Metropolis
20 – The Machine Girl (2008)
“A riotous blend of arterial spray and grindhouse glee.” New York Times
Disturbing & Distressing:
21 – Last House on the Left (1974)
“To avoid fainting, keep repeating ‘It’s only a movie’ …”
Advertising would always be an issue with this release, and after numerous titles that included Sex Crime of the Century the above tag line and title Last House on the Left teamed up to huge success.
Another of our picks to initially suffer from censorship thanks to its controversial subject matter and scenes of sadism and violence, Wes Cravens’ debut in the directors chair went on to receive critical acclaim, grossing over $3 million from its initial investment of around $85,000, eventually leading to him being involved in it’s 2009 and not totally terrible remake.
“A fascinating and confrontational horror film that deals with terrors a lot more chilling than some dude swinging a machete.” The Horror Show
22 -I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
“Gruesome and incredibly exploitative. However, for better or for worse, I Spit on Your Grave shows us the raw, shocking reality of rape, in all its bloody viciousness.” IGN
23 – Irreversible (2002)
“A genuine outlaw work of art.” Washington Post
24 – A Serbian Film (2010)
“The rare piece of transgressive art that’s more grimly meditative than satirical or allegorical” Slant Magazine
“There are two types of people in the world”. A joke, or a deep insight into the human condition tends to follow those words and can often be found to be accurate. The obvious horror fan version of this would be to split us into Hammer Horror heads or Universal obsessives.
Don’t, we love them all. Yes, they are remarkably different in almost every aspect and they have their little cliques of actors and teams but there isn’t a true horror fan alive that can’t appreciate both. For Vicky, Hammer holds the heart hostage. The imagery, more sinister subject matter and English ties give them the edge. For Dave picking a favourite Universal Monster Movie is like telling someone to pick their favourite child… that is if they had twenty, and each one had a strange deformity…
25 – The Devil Rides Out (1968)
“It’s just the King of Hammer movies! Still find it deeply unsettling.” Dave Wain
26 – The Curse of the Werewolf (1968)
“Lon Chaney, Jr.’s Wolf Man may be cinema’s most famous lycanthrope, but there can be little doubt that this 1960 film from Hammer Productions is the best werewolf movie ever made.” ESplatter
Universal Monster Movies
27 – The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
“A must for anyone with even a passing interest in horror, this not only confirms Karloff as a master of the genre, but also shows, more than any of Whale‘s subsequent films, the influence of his vision.” Film4
28 – Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
“Jack Arnold has a flair for this sort of thing, and if there really is anything frightening about a man dressed up in a rubber suit with zippers where the gills ought to be, Arnold comes close to finding it.” Chicago Reader
29 – Get Out (2017)
“They don’t make them like they used to.” Horror fans can be excused for reminiscing about the good old days. A majority of today’s real box office successes rely on one thing. The jump. They want you get as many jumps, yelps and squeals out of you in the time allotted to them. The slow burning thinker has declined from the big screens and is often relegated to straight to DVD.
Once in a while though, a masterpiece gets through. Get Out isn’t just one of the best horror films we’ve seen in a while but one of the best films full stop. Unlike many other new horror releases, uses its modern setting and environment to its absolute advantage. It doesn’t shy from current issues and is one of the finest examples of taking that trademark American comedy and successfully bedding it within a horror film.
Everything it does, it does brilliantly. In moments of social commentary it’s as good as a drama. In moments of hilarity its as good as the funniest of sitcoms, in moments of horror it refuses to falter, in moments of thrilling suspense the sides of good and evil are like that of an action film.
This film will exceed your expectations.
“All considered, Get Out is the sharpest, most thoughtful, and against all odds, the funniest horror film that Hollywood has churned out in a long old while.” Metro
30 – The Conjuring (2013)
“A movie that exemplifies the golden standards of the haunted house formula and escalates them to something rather rousing.” Cinemaphile
31 – Scream (1996)
“Remains a highly polished piece of meta-slasher mayhem.” Lessons of Darkness
32 – Saw (2004)
“Just when you think you’ve got it sussed, the movie throws in some audacious twists, resulting in one of the most memorable climaxes in recent screen history.” Radio Times
Enjoy more of Dave‘s work over at The Schlock Pit or pick up a copy of It Came From the Video Aisle! which includes three chapters from Dave. And of course, for all your DVD rental needs and for a a lesson in horror, visit Snips. Keep updated by following Dave on twitter.